I really love watching shows portraying what technology and people’s lifestyles would be like in the future. Mainly those that deliberately think outside of the box, but still puts effort in justifying the concepts that would still make them sit within the boundaries of logic and reason – therefore persuading the viewers that the circumstances in that anime have a slight possibility happening in the real world. Time of Eve, or Eve no Jikan, is one of the best I’ve seen so far.
Plot: “In the future, probably Japan. Robots have long seen practical use, and this is the era just after the common deployment of androids.” quoted the introduction at the beginning of the show. Androids have already been a commodity to the community, where they help the human population with work, household chores, preparing meals, shopping, directing traffic and other trivial work. Since they literally look alike, You can simply distinguish androids from humans by their status ring (or halo) above their heads. Having taken for granted androids his entire life, Rikuo Sakisaka notices his android’s strange actions upon checking its recent movement records. It seems it frequently goes to an unknown area in which he doesn’t command it to and gets the phrase “Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?” along with the records.
He asks his friend and classmate Masakazu Masaki to help him investigate. By following the GPS coordinates, they were able to find a suspicious steel door in an empty alley. When they got in, they discovered a secret cafe which goes by the name Time of Eve. In front of the entrance stands a digital board that states the cafe’s only rule: “In this shop, there is no discrimination between humans and robots. Customers, please cooperate. Obey the rule and have a fun time.“
Upon pondering about the cafe’s rule after some time, Rikuo and Masaki realized that it was dangerous since it sits in the grey zone of robotic legality. If both parties follow the rule, none would be able to distinguish humans from androids anymore, and vice versa. Within the cafe, androids would not display their status rings to follow the rule. And when patrons leave, the door would be locked for two minutes to protect their privacy, preventing other people in the cafe from following them and finding out their true nature. So this is the cafe where Sammy, Rikuo’s android, goes.
Both of them would frequent the cafe more to get a feel on what really is going on, and also maybe bump in to Sammy along the way. They would get to meet and know the cafe regulars hyper Akiko, little Chie with her caretaker Shimei, the lovers Koji and Rina, as well as Nagi the barista. In the first episode, Rikuo and Masaki was approached by Akiko where they talked the whole afternoon. The juicy part of their conversation went like this:
Masaki: “There are no androids in my place. Isn’t that uncommon today? You have them too in your place, don’t you?”
Akiko: (Long pause) “Yep, we do. That’s why I’m here.”
Rikuo: “What do you mean?”
Akiko: “When you’re here, you can talk to anyone, right? So you get to know a lot of things.”
Masaki: “Like what?”
Akiko: “Like…the other person’s feelings, maybe? This has to do with my situation at home…I think of both humans and androids as my family. But no matter how similar we appear to each other, our insides are totally different. We may look alike, but we’re totally different. So I often think like this…’What do you think about me?’. That’s why I’m here. I want to talk about various things and understand a lot more. Because we are family, after all.”
The next day at school, they see a passive and emotionless Akiko in the hallway attending to a student, all the while with a halo on her head. I know, right!?
One of the best things Time of Eve has to offer besides a compelling plot is superb animation with subtle yet spot-on soundtrack. Doing away with the usual 2D animation that sometimes meddles with 3D, this one puts 2D characters in complete 3D environments perfectly. And sometimes recreates those wide angle and 24p authentic film effect in some scenes.
“The conversations between the characters in the cafe would make frequent allusion to Isaac Asimov‘s Three Laws of Robotics, often highlighting surprising interpretations of those laws, some of which form apparent loopholes. The overarching plot involves the beginnings of independence displayed by the androids, what they do with that independence within the bounds of the three laws, and what motivates them. Secondary plots involve the individual stories of each android the protagonists encounter in the cafe, and how they come to discover which patrons are androids and which are not.” -Wikipedia
Here are Asimov’s three laws of robotics:
1.) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2.) A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3.) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Now that we have them laid out, the next interesting thing to discuss would be what those three rules mean to the androids. Yeah, they might seem simple if you interpret them literally and in a physical sort of way, but it gets complicated once you add in the mental and emotional aspects. Since human individuals have varying strengths, weaknesses, and preferences, you can’t just write something off as good or bad and black or white as easily. I guess this is where the interesting independence of the androids emerge, as if they can almost be like humans.
I guess you’d understand what I’m talking about more if you’ll watch all 6 episodes or the movie itself that comprises all 6 OVAs with additional footage that reveals some of the background on how and why Time of Eve was started. The movie ending about Nagi and ‘that’ guy was a real tear-jerker. And it also left me hanging, so I guess there will be season 2. I hope!
And I now end this review with the heartfelt song from my favorite Kalafina “I have a dream.” ED song of the movie.
PS. Just want to say that I was really touched by the concept of this anime, that the misunderstandings and circumstances of both parties making efforts to understand each other doesn’t just relate between humans and androids, but it can also be a metaphor between humans and fellow humans. After all, we are all different individuals, yet we strive to reach for the other party in a sense of fulfilling something greater than ourselves. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the song!