The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Eve no Jikan

Title: Eve no Jikan
Genre: Drama
Company: Studio Rikka
Format: 6 ONA
Dates: 1 Aug 2008 – 19 Sep 2009

Synopsis: In the future, robots have become an everyday household item that takes care of the much of the menial daily chores. Though much of society has yet to realize it, these robots have started evolving code that mimics human emotions. To conform with the desires of their masters and society at large, the robots act like normal machines in everyday situations, but when they travel to a mysterious cafe known as “Eve no Jikan” everything changes, and no one can tell the difference between robots and humans.

The Highlights
Art and Animation: There is little movement but what is shown is stunning.
Premise: Unoriginal and could have used a more believable context.
Drama: Too understated.
Characters: Boring.

Eve no Jikan is the second production from director/script writer Yoshiura Yasuhiro that I’ve seen, and like Pale Cocoon(1,2) before it, it is a title I appreciate but absolutely could not get into. The anime questions what would happen when society sees the advent of humanoid artificial intelligence and fails to recognize it, followed by what can be done to change those perceptions. Though the anime has some decent stories to tell, the tepidness of its characters and the absurdity of its premise makes the series a pleasant but ineffectual drama about the complex interplay of thoughts, beliefs, and actions that must be displayed before people can accept strings of data as having true human emotions.

There are many live-action movies and books that explore the ideas and themes presented in Eve no Jikan, but I admit, none of them do it in a relaxed cafe setting with a faint aroma of coffee floating in the air. The problem is that the show asks its audience to give empathy to two rather boring high school students and then ascribe human-like emotion to robots which honestly should not have such parameters.

The idea that robots can unintentionally develop human emotions is absurd. I give blockbuster movies like the Terminator, The Matrix and I, Robot a pass largely because the primary focus of these movies is action. On the other hand, Eve no Jikan is interested in the drama that ensues when robots learn to be human. When I dissect drama, I try to understand both the logic and emotions that compel the characters, and I cannot really do the latter with AI. I am willing to accept that robots with emotions can exist if such programming was intentional, but I don’t understand how computer code can randomly generate something remotely close to human emotion.

Even if I were to accept that a society can unknowingly create human-like artificial intelligence, what kills the show for me is the general dullness of the entire cast. The characters are portrayed as typical people found in the real world and as a result they are not interesting to watch. Though this shift towards realism is a breath of fresh air from the typical cliches found in anime, the characters in the anime do not have unusual personalities, espouse interesting philosophies or carry any kind of compelling emotional baggage. Furthermore, the conflicts the characters face are largely fueled by misgivings and misunderstandings which are what I consider some of the weakest sources of drama.

Eve no Jikan does have some interesting stories to tell, but they are so contingent on the acceptance of robots feeling emotions that I could not empathize with any one of them. The realism of the show certainly isn’t a bad direction for the medium, but I hope that a better topic of interest is chosen next time.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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