Tuesday, 5 August 2008

EVE no Jikan - Episode 1

It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes you watch the opening episode of a series and really just have to marvel at it. The first instalment of Eve no Jikan is just such a series - Each episode of this six-part ONA is just fifteen minutes long, but in that quarter of an hour the opener to the series posits some quite frankly delicious questions, and does so in a way that's neither heavy-handed and overly highbrow nor too trite and over-simplified.

Eve no Jikan takes us into the future - A Japanese future, where robots (or, to be more precise, androids) perform all of the usual menial tasks like picking up the kids from school, making the coffee and so on. While some people revere these androids (and seemingly have fun poked at them as a result), the majority treat them as what, in essence, they are - Simple tools, to be used to make life easier.

However, the show's protagonist, Rikou, has a view somewhere in between those two polar opposites. He also has a problem, as a readout of his own androids movements show some irregularities. Androids aren't allowed to supposed to act independantly, so what's going on? Along with his friend Masaki, Rikou checks it out and find's an odd cafe with an even odder rule - That there should be no discrimination between human and robots.

Thus begins the fascinating premise that runs through this series - Are androids treated poorly by their owners because they are less human, or simply because they are labelled as such. It's a deep question that is subtly explored as this episode moves on courtesy of the discrimination-free cafe, and the revelation that comes after Rikou's visit to that place is both perfectly executed and priceless.

If it isn't obvious by my prose above, I've fallen in love quite quickly with this series. Its core question may be simple at the surface, but look a little deeper and it isn't just a story about androids any more - It's about all of us, right here and right now, and the prejudices that we all carry around to some degree whether we like to admit it or not. Replace 'android' with any race, nationality, religion and so on and you get the picture - If there was a place we could all go and be seen as equals by one another, how would our reactions to any given demographic change?

It's a fascinating question, and I for one can't wait to see how both the series and the question it poses progress. In a rather mediocre season for anime, this first episode is a little short but sweet gem.

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