Half a year later, Eve no Jikan makes its magnificent return.
Previous installments give plenty of winks and nudges to the audience, carrying a consistently light tone and never taking the story too seriously compared to the miasma of melodrama that anime usually has. Episode four takes this playfulness and jacks it waaaaay fucking up. Nearly every action is of absolute importance, from maintaining casual conversation, pulling out and sitting down in a chair, deciding when (and when not to) down drinks, and assuring a new customer that the old man is actually a human girl that is not yet eight year olds.
These convoluted moments are not without reason, as our two leads are dealing with a ticking time bomb: an older model android that attempts to integrate himself in The Time of Eve café. With steam frequently pouring out of his neck, a trembling frame that would put a chihuahua to shame, and the imminent danger of consuming a cup of Evlend coffee, Rikuo and Masaki scramble in their efforts to make sure that the café is not brought down in an explosion.
What is even more astounding is how free of pretense the whole affair is. As much as I love Satoshi Kon and Chiaki J. Konaka, it is easy to see why others would be put off by anything resembling posturing in their works. Yasuhiro Yoshiura takes a candid approach to these science-fiction ideas (predominantly revolving around Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics and potentially conflicting instances of logic), integrating them as nuances to the story rather than overt messages. Even when the situation becomes decidedly somber, Yoshiura never overplays events, content to merely layer themes rather than revolve around them.
The delay in the episode's release becomes obvious within its opening minutes: the amount of detail and editing is absolutely insane. Information darts about the screen, and viewpoints are constantly changing when the tension begins to boil. What results is perhaps the most ambitious attempt at creating camera movement in Japanese animation, even moreso than the already impressive first three episodes of this series.
While I am still enjoying Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Hen and Eden of the East, and am looking forward to the second series of Haruhi Suzumiya, the second half of the so-called first season of Eve no Jikan is undoubtedly the highlight for anime series of 2009.