Friday, April 20, 2012

Netflix Friday: Eden of the East

I like anime, but I don't love it. Most of the stuff that other people rave about leaves me indifferent. I tend to prefer light comedies like Oh! My Goddess! or Ouran High School Host Club (just try to get the cute pop theme song out of your head). I have a mild interest in Full Metal Alchemist -- but just mild.

Both of these series are available on Netflix and I'm planning to catch up on them -- particularly Oh! My Goddess, which is probably one of the most romantic and cute series ever made. If you are an anime fan and would like to get a girl hooked on Anime, this is the series you should use. It's about a loser of a college boy who lives in the dorm and, as an underclassman, is hazed by the older members. But he's a good guy, so the universe grants him a wish. A beautiful girl "angel" (they call her a "goddess" but she's much closer to what we would think of as an angel) comes down to grant it, but he thinks it's a joke so he wishes that she was his girlfriend. So, he gets his wish... sort of. She moves down to earth with him and then begins the long process of them living together in platonic bliss as he starts courting her. It's very sweet... until her sisters move in to make sure there's no hanky panky going on.

One of the few action series I like is Cowboy Bebop, which is about bounty hunters in the future. The series is named after the spaceship they roam around the solar system in while trying to make a living catching bad guys. It's a popular series with some of the best jazz music I've ever heard on a TV show. It's also the only anime that my wife ever watched without me. Years ago I rented the theatrical movie based on the series and my wife went to bed about two-thirds through the movie. The next day she actually put it back on to find out how it ended.

My wife said she liked it because, if it had been live action, it would have been a decent action movie. I totally agree with her. Cowboy Bebop would make a great series of movies because it has memorable characters and it's more-or-less grounded in reality. The characters have realistic abilities (if they run a long way they get winded, if they jump down from a high distance they might get hurt) and if they are injured in one episode they might still be healing those injuries in the next.

Eden of the East reminds me of Cowboy Bebop in that way: It's more or less realistic -- at least so far. This series (there are 11 episodes on Netflix and two movies, which are not -- I'll have to track them down elsewhere) seems to be set in the present day, or perhaps just a few years in the future (less than 10). There are no flying cars or space travel here. People move around by motorcycle and airplane.

Here's a description of the series from Wikipedia:

On Monday, November 22, 2010, ten missiles strike against uninhabited areas of Japan, claiming no victims. This apparent terrorist act is referred to as "Careless Monday" and disregarded by most people. The series begins three months later, on Sunday, February 13, 2011, when a young Japanese woman named Saki Morimi visits Washington D.C. as part of her graduation trip. When she gets into trouble, a mysterious Japanese man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, helps her through it. The man appears to have no memory and is completely naked, carrying only a gun and a cell phone charged with 8.2 billion in digital money. While they are coming back to Japan, they learn that a new missile has hit their country.

Akira discovers that his phone is part of a game created by a "Mr. Outside," and that he himself is one of the participants. The game consists of twelve individuals, dubbed Seleção (Portuguese: "Selection"), who are given 10 billion to "save" Japan in some way. The Seleção are able to use the phone operator, Juiz (Portuguese: "Judge"), to fulfill any kind of order for a price. However, if the money is used up completely or for selfish purposes, the individual will be eliminated by the Supporter, the anonymous "twelfth man" of the group...

The series' first episode definitely caught my attention. Takizawa is an amusing character, yet obviously deadly. He finds he has multiple passports and some ability at fighting -- just as I was thinking, "Oh, this is like The Bourne Trilogy," he actually asked something to the effect of, "Am I Jason Bourne?" He isn't like Jason Bourne. Although he has a mysterious past (is he responsible for getting rid of thousands of people?) and why did he buy a shopping mall, close it down and move in? And what's with all the weird activities being enacted by the other members of this game? And then, of course, what is his relationship with Saki? Does he keep pulling her back into his life for romantic reasons, or is there something else?

A lot of this intrigue is hinted at in the opening sequence (here' it is from YouTube, but sorry I couldn't find a version with subtitles to the lyrics).

Right now I'm just about halfway through the series and will probably finish it this week (I only watch 2-3 episodes at a time). I have to give a little bit of a warning: The series starts off relatively light (if you consider a missile attack on Tokyo "light"), but around episode 5 things get darker as we learn that some of the other game players are not very nice people. There is no nudity or excessive violence (some, but it's not excessive -- it's in line with what you'd see on a gritty American TV show), but there is some implied sexual imagery and -- I don't want to give anything away, but there are some pretty intense moments when one of the character is abducted and threatened with  severe bodily harm.

If you like anime, you will almost certainly like this series. If you have an open mind  about anime but are turned off by excessive violence, magic/sci-fi, then this series is definitely worth checking out. If it were a live-action series, I think people would be talking about it. If you don't like anime, I think you should go back and start watching Ah! My Goddess! (sorry, it's spelled both Oh! and Ah!, depending on which edition you're watching).

As for me, I know what I'll be watching this weekend -- I'll be finishing Eden of the East.

See ya Monday for some more thoughts about Comic Collector by

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