Cage of Eden Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rating
Story: A-
Character: B
Artwork: B-

Final Score
8/10

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This entry was posted by Kai.

10 thoughts on “Cage of Eden Review

  1. Wait, it ended already?! Well, guess that makes sense, since I haven’t kept up with the series in about 16 months. I was at least expecting that author to drag it out until volume 32 or something, but guess I that means less reading for me (stopped on volume 16).

    • I would recommend leaving it behind unless you’re prepared to be disappointed. The last chapters are horribly rushed and breaks the immersion completely due to both a bad plot twist and lacking foreshadowing.

  2. So far I’ve only read the first two volumes, but it feels a lot more intanse and exciting than I expected. I guess I’m just used to anything with lots of nudity to be nothing but shameless pandering. I’ll have to give the rest a look when I have the time, no matter how many insulting things I’ve heard about the ending.

    • Yes that’s what I feel about the manga. The intense atmosphere where just any kind of wild beast may came upon them is exciting. The ecchi and nudity isn’t as bad as I would had expected, but it’s still weird seeing random panty shots out of nowhere when they are actually fighting against dangerous beasts. Yea, still good to check it out, Cage of Eden is good three quarters of the manga, the last quarter gets a bit messier but I think it’s still a fine read overall.

  3. I feel it’s not really a horror manga, from your description, seems to me it’s intended more as a psychological thriller/suspense story, with the external threat of the island and monsters only serving to kickstart and then continually push the characters into strife between characters and inside their psyche.

    How well do they do the internal psychological conflict the characters experience?
    The “characters pushed to their limit, then again, and again.” is one of the main genres in all mediums, which I quite like. I still think that Mirai Nikki is one of the best examples of it I’ve seen in a long while. But it still seems they all draw a lot from Lord of the Flies and from the work also inspired by it, Battle Royale – an island makes sense, since there’s not going to be external help.

    I dunno how I feel about some stuff, like the rape, not because of the subject matter, but because like in Highschool of the Dead, it feels there are “Genre tropes”, and a lot of the things are done in one part because “That’s what you do in a zombie apocalypse show” or “This is what you do in a school stranded on an island show”, and partially because it’s just a cheap shot for “Look how far they’re gone? You see, you can’t get any lower!!!” rather than truly convince us of it through building their personalities.

    • I didn’t mean horror in a technical sense, as in a horror genre, but just describing the character’s jumbled emotions towards almost all the messed up stuffs that the characters experienced^^”

      *Just a bit of spoilers* There are some where the characters face internal psychological conflicts, where they fight against their own. At first most notably, where the characters were stranded on the island where they still didn’t know left and right. A little while after that, all of them are divided into different groups, and in each group is a leader leading them. For the calmer and strong-willed leaders, no conflicts happened but for some other weaker leaders, such psychological troubles do appear. However, almost midway through the series, Akira, the main character of the series (and also characterized as incredibly strong-willed) lead almost all the characters available and from that point onwards, the internal psychological conflicts was focused less and was more about “banding together and fighting a common foe” – the wild extinct animals in that regard, befitting the shounen genre I guess. Any psychological explorations however, when available, are still pretty intense, just as intense as the physical fights against the beats themselves. And indeed, such genres are also one of my favorites, especially if executed well – Mirai Nikki is definitely one of the best at that too, but no one can beat the good old Higurashi.. xD

      Indeed, in some anime, it’s like the rape or any other kinds of sexual assaults is there just for the sake of being there, usually a dark and unsettling world would be full of it for no reasons. It might makes sense but indeed a bit too heavily implied.

      • I didn’t like Higurashi that much, only watched the first season. That’s truly a psychological thriller show, but I feel of anything the skips in realities made it much more of a “Let’s shock you with extreme content!” than psychological suspense, since that wasn’t allowed to build up over time, except within us, the viewers – which I guess is where it truly counts. But too many moments of being jolted out of the suspense and trying to understand just what the heck is going on in the show.

        Yeah, sometimes survival on a deserted island and psychological drama stand in contrast to one another. TBH, the main interest of the islands and their hardships are to foster strife and push the characters. The best way to describe shows such as Mirai Nikki is – you put characters in a tough situation to get them going, and then you see what they’re willing to give up, what they are willing to sacrifice – either to uphold their beliefs or to survive – usually one in the sake of the other. Then after they give up stuff, saying “Ok, so you were willing to go that far, but what about now, what about now?” So the hardships without truly giving anything up is less interesting, and indeed more shounen. I don’t find it troubling, except if it comes after that it feels as sort of a bait-and-switch about the nature of the media.

        (This is basically much of what I’ll say at more length in my post on shows of this nature, whenever it gets finally written.)

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