Eden of the East: Paradise Lost
by Jef Burnham
Now available in a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from Funimation Entertainment.
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(Warning: As this review covers the final installment of the Eden of the East series, it necessarily contains spoilers.)
It all began in the 11-episode anime Eden of the East— the mystery of the Seleção. Participating in one of the most elaborate, high-stakes games ever conceived, these twelve people are tasked with improving the nation of Japan by whatever means necessary. To accomplish the task, their mysterious benefactor, Mr. Outside, provided them with ten billion yen to be spent in any way they see fit. And should their funds be depleted before their task is completed, the punishment is death. College senior Saki Morimi and her friends at Eden of the East get caught in the middle of this conspiracy when Saki befriends amnesiac Seleção, Akira Takizawa. The story continued in the follow-up film Eden of the East: The King of Eden, and is concluded here in Paradise Lost.
As the conclusion given the series proper was wholly satisfying, I was rather skeptical of the Eden of the East films. After all, there is significant artistic merit to ending your story satisfactorily without tying up every single loose end. And after The King of Eden, which is not a fully functioning film in and of itself exactly, I feared only the worst would come of these follow-up movies. However, the conclusion provided by Paradise Lost is happily every bit as rewarding as the series’, if not quite as artistically inspired in its attempt to explain away every little thing. (Be sure to stay tuned after the credits for the epilogue!)
Just as before, technology takes center stage in Paradise Lost, and even though the Seleção phones themselves are not as prevalent as in the series, their influence on all non-technology-centered interactions between the characters is palpable. This is no doubt because the pace is so much faster here than in the previous installments that they’ve no time to be fiddling with their phones. There is indeed much to do here to tie up the mystery, and Paradise Lost hits the ground running after a brief moment of silence in the opening. Everything is wrapped up and a number of nagging questions are answered including: Who is Mr. Outside? Who is the remaining Seleção? And where did Takizawa come from? Yet, as a result of all the revelations, many of the supporting characters fall by the wayside, in many cases having no role in the conclusion’s proceedings whatsoever. This doesn’t necessarily sully the experience, but it is no doubt unfortunate, especially if your favorite of the supporting players didn’t make the cut.
The HD transfer of the film looks every bit as spectacular as those of the preceding releases with beautiful, clean lines and the smoothest of animation. And fortunately both the English and Japanese soundtracks are presented in 5.1 mixes— something that is occasionally overlooked in foreign language releases. The Paradise Lost release, like The King of Eden before it, comes packaged with a cardboard slip sleeve over a clear, standard DVD-size case with classy reversible artwork. The reversible artwork is something that Funimation has done a lot as of late, and gives me a visual option that I, as a collector who takes pride in the presentation of my collection, greatly appreciate.
The extras on this release include U.S. cast commentary, a Paradise Lost preview, trailers, TV spots, and a visual commentary with the film’s director, Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C.). The visual commentary is particularly fascinating as the onscreen bubbles containing Kamiyama’s comments replicate the aesthetic of the series’ Eden of the East system with his successive comments on one subject layering over each other. While I found it a bit hard to keep up with at times, it, like the series itself, certainly speaks to the technocentric society that inspired Eden of the East.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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