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EVE no Jikan (The Time of Eve)

EVE no Jikan is an anime series based around substrate chauvinism and self identity. It is an anime depicting the use of robots and androids as servants and slaves in a slightly futuristic but still contemporary society. In other words, the near future.

The show comes in half hour long episodes, and at the time of writing, only one episode has been aired.

This first episode sets the scene for a very interesting saga.

The scene opens on a white background, upon which the following lines slowly appear:

"In the future, probably Japan.
Robots have long seen practical use,
And shortly after, Androids come into common usage."

After they fade, the screen stays white, and a lineart like map of an unidentified country appears. Augmented reality displays attach to it, pointing out sections of interest, while an invisible operator selects different sections, which flash grey. One is chosen and the display zooms in on that sector. Smaller features appear, again as line art with no real detail, and more dialogues appear giving details on specific areas.

Again and again the display zooms in, selecting first the country, then a region, then a city, then a neighbourhood. Finally, one building near a street corner blinks, and things zoom into a single room in a single house. The AR display swiftly fades out and the story begins.

The entry AR view; ever zooming in

The scene fades in slowly as the location depicted on the AR map visualises. It fades from grey, black and white, into full colour and we gain an image of two teenagers, a boy and a girl sitting next to one another, both with almost expressionless faces. The animation style leans far towards realism especially in the location settings, and maintaining only a light level of abstraction for the characters, which adds to the real feel of the piece.

This is no doubt intentional given the subject matter at hand.

Early morning dappled sunlight streams in the window, and it is clear that the two have only recently woken up. Then the camera begins to pan out, away from the couple.

Fade in on two apparently ordinary teens

This is when the true nature of this anime really hits home. As we zoom out, a floating electronic halo is visible over the girl's head. A hologram projected up from somewhere inside her. It is the only way to tell that she is somehow different. It marks her as an android. Less than human, simply property, mechanical, a thing. She looks human on the outside, except for that.

Oh, and that she is holding up her top, an otherwise invisible panel on her torso slid open to reveal the computer components inside. Components to which a cord is plugged, reaching round to the palmtop pc the boy is studying. It would appear that he is changing something about her programming or data.

The palmtop beeps and the girl unplugs herself, and stands up. She states clearly, "The records have been successfully written, Master."

This immediately accentuates her place in the home - property.

He replies with a single word. "Question".

She turns to face him, and we see the red halo above her head change colour. It blinks from red to green in an instant, and she asks what the question is. It seems the halo is green when she is awaiting a command, and turns red with mechanical precision when she is carrying out an order so that others will know she is busy with something. This way they don't even have to interact with her. A simple glance will tell them enough.

Pulling out from the teens, notice the android 'halo'. A badge to indicate 'different'

Breakfast is prepared by the girl, shortly afterwards. She is seen working in the kitchen, a 'busy' halo above her head at all times.

Another member of the family, the boy's blood sister, Naoko, opens her door blearily. She has a hangover, and is in no mood to interact. She's pissed because the android picked her up after she had gone partying. She refers to the android girl as 'this thing' to her face, and relates how embarrassed she felt.

A few minutes later, she is watching TV, and the shows that are on it, flash up as the main screen. One talks about robot farming machines radically increasing the food supply, another an advert for human-grown tomatoes, a third discussing the 'Dori-kei' or those who possess a psychological dependence on androids.

It then flips to a selection of street interviews with people laughing and making jokes at the android's expense about many different aspects. One man even says he guesses they have their uses, somewhere.

Looking back into the home, the sister chides her brother that he should be careful about becoming one of those android-obsessed people. He snaps back, then looks at his pda, intrigued by a single line of text amongst all the programming data. He is sure it was not there before he plugged the unit into his android.

"Are you enjoying the time of EVE?"

So ends the first scene.

The scene next opens on the male teenager's school, in a familiar looking classroom with windows down both walls, and a corridor beyond one of the sets. There is a low murmuring, and half the desks are empty. Sunset light comes in through the other window.

He looks up from his desk to see a man in a suit walk down the corridor. At first it seems normal, then he notices the red halo above the man's head - an android. The halo turns green as he passes, and the android man steps back against the opposite wall, staring straight ahead into the classroom. He had stopped to let two giggling human girls pass and to see if they had any instructions.

At this point we learn the boy's name, Rikuo. A school friend calls to him, to check if his sister was ok - she was very drunk last night. Rikuo says she is fine, the android picked her up. The friend sighs and tells him he trusts robots too much. Rikuo Shows him his PDA, and says the numbers are movement records from his android. He'd like his friend to go with him to check some strange ones out.

It seems the android has been going out on its own, and Rikuo is curious as to why.

They end up in a back alley, staring at a nondescript door that looks l ike it belongs to a private residence. Dustbins and drains surround it. Whilst they wait trying to decide what to do next, a male android appears, and pushes past them, to go inside.

Encouraged by this event, the boys follow.

Inside, is a dark staircase, leading down to a windowed door at the bottom, through whicch light and faint music can be heard. They push open the door, and are welcomed by a sign:

Eve no Jikan's rule:
In this shop, there is no
Discrimination between humans and robots.
Customers, please co-operate,
And have a fun time?

The view spins round to encompass a bar, hidden away under thebuilding, with several patrons - not a one with an android halo above their heads.

They are greeted by a waitress and asked to take any free seat. Stunned, they do. The scene finishes there.

The next scene opens on the same amazing bar. Amazing because for robots to be allowed to equal humans, well, for the teenagers, it is unheard of. A grey area legally. They see the android who brushed past them earlier. He is relaxing in a group of comfy chairs, drinking tea, and he has no halo to speak of. Her looks just like a human lad, mannerisms and all.

Now the boys are truly shocked; this has left the grey zone and is a definite crime. An android without a halo, could visually, pass for a human. It is breaking a slew of laws, and yet there he sits, casually, clearly relaxing and enjoying himself. They realise that if one android is without his halo then, anyone in the caf? could be an android. They look around furtively, the walls suddenly closing in on them.

Akiko, the chatty, very giggly girl in the bar

Suddenly an extremely talkative, mile a minute, short teen with red hair under a woollen hat pops up, startling them both, and proceeds to talk about whatever happens to be on her mind, dragging them in with utter joy as they are new faces to the bar.

She eventually identifies herself as Akiko, after naming everyone else in the bar, and finally allows them to get a word in edgeways. Rikuo identifies himself, and the other boy states his name as Masaki. Rikuo asks if she has seen a female android come here, and the waitress, returning with their order gives him one demerit point for breaking the rule. Akiko defends him, saying he's not used to it yet, and giggly asks the waitress to go easy as he's not used to it yet.

Akiko heads off to distract the waitress who is now staring at the two boys. Her sudden burst of enthusiasm has relaxed them quite a bit. They don't feel alone with another, obviously human girl in the place who knows everybody.

Akiko comes back with the drinks the waitress left with and they get to know one another, Rikuo being very shy. At one point Akiko is asked if she has any androids at her place. She replies in the affirmative, that that is why she is here. When pressed, she clarifies, that when in the bar, everyone is free to talk to whoever they want to. They get to find out things they otherwise would not know, android and human as equals instead of servant and master. You get to know the other parties' feelings.

Her speech makes quite an impression on Rikuo, and his expression turns contemplative, as the scene fades to another day at school. Rain is pouring down outside, and its almost time to go home.

Masaki asks Rikuo what he is thinking about, is his android coming to get him? Rikuo replies, looking at the androids with inclement weather gear standing out in the hallway, that he wonders now, what Akiko might be thinking about. It seems he has developed something of a crush.

Outside in the corridor, one of the lined up androids sees her owner and states "I have brought you your umbrella, Mas?"

That is as far as she gets before he rudely shoves his briefcase in her face and snatches the umbrella away. She dutifully follows him, carrying the briefcase. The line of androids depart one by one.

Then, Akiko appears, in the corridor outside the window. She pauses to look in the classroom. She is not cheerful, and looks upset. Rikuo is staring at her. Masaki follows his gaze.

Above Akiko's head is a red halo. She is an android, come to collect her Master. The girl who is so human that Rikuo has really fallen for her, is an android, what are supposedly just things to be used as the owner sees fit.

Akiko - thinks human, talks human, acts human...not human

She sees her owner, and her halo turns green. She goes to him, and gives him an umbrella. He gives her his bag and tells her to waterproof it then go on by herself. She says "acknowledged, Master"" and proceeds to do so.

Rikuo sticks his head out of the classroom window in disbelief, as behind him, his android waits in the corridor, umbrella in hand.

Further Reading / Viewing

The meaning of Substrate Chauvinism

Eve no Jikan (ONA)

Homesite (Japanese)

EMiNA :: Society of Modern Visual Culture

EMiNA :: Society of Modern Visual Culture, English Translation Version, EVE no Jikan

Staff Comments


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