Eden of the East Complete Collection (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 5-Dec-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Audio Commentary-US Cast commentary on Paradise Lost
Audio-Visual Commentary-Text commentary on Paradise Lost by director
Alternative Version-Air Communication
Interviews-Crew-Director Kenji Kamiya and Character Designer Chica Umino
Interviews-Cast-Ryouhei Kimura and Saori Hayami
Interviews-Crew-Film Directors Kenji Kamiyama and Mamoru Oshii
Interviews-Crew-Art director Yusuke Takeda
Interviews-Crew-Composer Kenji Kawai
Theatrical Trailer-Trailers for TV Series and Films
TV Spots
Trailer-Trailers for lots of other anime titles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 570
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kenji Kamiyama
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Saori Hayami
Leah Clark
Ryohei Kimura
Jason Liebrecht
Motoyuki Kanahara
J. Michael Tatum
Takuya Eguchi
Michael Sinterniklaas
Case ?
RPI ? Music Kenji Kawai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Audio Commentary
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, after credits Paradise Lost

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     This four Blu-ray set is entitled Eden of the East Complete Collection. What we get is certainly very comprehensive; on disc 1 are episodes 1-8 of the TV series, without extras except for a trailer for Casshern Sins on start-up; disc 2 contains episodes 9-11, plus approximately 90 minutes of cast and crew interviews and a diverse range of trailers; disc 3 contains the King of Eden feature plus trailers and a 2 hour compilation of the TV series; disc 4 the Paradise Lost feature, two audio commentaries, series trailers and a host of trailers for other releases. The total is over 10 hours of features and extras. Phew!

The TV Series

     Japanese teen Saki (voiced by Saori Hayami / Leah Clark) is on an end of year college trip to America and visits Washington. She is attempting to throw a coin into the White House fountain when she is accosted by the police. Suddenly they see on the White House lawn a stark naked Japanese boy; in one hand he holds a mobile telephone, in the other a pistol. The pair evade the police together and the boy appears to be called Akira (Ryohei Kimura / Jason Liebrecht) although he has no memory of who he is and what he is doing there. On his mobile phone a person calling themselves Juiz (Sakiko Tamagawa / Stephanie Young) calls Akira one of the “saviours”, but provides no other information other than where to go next, which proves to be an apartment containing terrorist equipment. Akira and Saki are at the airport intending to catch a plane back to Japan they see the news that Tokyo has been attacked by missiles that devastated areas of the city. No-one knows who launched the attacks but, incredibly, no one was killed.

     When they return to Japan, we gradually learn more about Akira, as he learns more about himself. Through his phone Akira has available a fund of 8.2 billion yen that he can use in any way. He can also request, by phone, tasks which Juiz speedily and efficiently organises (which, we learn can include murder). It seems that twelve people have been selected as “saviours” by Mr. Outside, and each given 10 billion yen to spend to save Japan. But there are additional rules: one of the twelve is called the “Supporter” whose role is to eliminate any saviour who breaks certain rules and, in the end, if one saviour is successful all the others will be killed. Akira is “Selecao #9”and it seems that Akira himself has organised to erase his own memory, perhaps because he had been responsible for some horrendous crime, such as the disappearance of 20,000 people. As Akira searches for clues as to his own identity, and possible crimes he has committed, he gradually makes contact with other Selecao saviours including one in the police, who is not above dirty tricks, and the mysterious female CEO of a modelling company, Kuroha (Rei Igarashi / Christine M. Auten), who is murdering men and chopping off their “johnnys”. What is happening? Who is Akira really, what has he done and what is he supposed to do to “save” Japan?

     The affection between Akira and Saki gradually grows and as the series develops we meet additional characters, such as the Eden of the East team of which Saki is a member; they have developed and impressive search engine software and group members include Hirawawa (Motoyuki Kanahara / J. Michael Tatum), Sis (Kimiko Saito / Lydia Mackay), Micchon (Ayaka Saito / Stephanie Sheh), Kasuga (Hayato Taya / John Burgmeier) and Osugi (Takuya Eguchi / Michael Sinterniklaas), who loves Saki and is suspicious of Akira and so sets himself to discover just who he is. At various times other “saviours” appear, if only for short periods, as well as the computer expert hacker Itazu / Panties (Nobuyuki Hiyama / Newton Pittman).

     The TV series Eden of the East (Higashi no Eden) is unusual as it is an anime that was not based upon a previous manga, but is an original story by writer / screenwriter / director Kenji Kamiyama. So this is very much his project! It is also an anime that deals with some complex issues about Japanese society, which is hugely ambitious except that the series does not quite carry it off.

     The TV series commences with a mystery and an interesting first episode, then stands still for a number of episodes without the plot developing to any extent. It is half way through the series before we meet the Eden of the East group and their surveillance and search engine software program. There are 12 saviours, but until the last few episodes we only see another three. Then during the last three episodes explanations and exposition explode, almost drowning the script and action. There are abrupt changes in mood, from romance, to the banal, to the weird, like a scantily clad woman growing wings and flying out of a window, something supernatural that is not explained and not repeated elsewhere in the entire series. I guess that anime based on an existing manga has a developed story arc; as Kamiyama wrote this from scratch, and wanted to cover so vast a theme as the destruction of Japanese society and culture, the story feels convoluted and uneven.

     This means that the TV series ends with a short term success for Akira, but leaves the whole deeper, more complex and ambitious plot very much unresolved. What are Mr. Outside’s motives behind this entire “game”? Where are the other “saviours? Who is the “selector”? We also still do not know how and why Akira, at the start of first episode, was naked with a pistol in front of the White House in Washington, USA.

Film 1: King of Eden (81:21)

     Film 1 commences 6 months after Akira disappeared after thwarting the missile attack upon Tokyo, leaving his Selecao phone with Saki. When Saki manages to track Akira down he is in New York, but again has had his memory erased and does not remember her. Meanwhile, political instability continues in Japan; one PM has resigned, and his replacement has died. It is being put about that Akira is in fact Akira Iinuma, the illegitimate son of the last PM as well as the terrorist who launched the missile attack against Japan. The film ends with Akira and Saki about to return to Japan.

     This first film is a strange bird. In reality not a lot happens for 70 minutes except the Eden group sit around in their office, provide continuous exposition and look at the logs of the various Selecao phones on their computer screens. There are various machinations by some of the other Selecao, and the reappearance of perhaps the most interesting of the Selecao, the female “johnny hunter”, but not much else is happening. In the last 15 minutes the action commences with some targeted missile strikes but there is really not a lot of narrative development towards who is controlling the game, and why.

Film 2: Paradise Lost (92:18)

     Film 2 continues on from Film 1. Akira returns to Japan, his real parentage is established, as is the identity of Mr. Outside, and the game ends for the remaining Selecao with a whimper, not a bang.

     Film 2 does resolve a number of plot points, but certainly leaves others wide open. Again, the film is very heavy on words and exposition, with a lot of comments about the “self-centred and short sighted fools” who make up the majority of the population of Japan, the need for generational change in society and the corrupting influence of money, among other things. Yet, at the end of this film, after the TV series and two films, it feels little has been resolved and little has changed in Japanese society. And I may have missed something, but I still don’t know how Akira came to be naked with a gun at the White House!

     Eden of the East Complete Collection is a confusing, and a rather frustrating experience. It is certainly to be admired as it tackles huge themes about Japanese society seldom seen in anime; the generation gap, corruption, greed, the uneven distribution of wealth, the nature of power and tyranny, the impact of technology surveillance and search engines It also blends in a mystery and a romance, but it does it so slowly and so unevenly, and with so much exposition, it tends to get lost in its own talkiness, and does not resolve the questions it raises. There are also a lot of characters, including the Eden group and the various Selecao who drift in and out of the plotlines, which takes time away from the Akira / Saki relationship, to the detriment of the various plot strands. Eden of the East is complex, interesting and ambitious but in the end I think this is one for its fans.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Eden of the East is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio for the TV series although the movies were originally 1.85:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The print is sharp and nicely defined, with colours having a nice anime soft, pastel look. The filmmakers use real locations as a basis for the drawings and they look absolutely beautiful. There is no issue with artefacts and blacks and shadow detail are great. I saw no marks or other artefacts.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is approximate in either audio track.

     The English subtitles are in a white font in US English spelling. I noticed no obvious spelling or grammatical errors. If you select subtitles with either language track, during the opening and closing songs of each episode they alternate between Japanese language Western script, and English.

     The video is beautiful; many scenes could be paused and hung on the wall!

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio for the TV series and films is a choice of Japanese or English Dolby TrueHD MA 5.1; both are very good although the English is recorded at a slightly louder level. The dialogue is good, clear and easy to understand. The surrounds are frequently in use with music and effects and some directional effects, such as trains passing overhead. The audio is nicely enveloping without be overly aggressive. The subwoofer supports explosions. The audio for the films was slightly more aggressive, especially Film 2 with its surround effects, especially cars.

     I usually prefer to listen to non-English films in the language in which they were made. However, anime is a different case and both tracks are good, and I listened to them turn about.

     The original music is by Kenji Kawai was effective and interesting and was well represented in the mix.

     A good audio track, doing what is required without fuss.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     A copious range of extras are spread across the four Blu-ray discs.

Disc 1

Trailer

     The Casshern Sins trailer (1:02) plays on start up. There are no other extras on this disc.

Disc 2

Trailer

     The Full Metal Panic! trailer (1:02) plays on start up.

Interview – Director Kamiyama and Original Character Designer Umino (21:49)

     Not really an interview as such. Director Kenji Kamiyama and original character designer Chica Umino chat about working with each other, working techniques, styles and character design, including hair styles and clothes. However Umino is never seen, being hidden behind a big stuffed toy, and they talk about each other mostly in the third person. All rather weird.

Interview – Cast Kimura and Hyami (18:32)

     Ryouhei Kimura, the voice of Akira, and Saori Hayami, the voice of Saki, sit together and chat about their characters, their expectations, meeting each other and the show. They joke together and this is a very lively, enjoyable and funny featurette. They speak in Japanese and subtitles sometimes flash by far too fast.

Interview – Directors Kamiyama and Oshii (27:15)

     Director Kenji Kamiyama sits with his mentor, director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell). Their discussion is not so much about Eden of the East, although the themes of that series are briefly touched on, as about directing anime, characters, and original works vs. adaptations. This is quite serious and earnest, with only a few flashes of humour. It was filmed early during the TV series and before the movies.

Interview – Art Director Takeda (15:36)

     This is an interesting interview looking at the animation process as art director Yusuke Takeda talks about, and shows examples, of how colour choices were made and scenes were constructed for Eden of the East to get to the “flat graphic” look of the series.

Interview – Composer Kawai (10:47)

     Composer Kenji Kawai talks about the moods of Eden of the East and composing for the series.

TV Spot (0:32)

     For the Blu-ray / DVD release.

Promotion Video (1:57)

     Really a trailer.

Textless Closing Song (1:22)

     Closing song without the end credits.

Trailers

     Trailers for other anime releases: Oh! Edo Rocket (1:02), Linebarrels of Iron (1:01), Hetalia Axis Powers (1:02), Corpse Princess / Shikabane Hime (1:02), Darker Than Black (0:32), Trigun (1:02), Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (1:02) and Dragon Ball Z Kai (1:02).

Disc 3

Trailer

     The Evangelion: 2.22 trailer (1:32) plays on start up.

Air Communication (123:07)

     This is the TV episodes edited together and cut to movie length, with extra voice over narration to fill in the gaps. Think of it as the first film in the trilogy or a summary for those coming to the King of Eden who didn’t watch the series through! Audio is Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 surround (no English dub). English subtitles are available and can be turned on / off.

Movie 1 promotions

     Movie 1 News Flash (1:20), Movie 1 Preview (0:49), 2 x TV Spots (0:49).

Trailers

     Trailers for other anime releases: RideBack (1:07), Hero Tales (1:05), El Cazador de la Bruja (1:02), Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (1:03), Soul Eater (0:32), D. Gray-man (0:32), TO (1:35) and Eden of the East (1:02).

Disc 4

Trailer

     The Trigun: Badlands Rumble trailer (1:33) plays on start up.

U.S. Cast Commentary

     US voice cast ADR producer Mike McFarland hosts the commentary, basically interviewing members of the US voice cast about their characters, the series, where Eden of the East is different to other anime, favourite characters and moments, and what each of them would do to change society if they were placed into the same position as the Selecao in the series, given the money and told to save the country. Each individual or group are involved for 15 minutes or so and the commentary is not screen specific, although it goes the full length of the film. Included is Jason Liebrecht (Akira), Leah Clark & Michael Sinterniklaas (Saki and Osugi), J. Michael Tatum & Lydia Mackay (Hirawawa and Sis), Stephanie Sheh (Micchon), Newton Pittman & John Burgmeier (Itazu and Kasuga) and Stephanie Young (Juiz).

     Some of the sections are more lively than others and some comments more interesting and thoughtful than others, but most of the actors were quite liberal and “left” thinking about health care and education; I found it intriguing, for example, that Jason Liebrecht, when asked what he would do as a Selecao advocated a universal public health care system, but it being America felt he had to apologise to those who would disagree with him!

Visual Commentary on the Eden System with Director Kamiyama (98:23)

     An audience in Japan watch the film with the director. As the film runs pop-up questions, comments and trivia appears on the screen, both comments by the director and others. There are frequent gaps, and sometimes the texts overlap or flash by quickly, making the pause button very useful. Information ranges from the interesting, including intentions, plot points and inside information, to the banal. The audio is Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. If subtitles are enabled the text comments are in English. If subtitles are turned off, the comments are in Japanese script.

    At the start and end the audience are seen, and also at the end writer / director Kenji Kamiyama is interviewed about the character of Akira plus his thoughts on the Eden of the East series.

Eden Trailers

     Movie 2 Preview (0:52), Movie 2 TV Spot (0:17), Eden of the East Series Trailer (1:02), Eden of the East: King of Eden Trailer (1:02 ) and Eden of the East: Paradise Lost Trailer (1:02)

Trailers

     Trailers for other anime releases: Spice and Wolf (1:04), Noir (1:02), Peacemaker (1:11), RideBack (1:07), Casshern Sins (1:02), Black Blood Brothers (1:08), Dragon Ball Z (0:32) and FUNimation.com (4:04).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our Blu-rays are identical to the U.S. versions, and include the US FBI warning.

Summary

     Eden of the East Complete Collection is just that: it comes on four Blu-rays and includes the eleven episodes of the original TV anime series plus the two additional anime feature films and copious extras.

     Eden of the East tackles huge themes about Japanese culture within a gentle romance, but it tends to get lost in its own exposition, and does not resolve the questions it raises. I found it a rather frustrating experience and I think this is one for fans of the series.

     The video and audio are very excellent. Extras are interesting and very extensive.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, July 06, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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