August 31, 2010

Eden of the East: Paradise in Jeopardy

Posted in Eden of the East tagged , , , , at 9:40 pm by meotwister5

I’m not too sure how people managed to finish the series and found the last movie boring to watch. In fact, while it wasn’t as amazing as the series, it returns to the very cerebral approach the series relished in that was very much absent in the first movie.

I found Mononobe’s well planned subtle movements in slowly removing the competition extremely intriguing compared to Akira’s brilliant if spur-of-the-moment reactions in keeping himself in the game and keeping people safe a very suspenseful and gripping game of cat and mouse between the last two active players in Saizo’s cruel game of national revolution. Furthermore there wasn’t a dead moment in the entire movie. No scene felt wasted as every character from the mains to the supporting acted and reacted to every bit of activity and news as they attempt to sort out whatever plans Mononobe has and simply trying to assist either side in their plans for the game.

My biggest complaint is probably Mononobe’s talk and Ato’s revelations at the halfway point of the series. It feels rather anticlimactic to the tension of the first half, but it did manage to put Mononobe’s pessimistic views of the citizenry and his more fascist ideologies into perspective. At least this was evened out by Ato’s revelation about why he chose Akira to be IX, and just the way he talked to Ato about his own views on money and people in general speaks volumes about just how different a person he is from the rest of the masses that Mononobe describes. In a way Mononobe is right, but Akira still possesses some of the optimism for the future of the people that Mononobe has lost.

While some might complain with Akira again acting the terrorist bit to try and salvage the situation, I think it’s missing the point of Akira’s last act entirely. Akira took the cudgels of blame again to drive home the point that the country’s solutions to it’s problems isn’t a radical, drastic and newfangled approach to changing the country, but instead tapping into the unused potential that has been inside the fresh and young citizenry of the country that has existed since the moment they stepped into the world.

THIS is the social commentary I think was the message of the story all along, and Ato Saizo helped bring it further into perspective by extrapolating on the point of how the older generations contributed in alienating the young generations due to their strict adherence to aging values that no longer completely work for this new and wired world. This is the reason why the story and Akira in particular had always highlighted the NEETs and brought them to the center stage: to show the rest of Japan the untapped potential in the youth that they had helped drive into their room watching anime and playing eroge all day.

Ato Saizo said it best: The young generations were the losers of the conflict between the old world and the new world. The very people who could have brought back Japan from the edges of economic turmoil were driven into their rooms by the sheer pressure of social conformity and adherence.

Akira became the scapegoat yet again as he had did before. I am very much sure that he had this in mind the previous times he tried because he knew: he was part of the new generation, and unlike some of the old ideas being driven into the minds of the youth, he believed in things very much differently. While the NEETs turtled in their homes, he was given the chance to make these fresh ideas into reality with the 10 billion yen. You could say that he became the figurative representation of the disillusioned youths and NEETs who’s heads filled with new ideas to turn lives around yet silently toiled in a strictly conformist society.

Which makes the suggestion that it all came back to the status quo rather unfair. We cannot really for certain say if his message actually caused any change in people in Japan but that’s not so much the point as it is the realization that there is INDEED a problem, and the solution lies in those with untapped capacity to cause this much needed change. If there’s any status quo being maintained here, it’s everybody else.

The amount of money isn’t as much meant to actually do something as it is a symbolic challenge. As we might have guessed it’s his way of saying “Here’s some cash, now go do something for others and yourself”. This is quite ironic because by this gesture he did the same thing as Ato. Maybe money won’t be enough to change things, but money isn’t the point as it is the meaning of him giving everyone 1 yen in e-money. It’s a starting point of sorts, and from there, everyone can move forward and do something with their lives and each other. I think this is the best scene of the entire series.

When the mind erasure sound came out again I was telling myself “oh fucking shit here we go again!”, and when it comes that it didn’t work on Akira I took a big sigh of relief. The man who was almost king fled again into parts unknown for more adventures.

Saki narrated how things did change a little but nothing permanent with the NEETs and public society took hold. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that his actions have done something, and based on public reactions and NEETs decision to make something of their lives, his words had at least taken root in the public consciousness even if they aren’t being acted upon by everybody. A pebble dropped in the sea starts as a ripple, but if not stopped can become a wave and all that cliche. Six months pass and no big changes have occurred,but it is starting because people know. They’ve been forced by Akira to deal with the gorilla in the room they’ve so far refused to see. Now that it’s been put into the spotlight and can no longer be conveniently ignored, it’s only a matter of time before everyone remembers again and true, drastic action is needed.

She says so herself. Things are changing in places the naked eye cannot see. This is where it all begins.

Whether or not they ever meet again we may never know. I personally believe they will once Akira has done what he needs to do. He did finally meet Ato again, and clearly he still has some work to do for the country. Once he’s done with what he needs to do, one of anime’s best leading men will have a young lady waiting for him.

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