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Review — Time of Eve

December 11, 2008
No, its not Blade Runner. Its better.

No, its not Blade Runner. Its better.

Rarely do I come across something that is so wondrous, so amazing, so refined that I struggle to find flaws. Usually I’m a lot like other famous critics, who do nothing but crap on whatever it is they’re reviewing, no matter how good it is. (Oddly enough, I’m not like this with video games, which is why I don’t usually review them.) There has been only one movie in my life that I deigned to give anything above a ten–which was the recent Iron Man movie–and now there is one anime that is attempting to gain such lavish praise with me.

And I thinkknow it’s succeeding.

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold–the majesty that is Time of Eve.

Time of Eve is a cyberprep show. What is cyberprep? It’s very similar to cyberpunk, which is the genre that The Matrix, Blade Runner, and the original Ghost in the Shell movie belong to. Cyberpunk takes a dark view on advancing technology, where people are being dehumanized, corporations run rampant, and the protaganists are usually alienated loners on the fringes of society. Quite downerish. Cyberprep is almost the exact opposite–it’s happy, cheerful, and the protagonists usually are not alienated dimwits. In Time of Eve, the protagonist is a Japanese boy named Rikuo, who is a bit of a dork but not an alienated dimwit.

In this society (which, according to the intro text in every episode, is “probably Japan,” but is actually Scotland, TRUFAX) androids have come into use and are indistinguishable from humans, except for a glowing pink ring above their heads (which turns green whenever someone talks to them or commands them or whatever.) Some people treat the androids more like humans, in a term called “android-holism” (like alcoholism, I guess), and are the target of a massive public persuasion campaign by a group called the “Ethics Committee” to stop such behavior. The show doesn’t focus on the Committee, however; it focuses on a secretive cafe known as “Time of Eve,” from whence the series’ title originates. In this cafe, one rule dominates: “No descrimation between robot and human.” Rikuo discovers it in his android’s movement log, and each episode involves him and his friend Masaki going there to figure out what the place is. Each episode focuses on a different denizen of the cafe, and Rikuo’s and Masaki’s attempts to find out if they’re robot or not, since thanks to some magical device, the robot halos do not exist in this place, and everybody acts more like a human.

Each episode is about 15 minutes long, but that’s because they would need a Henry Paulson size bailout in order to afford half an hour of the kind of animation they’re producing. It’s quite slick. Everything has been carefully drawn, and the lighting is actually soft and realistic. The camera also moves quickly in some parts, not unlike the jerky motion in Battlestar Galactica, adding another degree of realism to it. It’s closer to, say, Makoto Shinkai (Voices from a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days) than Naruto, but you know what? I love it that way. The music is also great. Its usually minimalistic, but when it does show up, it shows up in a modern, contemporary feel that really makes you think you’re in a cafe.

Steve Jobs would love this kind of show, I’m certain. The characters are well-rounded and none are one-dimensional (except, maybe, for Chie, but she’s a three year old.) Everyone has some sort of twist in their background, and the “camera” likes to play with your head, keeping certain halos out of view until later in the show or at the very last second. Time of Eve also realizes that it isn’t the old guy of cyberpunk shows, and isn’t afraid to make cracks about where it comes from: when Masaki is, very blatantly, spying on another cafegoer, the man says, “What is this, Blade Runner?” Good, jolly good.

The only bad thing that I can think of for this show is that the second half of the first season is going to be aired in Spring 2009, and they only have three episodes up. How many will there be in total? I wish I could get at least two dozen in, because that animation is truly something to behold. (I know for a fact that I’ll be purchasing the soundtrack when its released, and the DVDs are going to be in my posession, or else the world will have a very, very bad day.)

This is a show that could be considered a “serious” anime. There’s really no violence or low-brow entertainment here; it’s an attempt to try to answer, “What defines humanity?” It does so in an entertaining, even quirky way. It’s like the PBS program of anime. And I love it.

Final Score: l33t (translation: A+++++++++++++++)

Availability: Watch it straight at the source, TimeOfEve.Com.

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