And a partridge in a pear tree

The tenth volume of Hiroki Endo’s Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse) offers the following diversions:

1. A desperate race to find a bomb planted by terrorists
2. A shocking double execution
3. A shocking single execution
4. A high-speed chase
5. The introduction of new characters
6. The return of old characters
7. Weighty discussion about the nature of life, sentience and evolution as they pertain to a creepy virus that turns people into crystal
8. Two big explosions
9. Inter-agency tensions in the criminal justice arena
10. Citizen protests
11. Subdued but affecting portrayals of grief
12. Mildly gratuitous nudity that manages not to seem exploitative or too forced, which is probably the best kind of gratuitous nudity
13. Giant robots

I think it’s fair to say that’s a whole lot of stuff to try and put into even 232 pages of comics, but Endo manages it with his customary confidence and force. I continue to be amazed at how he can weave from thread to thread and theme to theme and not lose me even a little. He’s clearly managed to craft characters with enough specificity and depth that I remember them even after a long absence, along with scenarios and arguments persuasive enough to linger and resonate as they propel the story in new directions.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting with volume 10, because you’d probably end up being impressed with Endo’s craft and Dark Horse’s production values but hopelessly lost by the story. I would recommend starting with volume 1 and enjoying the story as it progresses, demonstrating forbearance during the shockingly trite drugs-and-hookers mini-arc in the middle, and celebrating as the series returns to form after the pushers and pimps are dispatched.

6 Responses to And a partridge in a pear tree

  1. John Jakala says:

    Darn you. I just started reading Endo’s Tanpenshu Vol. 1 last night and I’m enjoying it much more than I did the first few volumes of Eden. I was already thinking maybe I should give Eden another chance, and then you go and write this. Like I need another manga series to start reading, esp. one that could vanish from DH’s publishing schedule at any moment.

    On the other hand: “Wizard’s 2007 Manga of the Year!”

  2. jun says:

    Wow, know what impresses me most on this list? “Subdued but affecting portrayals of grief.” I love emotionally affecting manga.

  3. Huff says:

    I’d say this was the best Eden volume in a long while. Even volume 9, with its devotion to the badass that is Kenji, was a little disappointing due to the cliched nature of its social commentary as communicated through Marihan. I think a lot of people pick up the series and expect another Akira because of its setting and art. While there definitely are similarities between the two Eden lacks the sprawling, multi-layered plot (not to mention the metaphysical elements and the effective social commentary) that defined Otomo’s manga. If anything I’d compare it to Blade of the Immortal: as important as the plot and the setting are the series is at its finest when Endo devotes himself to human drama. The man has a real gift for character development (and making you care about those characters), and as interesting as the virus and the computer system are what elevates the work. Well, that and his talent at rendering awesome action scenes.

  4. davidpwelsh says:

    Oh, I loved Marihan, so the commentary aspect didn’t really strike me as flat. I just thought she was remarkable and better than so many similar characters — really persuasive.

    But I think you make an excellent point about the characters. The set pieces would be amazing under any circumstances, just from the point of view of craft, but they really sing because Endo has done such strong character work. They’re populated instead of just cool, though they’re certainly cool.

  5. […] Speaking of whom: Here’s David Welsh on the new tenth volume of Hiroki Endo’s well-crafted action thriller, Eden: It’s an […]

  6. Huff says:

    My problem with Marihan is that she’s felt like a combination of two equally annoying and overused archetypes: the hopelessly idealistic character who has to come to terms with the harsh reality of the world, and the preachy, “You don’t know what I’ve suffered” character who is annoying even if their spiel is justified. I ended up empathizing with her in the end but her persona was completely unoriginal, and I feel that Endo could have done much more with that arc had he developed the Kenji/Marihan-relationship better.

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