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act03: KOJI & RINA: Lovers of Eve

 

Review by Scott Richardson

February 12, 2012

 

Summary

 

Naoko watches a television program featuring a discussion about androids created for purely sexual purposes- which one commentator labels a mere urban legend. Meanwhile, Rikuo and Masaki have made their way to Time of Eve for lunch. Nagi suggests they get to know some of her other regulars, but they seem to shy away from this. Privately, Masaki maintains that he's only here to figure out what's going on in this strange cafe and has no intention of getting close with any potential androids. Unfortunately, outside of Akiko, they really have no idea about the other patrons. Masaki theorizes that either Koji is just a dori-kei looking for a place to be 'close' to his android, Rina- nothing worth checking into. Rikuo doesn't seem convinced, however, and stares a bit too long. Nagi notices and decides to get the two duos together, calling Kou and Rina over to Rikuo and Masaki's table. Suggesting that four will make for more interesting conversation. Nagi's plan doesn't really get off to a good start, as the four simply stare at each other from across the table. Finally, Rina introduces herself and Koji and Masaki responds back in kind. Conversation doesn't seem to come very naturally for Koji and Rina, who keep their responses short and to-the-point. Masaki asks them if they come here together, which finally gets Koji a bit animated, responding very swiftly that they come separately. Rikuo notices Koji's camera, identifying it as a new, high-end model, and asks if he could take a look. Koji obliges and teaches him how to use it. Eventually, Rikuo notices MLink functionality and connects it to the table's holographic display, which, to Koji's obvious discomfort, displays a set of thumbnails of all the pictures on the camera. While Rikuo gushes over the technology, Rina notices a picture of Koji and another woman. Koji goes immediately on the defensive, telling her it isn't what she thinks, but Rina simply states that his heart is still far away- no matter how much they meet, she still feels uneasy, and now she knows why. As Rina rises to leave, her leg suddenly begins to spasm, causing Koji to have to catch her. As she recovers, Rina paradoxically asks him not to leave her alone, while continuing her retreat. Feeling somewhat responsible, Rikuo chases after her. 

 

In a more secluded area of the cafe, Rikuo blunders upon Rina examining a damaged maintenance panel on her upper thigh. Noting Rikuo's embarrassment, Rina explains that she was damaged while guarding her master, and the emergency repairs don't seem to be holding. Rikuo notes that she should really return to her manufacturer for repairs, but Rina explains that she cannot risk that- if they discover her 'modifications', her master would be put in a rather awkward position. She isn't sure how much time she has left, but states that she would like to keep coming to this cafe as much as she can to see Koji, who treats her like a normal human female despite what she considers her poor attempts to pass as such. Regarding the woman in the photograph, she does not think it will have much of an impact on their relationship. As Rina starts to head back to their table, Rikuo tells her that he thinks she should tell Koji the truth, regardless. Back at the table, Masaki notes that there isn't a single picture of Rina on Koji's camera. But then, he couldn't risk letting people know he had a make-believe lover, right? Masaki goes on to wonder if perhaps the other woman is an android as well? Koji flatly refutes this, and furthermore, tells Masaki that Rina is not his "make-believe lover." Masaki angrily asks him if he can honestly tell him their relationship is real. Taken slightly aback by this outburst, Koji meekly notes that what Masaki is trying to say is that humans need human partners. Koji admits that this may be so- he and Rina cannot transcend the relationship between and human and an android. None the less, Koji explains, Rina is much like his master- whom he greatly to help. As Masaki is recovering from the notion that Koji is the android rather than Rina, Koji explains that his master is morbidly dependant on him, despite his constant attempts to convince her to find a human companion. When he first met Rina, he was shocked at how similar she was to his master, and thus wanted to know more about her in order to perhaps better understand and help his master. Koji asks that Masaki please not tell Rina about him, as he does not want (indeed, cannot want) to hurt her. Surprisingly, as Rikuo and Rina make it back to the table, Masaki silently agrees. Rikuo and Masaki decide to give the pair some privacy and find a new table, where Rikuo notes that people come in all sorts. Masaki apologizes for getting on his case about staring at Rina earlier, noting that Rikuo's human-detection skills are apparently better than his. Rikuo doesn't know what he's talking about, leading them both to the realization that both Rina and Koji are both androids under the impression that the other is human. Maybe, Rikuo postulates, android relationships aren't really different than human relationships- Rina and Koji are both interested in each other for the wrong reasons and are hiding things from each other- far from uncommon themes in human relationships. 

 

Commentary

 

This is probably the strongest episode yet, taking the human falling in love with a robot cliche and turning it on its head by having two androids both being used by their owners as substitutes for human intimacy fall for each other while assuming the other is a normal human being. A technique they've been using throughout the show is using camera angles to obscure android halos, which is used to great effect in the brief glimpses of Koji and Rina's lives outside of the cafe- giving you a very different impression of them until the big reveal. Perhaps if Koji and Rina weren't bound by the First Law (which is preventing Rina from getting the repairs she needs and keeping Koji stuck in an unhealthy relationship with his owner), their relationship would be on less shaky ground. 

 

Overall Rating

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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