Netflix’s EDEN review: A tale of humanity and Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics [Trailer]

Netflix EDEN Sara Grace Robots
Netflix’s EDEN focuses on the flaws of humanity in relation to the “perfection” of AI robots. Pic credit: Netflix

Anime fans are in for a treat with Netflix’s EDEN, which releases internationally with an English dub on May 27, 2021. Produced by creator Justin Leach (Innocence), the TV show is directed by Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood director Yasuhiro Ire and written by Kimiko Ueno (The Royal Tutor, Super Dandy).

The four episodes feature music by Kevin Penkin, composer for Made In Abyss Season 2, Tower of God, and The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2. The animation production was provided by Studios Qubic Pictures and CGCG.

Walking into Netflix’s EDEN I didn’t know what to expect. It seemed to be an anime-inspired TV show that was a hybrid mix of 3D CGI and hand-drawn art. Similar to the So I’m a Spider, So What? anime, EDEN manages to pull it off without the 3D animation feeling distracting.

The EDEN trailer made it seem like the story was geared more toward kids. While my initial impressions were on the mark for the opening episodes, what unfolded in the second half revealed unexpected depths.

Netflix’s EDEN trailer. Please be aware that it gives away too much of the plot.

In a nutshell, the story is set a thousand years in the future where everything is at peace and the lush environment is perfect. The world of EDEN-3 is run by robots with self-aware artificial intelligence who pretty much follow Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robots.

I saw “pretty much” since Asimov is never named directly, and the three laws are written slightly differently. Regardless, the laws’ roles in the story are paramount since it governs the robots’ action and plays into how the robots believe people should behave.

Hence, it’s the Garden of Eden… with a three tacked on. But humans don’t exist and the robots who live in this world consider humanity to be a myth.

That is until two apple-gathering robots, A37 and E92, stumble upon a cryogenic pod that releases a human toddler named Sara Grace.

Netflix EDEN Movie
Most of the humor in the story is found in robots A37 and E92 fumbling to become parents of a human child. Despite being AI robots, Mama and Papa also have the most emotionally dramatic scene in the TV series. Pic credit: Netflix

Humans are claimed to be harmful by EDEN-3’s leadership, so at first, A37 and E92 are inclined to report Sara to security. But the smiling and laughing little girl quickly endears herself to “Mama and Papa.”

The two robots then attempt to give Sara to a religious-like group that believes in humanity and collects human artifacts. When security forces led by the menacing, cape-wearing Zero descend on this harmless group for simply having their beliefs, Mama and Papa realize they must escape with Sara and raise her in a safe location.

“Humans are unnecessary in a perfect world.” The motives of the EDEN villain Zero play a central role to the mystery of how the robots came to defy the three laws of robotics. Pic credit: Netflix

What follows is an exploration of the central theme of Asimov’s Laws and how it pertains to the actions of humanity. Rebellious teenage Sara wants to solve the mystery of EDEN-3 despite the wishes of Mama and Papa, who only think of her safety.

The nice thing about Netflix’s EDEN is that it can be watched with children for its humor, yet it contains enough philosophical plot points and dark twists to entertain adults with its fast-paced story. Rather than relying on 3D animated action, it’s the character drama and the stirring emotional moments that left the biggest impact on my EDEN review.

EDEN anime
Anime purists may not like 3D animation in comparison to hand-drawn animation, but Netflix’s EDEN manages to combine both in its own art style. Pic credit: Netflix

Netflix’s EDEN Season 2 seems unlikely based on the ending

One odd part about Netflix’s EDEN is how it was released as four episodes marked as Season 1. Based on the initial story pacing of the first half, I thought there would be a chance for Netflix’s EDEN Season 2, perhaps EDEN Episode 5 through 8.

EDEN Sara Grace
Sara Grace grows quickly in this story… almost too quickly! One moment Sara is a babbling baby girl and after a time skip, she’s suddenly a teenager. Pic credit: Netflix

But the second half slammed the door on the possibility of a second season by quickly introducing a conflict with Zero. Even the climax was actually foreshadowed by the opening scene in Episode 1.

By Episode 4, the major conflict with Zero resulted in full plot resolution. While I suppose EDEN Season 2 could introduce a new plot twist or a new set of characters that act as a new central conflict in order to keep the TV show running that would come off as contrived.

If anything, the Netflix EDEN TV show is more of a four-part EDEN movie. It has a central theme with a self-contained plot that ends in a fitting manner.

If fans desire more content, an EDEN manga by artist Tsuyoshi Isomoto is adapting the TV show’s story in Young King Ours magazine. But an official English translation hasn’t been announced.

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