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Worlds Without End Blog

SF Manga 101: Eden – It’s an Endless World Posted at 3:45 AM by Glenn Hough


eden1In an earlier blog, I mentioned that it was my intention to peruse the endless manga bookshelves to find the best SF and bring it to your attention. And by doing this, hopefully some quality SF manga would earn places right next to their top level USA SF counterparts.

To my own chagrin, I’ve discovered I didn’t need to look any further than my own bookshelves for this title. For a variety of reasons, none of which are any good, Eden made it’s way onto my shelf, but not onto my reading pile. That has changed. Eden is a manga we should pay attention to.

This is what Dark Horse has to say about the first volumes of Eden: It’s an Endless World.

Eden Volume One is both a brilliant love song to the post-apocalyptic survival genre and the beginning of a deep exploration on man’s role in the natural order. In the near future, a large portion of humanity is wiped out by a brutal, new virus that hardens the skin while dissolving internal organs. Those who aren’t immune are either severely crippled or allowed to live with cybernetically enhanced bodies. Taking advantage of a world in chaos, a paramilitary force known as the Propater topples the United Nations and seeks world domination. Elia, a young survivor searching for his mother, travels towards the Andes Mountains with an artificially intelligent combat robot. When he encounters a group of anti-Propater freedom fighters, a maelstrom of unique characters unfolds. Graphic, cyberpunk, and philosophical, Eden is a place where endearing heroes face a constant struggle for survival and violent surprises wait around every corner!

eden2I once heard that in the first ten minutes of the film Casablanca, one could pick up on five or six different genres of film that were being touched upon. But Casablanca is beyond any one of them since those definitions are all too narrow to contain what that film actually is.

That’s basically my reaction to Eden. It defies genre. Yes, you have to put something on the cover to tell people what it is, and it’s easy to just label Eden action SF and be done with it. But that’s like saying the Mona Lisa is a nice work of art. You willfully miss the point simply because of the label being used.

eden7In the first volume, the genres we touch upon are: a SF pandemic and internecine warfare culminating in the take over of the global power elite. That’s followed up 20 years later by a boy and his robot on a journey, which quickly morphs into smuggling an A.I. out of one territory into another, which gets bogged down in guerrilla fighting, tinged with cyber warfare on a battlefield, and fighting with cyborg super soldiers. So, I guess that all falls under the heading of action SF, but the label misses the point. Especially since the effects of war on the civilian populous is a central theme, which is only made worse by the effects of the pandemic which is currently in a lull phase.

The next few volumes are filled with the violent three way of cops and rival drug gangs blowing each other way, with our main character threading his way through all this. He learns sniping; he sleeps with a whore; he plots revenge on the power elite for kidnapping his sister. There’s very little SF in there. Action, sex, blood, violence, and killing, yes. SF, no.

eden3So what is Eden: It’s an Endless World? It’s a mirror. It’s deep, dark; it distills the human condition. Forget the good vs. evil playbook, this is the moral ambiguity of the moment. Surviving the next few days, if not the next few minutes, is the priority. If things calm down long enough, then the characters have the luxury of thinking about larger questions. Our central character kills on a semi regular basis and yet he’s considered morally superior (or naive) as the story progresses. These crime filled streets or halls of power, these jealousies and betrayals, are all part of the picture while global players do the international dance on the edge of a knife over the abyss caused by the virus. This is a world that’s been gutted and it’s only now re-stabilizing itself.

eden5In later books, the pandemic makes it’s return with another mutation which could usher in a new form of human evolution. (You can imagine how terrified that makes the power elites.) But it’s ambiguous as to whether the A.I. on the scene is there at the behest of it’s handlers or not. Whose side is it on? Is another round of betrayals in the offing? By this point, it wouldn’t be surprising.

Hiroki Endo is trying to build a world that feels like human history in all it’s bloody, saintly, stupidity. It’s this blurring between fact and fiction which interests me the most. It’s like asking: did that bone-headed maneuver by congress actually happen, or was it something from House of Cards? Did I learn about that from the NY Times, or was it on an episode of The Black List? When you can’t tell, that is outstanding fiction.

eden11And yet, this fiction motif that feels very real is only one of the two gravity wells everything revolves around. The other is the virus/virus-as-human-evolution/cyborg warfare/A.I. gravity well. Those elements are out there, as good SF should be.

Eden: It’s an Endless World has lots to offer the SF fan: from street level thugs in the drug trade to cloned killer cyborg super soldiers. Distillation of human character to the ordinary nuns, social workers, killers and whores that seem to keep life moving along. It is an endless world after all.

Eden: It’s an Endless World is available from our friends over at Dark Horse. The series is mostly in print but unfortunately several of the issues have become rare, so those issues command a higher than average price. If you feel the financial pinch and need a free copy, check out,, or

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