I find myself watching each new episode of Eve no Jikan multiple times, letting myself become immersed in its world and absorbing as many of the plot points and details as I can. For most series, when there’s a batch of episodes on one DVD disc or when a new episode is available to view on a weekly basis, it’s as though it cheapens the experience in comparison with the way I watch this show. I think I take too much anime for granted in a way but here there are fifteen short minutes then that’s it for another couple of months; even leaving its other merits out of the equation I can’t help but try to squeeze the last drop of entertainment value out of each outing and savour every second.
I’m not posting this pic to crack an “Are those real?” gag: notice the CODE:LIFE book. Then crack an “Are those real?” gag
The story takes a less eventful course in this episode, most scenes taking place in the Time of Eve cafÃ©. This time it’s all about the Koji and Rina of this episodes title: that romantic couple who often keep themselves to themselves in a secluded corner. In the two previous episodes I was looking forward to seeing how EnJ portrays romantic relationships like this in a worldview that makes human and android indistinguishable; needless to say it once again doesn’t disappoint. Spoilers after the jump folks.
Concentrating on a few characters and rarely straying from one or two locations might look like the series is falling prey to mid-season filler syndrome or stalling for time but in this show’s case I think it’s highlighting the approach to storytelling in use here. I don’t really think EnJ is about an epic, action-packed plot, at least not yet. It presents us with an environ and the people who dwell within it, each episode zooming in on individuals, giving them a few moments to tell their own individual story and adds to the melting pot of ideas that’s leisurely simmering away. The cafÃ© is almost like a character itself with various levels and corners playing an integral part in the way that events and situations pan out; it’s almost like a stage play except the simulated hand-held camera technique makes you feel a part of the action and interacting with the characters.
I love the script writing here
I could go on for ages about the direction and art again but EnJ is fundamentally character-driven, in this case introducing us to the two would-be lovers. I was expecting a situation in which a human falls for an android and has to question what the concepts of love and attraction mean to them; although the questions still come thick and fast the route that this episode takes is even more surprising and thought-provoking than I anticipated.
The scene where Rikuo and Masaki argue and eventually deduce that both Koji and Rina are in fact androids was a fantastic twist but hilarious too – the dialogue was marvellous, complimented by little details like the thought clouds above their heads. What Nagi was doing in this episode I have no idea, but it supports a theory of mine that the Time of Eve, and possibly the people who visit or work there, is some sort of social experiment into how humans and androids interact (after all, why would she need a PC with a holographic keyboard just to dim the lights and control the background muzak?). The schoolboy banter and, to my surprise even the cleavage shot gags, were great fun to watch and the display system of Koji’s camera (which reminded me of Yoshiura’s Pale Cocoon again) was artistically marvellous. I’d love one of those, even more than I want Ranka Lee’s iSlug.
Shots like this explain why this episode took two whole months to complete
If the Koji/Rina premise of the episode had been a romantic pairing between a human and android, as in the case of Koji and his mistress or Rina and her master, I suspect it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting. Rina puts her safety on the line for her owner and Koji is devoted to his mistress because their programming dictates that they play the part of companion; their relationship with each other on the other hand is more complicated…like a relationship between two humans would be. It isn’t a straightforward arrangement like the android and master; it’s two individuals meeting, unaware if the other is android or human, and falling for one another. This is exactly what two humans might do and the ramifications of this blew my mind.
Androids are not only able to learn, think for themselves without prior commands and feel a sentimental attachment to the humans they live and work among but they are apparently able to feel the very set of emotions that humans consider to be the defining feature that sets us apart from other forms of life, both natural and artificial. Rather than suggest “so then, what makes us special?” as you might expect from a concept like this, it merely pushes the humans and androids of the EnJ universe closer together and makes the inferior treatment of the latter even more poignant. Could romantic love, the last barrier that appears to separate humans and androids as people, no longer exist after all?
Some of the screenies I select for putting in posts explain more than any caption could justify. This is a case in point
I actually feel reluctant to spill out every little thought on what this episode throws up in tl;dr detail – there are wide-reaching questions that would be better off in an ethical, legal or social studies essay and besides, thinking for yourself about what it’s trying to say is I think what makes this such a rewarding and personal experience. In an interview at Crunchyroll Yoshiura is keen to stress how he wanted to approach this particular area of sci-fi in a new way and fill a niche that he feels isn’t filled by other shows, and I can’t help but agree.
I can also understand why the fourth outing won’t be complete for another four months. Being a hardcore Hideaki Anno fan I’m familiar with how some creative teams want to work outside the typical anime work ethic but end up tearing their hair out when external pressures force them to compromise; for Rikka to put their foot down and take longer over the next instalment it looks to me like a triumph of artistic integrity over commercialism. As fans and sponsors are screaming “MOAR PLZ!” from every corner, I think Yoshiura and co are doing the right thing in saying “sorry everyone, it’ll be ready when it’s ready,” and taking their time over getting everything just right. This series is already a labour of love and it shows.
And finally…the question of whether Sammy looks prettier with a hairband answered
While we’re on the subject of the scheduling, am I reading too much into the official site when it talks about this being the third episode of the first season? That kinda implies that there’s going to be more than just one now…