By Yoshinobu Yamada. Released in Japan as “Eden no Ori” by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Mari Morimoto
It’s been six and a half years since I last did a full review of Cage of Eden on this site. The series pretty much was the definition of “this is worthy of a Bookshelf Brief”, featuring a lot of fun action, thrilling adventures, and copious nudity. It’s been over in Japan for a while now, and for a while I wondered if it would ever end here – this final volume comes out a full year after the last one did. But now it’s here, giving us more of what I just said above. There’s huge beasts killing off a few villainous guys whose names I can’t even remember. There’s deadly slime mold that almost, but not quite, manages to kill off our heroes who we do care about. There is an explanation of everything that has been going on, though it is quite rushed. And as for romantic resolution… the hand-holding on the cover is the best you’ll get.
While I did enjoy this last volume, the whole thing screams “your popularity is waning, wrap it up in 4 chapters even though you won’t have time to fit anything in”. As such, much of the back end of this volume is devoted to Akira’s mother, and her POV as her son’s flight is lost with everyone on board presumed dead. The grief and loss she shows is actually some of the best writing in the volume, and helps to make up for the “and therefore I became the heir to a huge scientific conspiracy” that follows. As for the solution to how the class is on the island and why, it’s a reasonable one given the vaguely science-fictional stuff we’ve already seen, and probably a bit more satisfying than Lost, a series that Cage of Eden hes reminded many people of. The ending is wide open, as we never do find out what happens to everyone once they return to Japan… it’s intentionally left as a blank slate.
As for the romance I mentioned earlier, it’s even lampshaded by the author. Despite the occasional overture towards romantic triangles and the obvious attraction and love Akira and Rion feel for each other, the closest we get to a payoff is one last bathing scene, with the peepers helpfully telling us that no one has gotten any, not even Yarai ad his teacher. Honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised. Cage of Eden has always, despite the occasional attempt at depth, been more about surface impressions than anything else. And also, a lot of romance manga these days ends with no resolution to avoid annoying readers. That said, I think even the most hardcore of those fans might have forgiven at least Alira/Rion. Still, we’ll always have that hand-holding.
Cage of Eden was exciting, sometimes horrifying, frequently blatantly sexist, and tried to aim a bit higher than it could really reach, but overall I’m happy I read it. It’s a good example of a typical Shonen Magazine title from about 10 years ago, and I’m glad we got to see it finish up here.