The list can seem endless for new fans looking to get into anime. While it might seem like a no-brainer to start with tried and true classics like Samurai Champloo or Cowboy Bebop, there are other series that rank up there as well-deserved gateway anime. One such series is the 2009 anime Eden of the East — but what exactly makes for a good entry anime for new fans, and why is Eden of the East among some of the best options?
Eden of the East follows Saki Morimi and Akira Takizawa as they uncover the mystery of the Seleçao, the game they’ve been chosen to play, and how it all leads to the salvation of Japan. Saki Morimi is visiting the White House during her graduation trip when she suddenly gets into trouble with the police for tossing a coin onto the White House lawn. She is saved by a naked Japanese man, who later introduces himself as Akira Takizawa. Without a memory, but with a phone loaded with 8 billion yen in cash, both Saki and Akira quickly find themselves embroiled in a meticulously thought-out game to save Japan.
What Makes a Good Gateway Anime?
A big factor in what makes for a good gateway anime is the ease of watching. If a series is incredibly long-running, it might put off new fans unsure of committing to the long length to see what’s offered. Too short a series, however, and viewers might worry there’s not enough to keep them hooked. Eden of the East is a well-condensed 11 episodes in length, and despite its short length, it manages to tell an engaging, mysterious political thriller story with engaging characters.
Eden of the East also has outstanding production quality — another key factor in a series looking to bring in new anime fans. The animation is high-quality and expressive, and the charming character designs and detailed background shots are all dynamic, making it easy for viewers to be drawn in. The unraveling of the mystery of Akira’s identity and the entirety of the game at play is done at a good pace to keep things engaging without becoming convoluted. A good entry anime needs to be easy to understand while also being exciting to watch, and Eden of the East delivers on both fronts.
While being a series engrossed in political intrigue, mystery and psychological thriller, Eden of the East remains relatively light-hearted. It’s not overtly dark and grim despite the race to try and save Japan via a game or the unraveling of the mystery behind the Careless Monday missile attacks. Because the series abstains from depressing overtones or being too heady in its mystery, it’s a relatively easy watch regardless of how well-versed someone might be with political thrillers and mysteries.
Eden of the East is an anime that regularly lands itself on lists of series good for first-timers, and for numerous reasons. It’s a short and simple watch, while still being incredibly unique and engaging in its premise and execution. It’s also a visual delight, which is a big selling point for anyone looking to step into the world of anime. Despite now being over a decade old, the series still holds up as a great contender for beginners to start with, or even a series to add to one’s regular anime rotation.
Eden of the East and its films can be streamed on Funimation, and the series is available for purchase on Amazon Prime.