Between preparing for Anime Expo this coming Wednesday-Monday to selling off old PC parts, I got around to finishing both Cowboy Bebop and Eden of the East this weekend. Bebop was a series I’ve been meaning to re-watch, and Eden was a show that fell under my radar during its initial run due to what I thought was a sluggish first few episodes. Boy, was I wrong. And perhaps Bebop’s deep and well-produced stories helped condition me to appreciate Eden so many seasons later.
It was refreshing to hear Saori Hayami as Saki Morimi in contrast to her up and coming rolls I’ve seen this past year – Ayase Aragaki in Ore no Imouto; Arashiko Yuno in MM!; Chiriko Tsurumi in Ano Hana; Haqua du Lot Herminium in TWGOK. Likewise, Ryohei Kimura as mind-wiped, Johnny-loving Akira Takizawa was a pleasant surprise – Hinata from Angel Beats, anyone? The carefree attitude that Akira had despite everything that happened to him was portrayed well by his voice actor. I couldn’t help but cheer him on throughout the series for his ability to shrug many seemingly serious situations off in lieu of staying levelheaded and confident while keeping a genuine smile on his face. Saki’s own personal struggles that meshed with whether to help and even trust Akira to find his true identity made for lots of melodrama that led me appreciating her character and her fellow club members every time she and the gang appeared on screen.
But eleven episodes later and I still feel like there are too many plot holes left uncovered and questions that have yet to be answered. The origins of Mr. Outside’s game were explained, but we still don’t know if he’s alive and still orchestrating the game. What happened to the Supporter, and who is s/he? Number 11’s little stunt with the black wings illusion had me thinking that the show just dipped into the supernatural as opposed to its comfortable mystery/suspense niche. And I’m sure this will be covered in the movies when I get around to watching them, but the rather open-ended ending left me feeling like I’ve either been cheated out of a decent conclusion if not for knowing there were subsequent films.
Despite the gaps in story in between the series and the films I’ve yet to see, I really enjoyed the show (especially Juiz’s ever-changing responses to each Celecao’s requests for her services). The concept of the story itself could have been a really good OVA or movie from the beginning; that said, I couldn’t help but power through each episode like a marathon (luckily, it was a short season). The concept of a game to better the Japanese society through large sums of money, mind-wipes, extensive amounts of NEET, and technological thrillers was done well enough to capture my attention for an entire weekend. I’ll hold off on any solid, final judgement on the series since I haven’t seen the movie sequel(s) yet, but I definitely think this series is watchable with an open mind and a good taste for attempting to piece together parts of a larger puzzle. Think Gosick, but with 21st century cell phones, Google Maps/Yelp technology but with cell phone photos of people and places (I actually don’t see this concept as being too far off from current tech trends), and lots and lots of Johnnies to go around.