So far, Time of Eve has the lowest rating of the movies in this series. The fault lies more with the constraints of the format than the story itself. The movie condenses a six episode OVA into an abridged version of one hour and forty-five minutes. Abridged versions can work: many people praise the Vision of Escaflowne movie–even over the original TV series. As for myself, Escaflowne is one anime I never wanted to see the end of, so I’ve never given the movie much thought. With Time of Eve, so much of the story revolves around what’s going on in the character’s heads and the state of their society. So, abridging our heroes’ journey does the story a disservice. The audience wished to be immersed in the intellectual lives of the characters, which takes more time in film than in print.
The movie focuses on how we should treat androids/robots if they became conscious or self-aware. Blade Runner touches on about the same theme. It’s fun to dabble with ideas like this in fiction, but it’s a materialistic fallacy to believe consciousness correlates to intelligence or programming of some sort. Computers can be very smart: they can now best both chess and go professionals. Computers may even soon have programs which allow them to learn like a human being would. But, learning and smarts can’t bestow a soul on something. A mind aware of itself, capable of meditating on first principles, and able to ponder its highest good is a distinct gift given by God to persons–whether human or angelic.
Be that as it may, how should androids be treated if they had a will of their own? The straightforward and compassionate answer–the one adopted by the protagonists of Time of Eve–is that we would have to treat them like persons. Actually, that’s not precisely true: androids were created to serve man and have limited wills rather than free wills. They do not precisely exist as self-movers in the full sense that human beings are. Time of Eve goes over three distinct rules which circumscribe the wills of androids. Man, on the other hand, was created to know, love, and serve God in this life and the next; but, man has the capacity to refuse this calling. Man’s fundamental vocation to holiness may also be obscured by things like the world, the devil, the flesh, pain, want, suffering, or even by becoming wrapped up in day-to-day life.
Androids lack the capacity to refuse their purpose or to lose it. Android nature lacks the free will concomitant with personhood. You can’t really treat the android as an equal because the android is not equally free. The end result is that Time of Eve proposes that we treat androids in the way that Christian masters were admonished to treat their slaves.
This is certainly one solution: while the human slave and the human master share the same essence–a free soul created in the image and likeness of God, the human master and android slave possess different essences: the android has no soul even if it acts in most regards like a human being. The android remains subhuman and–truth be told–below the beasts. If your home was on fire, you’d be under more obligation to save your pet cat than your android. The obligation one would have towards an android in Time of Eve comes down to your obligation to cultivate your property rather than an obligation to respect an android as a person.
But, creating a robot with the form of a human being creates some interesting problems on the subjective front. Even with the halo, can your brain actually distinguish between androids and humans? Will the way you treat androids color the way you treat your fellow human beings? An android has no intrinsic dignity, but the human form does possess some dignity. So, one’s first inclination is to treat androids like humans even if objectively they lack the same dignity.
Well, I won’t answer the question of whether one should treat the android according to objective truth or subjective perception here. (That’s something for my dear readers to debate in the comments.) The male characters struck me as rather annoying. Nagi, the manager of the café, stood out as my clear favorite. The animation was okay. Overall, I rate the movie Time of Eve…