So a human, a robot, and an android walk into a bar…
…and make a damn good anime by the name of Eve no Jikan. While many sci-fi titles of this nature tend to swing too far with humanizing robotic creations, this particular series strikes a delicate balance between realism and idealism to forge a surprisingly intriguing watch. Indeed, the premise itself is hardly original or breathtaking, with the story taking place in a generic era of technological progress where androids have begun to look, think, and feel like their human counterparts. Insert a societal fear of these androids being surpassing humanity at everything from house chores to grand piano, and the summary hints at a unremarkable setting which can easily be floundered about with trite commentary and mundane philosophy.
Or, in the case of Eve no Jikan, a captivating setting with which to explore the more subtle conflicts of human technological and social progress. Spanning only six episodes at fifteen minutes a piece, the series does not waste any time half-heartedly piddling around with its topics; it knows it has a time limit and several different themes to discuss, so a point to is made to balance its narrative in every way possible. Much like Kino no Tabi or Mushishi, each episode introduces a topic, runs with it in the context of a story for a brief period of time, and then concludes with thoughtful open-endedness. The use of music and visual effects to supplement the story foils this methodology remarkably well, and ultimately deliver a smooth , relaxed, and intelligent viewing experience.
Despite the overall simplicity of Eve no Jikan’s presentation, it stays thematically consistent throughout its many different stories. Though certain parallels are drawn to highlight the androids’ remarkable similarities to their human masters, pinpointing the exact intent of these parallels is a more than daunting task. I still find myself wondering what particular focus the writers had when authoring each of the arcs, as the content can be viewed as commenting on different things by looking at it from different points of view. While not as intellectually stalwart as its more noteworthy peers, Eve no Jikan nevertheless proves an engaging and multi-layered watch.
I’m somewhat split on how to rate the animation. At some points it’s simply gorgeous, while at others the manner in which the camera pans is painfully choppy and hard to follow. Likewise, the character designs tend to be relatively plain, and fluctuate in appropriateness depending on the level of detail in the background. All in all, however, these complaints end up being trivial at best. As a whole the visuals are beautifully detailed, and nitpicking does little to detract from a remarkable level of quality. Environmental lighting can be considered nothing shy of spectacular, and special attention is given to even the most minor attributes of each character’s make and poise.
While the voice acting can’t be considered anything spectacular or worthy of notoriety, Eve no Jikan’s musical composition picks up the majority of its slack. The piece that plays when the main characters walk into the café is surprisingly catchy, and the soft tunes that permeate each scene are fitting and well-suited to the atmosphere. Despite having small dramatic peaks in each episode, the OVA never strays from the mood it seeks to create; tense-energetic pieces are juxtaposed flawlessly with melodic piano solos, and the idle sense of serenity that the café’s occupants experience is lightly passed onto the viewer.
The characters are, by far, what make this OVA succeed. The differences between humans and androids are intentionally blurred, and Eve no Jikan does a wonderful job of making the viewer skeptical as to each character’s distinction as an android or a human. While most of the café’s attendees are eventually exposed as one or the other, a handful of others are left unnamed and with enough gray area to, arguably, be considered of either category. This soft sense of mystery definitely drives Eve no Jikan’s potential into the realm of success, as it takes each of its themes and runs with it to its fullest potential without ever becoming obtuse.
I can’t think of a single character, be they main or secondary, who lacks vivid depth and a three-dimensional personality. For having such a limited runtime (movie length, really) the show fleshes out its characters remarkably well, giving them enough flavor to fit their roles well without overshadowing what they are thematically meant to do.
To be honest: I like this kind of anime. It's a story that never really starts or ends. You get a small portion of the life that the protagonists are living and it is great by doing so! You get that realistic feeling I'm missing in most of the animes, but at the same time it mixes it with surreal Topics and you can see the doubts that the protagonist has about the life he is living.
The anime itself only has six episodes but all of them are essential to the story. But why I gave only 8 out of 10? The answer is simple: All episodes are great and important for the character development but only one or two are featuring something like a main story. And at the end even this main story is only partly solved. You get to know each of the characters but when you finally know of their problems and want them to get over them, the anime just ends. Eve no Jikan is simply to short, but on the contrary that not-waisted-a-single-episode would probably get lost if the anime were longer.
The look of this anime is great. You have a good background with great detail and the scenery lets you feel the world that the characters are living in. On the Contrary the look of the main protagonists are a little bit plain. I don't know why they made them that way, maybe to make a more realistic look (you know plain is realistic óÒ), but it feels just a little bit too plain. The other featured characters are looking great and are exceeding the protagonists by far, which is at some points a little frustrating.
Well I'm not the kind of guy who pays great attention to the music and the dubbing, so I won't rate it at all. Better to be honest with oneself than to rate something you don't have any clue on ;)
The character development is greatly made. You get to know the main protagonists and see how they are connected to each other. And it doesn't stop with the protagonists, each one the character that featured is thought through, but what is most disappointing is that you only get know the characters and their story and then almost immediately jump to the next one. There are quite some interesting characters I would have liked to know better, but with the limited time this series has it is imply impossible to make that happen. With the little time they had, the characters are really well made. You have close to no stereotypes and you get the feeling that even if the background of one character is not told that there is more to them than you can see.
I really liked this series and wanted to give it a better score than 8, but with all that restrictions in time and therefore with the not really finished story I simply couldn't. The main topic is the question of what makes something human or not without ever being spoken out loud in the whole anime. Also the catch phrase of this anime "Are you enjoying the time of Eve?" is pointing that way. The "time of Eve" can be interpreted with the "time of equality" or "time of tranquility" (remember the house rule: "no discrimination between humans and robots"). So the phrase is asking you if you are enjoying this time of peace inside this café, outside of all the discrimination of androids or humans and the stress you encounter in your daily life.
So my last words are: If you like topics like "What makes a human human" and are looking for an anime that lets you think about the way which humanity is going, this anime is for you!
Eve No Jikan takes place in a future vision of Japan where robots are commonplace, and more sophisticated androids are gradually making their way into homes around the country. These androids are treated as slaves, despite looking and acting exactly like humans. Each is fitted with a holographic 'halo' so as not to be confused as a human, which must be kept on at all times. However, in a small cafe known as Eve No Jikan androids switch off these 'halos' and are able to stand alongside humans without discrimination. The series focuses on two high school boys, Rikuo and Masaki, who, after discovering that Rikuo's android has been visiting the cafe, find themselves challenged by the equality that Eve No Jikan provides.
Eve No Jikan is a truly beautiful series, in absolutely every sense of the word, and a masterclass in storytelling. Discrimination and inequality as plot devices are not exactly uncommon, but I have never seen them handled so delicately as in this series. Real-life parallels are there to be made, inevitably with subject matter such as this, but they are never thrust into the viewer's face. Subtlety is the key to this series, and it succeeds completely. The androids are not chained up and forced to work, they are happy to serve. It is in the snippets of TV news that we see, or the throwaway comments made by Rikuo's sister that we come to realise the depth of the prejudice against robots in this society. In fact, most of the show's story is told in this manner. We are presented with a conversation in the cafe and it falls to the viewer to pick out the details that might be important. Not everything is, but it is these minor background details that give the alternate world we are observing a much more realistic feel. By it's nature, the subtlety of the show means that not every question has been answered by the end, and while that is by no means a bad thing, there were some aspects, specifically the darker elements, of the series that I felt could've been fleshed out slightly more.
Visually, the series excels once again, with a combination of CG backgrounds and 2-D characters proving surprisingly effective. I'm usually the first person to criticise this combination of techniques, as it can so often be jarring, to the point where it leads the viewer to focus on the animation techniques instead of the story being told. Eve No Jikan proves to be the exception however, thanks in part to the quality of the CG. There is an attention to detail and almost painterly quality to the backgrounds that is missing from most standard anime background work, let alone in other lesser examples of CG. The duality in the visuals also provides an instant connection with the story elements, particularly as most of the robots, as well as the single distinguishing feature of the androids, their 'halos', are also CG, conflicting straight away with the 2-D elements and helping to make the story more accessible. Character design is also a cut above many other series. The series has a very clean style, and characters look a little more realistic than your typical anime fare, while remaining distinguishable from each other without the need for goofy facial expressions and hair spanning all the colours of the rainbow.
The music of Eve No Jikan is strong, if not stellar. The BGM is always understated and somewhat whimsical, adding a slightly lighter feel to what could have very easily been a dark and overbearing series. These are not tunes that will be stuck in your head for days after watching, but that is not what they're there to achieve. One fairly important scene involving a piano is also handled very well, made all the more powerful thanks to the choice of music. Voice acting is again well above average, if not entirely memorable. The performances that do stand out are the robots. TEX in particular, a major character in the final episode is played perfectly, juxtaposing a real sense of humanity against the robot character that brings the themes of inequality right to the forefront.
The characters are another example of how this show's subtle and delicate touch makes it extraordinary. Each episode essentially focuses on one of the patrons of Eve No Jikan and Rikuo and Masaki's attempts to discover who among them is human, while coming to terms with the concept of android equality. Getting to know the various customers at the cafe is a treat in itself. Watching a nameless and malfunctioning robot's attempts at appearing human is almost as funny as watching Rikuo and Masaki fuss over how to treat him properly. Indeed every character's story is interesting, peppered with moments of humour alongside those of great emotion. The real joy of the show comes from watching Rikuo and Masaki's attitudes change throughout the six episodes, and particularly how Rikuo's relationship with his house's android evolves. Again, it is the little moments that make the characters. When Rikuo starts to order his coffee without asking for a menu for instance, hardly an earth-shattering event, but it does show the gradual change in his attitude towards the cafe and it's implications as he becomes more comfortable.
I cannot recommend this series enough. Every aspect of the series has been delicately crafted to create a story that is just remarkable. It ranks right up there with Grave Of The Fireflies as an anime that I believe everybody, anime fan or not, should see. At just six episodes long, each lasting only fifteen minutes, excluding the 30 minute long final episode, it won't take you very long. Believe me when I say you'll be thankful you did. And then you'll watch it all again.
“Eve no Jikan” Review
It's the future, and scientists have finally developed androids that look just like humans. In order to keep humans from getting unnaturally friendly with the androids, robot laws are put in effect, making it forbidden for androids to go anywhere without a holographic ring above their head.
At the Time of Eve—a cafe “probably in Japan”--there is only one rule: treat everyone equally, and don't ask if someone else is a robot. Any android customers shut off their rings and mingle with humans. When it's impossible to tell the difference between man and machine, is there really any difference at all?
“Eve no Jikan” is every classic sci-fi nerd-otaku's dream: an anime that draws from Isaac Asimov's classic 3 Laws of Robotics and brings a new twist on classic themes of the robot story. Though only six ten-minute episodes long, it is nearly perfectly paced, spending all its time focusing on plot and character development while seamlessly slipping in balanced comic relief.
Its only real flaws arise in the final episode, which gets excessively melodramatic towards the closing scene. It's a fairly uninspired end, but very sensible, so it's tough to fault it.
The CG from Studio Rikka is absolutely gorgeous, and that's really all I can say about it. The effortless flow into the third dimension, perfect character and set designing, a wonderfully real technique from director Yasuhiro Yoshiura...if I say anything else it'll just be different ways to say “beautiful” again and again.
To start with, the themes are very fun Japanese instrumental pieces, which matches interestingly with the overall optimistic nature of the show. The voice casting is also pretty great. But the way music is introduced as a metaphor into the story itself, through the main character Rikuo, introduces a new way to access the message of common humanity.
Our POV characters, Rikuo and Masaki, provide effortless exposition and explain just enough of our new science-laden world that we can understand it. The show's plot is essentially to build their characters, and their arcs are suitably fascinating. But their relationship with each other is also built simultaneously, providing both comic relief and a strong source of tension.
Each episode focuses on one of the cafe's patrons and tells their story, which factors directly in with Rikuo and Masaki's respective philosophical journeys. It's an easy formula to screw up and fill with cliches, but this becomes a great science fiction tale instead.
“Eve no Jikan” is a gorgeous-looking Japanese take on concepts Isaac Asimov wrote about for decades. It doesn't take the robot genre anywhere particularly new, but the spin put on this particular iteration of the “human machine” story is beautifully handled; one might say it is at the same time an homage to science fiction's roots and a step forward to the future of the genre in animation and visual arts. It can't escape from its own melodrama at times, but succeeds in being a lavish work of great philosophical and psychological importance.
"Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?"
The setting instantly took my mind to "I, Robot", because of the way the androids are used and of course, because of Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics". But the actual content of the show brings my mind towards the HBO drama "In Treatment".
Time of Eve is slow paced, quiet and peaceful, but it's still filled with fun and engaging twists a little below the surface that always develops both the characters and story, which in my book spells out as great writing.
I really liked how we got to see the way society is dealing with androids when it comes to the small everyday situations instead of some government conspiracy, and to be honest, this is actually how I imagine a future with androids would look like.
The reason it doesn't get full points is because it didn't fully develop everything. Those things aren't actually necessary, but it would be nice to have it a bit more fleshed out.
Animation/Artwork/Visual Effects: 8.5/10
It looks great. The character designs are good because they all have their unique look. Even some kids in Rikuo's and Masaki's class that just appear in the background have unique looks which is something that definitely gets a plus from me. And the 3D surroundings looks like it fits right in with the characters most of the time. There are times when some 3D image looks a bit dated and awkward, but it's not really anything that you place any real thought on. But just those reasons wouldn't give it such a high score when I'm reviewing. The reason it gets an 8.5 (and almost a 9) is because of the excellent directing. The way the director utilizes it's animation to it's fullest. No unnecessary movement just because they're able to, which is something I've noticed that many anime do. Clannad, K-On and Bleach: Fade to Black instantly comes to mind.
I can't remember the BGM at all, which actually proves that it did what it was supposed to. Highten the experience without being noticed. Although to reach a higher score would have to be something that I would take notice to.
The voice acting is very good, but nothing extraordinary.
Well crafted and highly likeable characters. They all have flaws that seem real which makes them seem like actual people. This show doesn't have a single character that I feel is poorly constructed. But I still don't love any of the characters like I love Takemoto from Honey & Clover or Tamaki Suoh from Ouran High School host Club.
My favorites are Masaki, Nameless and the couple; Koji & Rina.
Great from start to finish.
This is definitely one of the best titles (if not the best) of the year and I highly recommend it to anyone.
"Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?"
Yes. Yes I am.