Years in the making, Justin Leach‘s Eden is alive on Netflix as a four episode short series featuring a plucky heroine and her family of robots. Made with plenty of love and backed by an all-star cast, Nick and Jean-Karlo find out if Eden sticks its landing.
This series is streaming on Netflix
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Well Jean-Karlo, I knew the day would come where we’d have to talk about this show. I figured it’d be in Netflix Jail a little longer, but I guess we couldn’t be free from talking about Hiro Mashima‘s milquetoast shonen oatmeal forever. Let’s get this over with and talk Edens Zero.
Huh, there’s a lot more CG than I was expecting. And nowhere near as many big-boobed women in bondage as the manga. That’s kinda…wait a minute.
I’m surprised Mashima didn’t bolt a massive pair of boobs onto those robots, yeah.
Ah shit. My bad.
We’re doing regular flavor Eden this week, not the Zero Calorie version. Whoops.
So, it’s like this: it’s the year 3000-ish. Humanity has vanished from this world. All that’s left is restored apple orchards and Eden, a massive robot-run edifice.
That’s perhaps the defining feature of Eden. It is very cute. It’s all rounded edges and bright colors, and you could probably show this to a little kid with no problem. And that’s a perfectly fine thing to be, but also kind of leaves me, as an adult with a sore back and tax paperwork, grasping for things to talk about.
Yeah, I didn’t want to get ahead of myself but Eden reminds me a lot of a Mamoru Hosada movie in that it desperately wants to be About Something™ but it ultimately just doesn’t have much to say at all, so all you’re left with is a lot of saccharine scenes of families being cute together. And make no mistake, that’s perfectly fine! Kids or people who don’t overthink their media like I do will find a lot to love here. But for other folks, Eden is just kind of a nothing-burger.
Look at that guy. He’s great. I want to see him square dance and never learn where he got the hat.
Ah yes, John! I like how the sculpting on his chassis looks kinda like a cowboy’s mustache.
Does he do much? Not really. But you put a funny had on a robot and I’ll be amused for a good while.
Even robots cannot avoid the allure of VTubers.
It’s just a neat little idea, and I kind of wish the show leaned in harder on left-field details like that. Would make it stand out a lot more.
At a length of four 25-episodes, this is just a little under 2 hours long. You don’t have terribly much time to do much, and as a result Eden feels a bit insubstantial from how quickly it breezes by. Details like this would definitely make this world feel more lived-in, although considering the world is inhabited by unfeeling robots I guess feeling sterile is the point?
Sara’s the biggest aspect of this story that feels like missed potential. As-is she’s not bad, but for a character who has to carry 90% of the emotional stakes of this story, she’s a little too plain to really leave an impression.
She definitely is. She loves her robot parents, she’s rebellious, and… that’s about it. Put her in a crowd of other Ghibli heroines and I wouldn’t be able to pick her out.
At any rate, Sara hopes that following the distress signal might lead her to other humans like her. So she packs her bags and heads back to Eden, knowing that Zero would blow his fuse if he catches her.
Also, Zero somehow justifies this because “humans are evil” (that old canard) and his proof is that… Sara defends herself from his robot guards when he sics them on her? Because self defense is bad, apparently?
Girl I’m pretty sure committing mass murder is a lot more evil than giving some robot dented chassis.
And it’s even more curious that someone would build a robot whose job is to kill humans—when Eden begins, we are presented with a list of rules that roboticists must follow in designing robots.
They’re basically The Three Laws of Robotics, For STEM Students. And while starting your robot-themed anime with a breakdown of The Three Laws is kinda hackneyed (anime writers, I wouldn’t mind if you used Tezuka’s Ten Principles someday!) it’s nice to see that someone in this world had the foresight to impose ethics upon techbros.
In his daughter’s honor, Dr. Fields preserved his house (which his daughter cutely designated the first Eden location, “Eden Zero”). But when he woke up, looters had apparently ruined the place as the rest of humanity died off. And so even though the perfect world had been made, he just… decides humans aren’t worth it and turns himself into a human-killing robot.
And to seal the deal, he even locks away his human memories. Also, as it turns out, his wife was a mathematician, and her favorite number was Zero. See what they did there?
Though at least the climax is a big mecha fight. It’s not amazing, but it’s something.
Jokes aside, while Eden isn’t bad per se, it’s definitely slight. The solid design work, animation, and excellent musical score make it a fine enough watch, but it also kinda feels like something you put on to keep a 6-year-old occupied while surfing Netflix.
Like I said earlier, I feel bad about tearing into Eden because there’s effort in here and I know for sure people will latch onto the cute emotions. But it definitely feels like it has higher ambitions and it just doesn’t reach that point. A lot of the robotic fiction in here is hackneyed. Sara herself doesn’t have much to go off of. Eden is pretty and I appreciate that it’s more of a low-key series and not another attempt at making a Serialized Action Cartoon™. But I sure am bummed that I don’t love Eden more than I do.
This has been a great season for robots and emotions. Eden tries its hardest, but you’d best turn to another show to see robots demonstrate how scarred souls shine like stars…