I started reading Eden no Ori, or Cage of Eden 4 years ago. My first impression of this manga is that of mystery, excitement, and shounen-ness. I remember I was fascinated by discoveries that the main characters had, and was able to enjoy the story to its fullest.
Of course, that was when this manga only have 40 chapters and during a period when I was fond of an overabundance of fan-service.
4 years later, I have become a much more mature person, one that is able to critically judge the merits and weaknesses of a story. I again picked up Eden no Ori, finishing it in one swoop. I hope I can write a somewhat objective review on this title.
Eden no Ori is a shounen manga that tires to encompass too many genres and themes in its story. I don't want to spoil the story, so I want go into any details. Suffice to say that it dabbles in Action, Adventure, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Psychological, and Ecchi categories. Now, was it successful? The answer is maybe, depending on how seriously readers want to take it.
The art is by far the best thing about this manga. It is impeccable. The character designs was excellent, with much varieties. The background was drawn beautifully in a consistent manner.
The only drawback that I would contribute to this section is not the art itself, but the amount of fan-service it has. Normally, I wouldn't mind an appropriate bit of "healthy" fan-service, but it is clearly too much in this manga. It is getting to a point that it distracts the readers from the main plot. Thus, I have decided to take the liberty of docking two points from the otherwise perfect score.
In a sci-fi, adventure story with so little based on our real society, it is difficult to write a solid story without any plot holes, if not impossible. Thus, the goal is to create a story that involves as little illogical elements as possible (in the context of the story). In this respect, Eden no Ori did not achieve a convincing success, neither did it fail. I could identify several gaping plot holes, and/or clues that were not followed up on in the story, not to mention the numerous small unreasonable parts of story development. However, Eden no Ori does not have a bad script by any means. I was able to enjoy the richly creative story till the conclusion, with my critical thinking organs half turned-on. This opinion is strongly supported by the satisfying ending. Even though it does not achieve the mind-blowing conclusion that some manga did, neither did it seem unbelievably stupid, like so many more other manga.
In the end, if you aren't nick-picky about minuscule details in Eden no Ori, you would find yourself a overall satisfying story.
In terms of shounen male lead, Akira Sengoku is an interesting character who is resourceful, genuinely compassionate, charismatic in his own way, and not endowed with an overpowered ability that is so typical of shounen. Likewise, many other members of MC's entourage show interesting characteristics that feel very refreshing to the readers. For example, we have Mariya the genius nerd, Miina the cute little kid, and Yarai the badass fighter.
On the negative side, while some members of the huge female cast are actually useful (to the story as well as to the team), other members are simply there to be fan-service for the readers. I know that I have already docked the point for fan-service, but I will do it again here because it is such a big problem in this manga. Perhaps ultimately, us readers are to be blamed for our idiosyncratic taste in panty shots and G-cup boobs. After all, mangaka has to draw what the readers demand in order to keep up the sales of their manga.
Enjoyable enough that I was able to read from chapter 100 to 185 once I have decided to read it again. It is richly imaginative, vividly sketched out, and a story that does not disappoint the readers in a major way.
For fans of adventure-shounen and/or mystery-adventure and/or psychological-mystery-action manga, I would highly recommend it.