Sunday, August 28, 2011

Movie Review: Eden of the East, Paradise Lost

It's been pretty close to a year since I first saw the tv series for Eden of the East and, while I would have loved to see the movies right after I saw the series, that's actually a fairly fast turn around and kudos to Funimation for doing that. As a quick note, I try not to put spoilers in my reviews but the fact is that this movie is the direct sequel to another movie which is the direct sequel to the original tv series, it's nigh-impossible to say what's going on without mentioning something, possibly spoliery, that happened in one of the earlier installments. So, here's my review on the tv series, here's the review for the first movie and read carefully if you haven't seen either of those before (and my footnote gets a bit spoilery so read that at your own risk). 

Eden of the East: Paradise Lost

Summary: Starting up mere hours after The King of Eden concluded, Takizawa and Saki have returned to Japan where the Selecao game is about to wrap up and all the players are making their final moves. Takizawa has a plan but he's going to need the help of the Eden of the East group to pull it all off.

The Good: While some people have complained about how much screen time the other people in Eden of the East (the company Saki and her friends started) I've always liked how the show had quite a few people who were completely unconnected to the game but who play important supporting roles, it provides a nice bit of grounding. Also, considering that a main theme of the series is the role of NEETs/what should the NEETs really be doing with their lives it makes a lot of sense to see characters who are actually in this situation and simply struggling through young adult life. Yes the movie could exist with those characters having less screen time, the other selecaos would make their moves, there would be confrontations, all the lingering secrets from the show would be answered (all of  which were done well) but I just really sympathized with those characters and was happy that they were in the show. There was also a nice conclusion to Saki and Takizawa's sorta-kinda romance which also worked well with the mood of the whole series which left me feeling satisfied. 

The Bad: Before I saw the movies, some people were suggesting that the movies be watched back to back so that the action in the second movie balances out all the talking in the first movie. The thing is, there isn't a ton of action in the second movie either which is how all of Eden of the East has been, it's a show that has some action but for people to complain by this point that it doesn't have enough action is a tad ridiculous. I'm surprised I haven't heard that much complaining about Takizawa's plan to save Japan since it was a bit confusing and not action-y at all*, although perhaps the audience has realized by this point that there is a limit to how great any of the selecao's plans can be in a realistic setting.

The Audio: Like the previous movie, Paradise Lost has it's own opening song (which is visually very similar to the opening of the tv series) but it's performed by School Food Punishment instead of Oasis (who did the tv series, the show's most well-known song). School Food Punishment has already done the ending songs for the other two installments (and does the ending song here) so it's a nice touch to use the same performers and it adds extra continuity between them. The song is softer than the other theme songs, a bit odd since the show is reaching its climax, but thanks to that continuity the music doesn't feel out of place. 

The Visuals: Many of the cars are still conspicuous CGI (is this one of Production IG's weak points?) but other than that nitpicky detail the show still looks just fine. The new character designs fit in well with the existing ones (even though some of the characters still look a bit too young), the characters look distinct, and there's plenty of details. This is a show I watch more for the plot, not the visuals, but nothing on screen drew me out of the story which means that everything was working fine.

So, I really did enjoy this whole series, not entirely sure why people thought that the movies were such bad endings (maybe they wanted more action? Guys, I know that the first episode was action filled but this isn't actually that kind of action show, y'all should've realized that by this point) although I can see where the people who wish this had been a second season (instead of two movies) are coming from. But the reason I really loved this franchise (other than the politics, I was literally squeeing at points because of that) was because the characters are my age/a few years older and I could sympathize with them, that's just a really rare thing. I WANT more shows (/stories in general) that deal with these "new adults" who are coming into the world and realizing that they don't understand everything, no one understands everything, and they aren't thrilled with some of the things they do get, basically I want more shows that are like the original noitaminA shows. And that's why I went ahead and bought both of these movies before I saw them, something that I very rarely do, because I'm happy that these shows do exist and dammit, I want more and not just in anime! 

*in fact, I didn't get Takizawa's plan until about a day later when I was watching the news with my mom and ranting about how it didn't seem fair that the generation before me was doing more and more stupid stuff that I didn't agree with but yet would have to live with it and clean it up later on and then Takizawa's plan finally clicked with me. I was a expecting a grander plan than "let younger people have more of a say in their country," considering this is Takizawa, so I think this will disappoint a lot of people (even though I agreed with it and found the eventual outcome to be rather realistic).

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