Time of Eve Anime Review

A non-dystopian/non-horror story about Artificial Intelligence

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I believe that a lot of sci-fi simply feeds on and off of our fears about the future. Viewed in a certain light anime like the Ghost in the Shell movie and Serial Experiments Lain are more like scaremongering about the dangers of technology than a sincere attempt at predicting the future.

They read like the prophesies of doom and gloom made by those who secretly wish that that doom and gloom would come true. For example a lot of the cyberpunk genre is warning about the future while at the same time revelling in how cool and aesthetic such a future would be.

The premise of Eve is that androids, human-looking robots, have become widespread in use. There also exists a cafe in the city called the Time of Eve where humans and androids are treated the same. This is a very familar premise but the difference here is that there is no robot-human war or anything of the sort.

In this genre where fear and cowardice towards the future is often mistaken for realism, it is nice to see a down to earth sci-fi series like Tme of Eve. For example, something like Chobits may also be said to have a positive vision of technology and robotics but it is not supposed to be realistic or a plausible rendition of the future, only a dream come true.

The setting of Eve is limited to two or three locations rendered in CGI with 2D characters superimposed on them. The CGI backgrounds did not bother me, in fact I did not notice that they were 3D until it was pointed out to me, but the first-person  camera shaking so as to regain its balance sometimes was a bit annoying. I understand that the reason for these effects was to give some movement to dialogue scenes.

The main locations are few; The Time of Eve cafe itself is where most of the stories take place. Some might say that these locations are overused but it didn't bother me and I do not understand how pointlessly changing the location backgrounds would have helped. A window into the outside world of these main locations is provided through television advertisements and news casts.

After watching the film I felt like some questions were left unanswered, fortunately some guys at the wiki put together the hints dropped throughout the series explaining the Character Backstory of a few characters and the setting.

I keep referring to Time of Eve as a series but it is both a six episode series and a compilation movie as well. I liked both, and the movie has some scenes the film does not have, but obiously the series has better pacing since it is the original.

There are many characters for a 6 episode anime, but maybe there isn't much more to them that their "story" which they reveal to us during the duration of the episode about them. Still they do a good job of getting the feel of a comfy cafe, though maybe it is too homely and silent to be realistic. Then again it is a special kind of cafe.

Issues such as automation and low birthrates due to robots are touched upon but fall into the background of the individual stories of the characters while making those who care only about the larger picture seem selfish.

The story does not want to go to dark places like masters abusing their androids because it would ruin the mood. I am not sure whether it is something worth exploring since obviously it is wrong and there is nothing more to it.

The story just ends, none of the "big problems" are really resolved or answered. We are not told what is the ultimate fate of humans and androids. It doesn't really address the obvious stuff about why human beings should exist if machines make them redundant. I suppose it may be uncharitably said that the whole point of the story is "anti-discrimination" and since it got that across there is nothing else more for it.

You could say that Eve indirectly provides an answer by ignoring these issues implying that a. If androids are really superior to human beings it doesn't really matter that human beings will go extinct, so let's only make sure it is a peaceful and gentle  extinction, or b. If androids and human beings really understand each other, then it doesn't really matter who is the very best because being the best is not the only reason to live or to be allowed to live or to do stuff. c. Bionics and the likes may even the playing field.

There is little evidence for a, as for c there are bionics introduced at the very end but again they don't really say anything about it other than as a way to provide prostethics for people. b probably is the answer, or at least it can be extrapolated from the highschooler protagonist's backstory a bit. He used to be a good piano player a few years ago but then a robot was able to beat him in a music competition whereby  he lost all interest in music. He then later decides to say fuck it and decides to play the piano again because he loves to do so even if there are machines who are better than him.

Maybe the reason that I am indifferent to the prospect of machines being better at doing stuff than human beings is that most likely there are already other human beings who are more talented than you are or that you could ever be but that is not a reason not to do something if you actually like it. I think that most people already have to live with the fact that they are not the very best at something, that they are not prodigies or geniuses.

I also think it is a modern notion that your life's purpose is to work - and so that if a machine robs you of your work that then your life is worthless. Like if you read Charles Dickens novels, the "happy ending" is not a life of ambition, drama and strife but rather a quiet retreat into semi-idleness with your loved ones. The purpose of work is simply to give you some money to be idle with your loved ones.

Maybe I don't like human beings enough to be bothered that much.

Or perhaps it's just that I have too much faith in human ingenuity, that even amongst beings superior than us in every way human beings will find a way to shine like a shining star. I think the point that I am trying to get across is that already in a world without AI, your life's work probably won't amount to anything special. It already feels like certain things like music and books are produced at such a rate and scale (as it were "on a conveyor belt") that your contribution will be but a drop in the ocean.

I was at a bookstore a few days ago, perusing the books, of course I have wanted to and struggled to write a novel for a long time, the first thing that I noticed was how disinteresting those novels there were to me (because there were no anime book covers) and the second thing was how carelessly they were all stacked together losing any sort of individual value... And yet the authors of these novels must each individually care deeply about there work and even feel pride even though I could not tell apart the value of any of those young adult fantasy-ish novels - even Tolkien there looked interchangeable - just a big name attached to another book cover to sell more copies.

During the duration of the story despite the fact that androids have emotions they never really question that their purpose is to serve humans. This may sound strange and yet for relatively large stretches of time in history, a lot of groups of human beings did not question too deeply that their purpose was to serve another human being. For example is it not said that womanhood just consisted in just this? Or a knight towards his lord. True there were many ugly stories but there were also many beautiful stories of devotion too. And yet these devoted people had free will too.

It is not implausible to imagine beings with emotions who see their purpose is to serve and make someone else happy. Maybe it is the wish for such a thing that you see in stories like this. Or in other words the machines are not just superior because they are better at their ability to accomplish tasks but also in their selflessness - and yet that the ability to accomplish tasks or self-lessness means superiority are just our ideas based on our wellbeing.

Anyhow I don't want to give the impression that Time of Eve is deeper than what it is. For its part, it doesn't really pretend to, though they did try hard enough on their camera work that it is not difficult to laugh at it sometimes. It's just a slice of life robot-human story with a sad story or two thrown in there for good measure plus the usual situational humour as well. The first time I watched it maybe a decade ago now, I honestly wanted to see more of the characters, in particular I wanted to where the romance between the protagonist and Sammy (his cute house robot), both of whom you can see in the picture with this article, go somewhere but now that I am older it doesn't really bother me that the romance is not explored.

I give this anime a 7/10. Sammy is best girl.

By Otaking, or [The Good Student]

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