Manga: Eden: It’s an Endless World!
Mangaka: Hiroki Endo(Story&Art)
Publisher: Egmont(Germany)
Original Publisher: Kodansha
Published in: Afternoon
Price: 6,10€
Released so far: Volume 1-15
Release Schedule: Volume 16: September 2008
Licensed in the US: Yes, Dark Horse
Additional Information: Extra Pages containing a short string of thoughts by Endo.

Okay, I finally got this review proofread, after 3 months, so I can do the last ‘touch-ups’ and post it! Now this review might seem out of context, but I back when I decided to write one, it was the time, when Dark Horse thought of cancelling Eden and I was very sad to see that apparently Eden wasn’t selling well in the US. I’m not sure if it’s selling here, too, but at least it’s nowhere near cancelling a series. In that context, I also read some reviews of Eden and found them to have a pretty negative attitude to Eden (Jason Thompson’s review in the Complete Manga Guide being one). So I sat down and re-read all the fourteen volumes and tried to find a reason why people do not like it as much as I do.

Eden: It’s an Endless World is illustrated and authored by Hiroki Endo. First I only wanted to give a quick overview of what happened in volume 1 to 13, and then post a full review of volume 14, so that at that time I would be up to date with the German releases without having to write full reviews for every volume (lazy me!). So here’s the volume1-13 review, full reviews for volume 14 and 15 review to follow, when I have time and feel like it. Therefore if you are reading the American releases, be aware of spoilers.


Eden Volume 12

So here’s the basic story-line for the first 13 volumes: The main protagonist, Elijah Ballard, is the son of the most powerful drug dealer in South America. His father, Ennoea Ballard, is also leading an opposition to Propater, a supranational institution that was born from the remains of the UN and the NATO (the idea of such an institution reminds me of the “League of Democrats” McCain mentioned in several interviews, etc.). The predominant plot in the first five volumes is Elijah’s planning on how to free his mother and sister, who are being held hostage by Propater. Sadly for Elijah, his attempt to rescue them fails miserably. First he’s only able to free his mother and she gets badly injured to the point of disability. The botched attempt completes the first “real” arc, if you don’t count the volume 1, which gives an insight to the basic status of the world.

The main plot shifts and the next arc focuses on Elijah’s maturing. He experiences his first love with Helena, a prostitute, and the cruel reality he had been secured from until. This arc lasts roughly 4 volumes and ends at volume 8 OR parallel to volume 9, as volume 9 is not used to pick up another thread that was left slumbering for the time.

Instead volume 9 and parts of volume 10 try to explain the political and the world’s situation more thoroughly than done before. The different situations in other countries are outlined (instead of laid out) and how they have an affect on/correlate with/influence the main plot. He uses it as an example to show how media can be used to influence, but also to inform people (in both positive and negative ways). The point in the live-cast of the slaughter at the refineries is to make Propater lose reputation and support with its inhabitants and the world population. It not only acted as a moral blow against the organization, so they might have to reconsider their way of acting (i.e. China doesn’t care), but also to show the world the true face of Propater. Behind this also lies Ennoea’s plan to forge alliances to create a bipolar system, by balancing the powers, so they can survive in a ‘self help system’ (also see Realism and Neorealism in International Relations).

In the later half of volume 10 Elijah’s first love, Helena, dies by the hands of professional killers, who were ordered to execute her soon-to-be husband, Leonardo Pessao. Pessao worked for the local police, but became a double agent, betraying Propater and was subsequently killed just before the two lovers managed to escape.

Plotting revenge, Elijah is allied with Pessao’s frustrated ex-partner, Miriam Arona. She joins his team after she finds out that her government has a hidden agenda: it wants to unite with Propater. At the same time, scientists’ are examining and experimenting on the colloids that have been continuing to expand in Australia at the Ayers Rock and now liquefying.

In volume 11 and 12 our protagonist’s vengeance leads them to Australia, a member-state of the Propater organization and therefore a dangerous zone for the two. Not long after, they are targeted and to top it off, even betrayed. The later part is used to tell us more on the colloids and explains some scientific stuff that’s too complicated to explain here and not interesting for me anyway. In volume 12 we finally get to see Elijah’s younger sister again; through her we learn about Elijah’s elder sister’s past and what happened to her. Furthermore, it reveals interesting facts on Maya’s mysterious existence and his final goal.

Volume 13 jumps to another scene and continues to spin new threads, yet by doing so Endo is slowly closing the gap between the different parallel running stories. The story takes a great leap forward (GO MAO!), as Elijah at last finds a way to rescue Mana while Miriam finally discovers the reasons why her partner was killed. Now she’s being targeted by Propater as well and only barely manages to escape.

I think with Eden Hiroki Endo managed to create a very quick-paced, action-packed manga that is not as unrealistic as some might think. Yes, there are some flaws, e.g. “Propater” being “the evil organization that has to be eliminated” or the “one-against-all” situation esp. obvious at the beginning of the manga. These small weak points can be easily overlooked, as the strong points outweigh the weak ones by far. The characters are very well constructed. They’re not “black” and “white”, like they are in many other seinen manga, most of them just “construct” the “grayness” by making them especially bad ass, but they actually just behave “black” and only do good things (Berserk, Blade of the Immortal).

That is as accurate as I can get without possibly spoiling too. I had troubles keeping it this short, but I think it went well. The review of volume 14 will be in much more detail, so look forward to it…or not.

Rating:
Story: 9/10 – Very thoroughly planned plot and new twists keep the 13 volumes an intense and unforgettable read.
Art: 8/10 – The later volumes display Endo’s art skills perfectly; from fluent action scenes to breathtaking city and landscapes, it has everything.
Enjoyment: 9/10 – I was sceptical at first, but soon came to love Eden! I didn’t like the first volume much, but everything that came after it, I adore.
Overall: 9/10

Comment on Egmont’s release : The first few volumes were still published under a different name and lack (a) decent paper and “design” quality, but the later volumes have the same standard as their other releases. I can’t judge the translation with my lack of Japanese knowledge, however the fact that the same translator has been working on all the volumes hopefully provides consistency and quality.