Politics, Religion, and Paradise – Speculations on Eden of the East

by eternal on April 22, 2009


I’ll admit: there will always be genres that I like more than others, regardless of objective quality. If it isn’t already obvious, I’m the kind of person that likes to dissolve into 13 episodes of rabu-rabu or moe-moe, and if not, I can only hope that the show will be funny enough to entertain me.

But of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and I think Eden of the East fits that bill for this season. Even aside from the unique premise and above average portrayal of America in terms of realism, it didn’t take long at all for the show to captivate me. It should come as no surprise, seeing as it’s an original story from the director of the Ghost in the Shell TV series, but the first two episodes really have exceeded my expectations.

However, the fact remains that there is precious little to say after only a few weeks, so I decided to try something familiar: taking a closer look at the opening and ending sequences and seeing what little treasures I could find.

And believe me, there’s much more than meets the eye.

The OP is by far the more interesting of the two videos, so I’ll start with a picture dump.


The first bit of text in the video, aside from the name of the show that flashes by for an instant, references the apparently essential event that occurred in the story. There’s no use in taking random guesses, which is what I would be doing if I were to speculate on the role of Careless Monday in the story, but it’s obviously a central aspect.



A couple religious allusions, which make up the majority of the song.


A quick reference to Akira’s organization’s name, which incidentally translates to The Selection.


The text on the pillars is minuscule, but if you look closely, it reads something like this:

The King has come! Let me walk with…Since we believe you…awaken my soul…O Lord, O Lord!

All of the sentences are cut off due to the awkward positioning, but looks like it continues on like a full-length prayer.




Interesting to see mention of a “demon,” which could be symbolic for oh-so-many things.




The small text reads:

With awe, down on my knees again
I’ve got to know you’re the one,
The only one reveals the world


Interestingly enough, the text in the background puts together the phrases scattered throughout the opening sequence.


The abuse of greatness is when it disjoints remorse from power.


Nobility obligates. The obligation of the rich to help the poor.


…And the tremendous power that the absurdly rich hold.


A repetition of the “king” lines, except this time with Akira in the forefront – literally.


The same quote from before about the abuse of power, except this time with Juiz’s name in prominent font. Juiz, the voice with the power to kill at a moment’s notice…and also the Portuguese word for judge. (Courtesy of Wikipedia, technically).


Mr. Outside? It’s anyone’s guess, I suppose, but that hand looks like it might be reaching for the memories that it lost…


Let me walk with you when I’m lost in the wild
I know you always lead me to another Eden
Let me bless your name, O Lord, O Lord!
Your words will never fade away
Since we believe you’re the light on earth
Reveals the world

And now, before the momentum is lost, a quick look at the images from the ED:






Pretty self explanatory: Saki is travelling, missiles attack, Akira emerges from his almighty cell phone, he starts running too, and they eventually escape the chaos together. Not so much foreshadowing as much as it is…well, common sense. Except…


I might be crazy, but Eden, damn it, Eden! Yes, yes, abstract art and figs and what have you…but wasn’t this the only coloured image in the video?

Now, for the piecing together. So far, I’ve caught three different themes or concepts hinted at in the videos: a modern day savior to rescue society from its failings, a philosophical question about politics that asks whether the current government is doing the right thing, and finally, allusions to paradise as portrayed in the bible.

What does this mean? Let’s see…

Let’s say that Japan is messed up. I’m not sure why – it just is. That means someone has to fix it, right? And radical organizations are everywhere in anime – in fact, Ghost in the Shell involved a villain or two that committed crimes for the sake of changing something about society. In this case, the “villains” have all the money in the world, so perhaps it really is the obligation of the noble to help the poor. Noble or otherwise, though, it isn’t uncommon for a group of extremists, especially in anime, to resort to violence to change the world.

So, how can one go about changing the world? I’m not quite sure. But those missiles are pretty interesting: acts of terrorism that didn’t harm a soul. And it looks as though we have an interesting group of twelve – twelve, I say! – people  wandering around Japan, talking to cell phones with a voice called Judge that has the power to kill at a whim. It seems to me like someone up above wants their modern day messiahs – or perhaps a single modern day messiah – to save Japan and liberate it from the trappings of…well, whatever was hurting it to begin with. Politics will be more remorseful, I suppose; and Eden will be created.

Suffice to say, this Eden will be located conveniently in the Land of the Rising Sun, making it a belonging of the East.

Having said that, I feel obligated to move back a few steps – throwing out a slew of disorganized (and possibly wholly incorrect) thoughts isn’t usually my thing, but sometimes it’s necessary, so I won’t hold back. I still find it interesting that the ending video began with the apple – with sin – portrayed on a perfectly blank sheet of paper, before disappearing into the chaos and introducing the present day. Eden did exist, after all; and it’s up to a select group of people to recreate it.

And while we’re at it, the song (transcribed here) might be foreshadowing the key to the entire story, particularly in the first paragraph/stanza.

I saw you in Heaven
and heard of your glory
You saved our world from the fallen angels
I saw Messiah standing,
Standing before me with no words
Nothing but “Hope”.
When we lost dread, a Demon was laughing
But now you are showing us wonder
Giving your love
With awe, down on my knees again
I’ve got to know you’re the one,
The only one reveals the world

Religion as a metaphor: it’s a classic because it works. My knowledge of theology is limited more or less to Wikipedia, but mankind essentially fell from Heaven after the incident with the Forbidden Fruit, correct? And, logically speaking, something or someone must have saved the human race from that fall. However, as society advanced, we lost our need to fear for our lives – in many places of the world, food and water are like air. We live lives of comparative luxury, losing sight of our primal instincts to survive – and the Devil Demon was laughing as the rich destroyed the poor.

But now, the Messiah has returned. A single group of revolutionaries has chosen – selected, if you will – twelve sons of Jacob apostles judges to fulfill the duty of the noble in aiding the weak, thus changing the world. Or, if you will, revealing the truth.

But I digress. What we do know for certain is that this story involves politics and crime – most likely terrorism. I think it’s safe to say that someone is trying to change something, but after that, we enter the realm of speculation. You’ve already seen my thoughts – aided by a post from The Null Set and some guy from deviantART that I found after taking those screencaps – but I get the feeling that the speculation will continue for much longer.

And that’s the way I like it. I usually try to understand the overall meaning of a story rather than the intricate (and often irrelevant) details, but when a show presents such a refreshing premise and mixes it with an astonishingly telling OP with a plot that’s just begging to be deconstructed, the details are everything. Whether I was right or wrong, I’ll be enjoying this one – and I’d very much like to see how this Battle for Eden works out from an ideological standpoint as well as a purely cerebral one.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

omo April 22, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Nice approach.

While reading your spiel, it occurred to me the title might be a metaphor of Akira’s predicament. It works out in a couple ways–Akira’s mental state is like the pre-apple state of Adam; the power bestowed to him by God-like Juiz, the temptations he faces, and what he choose to do about it–to game the system, to recover his memories, or whatever else to break himself out of the game… could be the fall. Well, I can just see it now, how the theme revolves around some kind of external influence in which benefits Japan but at cost of something…freedom? Independence? Dignity? Whatever it may be, Akira chooses the fall, and despite dear losses emerges “a better man” or whatever.

As to the apple…I think the ED animation team just took the concept of the show and ran with it. The apple is just for lulz and for allusion/thematic consistency.

omos last blog post..First Hop for Hatsukoi Limited


OGT April 22, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Personally I love the angle that Eden was in the west (the flaming sword and/or cherubim was set at the east entrance to the garden, implying that we are east of Eden) and Eden of the East‘s “Eden” is, well, in the east. I also generally like the symbolism that seems to arise from such–west = sunset, east = sunrise, which implies that Eden is not the “dawn” of humanity, but the twilight thereof.

I’m not for sure we’re going down another Tree of Knowledge thing (although we might), and I hesitate to really go all-out with the theories here (I’ve got a couple ideas stemming from the series and also the ED animation that I plan to postulate halfway through, maybe), but I do know that I eat this Biblical symbolism up like tasty delicious candy.

OGTs last blog post..RideBack: Giving Revolution the Right of Way


Martin April 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I didn’t really pick up on the religious slant to be perfectly honest. I’ve been sceptical of any religion-related references and imagery in anime ever since Evangelion, but I think you could be onto something here. There’s certainly a lot of hints dropped in via text in the opening animation (plenty of freeze-frame to be had there) and after looking up the lyrics to the song (long-standing Oasis fan here…of their older stuff, anyway) that seems to be an intriguing choice too.

The Bourne reference threw me off onto a political thriller train of thought though – my best guess at the moment is Akira is working for a covert government-based organisation with questionable tactics, and due to this shadiness he’s had his own memory wiped to stop himself regretting his decision to take that path. Again, my experience of the Bourne films has kinda biased me a bit there.

Martins last blog post..Final thoughts on Clannad ~After Story~


IKnight April 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Manual pingback: http://myanimelist.net/blog.php?eid=29212

‘The abuse of greatness . . .’ is from Julius Caesar.

IKnights last blog post..Is That Really You, Father Virgil?


A Day Without Me April 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm

I’m leery of pulling the song lyrics itself into this, given that, honestly, OP music itself often relates very little to the show at hand, but it might be worth pointing out that one of lyrics is ‘I tried to talk to God to no avail’ and another is ‘If you won’t save me, please don’t waste my time.’ The former is fairly easy to draw religious allusions to (duh, God), whereas the latter is a little less clear… however, if we’re speaking of messiahs already, then it becomes less difficult to see religious references in it.

A Day Without Mes last blog post..To Drop or Not to Drop


NyaChan April 23, 2009 at 7:12 pm

I don’t really have anything to add, just a minor comment. Skimming this post, looking up the OP and ED, then reading this post has made me decide to at least watch a little of Eden of the East ( Despite my backlog in anime. >_<; ). :D

NyaChans last blog post..Kashimashi Marathon


Omisyth April 24, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Great post, made me realise how layered the OP could be seen to be. Didn’t notice the apple either. Delicious symbolism.

Omisyths last blog post..A Short Note On Anime Watching


M12 April 25, 2009 at 2:10 am

Nice OP review. This is easiest my favourite show this season. Admittedly, I never paid that much attention to the opening. I just dismissed it as Engrish, which is wrong, or course. Hey, the characters in this show speak fluent English, which I was like “woah” over. So yeah, very nice :).

M12s last blog post..Google Translate


sakura April 25, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Nice dissection, I have to agree there is precious little to talk about. Hopefully we get to delve a bit deeper next episode, so I can post something other than Saki is cute.

@ M12, the OP is performed by Noel Gallagher from the British band Oasis :)

sakuras last blog post..SAKURA!!!!!


ETERNAL April 27, 2009 at 7:25 pm

@ omo: In a word, brilliant. That hadn’t crossed my mind at all, but reading what you said, it makes perfect sense. I’m not sure if any of this was intentional or if these themes and devices will really come into play later on, but your theory is sound.

@ OGT: Gotta love candy. It’s all speculation at this point, but that whole sunrise/sunset idea sounds great. Again, no one knows how much of this is true and how much is the crazy ramblings of fans, but it certainly make sense.

@ Martin: Well, the politics is the one thing we’re certain of. I doubt the religious references are coincidental, but they might not be deep either – much like Evangelion, they could just be there to fill the space and create the illusion of depth. (I think; I watched Eva years ago and never read any solid analyses.)

@ IKnight: Interesting. I haven’t read the play, and I probably couldn’t decipher Shakespeare without an external aid of some sort, but it looks like you did your figurative (or literal) homework.

@ A Day Without Me: Good point. I didn’t look too hard at the lyrics in this song in particular because I figured the band didn’t write it with the show in mind, but I suppose Production I.G. would have chosen the song for a reason. Upon closer inspection, it matches surprisingly well with the whole messiah/savior idea.


Alastor May 9, 2009 at 2:25 am

Finally getting around to commenting on your excellent Blog, hi :-)

AND finally catching up with Eden; what with preparing to move I’m several weeks behind ;_;

As the above Reply-er mentioned, Eden is one of my favorite series of the Spring as well. I really enjoyed your analysis of the OP and ED; the themes fit in remarkably well with the novel I’ve mentioned to you previously, especially the lyric(s) that A Day Without Me quoted, the first one specifically (and repeatedly), and the second by implication. One of the points I drive home is the question of what exactly is “God” without “dogma”… the answer lies closer to “the Truth” than whatever thousand-year-old decrees (over)state.

I rather doubt that the series will delve deeply into those themes that you mention from what little I’ve seen after just 3 eps (I hope so though); it sure will be interesting to see in what direction the creators take us with only 11 eps scheduled! Eden oozes quality, intelligence, and deeper thought… and surely deserves more time to tell its story. And Saki is love. I’m just sayin’.

Having Oasis doing the OP lends another pound of credibility toward having anime in general being seen by more of “the mainstream” as Something Serious other than the heavily-promoted “kiddie fare” that airs hereabouts and presumed to be the norm by those unaware of the medium. At least Oasis fans might check it out LOL (and that would be A Good Thing ;-) )

The effective OP reminds me of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” ED for Ergo Proxy, which was a touch of genius that added much to the atmosphere of that excellent anime. I’m hugely in favor of anything that helps to bring anime to its deserved position in the forefront of the creative arts, and popular music is a good tool to use to that end. (As you know, my Blog’s surreptitious and subversive purpose is slanted more towards enlightening the anime-unaware rather than catering to the old hands who have more than enough to chew on already, and attempts to “deliver the word” to those innocents who stumble in expecting to read about the Novel or other things *wicked laughter* )

Incidentally, aside from The Apple, I loved the “pencils-as-missiles” motif in the ED! Lots of thought obviously went into both of the bookend songs :-D

Thanks, and keep up the excellent work!

Alastors last blog post..The Craft-Work and Art of the AMV, Part One


ETERNAL May 17, 2009 at 9:22 pm

@ Alastor: Thanks for commenting! It’s interesting to see you mention Ergo Proxy; I haven’t seen the show yet, but it looks like the kind of thing that Western rock music could fit quite well if used effectively. I’ll be keeping my eye out for the song whenever I do get around to watching it :P


Alastor May 17, 2009 at 11:57 pm


I know you must have a large amount of Stuffs on your plate, but do try to check Ergo Proxy out! Its dystopian, dark, and mostly serious atmosphere is just the thing for balancing out all of the lighter fare we seem to be getting these days. And Re-l Meyer… if she isn’t an Amy Lee clone (Evanescence) I dunno what is LOL (And that’s definitely not a bad thing!)

But my favorite character is probably little Pino; just SO adorable. She could be seen as the true “heart” of the story given its nature, but I don’t want to give too much away ;-)

From what I remember, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke had nixed the idea of using Paranoid Android for the ED but upon watching a few episodes enthusiastically gave his okay. Too bad this series flew under so many radars… it’s quite unique!

And the OP is great too, speaking of a Western rock feel… plus it gives a nice overview of the main characters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oT2W3gaUBc

(If you do find some episodes, try to find the DVD versions as the broadcast ones all seemed way too dark. I was so impressed with the series that I bought the box set from Geneon, and it’s one of my faves :-D )

And after having watched more Higashi no Eden (getting back to the subject at hand), it’s really growing on me (personally, the mark of a potentially REALLY favorite series) and I can’t wait to see what happens next! It just gets better and better…

Alastors last blog post..The Craft-Work and Art of the AMV, Part One


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