Saturday, 9 May 2009

Eden of the East - Episode 5

After the revelations about the Seleção system came thick and fast in episode four, this week's instalment of Eden of the East switches much of its focus to Saki, although not before introducing us to another Seleção as well as giving us another clue as to what Akira did with all of those NEETs.

The new Seleção in question is a female who appears to be somewhat mentally unbalanced, waking up with a handcuffed naked corpse in a room she doesn't recognise, and calling Juiz to let her know that she's "done it again", asking her to clean up the mess. I'm hoping we're not going to have some generically evil character injected into this series because to be honest it doesn't need it, but it's looking like we'll be finding a lot more about this intriguing lady next time around.

Meanwhile, Akira bumps (unwittingly and unknowingly) into one of the NEETs he took "under his wing" before his memory loss, and it's fair to say that the chap was none too happy with Akira's actions, mentioning something about being dumped in the desert in Dubai at one stage, although tempering his tale by admitting that it helped him rejoin society as a result.

That aside, it's really all about Saki this time around, as she continues to struggle to come to terms with her feelings for her brother-in-law and has a disastrous job interview despite the strings that had been pulled for her to get said interview. However, upon leaving the building she finds Akira waiting there to whisk him away, standing up Ohsugi in the process, and she then proceeds to pour her heart out to our male protagonist.

Indeed it's this particular conversation, coupled with numerous snippets from both this and earlier episodes that seems to have now laid the foundations for the framework of this series. In short, Eden of the East seems to be building itself upon a discussion of the value, and perhaps decline, of society - From the NEETs taken in by Akira to the elderly cared for by Seleção number V, and from Saki's rejection of a job because she felt she'd be used by her employer to Akira's agreement that the working world doesn't deserve the likes of her. I'm not sure exactly where it's going along these particular lines, but coupled with the Seleção's mission to "save Japan" the obvious assumption to make is that their job is to save the countries from the social ills it has created from its own post-modern capitalist greed... Although giving people 10 billion Yen to save a country from greed has a certain ironic ring to it.

Anyhow, such discussions aside, there is once again much to enjoy about this episode. Saki's youthful, idealistic naivety and frail emotions show up in spades through the episode, but this naivety and inability to "find her place" deovetails perfectly with Akira's own plight - Saki may not have lost her memories, but she's also struggling to find out who she is and what she's supposed to do with her life just as Akira is. This somehow makes her final scene with Akira in this episode all the more powerful even when he doesn't say a word through much of it, and again builds up that wonderful dynamic between these major characters that we've enjoyed in previous episodes while also giving us just the slightest pause to question Akira's intents and whether they're as noble as they might seem.

There's also a little humour to be had from this episode, not least Akira's flippant remark about getting the Prime Minister to call him "Uncle" which ends not only with hilarious consequences, but also appears to be setting other wheels in motion amongst the Seleção. The news that this one word has also caused the Prime Minister's rating to climb is also doubtless a miniature commentary on the nature of politics in this era of wall to wall news coverage, while the cost of this act to Akira's bank balance was probably chosen with tongues firmly planted in cheeks too.

All in all then, another extremely successful episode of Eden of the East - Perhaps not the most explicit in terms of either its goals or plot and story progression, but there are plenty of subtle hints and scenes in there which have made things both all the more intriguing and even more complicated. I'm really starting to wonder how it'll all fit into eleven episodes though.


Anonymous said...

good review
yes "uncle" is hilarious
i don't know why that would be popular though
I would freak out if our president said that or stare blankly at the screen

Anonymous said...

"Unkle" means "you got me/you won" in Japan. "I want to make him say Unkle to me" like japanese say - popular expression. Juiz understood it literally when Akira said it and fulfilled his request :)

Hanners said...

Ahh, that suddenly makes a whole lot more sense, thanks for the input! Mind you, it was funnier when it seemed more random... :p

Anonymous said...

Making someone say "uncle" means the same thing in the US, although these days the term isn't used that way much anymore.

Anonymous said...

i dont get the uncle thing totally o.o
btw, what does NEET stands for?

CaptCrunch said...

"Say Uncle" is as American as apple pie. Most middle class citizen born and raised here know the expression as something second nature. If I were to visualize what it means, I see two people, one of whom had the other in a headlock - the one with the advantage says "Say Uncle!", the other then says, "Uncle!" and he is let go.