I’ve learned to approach feature-length movie retellings of familiar stories with a lot of caution. To put it bluntly, at best they’re unsatisfying summaries and at worst they ruin what I liked about the original in the first place. In the case of Eve no Jikan, one of my favourite pieces of animated SF in recent years, I prayed it would be an exception. Fortunately it does Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s screenplay justice from start to finish, and even though the majority of the film is pretty much the same as that of the six-part ONA there’s enough extra material to keep the old fans happy but it retains that unique winning formula.
The best part of all is the fact that this is in full HD: the series was from the outset a cut above the made-for-TV fare in terms of details in the artwork and fluidity in the animation, so the big screen treatment is what it deserves. If much of the content itself is the same then seeing it all in such glorious resolution is in itself worth the experience…and of course the increased detail means you’re less likely to miss some subtle yet potentially important plot point.
My impression of this feature-length format is slightly different from that of the series however, so I’m reluctant to recommend one without the other. The series served the narrative’s ideas in bite-sized chunks; you were encouraged to think it over and savour every moment because the releases of each instalment were so sporadic. The film takes the viewer all the way through in one go which gives a more cohesive experience, but offers less time to pause for thought: there’s a clearer sense of the ‘big picture’ but the trade-off is that it gives you less opportunity to appreciate the details in its writing.
That’s not to say that it’s more poorly paced than its predecessor: most of the content is the ONA’s footage spliced together after all, except shown without breaks for OP/END credits and with a few ‘new bits’ added in. It still has that same sense of succinct storytelling that I loved about the series: every exchange of dialogue is meaningful and not a moment is wasted on filler. That distinctive simulated hand-held camera approach also fits the big screen format – it’s as though Studio Rikka wanted Eve no Jikan to end up here from the very beginning.
I can finally say I CAN HAS FULL SIZE
The first difference I noticed is a slight, yet thematically significant, shift in emphasis. Much of this is due to rearranging the order of some scenes so overall there isn’t much that wasn’t in what I remember of the ONA. Many of these are short and, I must confess, really sweet moments in which Rikuo’s houseroid Sammy reflects on the relationship she shares with the family she works for. Her character comes across as even more endearing, introspective and tellingly more human that in the series.
The more major changes are in the ‘big picture’ of the story, which was originally drip-fed during the course of the six episodes but here is introduced in the first scene. It’s also evident in the closing one so the real treat for fans of the ONA comes in these final moments and during the end credit segment, in case you’re tempted to look away early. It inevitably poses a whole host of questions that only fuels my desire for a sequel, but also addresses a few earlier questions that the series didn’t explore as fully.
The recent passing of Satoshi Kon prompted the question of how many other directors have a natural knack for making innovative works that bring fresh ideas and perspectives to familiar concepts: narratives with an effortless ‘flow’ and an ability to balance differing sentiments and moods from scene to scene, but not always following the conventions. Sadly there aren’t very many who can do this: Tensai Okamura, Makoto Shinkai, Hideaki Anno and Mamoru Hosoda are the only people in the field of animation that I can name off the top of my head, but Yoshiura is another rare talent who is able to smoothly guide the story between tear-jerking, intriguing and laugh-out-loud hilarious. The characters of this story – human and android alike – are expressive and full of life, and the familiar issues associated with AI in society still hold a lot of potential for further discussion.
The important thing is, Eve no Jikan never lays the philosophy on thickly enough to get in the way of appreciating the everyday ramifications of androids in everyday life; it brings up Asimov’s Three Laws and technical jargon only when relevant, and resists the temptation that’s common in CGI-rendered productions to go overboard in portraying the future as being so far advanced that it’s unfamiliar. Sometimes little details are more effective than grandiose cyberpunk cityscapes.
The icing on the cake for me is that the ending theme tune, I have a dream, works far better in this context than it does as the closing track of Kalafina’s last album. On its own it’s as close to underwhelming as Yuki Kajiura’s songwriting has gone for me, but I’ve now warmed to it far more than I expected. Toru Okada’s BGM is still too quirky and lo-fi to be taken seriously but it fits in well with the playful and light-hearted vibe of the movie – a production that takes on one of the most popular yet weighty themes in science fiction, yet is still enjoyable.
Sammy is adorable.</discussion>
This is the kind of movie that is crying out for exposure at film and SF festival screenings worldwide; not just as a visually impressive indie film but a shining example of how speculative fiction can be thoughtful, inventive and fun. Those of you who haven’t yet followed up my recommendations to watch the series might as well track this down instead. You really won’t regret it.