One of the biggest problems with Netflix’s latest slew of anime comes from its the length. From Yasuke’s five episode stint to Pacific Rim’s seven chapters, there’s just not enough time to flesh out the world and tell the story trying to be told. There’s a reason most network anime range from 13 to 24 chapters and that much is especially apparent with Netflix’s latest project, Eden.
The world we jump into takes place 5000 years in the future. Humanity has all but disappeared from the planet. Lush vegetation is everywhere and robots live in harmony, picking apples and going about their endless days on a repeated, programmed loop.
On the surface, Eden is a beautifully constructed idea, centering around this group of AI robots and a discovery that changes everything. That change comes in the form of a human girl called Sara, whom two robots secretly raise without arousing suspicion from the other bots. Through the years, Sara grows up and realizes there are dark secrets lurking in the corners of this lush, utopian world – and she intends to figure out what they are.
In terms of background, Eden nails its aesthetic and the mystery is actually quite endearing. At least for the first episode anyway. With only four chapters to chew through, Eden blasts through its storyline without so much as savoring its flavour. It never allows any time for us to warm to the characters and the story beats are never allowed to really grow and blossom.
That’s a real shame because Eden actually has a lot going for it. The world itself is so interesting but it’s criminally underutilized, pushed aside in favour of a simple story that sees Sara head off in search of any possible human survivors. She’s not alone though, and her identity soon becomes apparent to Zero, the dictatorial leader of Eden One.
As the episodes progress, a cat and mouse chase culminates between the pair, leading to the usual big action stand-off at the end. While the final scenes are quite conclusive, there’s undeniably a feeling of underwhelm note the lack of depth given to what we’re shown.
There’s some nice themes in here as well, centering around freedom, happiness and different ideologies. There’s no doubting that this brave new world is successful but question marks are undoubtedly raised when we learn Zero is the one in charge.
By comparison, you have Sara who questions the status quo and exhibits that free will lacking in AI thanks to its programming. Only, the show never really dives into the big philosophical questions, nor does it have the run-time to allow us, as the audience, to ponder these big questions.
It’s such a shame too because with another 7 or 8 episodes, this could easily be one of the best anime of the year. The story is interesting and the world is fascinating, with echoes of Horizon: Zero Dawn here in the way the world has been constructed. Unlike that video game however, Eden never realizes its full potential.
Ultimately, Eden is a short and sweet anime that squanders its potential thanks to a short run-time and a blistering pace. The lack of characterization and an under-utilized world don’t help, although this is undoubtedly a good-looking anime. In the end, those venturing inside this garden of Eden will find their time ended abruptly, long before experiencing the wonders lying within.