Thursday, September 4, 2008

Eve no Jikan 01 First Impressions: The Thing About Androids

In the future, probably Japan, robots have long seen practical use, and shortly after, Androids came into common usage.
Act 01: Akiko

I just realized that I might have a thing for animes and shows with androids or cyborgs in them. If that is indeed the case, then it might explain my endless fascination for shows like Ergo Proxy, Ghost in the Shell and Real Drive. I'm sure there are other shows that I've watched but those are the ones that I can recall right off the top of my head. Anyhoo, Eve no Jikan definitely falls under that genre.
classic example of the fallacy of non sequitor and begging the question

The series is set some time in the future in Japan where androids are but a common sight. The machines are largely credited for the country's economic stability and self-sufficiency (cited at 80%). But despite this, there is rampant discrimination against them. As if in counteraction, there are also humans who are known as "dori-kei" or "android holic" -- that is, they treat androids as more than just machines.
matter of controversy: dori-kei (android lovers)

The protagonist, Rikou, is a young man attending school. His family has its own house servant, a female android called "Sammy." Lately, Rikou has detected some irregularity in Sammy's movements, especially when he finds that she's been visiting a cafe called "Eve no Jikan."
rikou has an issue

Rikou has an older sister, Naoko who, like him, takes the androids for granted. She is particularly piqued by the fact that Sammy picked her up from the bar where she had a drinking session with friends.
what started it all

In school, Rikou talks with his classmate, Masaki, about his android's strange behavior. Masaki does not have an android at home so he does not pretend to know anything about how androids ought to behave. However, he points out that the first law of robotics is to never harm or injure humans.
Masaki and Rikou make a discovery

Later, Rikou and Masaki decide to check out the cafe that Sammy visited. Upon reaching the place, they are surprised to find that Eve no Jikan is nothing at all like they expected.
the rules

The Eve no Jikan is a place where humans and androids are treated alike. One obvious manifestation of this is the rule placed at the entrance that prohibits discrimination between humans and robots. Another is the fact that all androids who enter the cafe lose their telltale halos, which distinguish them from humans.
Nagi-chan, the bartender

The cafe's bartender is Nagi-chan, a friendly person who welcomes customers with warmth. Masaki and Rikou, being newcomers to the place, do not know all the rules yet. They make the mistake of referring to the robots as "androids," which earn them some ire from Nagi-chan.

A cheerful girl who talks with rapid-fire speed befriends Masaki and Rikou. She introduces herself as Akiko and says that this is the one place where she is allowed to understand more about what makes humans different from androids. She adds that at home, she is not allowed to ask the question since the topic is taboo.
"Who are you?

In school the next day, Rikou can't get his mind off Akiko. Masaki presumes that Akiko is probably a dori-kei. At that moment, Rikou sees a girl who resembles Akiko outside his classroom, only this Akiko has a halo over her head -- an android. Rikou watches after her in shock as she fetches her master. Sammy also arrives just then, bringing Rikou an umbrella.

At home, Rikou mopes at the dining table while Sammy prepares dinner. His mind is still grappling with the fact that Akiko is an android. Then, he remembers what Akiko told him about the difference between humans and robots.
how are we different?

Sammy serves him coffee and Rikou discovers that it tastes like the ones served at Eve no Jikan. Sammy then informs him that she bought a different kind of coffee, prompting Rikou to ask why the android is acting independently. He further questions if Sammy is imitating humans now. Sammy denies it, reasoning that she is an android, not human. While Rikou stares at her speechless, Naoko, who has been listening to the entire conversation, snidely comments that he is becoming a dori-kei.


Interesting concept, although it is not anything new. Rather than dealing with identity, which is the forte of Ergo Proxy, the show's prime focus seems to be discrimination and social prejudice. I rather like it. Depending on how you see it and how you use analogy, this show could be making a political statement of sorts.

First about the story:

From Rikou's side, his realization of another person's existence. It brings out the question: "Just what do you consider a person?" Is a machine a person? Because once you can answer that question, everything follows. What rights are a person entitled to? The first right, I think, is acknowledgment that such a person exists. Taking something for granted is not real acknowledgment of existence. Or is it?

And from Sammy's side, the realization that they exist and the subsequent search for understanding of others who also exist. It's the classic "I think, therefore, I am" case.

Second, the animation, art and style:

Lots of static images here. I'm not familiar with the studio who makes Eve no Jikan so I don't know if this is their style. Don't expect any stylistic renderings here. The whole show gives the impression of contemplation. It's a thinking show so it caters more to the mind than to the visual aspect. That's not saying that the characters are drawn bad, however. As a matter of fact, I like the art with its use of simple lines and subtle color palette. The character designs are attractive and the backgrounds are detailed yet unobtrusive. I especially like the use of halos to distinguish androids from humans. I've never heard of halos being used like that. I think it's very interesting. Note too how the halos change color when androids are on standby mode (green) and when they are executing a command (pink).

Third, the approach:

Another thing I noticed about Eve no Jikan is its unusual approach to a rehashed storyline. That's actually what makes the show novel. It begins with a close-up of Rikou and Sammy in sepia tones before the image fades to a long shot of the two of them. Sammy, with her digital halo, is sitting with her internal parts exposed and Rikou, sitting beside her, is checking his cellphone connected to her system. In depicting on-screen tension, the camera becomes erratic, moving from an extreme close-up of one character to the other. Focus seems to be on facial expressions like in regular films with entire scenes rendered without a single line of dialogue. Some people would find this approach a bit difficult as it gears more towards indie than mainstream cinema, but in Eve no Jikan, I think it adds to the whole thing.

All in all, I thought the first episode is satisfactory. The philosophy involved interests me so I might be blogging this. I am interested in how the characters will play out and how the story will unfold itself.


Official Site (Japanese)
Studio Rikka Official (Japanese)
Anime News Network