Wow, long-time-no-post. Sorry for those of you who have given me so much encouragement over the Spiritual Bridges series. I don't actually plan when to write about an anime, manga, or video game; I just write about something when I discover it. And it's been a long time since I've discovered an anime with spiritual bridges--last Fall's season wasn't very good in that regard. This Spring, however, is different.
For those that read this series, I want to draw your attention to an anime that's currently airing on Fuji Television called Higashi no Eden (東のエデン), or Eden of the East. It is 11 episodes long (episode 8 just aired this week), to be followed by a theatrical movie later this year. I don't know, as of now, whether the movie will be a concise re-telling or the conclusion to the series. Time will tell.
The first thing to draw attention to is the staff behind this anime. It was animated by Production I.G., famous for their work on the Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex series and the Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit series, and many key staff members from those previous projects are involved in this one too. Anyone who has seen either of the previous series will tell you that that's a good thing.
The second thing to draw attention to is the premise of the story. At first, it seems like an animated version of the Bourne trilogy of movies, but it quickly throws in some other elements that differentiate it. For example, unlike Jason Bourne, Takizawa Akira (the lead male, also with amnesia) wasn't an assasin; he was a messiah (small "m"). He discovers that he is one of 12 messiahs in the country of Japan. Each person has been hand-picked and given a simple mission: change/save Japan by any means necessary. In order to do this, they've been given a phone charged with 10,000,000,000 Yen and access to a mysterious woman known as "Juiz" (Portuguese for "judge"), who, for the right price, can even influence the Japanese prime minister.
I'll leave the rest of the story for you to discover should you decide to check this series out, but I wanted to bring it to your attention. Why? Because it's one of the most respected animation companies, comprised of staff members that have their own following, that is brainstorming ideas of possible ways to save the Japanese culture. I doubt they'll come up with any viable solutions, but it illustrates many things that people are thinking about right now. Already, we've seen one messiah who uses his money to create a haven for abandoned elderly people in need of medical treatment and another who thinks that if he can support enough people in becoming NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), he can force business tycoons to start changing their practices. It's interesting, and it's food for thought. So, if you like this kind of story, check it out. I'm sure it'll be a good way to start conversations, if nothing else.
Follow-up: As the series goes on, we are introduced to many NEETs and even a Hikikomori. Both groups are portrayed in an extremely positive light that highlights not what they are, but what they could become if they were just allowed to use their gifts. After watching the finale, I will unhesitatingly pronounce it the best anime of this season, and recommend it to anyone. We'll see about a Spiritual Bridges post, but as the end of the season is not the end of the story, I'm not sure I can write that post yet.