Eden of the East – Srs fkn biz or just for the lulz?

The way Eden of the East is mixing dissimilar elements together has captured my interest, but at the same time, I don’t know if it’s really working. I was underwhelmed by the first episode, and wasn’t wowed by the second episode. For some reason, the show’s atmosphere is really throwing me off. It’s lighter, romcom moments don’t mix well with it’s darker, plot driven moments. And it’s darker, plot-driven moments are countered by plot holes and unrealistic character behaviors.

Why I don’t want to take it seriously

  • The whole first episode. The johnny inspection, the pedestrian pantsing, the DCPD incompetency, the nakedness, etc. Nothing from that first episode should be taken seriously.
  • Akira. You’d think a guy who woke up one day, naked, holding a gun, with $8 million on a super smart phone, and a strangely omnipresent concierge system would show a little more urgency in trying to put all the pieces together. If he doesn’t really care, I guess I shouldn’t either.
  • Akira + Saki. Because a girl falling for a guy who was naked and waving a gun, when they first met is so believable. I know this is fiction and couples can pop up from wherever, but c’mon. If I’m supposed to take EOTE seriously, my suspension of disbelief bridge is not suspended enough to believe that. But if EOTE is just pre-melodrama Tora Dora with spies, then yeah, I might be cool with it.

Why I want to take it seriously

  • Set against a backdrop of terrorism and murder, it’s not exactly your typical lighthearted fodder.
  • The whole air of mystery they’ve created with Noblesse Oblige, Messiahs, and the omnipresent, killer concierge system, etc. is setting itself up as a bit too complex and heady to be just considered dumb fun.
  • It’s taking place in a realistic world. Production I.G. went out their way to get native English speakers for episode 1, which made the US feel more real. The backgrounds are realistic and show actual places and they’ve made a point of referencing recent historical events. Obviously, they’ve put in a lot of effort to create a world that feels like the world we live in.

For me, EOTE is falling somewhere in between “serious” and “dumb fun.” Because of this, I’m still not sure whether I’m supposed to take this show seriously and treat it like an intelligent thriller, or if I’m supposed to turn off my brain and just enjoy the ride. Every time I try to do the latter, things such as the concierge killings at the end of the episode pull be back to the former. And every time I get pulled back to the former, the show’s inconsistencies and improbabilities become that much more glaring to me.

Why does this matter? Well, it could mean treating EOTE as either the most unique romantic comedy ever, or the ridiculous mystery romance ever. Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit. But do I let things slide like I do in Sengoku Basara and K-ON!, just because it’s fun to watch or should I hold it to a higher critical standard, like I did with Death Note or Code Geass? Or is it one of those rare anime that straddles both sides of the fence well, like Baccano? I guess time will tell. Until then I guess I’ll just remain confusedly engaged.

eden-of-the-east1
Look ma, no pants!

7 Replies to “Eden of the East – Srs fkn biz or just for the lulz?”

  1. I’m calling it “Ghost in the Clover” – part Kenji Kamiyama, part Morita + Hagu-chan (I know it’s not original, but…). One thing I don’t like about it is their gambit of blending drama & sparklies by playing fairly bland happy-happy music on top of otherwise tense or difficult scenes. This can be done well, but that’s not what I’m seeing… but EVERYTHING ELSE is great. Abandon yourself to Kamiyama-sensei’s plotting expertise –

    1. You know I’ve never even seen Honey & Clover and I keep referring to Akira as Morita. I have no idea why. I actually had to do a find and replace to this post to fix that.

  2. Good piece. But I think one of the interesting things about this show is the way it is able to mix romantic comedy and international intrigue. I don’t think I’m watching it as one or the other, but as a (successful, for me) mix of both. And romance is serious business, too, so I don’t think the option is international intrigue seriousness vs. romance lulz. Both are serious, and can also be fun.

    As for whether it’s acceptably realistic or not, I think one thing we have to consider is the psychology of the people involved. Akira is clearly a remarkable individual, as Juiz and the guy in the car said early in ep1. He finds himself in this incredible position and doesn’t freak out, but just steadily tries to solve each problem that arises. Saki is in limbo, having finished college and not started working, living with her sister and feeling as if she’s not contributing, travelling on her own on a fanciful trip to “the center of the world,” and still fending off her long-time admirer. Saki is ready for something new, and especially for a new guy. And Akira isn’t just a random naked stranger, he’s a Japanese guy in America who does something to protect her.

    But I agree completely that the show walks a tightrope: it will either mix its elements satisfyingly and believably, or it will fall. So far, it is marching steadily across the tightrope, as far as I’m concerned.

    As for Death Note and Geass, unlike most people, I found Geass boring and unbelievable. DN was more consistent, but still seemed pretty fanciful me. Through two episodes, this show is far superior to either of those, in my judgment. But I have to say that I think personal preference is inevitably pretty significant in all these judgments.

    hashi’s last blog post..Hayami Saori — the new Kawasumi Ayako or the new Shimamoto Sumi?

    1. I don’t have a problem with the international intrigue seriousness contrasting with the romance lulz, as I do think drama and comedy play essential roles in balancing each other. It’s just that the romantic setup was so unbelievable that it’s made it hard for me to accept that part of the story (even though I think their chemistry is fine). I would probably be more forgiving if there was some circumstance that forced Saki to follow Akira around, even if that circumstance was lame and cliche.

      Akira may turn out to be a remarkable individual, but the evidence hasn’t convinced me yet. He appears to be pretty nonchalant and cool under pressure which are good qualities for a lead – with a memory. But for a lead without a memory, it strikes me as either carelessness or willful ignorance – negative qualities. And while Akira may have helped Saki out of a pinch, but c’mon now. You’ve got to admit that being naked and loaded doesn’t create a very inviting presence 😉

      I didn’t mention DN and Geass to compare quality per se, but rather because they were two shows that I held to a higher standard. For example, CG’s second season from a dumb fun standpoint was a complete blast. Crazy things happened, there were cliffhangers all over the place, etc. But from a critical POV, it was a complete mess. And I couldn’t just “enjoy it” and let all the crap slide without calling it out.

      Similarly that’s where I’m getting hung up with EOTE. I enjoy certain pieces, but I can’t seem to let some of the “crap” that I mentioned slide without calling it out.

      Admittedly, it’s only 2 episodes in, and I don’t think it’s a bad show by any stretch, but I want to see it improve. 🙂

  3. Good points. I only realized what you were really saying about CG and DN after I’d posted the comment, lol. And I know I have an extremely high “willing suspension of disbelief” quotient when I like the characters. Which I do. But no question, Kamiyama was testing us from the beginning with a bit of weird fantasy. I guess the idea is partly that if we’ll follow him there, he can take us anywhere.

    As for Saki following Akira around, I thought she had to go after him to get her passport, and then he was helping her get away from the police and to the plane. And by the time they got to Japan after a twelve-hour flight or so, she was used to having him around and wanted more of it. Thinking of what he was like on the plane, that made perfect sense to me. The hardest thing for me was her actually giving him her coat. Hat maybe, scarf maybe, but a coat is a lot to give. Even if she was intent on covering his nakedness. The mix may basically be romance plus intrigue, but there is some fantasy in there, as well, I think.

    hashi’s last blog post..Hayami Saori — the new Kawasumi Ayako or the new Shimamoto Sumi?

    1. Hmm, good point. I guess once he had her passport that was a sufficient hook. But yeah, her giving him her coat was a lot to give. Actually, I think her appropriate response should’ve been “uhh thanks for the help naked guy!” and then running away from him as fast as possible. At least, that’s what my response would’ve been. 🙂

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