Manga: Eden: It's an Endless World!
"If I were God..."
"I'm saving the world! You oughta try it yourself some time!"Eden: It's an Endless World!
is a cyberpunk manga by Hiroki Endo
set in the aftermath of a global plague that has radically altered the social and economic stature of the world, and tells the story of Elijah, the son of freedom fighter Enoah Ballard, who opposes Propater, a global pseudo-religious organization that tried, more or less successfully, to launch a coup d'etat on the entire world.
Not entirely successful, they kidnapped Elijah's mother and sister to keep Enoah from opposing them too much. Elijah fled Propater by escaping to South America with his father's combat robot for protection. Over the course of the story, he meets and joins forces with a variety of different, well-developed characters, all with their own motivations, problems, morals and ethics, relationships and agendas.
The story deals heavily with relationships, especially family relationships, religion, drug abuse, death and morality. The complex relationships between characters avoids many forms of easy classification, and many of the characters fail to fall into stereotypical moulds.
Still here? OK, let's dig a bit deeper. The series is perhaps best described as Ghost in the Shell
turned Up to Eleven
. Eden is extremely violent, filled with explicit sex and nudity, lots of philosophy, even more religion, and moral ambiguity in ways that would make Alan Moore
proud. Characters are regularly killed off, beaten, wounded, tortured, crippled, and raped by villains and heroes alike; and The Messiah
, despite the religious overtones, is a minor character.Eden
ran from 1998 to 2008 in the Afternoon
magazine, reaching a total of 18 volumes. The series is translated into English by Dark Horse
Manga, who publish volumes biannually due to low sales. Titan Books
publish the Dark Horse translations in England, while Egmont Anime & Manga handle the German translation and publication.
Eden: It's an Endless World! provides examples of:
- Adam and Eve Plot: Averted:
Layne: Well, you two can't be the only ones having babies! Your children would have to leave this island to meet up with other survivors. Inbreeding would result in recessive gene expression... and then man would die.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: In this case, it's not a human but a giant bacteriophage. Also, the colloid uses the forms of absorbed relatives and friends to convince people to join.
- And I Must Scream. Anyone infected with the closure or disclosure viruses will suffer a very slow loss of motor-functions as their skin hardens and their organs liquefy. Sophia ends up this way when Sheshoan makes her quadriplegic and rapes her repeatedly.
- Anti-Hero: Everyone
- Arm Cannon
- Author Appeal: Endo has a
thing for obsession with oral sex... and telling his readers about the dangers of STDs.
- Badass: This series has its fair share of characters who qualify, but Ennoia, Tony and Chad manage to stand out. Over the first five-to-six volumes, the reader is told that Ennoia and his left and right hands have a reputation as a total badass In Volume 17, we see why: Ennoia, Tony and Chad exterminate a Cartel alone.
- Big Brother Instinct: Kenji to Elijah.
- Black and Gray Morality: And the shades of gray can get really dark.
- Black Best Friend: When Elijah enrolls in a private school, he soon befriends one of the few black students there. Considering that they probably both face discrimination for being the sons of crime lords and their fathers are partners in crime, it's not that improbable. This friend also happens to be the nephew of Elijah's dad's right hand man.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Next to oral sex and tsunderes, this has to be Endo's favourite trope. It appears in pretty much every issue.
- Body Horror: The Closure virus causes the immune system to over-react, leading to the eventual hardening of the skin as the cells refuse endocytosis and exocytosis, covering the body in a solid ceramic shell while the internal organs undergo necrosis and pour out through cracks and holes in the hardened skin. The Disclosure virus is a mutated strain that causes hardening of internal organs as they pour out, turning the entire victim into a vaguely humanoid crystal. Feyman's virus is mild in comparsion, but manages to look like it was taken straight out of AKIRA.
- Book Ends: The covers for Volume 1 and Volume 18 are of Ennoia and Hannah lying on the flood next to wires and parts of Cherubim.
- Car Fu: Elijah rams a car into a cyborg at one point, crushing it into a wall. He then lights the car on fire.
- Child Soldiers: Elijah, Kenji, and Loji specifically.
- Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: Tony, Kahn, Sophia, and Elijah, among others.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Except for those whose motivation is revenge, it has an atrociously low success rate, realistically enough.
- Cold Sniper: Count the number of times where you see a character shot from a sniper rifle in prone position, performed a bolt action and an empty shell ejected drawn mid-motion.
- Combat Tentacles: The Aeons and Demille.
- The Cracker: Sophia, Maya
- Dropped A Bridge On Her: After a four year time skip, Helena is killed because she is standing next to the target of an assassination attempt.
- Dark-Skinned Blond: Helena, Pedro
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Helena. Also, Miriam.
- Disposable Sex Worker: Entire mansions filled with them!
- Distaff Counterpart: Letheia to Maya. She later starts referring to herself explicitly as the opposite to his rationality (nous).
- Dysfunction Junction: Kenji, Sophia, Colonel Kahn and Wycliffe all have various traumas, with Kenji and Sophia being specifically notable. Elijah quickly develops his own.
- Driven to Suicide: Purposely done to Pedro.
- Emotionless Girl: Letheia has no emotions at all as of volume 11, mainly due to being four years old. Sophia's backstory has elements of this.
- Enigmatic Minion: Maya, who steals his own body from Propater and immediately joins them afterwards. He's secretly acting as an agent of the Disclosure virus. Maybe.
Demille: So you still work for Propater?
Maya: For now.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Elijah believes that even as a criminal he should have certain standards such as not killing people by beating their teeth out with a hammer, cutting their balls off and shoving them down their throat before sewing the mouth shut. He's chewed out by his father's henchmen because criminals do "rule through fear" according to them.
- Evilutionary Biologist: The disclosure virus.
- Expy: Sophia is Endo's take on Maj. Kusanagi(with a boatload of differences) while Maya, as an insufferable, obnoxious Enigmatic Minion working as an agent for
the evil organization that lurks in the background the alien that wants to assimilate everyone himself clearly parallels Kaworu Nagisa, down to having a less-evil, emotionless Distaff Counterpart that accompanies the hero. The Ministry Spy is a Shout Out to the Yakuza vat-grown assassin from Johnny Mnemonic, only less vat-grown and more evil.
- Eye Squick: A lot. Helena's eye is perhaps the worst.
- False Flag Operation: NOMAD hired an extremist muslim group to raid a Propater laboratory - this was only a guise to trick a Propater scientist-turned-spy help Kenji's brother's mercenaries infiltrate the base in order to have Propater fight back so that their illegal lab was exposed in order to strain Propater-China and Propater-Islamic Alliance relations.
- Fanservice, Fetish Fuel and Fetish Retardant: Any combination of those three occurs quite often.
- Filth: Volume 2 has a single image of fellatio with both participants fully clothed, and a few naked people. Volume 4 has a fairly tame sex scene. Volume 6 has a quick montage of some slightly more graphic ones. Volume 7 has an orgy. Volume 8 has two chapter-long, extremely explicit sex scenes between a 15-year old boy and a 23-year old woman. Volume 9 has scene depicting a pedophile raping a 6-year-ish old boy. Makes you wonder if Endo can possibly go any further...
- Your mileage may vary on this. The amount of sex is about equal to some other seinen manga, and isn't that graphical (fairly tame actually). It also lacks mass-rape, unlike, say Berserk.
- Genius Loci: The disclosure virus.
- Gorn: All the time. Katchua's death and especially Helena's torture stand out though. The realistically depicted torture and torture-murder in vol. 12 is even worse. There's exposition.
- Hadaka Apron: Elijah, of all people, does this to Miriam. Apparently Helena though it was funny, and Elijah didn't catch the sexual subtext. Then Feng walks in the door, and Elijah goes to get it...
- He later stops acting stupid and insists on wearing only the apron while he lives with Miriam and Feyman. It's all part of his plan to use Miriam as bait for Propater. One might wonder if he could have found a less lecherous way to get her to leave...
- At a later point, he also wants Miriam to wear it. (Or rather, not wear it.)
- Heroic BSOD: When Elijah realizes that Manuela used her own daughter as bait, he despairs. When he realizes said bait was meant to die, he completely loses it and kills Manuela A little later he's hit by the guilt. Marihan's BSOD is longer, but not as prominent.
- Even more so, when Mana dies, Elijah completely crashes.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In volume 9, Marihan sacrifices herself to prevent a terrorist bombing.
- He Who Fights Monsters
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Helena (Although the "love interest" part should probably be exchanged for "mother figure." Both perhaps...?) Yup. Fifteen year old boy and prostitute. Nobody has problems with that pairing, do they? and Manuela.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Kenji can throw a knife down the barrel of gun.
- Infant Immortality: Averted very gruesomely.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Helena
- Kick the Dog: Everyone has their moments, but Elijah killing Manuela manages to stand out. Also, the entire Mana rescue arc.
- Kid Hero: Deconstructed
- Land Mine Goes Click: They also go "boom"
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Ennoah, Hannah, Elijah, Sophia, Kahn, Wycliffe, Kenji, Helena, Katchua, Maya, Mana, Letheia, Arona, Wendy, Fong, Marihan and Mishima, as well as an even larger assortment of minor characters.
- Love Martyr: Helena accuses Katchua of this, placing emphasis on the mindless loving.
- Love Redeems: Helena has some interesting views on this (below), compare/contrast Elijah's father's views in the same issue.
Elijah: I lov...
Helena: Shhhh! Forgives doesn't make the sin go away.
- Mercy Kill: Katchua was killed after losing her lower body to a land mine, although Helena didn't think it was necessary to kill her.
- Man on Fire: The explosion version, the flamethrower version and the torture-death version.
Elijah: Did you not use enough explosives?
- The Messiah: A female muslim terrorists who cares about the lives of her hostages with no intent of actually killing them, betrays other cells to stop terrorist bombing and is the nices person in the series who isn't a young child.
- Men Don't Cry: Note that this is after her lengthy troubling flashback, and prompts his.
Sophia:So when's the last time you had a good cry?
Sophia:What? Why do men always give me weird answers to that question?!
- Multinational Team: Kahn's freedom fighters: Colonel Kahn is Georgian, Wycliffe is Caribbean, Sophia is Greek and Kenji is Japanese. They're then joined by Elijah, who is descended from Americans, Helena, who is from Lima and Katchua, who is Incan-descendant Peruvian. In a later volume, Kahn says he always works with multinational teams, because it's no fun when everyone are the same.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Played with. When two intersecting triangles where one of the catheti in each triangle is the hypothenuse of the other triangle, an third party murders both hypothenuses, leading the remaining cathetus to ally and seek revenge for their unfaithful partners.
- Night Vision Camera: Despite the meticulous research Endo includes in Eden, he still manages to make a character look through plastic with both far and near -infrared vision.
- The Nosebleed: Notably averted in early volumes. Hiroki Endo's Face Faults are more expressive. A very subdued version appears later in the series, represented as a tissue paper stuck up one nostril. Endo is rather inconsistent with it too.
- Oedipus Rex: Kenji, to Colonel Kahn
- Only Six Faces: A major issue with certain characters, to the point where characters not only have the same faces but also the same clothes; It's impossible to tell the difference between Naomi and Cheng, the latter of which spends almost an entire chapter without being a name, but appears several volumes after Naomi has become a regular minor character.
- Parental Incest: Sheshoan really did love her mother...
- Porn With Plot: There is a plot that requires an extreme attention to detail and knowledge of quantum physics and familiarity with other works by other authors in different genres (none of which are easy to understand) There is sometimes explicit porn or, in fact, a whole subplot about the face of underground porno industry.
- Primal Scene: Mana, in her single digits, found her sister in a rather intense act. It, like everything in this series, ends horribly.
- Psychic Nosebleed, Subverted: Hacking causes nosebleeds in people who should't have circulatory systems.
- Psycho for Hire: The unnamed assassin in volume 7. Considering NOMAD is a mercenary organization, Kenji would be a
heroic variation on this trope.
- The Rant: Each volume has an entire page at the end where Endo rants about something tangibly related, ranging from his work as cook in a restaurant to just ranting on about paraphilia and sex or the Japanese economy.
- Rape as Backstory: Kenji Considering how completely messed up he is, this is hardly suprising.
- Razor Floss: One of the weapons of the Ministry Spy.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Helena does not want Elijah's pity.
Helena: "OHH! But I'm surprised to see that the son of the boss of South America's biggest drug cartel is in a place like this. You know what kind of slums and ghettos I grew up in? All the young men there get their girlfriends using drugs to make them all excited in the sack, see? When the women get hooked on the drugs they'll do absolutely anything for it. So they send their women out to stand on the street. And then suddenly the guys become pimps, without having to move a muscle. If they do very well, after a while they might become the head of their own prostitution ring. Heroin, cocaine... ...that's what killed a lot of my friends in the business. The stuff your father sells, right?"
Helena "Then, once they came to the mountains the guerrillas exploited the Indios in the coca fields... ...and when they found pretty young girls like Katchua they'd rape them to while the time away."
Helena: "You were raised to be so big and strong thanks to the sacrifice of girls like her. Your father must be awfully proud!"
Helena: "Thanks for saving us, eh? Elijah."
- Replacement Goldfish, Lampshaded: Kahn tries to use Kenji to replace his son, as does Sophia. Kenji uses Sophia as a replacement for a mother he never actually met, and Kahn to replace his father. The Automater is an interesting take on the trope, grooming young males she finds to replace the sons she never could have.
- Revenge: One of the ongoing themes of Eden is the Deconstruction of this concept.
- Science vs. Religion: The existence of cybernetic cardinals suggests otherwise.
- Also, just about everyone is asked by someone at some point "do you believe in God?"
- Single Issue Psychology: While the Automater and Wycliffe have certain issues arising from single events, the only people with significant psychological problems achieved these through continued physical abuse or continued neglect. Sophia lived through her entire childhood without any help for her continued self-harm and multiple suicide attempts.
- Six Lines More Waiting: By volume 11, there's Elijah and Letheia looking for Mana, Arona, Wendy and Fong following the trail of Arona's husband's killer, Mishima investigating the disclosure virus, Ennoha's war against Propater, Sophia and Kenji running operations for NOMAD, and whatever Maya is up to.
- Shout Out: The cybernetics in Eden: It's an Endless World! is
reminiscent taken straight out of Ghost in the Shell, which Endo acknowledges by mirroring the cyborg operation from the Ghost in the Shell Graphic Novel. His Power Armor are inspired by Shirow Masamune's Landmate-designs in Appleseed and their aerial deployment is one long ode to Starship Troopers (of note, the design for Shirow's Landmates were based on Heinlein's ideas) while Mishima's exposition about the colloid, in addition to Letheia's character design owes a lot to Serial Experiments Lain. Hacker jargon is, of course, references to Neuromancer and the Ministry Spy uses the same weapon is the vat-grown Yakuza hitman does in Johnny Mnemonic. Blade Runner references are of course also abundant.
- STD Immunity: Notably averted. Several character, major and minor, catch some form of [STDs over the course of the series, and Endo had footnotes, asides and entire panels explaining the need for proper protection and cleaning to avoid STDs.
- Suicide by Cop: Volume 9: Marihan, in order to be ejected through the window out of the building with the bomb she's carrying.
- Token Mini Moe: Loji
- Tsundere: Surprisingly few appear, especially considering the page-long rant at the end of volume 8:
Exerpt: To me, the definition of a "good woman" is "a woman who's suited to slapping others," and - if possible - then calls you a name like "Coward!" "Creep!" is fine too. I wouldn't mind "Pervert!" either. Of course, if she really thought you were a pervert, I guess she'd give punch rather than a slap - no, she'd attack you with an electric stun gun.
- The Unfettered: Ennoia Ballard. He sets himself up as the most powerful drug lord in South America so he can keep his family isolated in luxury away from the rest of the world. He states his philosophy as: "People who are really important to you should be treated with unlimited love, and all others treated with unlimited cruelty."
- Viewers Are Geniuses: What did you expect from an author who wrote that the original ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion "didn't leave [him] unsatisfied"? Volume 11 requires the reader to piece together three separate discussion of quantum physics to understand what is going on.
- Where It All Began. Everything starts at a small island neat the equator, everything culminates at that same small island near the equator.
- Younger Than They Look: Sophia looks like a teenager but is really 41. It is mentioned that using cybernetic bodies this way is illegal. Then again, what do you do when you in your late teens place your brain in a body that doesn't age?
- Yank the Dog's Chain: The Mana rescue arc is stuffed with Deus ex Machina and Diabolus ex Machina to keep readers on their toes.
- Zipping Up The Bodybag: Enoah's in the final chapter.