Monday, 6 September 2010

Time of Eve - The Movie

Having covered the original Eve no Jikan OVA on this very 'blog, I don't think it would be too overblown of me to refer to it as one of the best anime series I've ever had the privilege to watch - As intelligent, thought-provoking anime goes, it was near-perfect in its own right even before you topped it off with a healthy dose of comedy and emotion which blended together expertly. Given how well those six episodes plied their trade, I was somewhat in two minds about said series getting a feature-length adaptation, but here it is so it would be remiss of me not to watch it. Surely they can't screw up such great source material?

Thankfully the good news is that no, they really can't screw things up, with the film managing to shoehorn in pretty much everything that made the series great - the wonderful comedy turned tragedy of the "nameless" old robot dumped by his owners, the unveiling of Masaki's back story and its emotional fallout upon the whole endeavour, and the general sense of fascination and intrigue that comes from an environment that dumps androids and humans together, strips them of the visual clues which differentiate them, and stands back to see what ensues.

I won't go into the details of those particular stories as it would simply be retreading old ground (check out my previous posts on the show for more in-depth discussion of the issues at hand), but there are some obvious differences in this new treatment of the concept. On the down side, both Akiko's outing as an android and the revelation that Rikou's android Sammy is indeed visiting the cafe both crop up far sooner than they seemed to in the OVA, almost prematurely so in the former case particularly - revealing her identity removes half of the fun of trying to figure it out for yourself and skews the pacing of the film somewhat. However, the positive which spins off from this is that we are treated to more views of androids, and more specifically Sammy, behaving "like a human" outside of the cafe - seeing Sammy trying different hairstyles at home or laughing and smiling as she leaves the cafe makes the difference in her behaviour between the two locations less marked and thus more natural to the viewer.

Arguably the most important shift in this cinematic version of Time of Eve is the more careful building of a "bigger picture" to the series - rather than the cafe being there "just because", right from the outset it's suggested that it's simply part of something bigger; a kind of social experiment that goes beyond simply Nagi's desires and feelings. Speaking of Nagi, it's actually the end credits that bring the biggest step forward of them all, giving us a pictorial history of her back story all the way through to her present - this is actually a great development in its own right, and it still leaves a huge amount of room for further growth that would be greatly welcomed in any form on my part.

If you never watched Time of Eve in its original form, then this is probably as good a place to pick up this fantastic concept as any - watching the whole thing in High Definition really does justice to the expert blending of CG and more traditional animation, as well as the the cleverly chosen camera angles, pans, zooms and shots that appear through (although some of the cuts within the film feel a little "messy" compared to the OVA). While you do lose some of the nuances of the pacing and presentation of that six episode OVA, watching the movie does gain you a wider view of the world and events which stitches everything together in a more pleasing fashion as well as giving you a glimpse at aspects of the characters within that the OVA never even touched. The purist in me still clings to that original OVA as a better experience all in all, but despite saying that this movie edition of Time of Eve is two hours incredibly well-spent. It'll make you laugh, it might well bring a tear to your eye once or twice, and if you're not careful you'll end up sitting up all night discussing the finer points of what makes humans "special" in comparison to other forms of life both real and (at the moment) philosophical.

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