Hiroki Endo calling his manga ‘Eden‘ is a hint. Eden is supposed to be a paradise on Earth, but Endo‘s version is more like Hell. It’s sarcasm on his part, I think, because this is a contrary and brutal series, where anything that’s good is crushed and anything that’s innocent is (often literally) raped. For the last few days I’ve hardly been able to believe my eyes whilst reading this; everyone keeps dying, and even those who do survive, do so minus their humanity, or, even worse, minus their eye-balls.
I won’t try to explain the plot. the writing operates on too broad a canvas to summarise briefly, but, obviously, this is a story concerned with the future of mankind. It’s a very Ghost in the Shell-informed future, in the way that people have begun sacrificing their natural bodies for technology upgrades; arms are transformed into extendible knives and faces spoilt by mechanical augmentation, but where Ghost in the Shell was usually set amongst society’s upper echelons, Eden is in the slums with the prostitutes and drug-dealers. The characters are desperate; people desperate to escape, but repressed by poverty and corruption.
The art is beautiful in a way that’s ultimately horrifying. I’m not sure I’d find this quite as affecting if it not for the cleanness of the drawing. It’s perfect, really, so perfect, in fact, that a character’s physical imperfection stands out all the more; the gross, virus-ridden skin; a myriad of artificial bones and muscles visible to the naked eye; wires plugged into beautiful faces. The clarity is such that one may feel the compunction to look away when things get bad. One nasty example I still can’t shake is when an important character steps on a land-mine. In any other manga, this character (an innocent, optimistic, pretty girl) would survive, but in Eden, she regains her consciousness, only to find that her lower half is missing.