(Recommended by a coasting chatter.)
They may as well have translated this title as Eden of the Least. Here is yet another example of a series not taking itself to its full potential, but due in part to there not being enough time to get everything fully fulfilled. In the first few episodes, characters are established, their personalities are bursting, and their interactions are perfectly realistic within the confusing introduction. Everything within the shadows reveals itself at a nice pace and the manner in which things are brought up are entertaining to see. The combo of a strange boy with unknown origins and a girl whose trying to become something in society are a charming pair, with even more intrigue involved with knowing the “mysteries” behind each character. What’s provided to the viewer early on is a promising masterpiece in waiting—only if one is willing to wait, as this series isn’t.
Something of the same vein as Kiznaiver, Higashi no Eden suffers from a very rushed and incredibly unfulfilling finale. The weight of the plot that is to be revealed is far greater than what the series can develop in a mere eleven episodes. Part Mirai Nikki, part Ghost in the Shell, the atmosphere of the overall conflict affects the world, and the participants are trapped within a game that they cannot escape from. However, the emphasis of the game is to change the world for the better. So, what makes it better? The series hardly seems interested in answering that, such for the sake of trying to tie everything together as well as they could under the time allotted. The ending suffers for it, and if not for the two sequel films, it would become a story filled with an underwhelming sense of bravado, brushed under the rug without the tools to help it grow.
Almost ironically, the longer the series goes on, the more it crams itself with things to develop. Much like a shounen hero bearing the weight of everyone’s grief on his shoulders, Higashi no Eden continues to pile on thing after thing until it’s crawling towards the finish line. (Many) More characters, more plot developments, more moral graying, and more things to add to the already enormously lenient plot that needs to be filled to make sense. It already doesn’t, as the very foundation of why the game exists in the first place and the capabilities of the players’ powers is far too vague to take seriously, but why not try and establish a little security? By the final moments, everything’s so cluttered that one forgets why they even cared in the first place.
But there is a lot of good here. It’s just unrealized good that can’t find any solace within the junkyard of unnecessary slop. The main couple are, to some extent, developed and have wonderful chemistry. The humor isn’t bad, the pacing is good up until the final episodes, and without the easy plotholes formed around the power of the players of the game, the intrigue behind Eden’s mystery is well-established. It constantly keeps one’s attention through baiting more clarity on the male lead’s origins and his relationships with those around him. The payoff is lousy, though the build-up is fairly consistent in its allure.
On the topic of “consistency,” animation is of the same caliber. While not glossy or particularly unique, the animation in Higashi no Eden allows a lot of the humor and the realistic situations to feel more real. Not without zany overreactions, which I would argue is a positive, the comedy aspect is underused, but sprinkled just enough to liven up certain scenarios that may otherwise qualify as dull. Standard as it may be, I quite liked the designs of the characters, particularly the main couple. They fit their characters’ quirks perfectly; the normal, hopeful female and the mysterious, quick-witted male. Their faces remind me a tad of modern-day Digimon character designs, with a touch of Studio Ghibli. There were never any noticeable fluctuations in animation, though some shortcuts were taken every once in a while.
It’s an easy watch, but an unfulfilling one on top of it. I would almost feel more comfortable telling people to shy away from the series due to its rushed ending, but without seeing the sequel films, I can’t make that call. It’s entirely possible those films can justify what the series wanted to do in its limited time table. Until that point, the series itself is somewhat of a time-waster, promising a number of interesting details only to have the final product be pretty ordinary. All that once seemed to be a reason to keep going is basically abandoned by the end in favor of the major plotline. The same applied to my tolerance.
Personal Score: C
Critical Score: C
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.