Is it possible for androids to coexist peacefully with their human masters?
Time of Eve (Eve no Jikan) was created by Yasuhiro Yoshiura, a relatively unknown anime director whose other works include Aquatic Language (2002) and Pale Cacoon (2006). Originally released as a six-episode ONA between August 2008 and September 2009, the series was later re-released in a “complete” movie version, which tied the six-episodes together into one feature-length film and added new scenes to fill in the plot.
The film takes place in a not-too-distant future Japan, where androids have entered common household usage. They are tasked to doing anything from household chores to providing companionship to lonely people. Because of their usefulness in doing menial tasks and generally making life easier, they are given little regard by their human owners and are given about as much attention as a human would give to their toaster. Then one day, an android named B1-66ER rises up and kills his owner…
Oh, sorry. Got confused with The Second Renaissance, the Animatrix story detailing the beginning of the android rebellion and subsequent creation of the Matrix…
Time of Eve focuses on Rikuo (Jun Fukuyama vi Britannia), a high school student who has taken the convenience of his android Sammy (Rie Tanaka) for granted his entire life. While doing a routine checkup of her activity logs one morning, he notices a strange phrase: “Are you enjoying your time of eve?”. Suspicious of his Sammy’s recent unusual behavior, Rikuo and his friend Masaki (Kenji Nojima) decide to trace her footsteps to try and figure out what she’s up during her free time. Their search leads them to a strange cafe where the only rule is to not discriminate between humans and androids.
The bulk of the story focuses on Rikuo and Masaki’s interactions with the various patrons of the Time of Eve cafe. Because of the cafe’s rule against discrimination, the androids turn off their halos, rings of light above their head that allows them to be identified as androids. In addition, the entrance to the cafe locks for 30 minutes to give patrons privacy, to keep prying eyes from trying to follow anyone to determine whether they are human or android. As a result of the unusual rules, it becomes impossible to tell apart an android from a human within the cafe.
Rikuo encounters an unusual group of individuals in the Time of Eve cafe. There is Akiko, a bright and talkative girl; Rina and Koji, a quiet but affection couple; Setoro, a mysterious man in a suit; Chie, a young and energetic little girl; Shimei, Chie’s kind and elderly guardian; and Nagi, the enigmatic owner of Time of Eve who passionately believes in equality between humans and androids. Throughout the film, we get to hear each patron’s story, giving a glimpse into the mistreatment they receive as androids, as well as learning what led them to Time of Eve.
The whole “humans mistreating their android servants” theme has been used many times in science-fiction, but I really like the way the story is told in this film. It presents big philosophical themes such as what it means to be human and equality for all, social themes that are prevalent in today’s society. Instead of being bombarded by endless exposition in an over-bloated attempt to try and immerse the viewer into the world, we get short glimpses here and there of the everyday lives of androids, as told through their eyes. It can be poignant, melodramatic, comedic, and emotionally engaging, but the philosophical themes it presents never feels too forced.
The animation is simple, clean, and effective. Characters move smoothly, and have enough detail to bring out their little quirks, yet simple enough to be easy to look at. CG is sometimes used for background scenes and certain objects such as fans or cars, but it is never distracting from the 2D animation. And that’s what the animation style is good at: not being distracting. Rather having flashy action sequences or having girls with exaggerated proportions, everything is kept grounded in reality. The future depicted in the movie is not too far-fetched, and is a plausible enough that it could happen sometime soon as our technology advances. The main focus of course is given to the performances of its characters. The cast does an excellent job with their characters. There are some familiar big names, such as Rie Tanaka, Jun Fukuyama, and Tomokazu Sugita, and each seiyuu does a great job.
The movie version of Time of Eve is the one I’d recommend to watch. It contains extra footage not seen in the original ONA that provides extra character developments and answers some questions that were left unaddressed, especially regarding Nagi’s mysterious background. Otherwise, the movie is essentially the entire ONA series stitched together into movie format; think of it as a director’s cut. Overall, Time of Eve is a great sci-fi movie that is accessible to anyone. It asks hard hitting questions about what it means to be human, without getting too preachy. It may leave you wanting more near the end, but it is definitely worth watching.
You can check out the Time of Eve six-episode ONA on Crunchyroll, or you can purchase the movie on the iTunes Store.