Cage of Eden Review
Cage of Eden is an manga series started sometime around 2008 and only just ended earlier this year. Depicting horror, psychological extremes and survivability, Cage of Eden is an intriguing suspense that sets it apart from other typical shounen manga.
What started as an ordinary school trip became their worst nightmare as Akira and his classmates crashed on a mysterious island from their plane. The island was occupied with dangerous wild animals which are supposedly extinct. Some of Akira’s classmates are literally eaten alive. Due to desperation, a mass panic ensues and they begun fighting and even raping each other. Some groups are formed, led by calm individuals, and these survivors stepped out from the plane into the unknown, aiming to survive or perhaps even finding out the truth behind this bizarre calamity.
I can draw a few parallels to High School of the Dead. Both are about school students surviving an apocalypse of sorts, one versus zombies, while the other on extinct animals. The greatest similarity of cause, is how ecchi is implemented in such settings. While some ecchi shots are acceptably relevant, mountains of unnecessarily blatant panty shots, bath scenes soon piled up. Conveniently though, the author also uses such non-serious times (like bathing scenes) when the characters are not fighting to blossom their love relationships. Of cause in the end, romance isn’t Cage of Eden’s strong point but there are still some small and subtle developments here and there, though some of them appear a bit sudden.
Of cause, all of the similarity ends right there, and most of the other elements of Cage of Eden is a positive one. Although the story may had been done before, it still gives a unique and refreshing feeling to the readers. The settings is an especially engaging one – a completely isolated island, inhabited by extinct wildlife. At one side, the thrilling combat with the wild beasts are exciting, with the characters desperately using their wits and intelligence to defeat these savage beasts. On another hand, the mysterious island easily sparks off the curiosity of all the readers, as chapter by chapter, the characters get to know more and more about the island, and the more they know it, the more absurd it seems. Both these two elements of survivability and mystery is one main root behind most of the characters current rationale. Staying in an isolated island for such a long period of time had stressed them out, and fighting against more powerful beasts day by day just rapidly increases that stress.
Another good aspect of Cage of Eden is the different styles of leadership shown from different groups. One of them, Nishikiori, led his group through manipulation and fears, Yarai, a delinquent, led and protect his group through sheer strength and power. The main protagonist, also a leader himself, Sengoku Akira, led his group through charisma and great mentality.
It also shows that surviving in an island, one needs immense physical strength and stamina, positive mentality and extensive knowledge. Due to lack of such abilities for some of the characters, it helps creating a contrast between them. How the different characters react to each other due to this, and they respond to the sudden chain of events are interesting to see. Kouhei for example, although having great physical abilities, his weak mental strength let him succumb to deeds he regretted ever doing while Akira on the other hand, even though isn’t as physically strong, he’s actually extremely helpful when his own friends are in a pinch, forcing himself out of his way to help them as humanely best as possible, and it’s probably because of this trait that turned him into a leader.
Character cast may had gotten a bit too large, and as such, most of them are quite unexposed as there are obviously no time to develop each and every one of them. The group that Sengoku led just keeps getting larger and larger, and most of the time, it’s completely normal for him to investigate the island around with totally unfamiliar group of people, as compared to the few characters we are so accustomed to in the beginning – Mariya, Rion, Oomori and the likes. Aforementioned, this large group of cast also caused a flaw where romance relationships seemingly manifested too quick. Some of them barely, or don’t even have any scenes before that might had led to the the feelings they had.
The artwork is incredibly rough, though oddly fits the atmosphere. Some of the drawings, especially the designs, look like something you see out of an older classic manga. Some images seem repetitive too, especially when showing the surprised faces of multiple characters during a shocking revelation. All the character’s head are shown in front view, all squished in one panel in such scenes – A syndrome I called “floating head syndrome”, and is a problem ongoing even towards the end of the series.
Character designs are satisfactory, but like with some other anime and manga, is a case where the sizes of their body isn’t proportional to their ages, as most of them are middle school students. For example, Rion, is a 14 year old girl with inappropriately big bosoms. Yarai, who is supposedly a 14 year old middle school student as well, has a body more bigger and muscular then adults. There are quite a few anime or manga where the ages don’t fit how the characters look, and the scale of disproportion is one of the highest in Cage of Eden.
Illustrations on the main subject of antagonism, the wild beasts, is one of the highlights of Cage of Eden’s graphics. The many man-eating carnivores in the island makes it almost like Jurassic Park, but with more beasts and monsters in different variety. Some of the beasts, resemble real wildlife a lot, not just in the way they look, but the way they act or even feel. That’s the strength behind the illustrations – the extinct animals are drawn in a way that they do not resemble animals of the real life present world, but they still retain certain similarities with animals of the present world.
Cage of Eden is one of those axed manga as well, and as such, have an extremely rushed ending.
However, the “journey” of the manga is certainly good. Thrilling, suspenseful mystery will make one read the manga consecutively without stop due to sheer curiosity alone. Perhaps there are so much build-up that the abrupt end was so disappointing. Even so, the manga is still one great series and is definitely worth a read for those interested.