Do you like theories about human-robot social relations? Do you wonder what it would be like to have a robot that developed human sensations? Then, Time of EVE might be for you. If you're looking for something more than that, steer clear. This is more a romantic slice-of-life piece than a sci-fi flick, and even calling it romance might be a bit of a stretch. The concept behind this anime is indeed noteworthy, but unfortunately, most of your curiosity will be satisfied as a byproduct of the film not delivering in the atmosphere it builds off of. In other words, you'll be left imagining what should or could have happened, rather than being impressed with what actually did transpire.
Let's look a little closer into why Time of EVE fails to offer an impressive narrative.
EVE's plot is mostly about a pair of high school boys that find a new, fascinating experience in their world, involving androids that could easily pass for humans, were it not for their halo indicators that identify them as artificial. There is also a subplot about how the government (or some company) is trying to rectify this very issue. This subplot is basically abandoned as soon as it is brought up, and it never gains much ground. Instead, the majority of the plot centers around a cafe that the boys find.
It's a nifty cafe that brings up this very poignant social issue for the boys to understand and come to terms with. There's also a certain special robot that one of the boys takes a fancy in, and really, every encounter with a robot that they have is unique and compelling.
But here's the problem: that's the entire plot. There really isn't much more, and what the movie sets itself up to discuss never ends up being talked about beyond the chit chat in the cafe. It presents a very dynamic issue, and it relents and instead indulges in how the boys are dealing with their own personal dilemmas, rather than exploring the wider problem that they themselves encounter and recognize. Essentially, EVE gives us a lot to consider and then skirts the issue itself, so that you have to assume the boys' success in the cafe means the world will be okay with it all. A little bit anti-climactic, to say the least.
To me, this is where Time of EVE really disappoints. Most of the backgrounds in this film are of the cafe or the houses of the family. Rarely do we even see the outside world, and when we do, it's not a very impressive design. There just isn't much going on at all besides the characters themselves, which are often facially blank (robots) or just simply plain. Granted, there are some careful details to certain parts (one of the boy's robots come to mind), but I would expect more from an anime that touts a futuristic concept and delves into robots and their evolution.
If you want to watch a visually stunning anime, this is certainly not the one you're looking for.
The music and sounds in Time of EVE are fitting and often well-designed, helping to create moments of laughter or calmness for the viewer to experience alongside the characters. There isn't much else to say here. It's not the best sound design for an anime, but it certainly isn't lacking. The pace is well-kept and the mood is appropriately enhanced by the aural ambiance, which seems to reflect the soothing nature of the cafe itself.
I really wanted to be compelled by the characters in Time of EVE, and you might say that this movie is more about the character development than anything else. However, it simply doesn't deliver. The behavior of the characters is monotonously predictable, to the point where it dulls the entire gist of the film. Am I supposed to care that the protagonist has decided to take up his talent by the end? You can see it coming a mile away, and there really is no confusion as to how each character will interact with another. A robot that seems human? Well, that may have been exciting, if only that wasn't the whole point of the cafe's rules in the first place.
Yes, there are some touching moments, especially with Boy B's dad and his robot. However, not much ultimately comes of anything, and we are left feeling that the film was merely a recitation of potential issues of human-robot interaction, rather than any resolution or defining wisdom to the dilemma. There just isn't much going on here, and it's hard to ignore when the anime sets up so many possible, compelling conclusions.
This shouldn't be surprising. Time of EVE just doesn't impress, despite having ample opportunity to do so. That isn't to say it is a bad film; it has many fine qualities and certain moments are very genuine and heartfelt. However, these moments are muddled within an aimlessly wandering plot and a setting that lacks pizazz or anything other than the catchphrase of the movie being repeated on far too many objects. What could have been a visually-engaging and conceptually deep film ends up falling short and relying on the common cliches of shounen anime and slice-of-life melodrama.
If you are looking for a new sci-fi movie to watch, Time of EVE is not it. If you are interested in seeing the growth of two young guys and their puberty-infused social problems, coupled with an android twist, then Time of EVE will satisfy, amuse, and tease you. Sadly, what Time of EVE won't do, however, is precisely what it seems set up to do in the first place, and with that in mind, you might enjoy the film more than I did.