Saturday, 4 July 2009

EVE no Jikan - Episode 5

After offering what was perhaps the best single episode of anime I've ever seen in its fourth instalment (high praise indeed I know, but I genuinely mean it), episode five of EVE no Jikan (or Time of Eve if you'd rather) was always going to struggle to reach those dizzy heights. While it may not have entertained or moved me in quite the same way, it does still however prove masterful at its craft.

As has been the case with every single episode of this series, EVE no Jikan seems to effortlessly put its points across (or rather, ask its questions, as it never seeks to answer them explicitly for itself) with a deft touch of humanity - This time around, we see the results of a sleepless night for Rikuo, caused by a combination of someone's late night piano playing coupled with the various other worries floating around in his head. These restless, swirling concerns drag themselves into Rikuo's life at the cafe, where he perhaps manages to rediscover some of his previous drive and passion in a stark reminder of why his personal interests are arranged as they are.

As per usual, the philosophical questions come thick and fast throughout the episode - Almost immediately, we're greeted with headlines about androids taking up jobs in more and more professions, which in itself gives us plenty of food for thought. Should androids be allowed to take jobs away from humans who need them? In a way this particular question is also a deeper one concerning the roles of foreign workers in the current economic climate (witness the recent protests in Britain largely started by the employment of foreign labour by an oil company), and whether certain groups should be discriminated against for some kind of ill-defined "greater good". The fact that the androids in this series are also clearly marked out as being non-human also brings that question into greater focus - If you're trying to employ the best person for a particular job without discrimination, how is this at all possible when a possible reason for that discrimination is staring you in the face? In the context of this point you can replace the word "android" with black/female/foreign/disabled and so on, and the same issue is still plain to see.

This episode of EVE no Jikan takes this thought even deeper however, as we see segments of a newspaper report lauding an android for its fantastic ability in a piano recital. This gives us a real insight into Rikou's particular dilemma - He wants to become a pianist, but why even bother trying when an android can do it better? Come the end of the episode, the answer he finds is ultimately a very human one... Is the reason we do anything simply to "be the best"? Sure, it's important to have the drive to improve yourself and what you do, but the fact that someone can do it better than you shouldn't be a cause to give up - Even if you never reach the pinnacle of a given sport/hobby/career, there should be more than simply success driving you, and this episode reminds Rikou of this as he finds himself giving an impromptu performance and enjoying it. Of course, the other question to come from this particular example is whether an android can truly become a great artist in any cultural medium whose primary job is to connect emotionally with the viewer. It's probably true that someone could be moved by, say, a painting or song recreated by an android, but could an android create an original work that moved human beings? It's an interesting thought to which I have no answer.

Finally, (and it's supposedly the focus of this episode but it very nearly gets lost in the storm of other thoughts this episode brings about) there's the question of Shimei and Chie, with some very heavy hints dropped that the former is in fact an android, and more specifically one explicitly designed for childcare and to act as a foster parent. Again, this is a huge issue that throws up a multitude of questions, but in the case shown here the "father" is devoted to her daughter and the daughter loves the "father", so is there really a problem at all? As I seem to say at the end of every episode of this series, I could write a book on this stuff and still not get to the heart of all of the thoughts running through my head - That above all else is what makes this particular series a work of utter, utter genius.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

even though the fourth wasn't my favorite, i agree with you: i like e.n.j. with a passion; and it's always too damn short