Studio: Studio Rikka
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Slice of Life
Release: S1 (2008-2009), Movie (2010)
I really love 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 put effort in justifying the concepts that would still make them sit within the boundaries of logic and reason, therefore convincing the viewers that the circumstances in the anime have a slight possibility happening in the real world. Time of Eve, or Eve no Jikan, is a favorite in this regard.
Plot: “In the future, probably Japan. Robots have long seen practical use, and this is the era just after the commercial deployment of androids” as narrated at the beginning of the show. Androids have become a commodity where they help the majority of the human population with work, household chores, preparing meals, shopping, directing traffic and other trivial work.
Since humans and androids look alike, you can simply distinguish robots by their status ring (or halo) above their heads. Rikuo Sakisaka, a student accustomed to relying on androids his entire life, notices his android’s strange and abrupt actions upon checking its recent movement records. It seems it frequently goes to an unknown area when it goes out for errands even when he doesn’t command it to.
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 along 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. This is a pretty big no with regards to how their culture and traditions in the country are right now.
Within the cafe, androids would hide 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 to.
Both of them would frequent the cafe more to get a feel on what’s 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 music. Doing away with the usual 2D animation that sometimes meddles with 3D, this one puts 2D characters in complete 3D environments quite nicely. And sometimes even recreates those wide angle and 24p authentic film effect in some cases.
“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 in case you’re wondering:
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. They might seem simple at first glance, yes, but humans have varying strengths, weaknesses, and preferences, you can’t just write something off as good or bad and black or white willy-nilly. This is where the interesting independence of the androids emerge, as if they can almost be like humans where the data gathered isn’t always the same, and how said data aren’t interpreted the same either.
I was taken by the interesting concept of this anime where both humans and androids are making an effort to understand each other despite their differences. This may as well not just relate between humans and androids, but it can also serve as a metaphor between humans and their fellow humans in our present real world. After all, we are all different individuals, and possibly more different with our thoughts and ideas than androids and humans are with their body structures.