Amongst my list of favourite stock phrases, "from the ridiculous to the sublime" is up there as one of the best. However when it comes to Eden of the East, and in particular its final episode, both ridiculous and sublime sums it up perfectly.
With the plot to fire sixty missiles at Japan uncovered, the real question posed in this finale is how (or indeed if) Akira can save the countless people who would otherwise die this time... or perhaps the real question should be whether he even wants to given how we was betrayed last time around?
If you were a little confused as to what had happened on and around Careless Monday before this instalment, then it all becomes patently clear here thanks to Saki's explanation of exactly what Akira did and how the 20,000 NEETs fit into the picture, right down to why they hated him and why he shipped them all off to Dubai. Of course, those NEETs have now returned, giving the rest of the Eden team a bit of a problem having left the laptop containing the data sent by Itazu in the midst of the freshly returned (and thoroughly naked) crowd now rampaging through Akira's shopping mall. So commences some hilarious scenes, not least those as Saki and Mikuru made their way into the mall to try and do their bit to stop the attack.
As it turns out, Akira has it all under control, and the moment of truth as the build up to the missiles being fired really pins down what this series is all about - Making use of the best and brightest people on offer, even if they don't fit into what is societally accepted as "the norm". Thus, the NEETs save the day... on this occasion at least. But what is to become of Akira, and indeed Saki? Well, looks like we're going to have to wait for the two movies for the answer to those questions. Regardless, Mr. Outside's game is far from over (and who else wants to put a bet on that taxi driver that took Saki and Mikuru to the mall being Mr. Outside?).
So, ridiculous and sublime pretty much sums up this closing episode of Eden of the East, but if you're looking for a one word appraisal then "magnificent" would have to be that word. This series hasn't always got it right, but you can't doubt its ambition, nor can you doubt the fact that this is one of the finest anime series to see the light of day in recent years. In a way, this final instalment is a testament to the series as a whole, shifting effortlessly from farcical comedy to touching emotions (the scene where Saki offers her hand to Akira without saying a word was beautiful in its simple intensity), from insane conspiracy theories to even more insane conspiracy theories that come true, and at the heart of it all lies a firm yet even-handed message on 21st century modernity. Is modern technology isolating us from one another in society? Yes. Is it redefining the way people think, behave and make decisions? Yes. Is this a bad thing? It doesn't have to be, and Akira's unswerving confidence in the NEET "hive mind" he assembles couldn't make this point any clearer.
Whether you agree with the show's core perspective or not, Eden of the East is a stunning spectacle in pretty much every way you look at it - Visually, conceptually and in terms of story, it currently reigns supreme as the best series of 2009, and it's going to take a lot to supplant it. The first Eden of the East movie simply can't come soon enough.