Netflix execs’ appetite for anime clearly was not sated by the glut of Studio Ghibli films made available to stream on the platform in 2020. A few in-house animated series have been released, and now arrives Eden, the streaming behemoth’s first Japanese Netflix Original of its type (their previous efforts were mostly American-made), directed by Yasuhiro Irie (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), and produced/created by Justin Leach.
A short, three-sentence Robotic Code of Ethics prefaces the first episode, and presages humanity’s plight in this post-apocalyptic offering. The principal tenet is to support humans, and never to harm them. Their ability to carry out, or stick to these articles of programming are hurled into doubt only moments later, with the screen reading “Humans disappeared from the Earth 1000 years ago.” The stage is set for a dystopian sci-fi anime.
A millennium after the human race’s disappearance, robots maintain a peaceful, idyllic planet, the Earth sequestered into areas called Eden. This tranquillity is disturbed when Sara, an infant human, is found in a field in the Eden 3 region by robot workers – a pair named E92 and A37 (voiced by David Tennant and Rosario Dawson, respectively, in the English dub). The two robots decide to raise Sara, fearing what would happen to her should the villainous robot Zero (Neil Patrick Harris) and its security cartel find out about a human being discovered. Zero and its army of security robots have seemingly taken that original programme to a logical extreme, deducing that humans are in fact harmful to robots, and so cannot be abided. After E92 and A37 rescue Sara, the narrative leaps forward to Sara’s young adulthood, and a fateful discovery sets her on a path to save humanity.
As plots go, Eden’s is an immersive and entertaining one. There are twists, revelatory moments and interesting dynamics to be explored in this new world ruled by robots. But, if anything, these dynamics and this strange, beautiful world are hardly explored enough. There are only four episodes in this first season, after all. Still, it’s an often heart-warming post-apocalyptic adventure, and has an ability to touch on bigger questions concerning human ethics, without becoming a chore for kids to watch.
Eden is released on Netflix on 27th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for Eden here: