Humans disappeared from the world a thousand years ago. In their absence, the robots they created continue to nurture a fertile region known as Eden, which is surrounded by the desolate landscape that serves as a reminder of the environmental catastrophe humanity created. Eden is kept safe by security robots under the command of Zero; their one abiding law is that all humans are destructive and must be eliminated. Any robot which fails to abide by this protocol will be reprogrammed. When two robots – A37 and E92 – discover a human child inside a newly hatched stasis pod, their first thought is to deliver the baby over to the security bots. However, they find themselves unable to do so, and seek refuge with a group of dissident robots living in a settlement in the wastelands outside Eden. The baby – a girl – grows into a rambunctious teenager named Sara under the care of this strange community of outcasts. One day, however, Sara comes across an abandoned battle mecha – and when she accidently activates it, her voice is detected by Eden security. This sets in train a cat-and-mouse game in which the Eden security forces under Zero attempt to capture and eliminate Sara, while she tries to uncover the secret of how Eden came into being and why she is the only human left on Earth.  In doing so, Sara not only discovers the terrible truth about the global disaster humans wrought, but the fact that the man who created Eden as a last refuge for humankind is now the very force that is preventing Sara from rescuing her species from extinction…

Created by Justin Leach (Kick-Heart, Under the Dog) and produced by Yasuhiro Irie (Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Escaflowne: The Movie), “Eden” is a Netflix Original animation that was produced by Qubic Pictures and CGCG Studios, and first aired in May 2021. Arrestingly animated in a combination of 3D/CGI character designs matched with traditional 2D/3D background animations, “Eden” is a somewhat formulaic eco-disaster-redemption tale whose quirks are as captivating as the story it tells. The endearingly camp robots A37 and E92 (the latter voiced by David Tennant in the English dub)  – who serve as Sara’s “Mum” and “Dad” – are strongly reminiscent of C-3PO of “Star Wars” fame, while the inarticulate robo-dog PJ recalls R2-D2 just as strongly.  Likewise, the chief antagonist Zero looks an awful lot like Sauron from Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” franchise. There are some genuinely moving moments in the latter episodes, especially as Sara is confronted by the human tragedy that caused the designer of the Eden project to turn from saviour to exterminator; but the action sequences – especially those featuring the security robots – are a little clunky and unconvincing, perhaps a product of the limitations of present CGI technology. At least “Eden” manages to avoid the fate of the unfortunate “Ex-Arm”, whose laughably awkward CGI images earned that series a universal panning.  There’s nothing in the denouement that surprises, although there’s a nice little twist with respect to Zero’s ultimate fate. All in all, “Eden” is undemanding viewing which, if you like vibrant animation and a none-too-challenging narrative, while help you fill in some empty hours when you have nothing else to do.

Text ©Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2021. All rights reserved.