"To Be Or Not To Be" – Time of Eve (anime) – 10/10 Sugar Cubes


“A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. [The Third Law of Robotics]” ~ Isaac Asimov

Genre: Sci-fi/ Drama/ Romance

Review Status: Full (6 Episodes/6 Episodes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Superior in every respect. It uses some innovative animation techniques and mixed CG and cel animation. And it looks fantastic.

Summary: “The future, probably Japan. Robots have long been put into practical use, and androids have just come into use.

Influenced by the Robot Ethics Committee, it’s become common sense for people to treat androids like household appliances. Their appearance – indistinguishable from humans except for the ring over each android’s head – has led some people to empathize unnecessarily with androids. Known as “android-holics”, such people have become a social problem.

Rikuo, a high school student, has been taught from childhood that androids are not to be viewed as humans, and has always used them as convenient tools. One day Rikuo discovers some strange data in the behavior records of his family’s household android, Sammy.

Rikuo and his friend Masaki trace Sammy’s movements, only to discover a mysterious café that features a house rule that “humans and robots are to be treated the same”…” (Official Website- English)

Review: While this hasn’t yet been released onto DVD, it’s well worth the time it takes to watch it on the free legal streaming site Crunchyroll. This anime is similar to I, Robot and Bicentennial Man in exploring the relationships between humans and androids, and does it very well. You have multiple layers to the story, such as Rikuo’s and Masaki’s encounters in the café, and figuring out how they feel about the situation. Then you have the social consequences and ideas about androids, mostly played out and expressed through Rikuo’s sister. Then they saw fit to add a third political layer concerning robots and humans into the mix!

While the OVAs are too short to really flesh out what’s happening with politics and the incident that happened years ago concerning the Ethics committee (and leaves tantalizing clues as to why the café exists, and Nagi’s history), this still does a solid job with the stories it does flesh out.

This will also draw in simply because the animation seems very different. They used a mix of CG and animation to add a layer of visual interest, using moving camera angles, and behaving as if a scene was been seen by a character- and the perspective it’s seen from changes, too. But even if this were outright animation, it would still be beautiful. Everything is in such detail that you can almost smell the coffee, and it often looks like a still painting. The music, and sometimes lack of it, really draws the viewer into the scene.

Overall, this is an anime that should be seen by all those that love sci-fi and robots. And when you’re done, ask yourself whether you enjoyed your time at Time of Eve.

Recommended: Yes. This can be watched by the whole family, but some of the themes might be better suited for those over the age of 10.

Other titles you may enjoy:
Eureka 7 (manga and anime),
Chobits (manga and anime),
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and SAC 2nd Gig (anime),
Real Drive (anime),
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (manga),
Hotel (manga)

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