Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Eve no Jikan 04: The Toaster

It lives!!!!!!!!1 God, two months is too long after all, but is it worth it, or what? Quality is tops as usual and there is no sag anywhere.

On a slightly different note, I support Crunchyroll's move towards licensed streaming even though I have a minor issue about their region restrictions. I understand they're working on it but see, paying for a membership is pretty useless if I can't see the shows because of where I live. Good thing there are a few good shows on the site that doesn't have this handicap. I am especially glad that Eve no Jikan is one of them.

That said, on to the show ~
ACT 04: Nameless
More Screencaps from Eve no Jikan 04

The episode begins with a video recording that's filled with static and noise. But amid all that, it's apparent that the video is that of a boy, talking to his robot (the video being data from the robot's corrupted memory). In the next scene, Naoko is on the phone with her dad, who calls to tell them that his company is receiving a lot of complaints from customers. Rikuo reveals that each time the company (presumably an android manufacturer) releases a new "house-roid" model, customer complaints start pouring in. Apparently, older models are difficult to use because of their rigid logic structure, unlike the newer models, like Sammy, which are capable of taking their own initiative when performing tasks. At the Eve Cafe, Rikuo and Masaki encounter a really old house-roid model that looks about ready to fall apart. Of course, as per cafe rules, the boys are forced to act like nothing is wrong, introducing themselves and making conversation. Trouble ensues when the robot attempts to drink coffee, which Rikuo and Masaki are sure would cause its system to explode. Fortunately, the third law of robotics, that says a robot cannot harm itself, comes to the rescue. But then Chie-chan and her grandfather show up and chaos erupts. The robot has a literal information overload and collapses. As Rikuo and Masaki try to help it up, they notice that one of its feet is missing. Just a step away, Chie-chan, holding the robot's missing foot, announces that she has found something strange. Masaki immediately snatches it away while Rikuo begs Chie-chan's grandfather to leave already. After all that excitement, Nagi gathers the robot, Masaki and Rikuo into one table and the four of them have chat. The robot talks about how he used to take care of a human boy but then this boy grew up and suddenly the robot's job was done. It soon becomes clear that the robot has been abandoned by its owners. Ideally, owners who buy a new model are obliged to return their old model to the maker but because of the disposal fee involved, many humans are opting to illegally dispose their androids by erasing all personal data. Rikuo and Masaki's new friend is a victim of this practice. Nagi is sure that all that the robot wants is to be remembered. In class the next day, Rikuo and Masaki notice Akiko pass right by them without acknowleding their presence. Rikuo says that he observes the same thing from Sammy and Masaki replies that they (androids) have no concept of affection.

This is probably the funniest, yet most touching episode of Eve no Jikan. Funny because Chie-chan and the foot! OMG, LOL! Actually, the entire interaction between the boys and the nameless robot is hilarious.

I think what makes this episode of Eve no Jikan very funny is the fact that the characters are not even trying to be funny or anything. On the contrary, they are very sincere: Rikuo and Masaki are trying their damnest to follow the cafe's "no discrimination" rule to the letter even as the subject in question is so obviously a robot, while the latter in turn is trying in earnest to act like it has every right to have normal human conversation with a couple of human kids. It is just painful to watch as missed signals and misinterpretations make a delightful, albeit confused muddle out of the whole scene.

Fun aside, this episode reveals its true message in the last few seconds of it. It practically slaps you in the face with it as you realize (finally) the import of telling this nameless robot's tale - the general unscrupulousness of humans, the incredible heart of some. The whole time we were laughing at the scenes, this robot was falling apart (literally) yet bravely continuing to seek recognition.

On the one hand, you can't really fault humans for treating an obvious thing like, well, a thing and disposing of it in the most economical way available. On the other hand, can people afford to be that callous to the human-type androids, considering that they are just one upgrade higher than the "tin-man" robots? I'm guessing that people would have to think twice. After all, these new android models are so advanced they are even able to make little decisions and take initiative; for all intents and purposes, they are like humans. But where do we draw the line between robots like nameless and androids like Sammy? If we base it purely on appearance, then there is no real issue. But is that all where the difference lies? Or is there more?

NEXT EPISODE: Chie-chan and her grandpa.