Wed, 15 April 2009
Manga review of Eden Volume 10 by Hiroki Endo. Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $12.95, Rated Mature 18+.
After delivering Marihan Ishaq, a Uyghur freedom fighter, into the hands of NOMAD, Kenji believes that he can take a well-deserved rest. But, alas, it's not to be, for Marihan escapes from her captors and goes on the run, not wanting to be caught by Propater, the Chinese government, or Kenji's organization. She again enlists Kenji's aid in an effort to disarm bombs planted by her own people in crowded Chinese public places. One of them has been planted at a shopping mall, so if nothing is done, hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people are going to die. Kenji usually doesn't do anything unless it serves his own purposes or that of his employer, but something in Marihan's sincere fight for her the rights of her people has touched a chord in him.
If the entire volume had followed this storyline I would have gushed over volume 10 of this classic series just like I've done over every volume that has come before. Make no mistake. I think Eden is the best manga being printed in English at the moment, and nothing really stands beside it. The characters are just so damn human! Most of the time, Kenji acts like a cold blooded killing machine akin to the Terminator, but here and there, Endo gives glimpses of a very sensitive and vulnerable man who was shaped by the sinister forces of this world to be something he was probably never meant to be. Marihan comes off as his shadow, but while employing violence in her own way, she fights for freedom and civil rights, not for pay. But even she has realized that killing is probably not the best way to achieve political ends.
Like I said, if Endo had ended the volume with the conclusion of the Kenji/Marihan storyline, I would've loved this book. But, Endo completely shakes up the cast and story by advancing time by 4 years, just like that, with no warning! In the flash forward world of Eden, a lot has changed. South America is now on the verge of joining Propater. Elijah and Helena are no longer an item. In fact, Helena is living with a just resigned cop named Leo Pessoa (who happens to be a triple agent for the cops, Enoah, and Propater), and Helena is planning to leave the country with him. Leo's former partner, Miriam Arona, steps into the story in what seems to be a major role, and possibly become a new love interest for Elijah. The Closure Virus has evolved beyond what we saw in the earlier volumes of Eden. It has gained sentience and has started to form "colloids", crystalline structures which assimilate organic and inorganic matter. This new form of the virus has claimed over 2 million lives so far.
I haven't decided whether I like the new direction Eden has moved in. Endo seems to kill off a very major character without blinking an eye. While this underlines the fact that anyone can go anytime in the real world, it still didn't seem to serve any purpose. I also would have liked to have seen the how and why of Elijah and Helena's breakup. It probably had something to do with the difference in their ages, but I had too much invested in those characters simply for Endo to gloss over whatever had broken them apart. It also seemed a bit jarring for Elijah to transform into a slick, cool, under control hitman helping in his father's business without knowing what happened to him in the blank of the four year forejump. Arona is too slight and trivial of a character to comfortably exist in Eden. Endo uses her a lot for comedy relief which undercuts her impact on the story. In fact, she is a hotblooded heroine that would be more at home in Gunsmith Cats than such a serious title as Eden. I'm not giving up on this new direction, since it might be just the newness of it that made me enjoy volume 10 less than other entries in this series.
My Grade: B+