Down to the final three of this year’s Twelve Moments of Anime:
12 Days, #3: The Coming of the King [Eden of the East]
We meet Akira Takizawa bearing nothing but a handgun and a mobile phone; at the time, he doesn’t remember anything about himself, even his own name. But from the moment he emerges from behind a passing pickup truck, brazenly displaying both the weapons at his disposal, we can tell he’s someone different—someone enigmatic, if a bit loony. And while he may be odd, he’s extremely charismatic, and from his encylopedic knowledge of film to his ability to literally charm the pants off of a passing businessman it’s hard not to take a liking to him.
However, Takizawa seems to have some skeletons in his closet. He has photos of himself smiling in front of thousands of angry naked men; his apartment in Washington, D.C. is filled with guns and ammunition, and his phone has a balance of over 8 billion yen (around 80 million dollars). He is a mystery—as much to himself as to us—and we can’t help but follow along as he tries to piece together his own fractured identity, captured both by his charisma and our own curiosity.
We learn the twelve Seleção have each been granted 10 billion yen and a task—save Japan. They are participants in a bizarre game with vague goals, but Takizawa seems to be playing differently than the other Seleção we meet. Some have given up the game, using their funds for personal ideals like Dr. Hiura, who founded a hospital with his money. Kuroha appears to use her influence to castrate random men for pleasure. Yuuki attacked Japan with missiles, causing Careless Monday, and Mononobe has been organizing the other Seleção to steal Juiz and become the ringmaster of the game itself.
So far, Takizawa used his to buy a shopping mall and ship 20,000 NEETs to Dubai. He prevented any deaths during the Careless Monday missile attacks with the help of these NEETs, then shipped them overseas to protect them from the public backlash; he took the blame for the missiles to clear doubt on those who aided him.
And through it all, he manages to stay charming and charismatic, from dealing with Kondo and meeting Hiura all the way to confronting Mononobe. Takizawa captivates Saki throughout the series, charms her friends into a business partnership, and manages to save his Johnny from Kuroha. Even the NEETs he sent to Dubai still listen to him, and though they hate him they still respect him; one even thanks him for returning him to society. Even while uncovering his past and dealing with the other Seleção, he takes time to play with Micchon and his dog.
And throughout the series, Takizawa naturally saves people, regardless of his relation to them or the danger to himself. He saves Saki in the first episode even though he’s naked and can’t remember anything about himself, and she’s a complete stranger. He saves a random truck driver who crashed in front of him on the freeway on his way to find Kuroha. He even tries to save Kuroha when he meets her. And of course, he saves thousands from missile attacks, twice. Unlike some of the other Seleção, Takizawa genuinely wants to save the country—each person individually, and as a collective. He takes this as his interpretation of the Seleção’s mandated “responsibility of those who have,” and uses it as his strategy for the game they play. And he’s willing to sacrifice himself to succeed.
In other words, Takizawa is a natural leader. He has the ability to quickly and effectively move people to act to achieve a goal, and to do so in a way that satisfies everyone. He can put people at ease and help them relax as well. He is willing to help others with no supposition of repayment, and he can forefit himself for his cause. And while he may not be a knight in shining armor, some might call him a hero, a visonary, a savior—or a king.
I love the last episode of Eden of the East because Takizawa finally comes into his own as a hero. In typical charismatic fashion, he gets the newly-returned NEETs to foil another missile attack, and his mimed pistol shots clear the missiles from the sky. And yet again, he sacrifices himself to save his companions and takes power onto himself not out of greed, but responsibility. Takizawa martyrs himself to save the nation and takes up the mantle of a king, in this year’s Moment #3.