Eden Vol. 1

By Hiroki Endo
216 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

Science-fiction stories about a future apocalypse are a dime a dozen. Like so many stories, the secret isn’t necessarily what the story’s about, but rather how it’s told. That for me was the case with Hiroki Endo’s Eden; while Endo’s basic ideas were good in their own right, it’s the storytelling that ultimately sold me.

Enoah and Hannah are living in Eden, but the rest of the world is anything but. A virus has ravaged the planet, killing most of its population. Now the only survivors are either those who were born with immunity to the virus, or people who have upgraded their bodies into cybernetic forms. When the outside world invades Eden, though, Enoah is confronted with the past of both his and Hannah’s protector, as well as that of his long deceased family. Can one spot of paradise still remain even as the rest of the world continues to crumble?

Reading the first volume of Eden, one gets the impression that Endo originally envisioned it as a one-off, 100-page stand-alone story. I’ve got to say, if that’s the only story I’d seen from Endo I’d be screaming for more. Eden‘s opening chapter reminds me a lot of Planetes, telling a quiet, thoughtful story set in the future. Endo handles the flashbacks perfectly, using them to explain the past and how it ties into the current events of the story, giving the reader just enough pieces of information to keep everything moving. While there’s certainly some action and violence in the opening chapter, I’d describe Eden as a character-based story, one that’s more concerned about the people living in the future and their psychological make-ups than the future itself.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when after the first chapter ended, Eden continued with a brand new character named Elijah. It’s not until almost the end of the first volume that you learn the connection between Elijah and Enoah, but even without that piece of information Elijah’s very much the spiritual heir to the book. He’s wandering the ravaged world with a robot for his companion, giving us our first glimpse of what exists outside of Eden. It’s a surprisingly effective continuation of what began in the first half of Eden, because while it’s a new setting and slowly introduces more characters, the basic tone is still the same. Chapters are devoted to Elijah observing the world around him and reacting to the death and decay that still exists. For those looking for action and intrigue, that’s still there as well, but I don’t think it would be fair to ever call it an action book. That’s not the ultimate focus of Eden, and it’s all the richer for it.

Endo’s art for Eden is a real pleasure to look at. In many ways, it reminds me of Katsuhiro Otomo’s work on Akira, making the world of Eden a character in its own right. The overgrown and crumbling cities are carefully detailed in Endo’s art, and it really helps bring across the world that Endo’s introducing us to. That’s not to say that Endo doesn’t take care on the people of Eden as well, of course. I love the fact that he takes care on all the small details, like the style of boot that Elijah is wearing, or bringing real world fashions into the story. The characters of Eden are very meticulously drawn, and the end result is stunning.

Two volumes of Eden are currently out, and it’s a really thoughtful, exciting book. Hopefully with time it will gain the recognition it deserves; Eden‘s the sort of book that has a hook for just about everyone to be interested in. In a sea of manga currently being translated, this is one that shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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