Monday, April 4, 2011

Movie Review: Time of Eve

When my mom came to pick me up for spring break she mentioned that she had seen some trailers for the New York Children’s Film Festival and I nodded, I’d seen some people talking about movies on twitter and I really wanted to be there. And then she mentioned a movie about robots and two thoughts went into my head. One, that they had finished Satoshi Kon’s last movie but immediately ruled that out since I certainly would’ve heard of it somewhere else before hand so that lead to thought number two, it must be Time of Eve (which I knew had a few airings in the US). Apparently I did this in about two seconds so when I went “Time of Eve? I love that one and I reaaaaally wanna see the movie version!” my mom was a bit surprised and laughed. So, since I knew the original OVAs were still streaming on crunchyroll, I offered to show them to her and  that’s what we did. As a quick note, I (re)watched the OVA version of this, not the movie but I’m still filing this under “movie” since the only differences are that a some scenes are cut down (from what I’ve heard it’s mainly the episode about the couple), the final scene has the dialogue changed (which I didn’t realize until I found fansubs, it made more sense the movie way) and there are images during the credits/a short scene after the credits that provide a bit more insight into the movie. So it’s nothing much and I feel like I have seen the movie now since I saw all of that stuff as well.

Time of Eve (Eve no Jikan)

Summary: In the near future, "probably Japan", androids have come into common usage. Governed by the three laws of robotics, they are humanities willing servants, even though some people nurse a vehement anti-android sentiment. One day Rikuo checks the log on his family’s android and discovers that she went somewhere without an order and a curious message is left in the log, Are you enjoying your Time of Eve? He and his friend Masaki track the place down and discover that it’s a café with a curious rule, there will be no distinction between humans and robots. At first the two of them think it’s simple to spot the robots amongst the  humans but quite soon the show becomes "what measure is a non-human?"

The Good: Despite how little of it I read, I like science fiction and this series is pure speculative science fiction. Sure the world looks practically identical to our time period but that helps take the focus off of technology and put it onto the androids specifically. I also find the whole fact that humanity doesn’t know how advanced their own technology is amusing, usually the story is about an A.I. going rouge, not showing it already evolved and instead trying to fit into the world around it. Knowing whose human and whose not made this a fun rewatch since I was able to pick up on a few more details and that made me appreciate the build-up to the last episode even more (as well as enjoy the overall "what measure is a non-human?" more). The characterization was spot on and each episode focused on the right character for the right amount of time and in the right order, it was superbly well-thought out and I could’ve watched nine more episodes of this easily.

The Bad: Why hasn’t the movie gotten a release in the US yet, I’m sure that indie animated film festivals would eat it up and THIS is the movie that deserved an Oscar (sorry Toy Story 3 and Summer Wars but it's true). Or better yet, why isn’t there more yet! The movie sets up plenty of sequel hooks yet there’s no sign of more being made yet and I will be crushed if the rest of the story is never told. And that’s the biggest weakness here, if the story isn’t continued then this won’t add up to much in the end. Some of the characters did go through character development but this show was only the equivalent of four episodes, it’s all introduction and set up and really needs more to make use of it.

The Art: The camera is going to get on some people’s nerves, it reminds me of all the really early CGI shorts my brother and I used to watch as kids, the ones where they weren’t sure if the camera should follow animated or live action sensibilities. I think it works within the series, it reminded me of a robot looking around and, if that was the intent, using that technique when following/using the P.O.V. of human characters could help emphasis the lack of difference between the two. Other than that, all the characters look mostly normal (the series could’ve used a bit more shading) and there aren’t that many sets used in the series but I’m pretty sure this was a low budget endeavor so it’s nice that it looks this great.

The Music: I was surprised at how much of the music I remembered from the series, I might have even started humming along to the café’s theme when it started playing. Silence is also used pretty well within the series in the more dramatic moments which really stood out to me. I can’t think of much else to say but I do remember liking the music even more the second time around.

In short, I love this series. Normally I prefer a story with a stunning plot over everything else (it is in the blog’s tagline after all) but I also do truly love slice of life stories that really focus on and develop the characters in a thoughtful manner and this series did just that and raise philosophical questions in the process! I know the OVA BR have English subtitles but the movie one does not so my fingers are crossed that someone will release this in the US, I would buy it immediately, who cares if I don’t have a BR player yet! Speculative sci-fi buffs would eat this up I bet and I want more people to see this series, this is how you write characters and do science fiction without alienating non-fans of the genre. So, all six episodes are just under two hours long at CR, go watch it, NOW.

EDIT: The movie is now available to buy on itunes in the US and after a wildly successful kickstarter campaign will likely be available in physical format in other locations as well.


  1. Helen - thanks for your review of Time of EVE. Just a quick note - the movie is now available on the iTunes Store in the US (as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand). We hope you enjoy it! We also have a facebook page with updates.

    from DIRECTIONS, Inc.

  2. I heard about that actually, I'm planning on getting a copy there and trying to put it onto a DVD for myself.