If you like those cat-and-mouse animes, like “Death Note”, but more closer aligned to “Future Diary”, then “Eden of the East” (“Higashi no Eden”) is what you want to watch, although it certainly starts out in a strange manner. An incident is referred to constantly, ‘Careless Monday’, where on Monday November 10, 2010, ten missiles strike Tokyo. They cause damage, but no causalities. But since no terrorist group took responsibility for the incident, it is forgotten.
Three months later, we find ourselves in Washington DC, where Saki Morimi, a college student, throws a coin at the White House (as a symbol of protest, I guess, or maybe the President should phone home). A security cop tries to arrest her, but she is saved by the arrival of Akira Takizawa, who is stark raving naked (and perhaps mad; it is the winter months). They both manage to escape and Morimi has to track Takizawa down, as the coat she gave her has her passport in it. Oh, he was also carrying a very nasty-looking handgun and that really complicated phone you see up there.
When he dials it, he learns there is 8.2 billion yen on it and he is part of a ‘game’ with 11 other people (he is number nine) to use the money to try and save Japan. Too bad he has a caliber of amnesia and is not really certain what is going on. “Juiz”, the voice on the other end, is able to make one’s wishes and hopes come to fruition. But with any contest like this there are risks. If you decide to do nothing, you are eliminated by a ‘supporter’ (and I though fans were maniacs!). If you run out of money before you accomplish your goals, you are eliminated. If you use the money for your own selfish ends (do I need a Maserati as phone charm?) you are eliminated. And should there BE a winner, the ‘losers’ are eliminated. Pretty high stakes all around.
This is a very good political intrigue series, along with the struggle for Takizaki to try and remember everything about his past PLUS trying to learn the identities of the other 11 Seleçãos (and why we are using Portuguese is another interesting twist). Takizaki is ably backed up by the Eden of the East club, a group of friends and computer hackers that can help in his quest. Oh, the dog with the wings. It seems to know Takizawa, although Takizawa has no idea about the dog.
OK, I know you can smell fragments of the “Bourne Identity” in that capsule, but it plays out far better with much less mayhem, as each of the Seleçãos has their own ideas and ways to ‘save Japan’. There is some solid artwork in this, in that it is not hyper-realism, but it has shorn away from a lot of ‘standard’ anime. A lot was also invested in the backgrounds, as they look stunning, whether you take in the New York City skyline or a drainage gutter in some part of Tokyo.
The ending episodes build to a magnificent climax and set up to let you know that this is not over, only moving to the middle phases of the game. I realize this came out only a mere six years ago, but you could have easily bypassed it, either because of the odd title or that there wasn’t anything that grabbed you to want to see it. And with the movies out that complete the series, this would be a very good time to see something unconventional in anime but is a good thriller nonetheless.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (It’s the nose shadow)
Plot 8 (Certainly quite daring in its reach)
Pacing 8 (Builds very well)
Effectiveness 8 (We see what other folks are doing)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 8 (A most intriguing approach)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Please continue in being a messiah.