Japanese animated tv series (2009). Original title Higashi no Eden. Production I.G. Written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama. Voice cast includes Hiroshi Arikawa, Saori Hayami, Ryohei Kimura and Sakiko Tamagawa. Eleven 23-minute episodes. Colour.
In the then Near Future of 2011, Saki Morimi (Hayami), a young Japanese tourist, meets a naked and Amnesiac young man (Kimura) outside the White House; he is holding a gun in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. Escapades follow, during which the latter adopts the name Akira Takizawa, before they return to Japan. Three months previously the country had been hit by ten missiles, though surprisingly there were no fatalities. Akira discovers his memory was wiped at his own request; he might have murdered twenty thousand NEETs (young adults not in education, employment, or training) and had some connection to the missile attack. His phone connects him to "Juiz" (Tamagawa), who can arrange or purchase anything he requests: Juiz is an AI, initially in one location, but later installed in twelve trucks kept constantly on the move.
Akira learns he is one of twelve "seleçãos" given ten billion yen by a Mr Outside (Arikawa) to revitalize Japan. An industrialist who shaped post-war Japan, Mr Outside is concerned by it's current economic and social problems. The twelve people he chose are all young, from various backgrounds and with differing approaches: one choosing to launch the missiles – it was Akira who got the residents out in time, using the NEETs, whom he later sent to Dubai.
The Eden of the East referred to in the title is a website (see Internet) run by Saki's friends: it uses advanced image recognition software (see Computers) for mobiles that provides background data on an object/person viewed and is popular for social networking.
The series concerns itself with the problems facing modern Japan: the economy, the grip of an ageing population that holds onto power and the disenfranchising of the young (see Economics and Sociology). The first ten episodes are strong, with likeable leads and keep the viewer involved – but the finale is inconclusive, despite the foiling of a further attempt to bomb Japan and ending with Akira asking Juiz to make him King of Japan.
Aside from a recap of the television series, Air Communication (2009), there were subsequently two films which continue the story: The King of Eden (2009) and Paradise Lost (2010), both written and directed by Kamiyama. Akira does not become King of Japan; Mr Outside concludes the "game", and at the end Saki's voiceover observes that though not much has altered on the surface, she senses that underneath real change is on the way for Japan. These films, whilst engaging and thoughtful, are low-key and conclude as unsatisfactorily as the television series. Of course there are no quick and easy answers to the problems considered; unfortunately this does not make for a thrilling climax. [SP]
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