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act04: NAMELESS: Doll of Eve

 

Review by Scott Richardson

February 12, 2012

 

Summary

 

A robot's degraded video memory show him receiving a crudely drawn picture from a young boy who's face is obscured by video artifacts. The robot enquires as to the nature of the gift, causing the boy to excitedly tell it that it is a picture of him. Meanwhile, Rikuo receives a phone call from his father, who says that he won't be home for lunch as originally planned, due to a large number of robot-related complaints he has to deal with as part of his job. Rikuo relays this to his sister, who wonders what all the complaints are about. Rikuo recalls that, back when their father first started out, most of their complaints were due to deficiencies in early android's fuzzy logic- they were easily confused by vague or open-ended commands, unlike current models which are nearly human in their ability to interpret commands. These days, most complaints seem to come from people who want humanoid androids banned. Later that day, Rikuo and Masaki find themselves as the sole customers at Time of Eve. The pair strikes up a conversation with Nagi, asking her why she works in such an odd cafe. She happily states that she loves the place and her customers. Before Masaki can press further, the door suddenly opens to reveal a new customer- a LUH model robot (incapable of passing for human), a line from ten years ago which was never popular due to being rather user unfriendly. This particular unit seems about ready to fall apart. The robot takes note of the cafe's rule posted in front of the door and then suddenly lumbers over to Rikuo and Masaki's table and takes a seat. An awkward silence ensues as Rikuo and Masaki realize the robot is attempting to pass for human. Masaki finally takes initiative and introduces himself and Rikuo, and asks the robot what his name is. The robot's only memory of his name seems to come from its garbled memory of the young boy calling his name, which is degraded to the point that the audio is mostly static. As such, the robot introduces himself with a loud blast of static in place of his name. Rikuo and Masaki instinctively cover their ears to protect them from the booming noise, causing the robot to attempt a second time to introduce himself with the same results. Rikuo and Masaki realize they have no choice but to grit their teeth and listen, or else the robot will continue to repeat his 'name' until he is sure everyone heard it. Having accomplished this, the robot's head suddenly becomes slightly dislodged and lists off to the side rather unnaturally. Noticing this, the robot requests the location of the bathroom, which Rikuo is only too happy to give. With the robot safely out of earshot, Rikuo and Masaki are finally able to give in to the humor of the situation via side-splitting laughter. Annoyed, Nagi scolds them, reminding them that the robot is still her customer. When the robot returns, she attempts to take his order. Unfortunately, the question is too open-ended for the obsolete robot to handle, causing him to being to overheat. Fearing for their safety, Rikuo quickly asks for another cup of coffee, allowing the robot to follow his lead. Their relief is short-lived, however, as Masaki quietly points out that the robot does not have a mouth, only a speaker. He fears that the robot may attempt to drink anyway, possibly resulting in a rather uncomfortable explosion. The Third Law should protect them, but neither he nor Rikuo is confident that the robot is capable of making such a judgement anymore. None the less, Nagi is determined to treat the robot as she would any other customer and brings him the drink. Fearful for the robot's safety (as well as their own), Rikuo and Masaki attempt to stall the robot by asking how old it is. The robot informs them it is eight years old, but quickly realizes that he is rather tall to be passing for an eight year old human. The conflict causes him to begin to convulse violently until Rikuo assures him that there are giant eight year old, using Chie as an example. Despite the obviousness of the lie, it succeeds in placating the robot, who once again goes for his drink. Their relief once again turned to terror, Rikuo and Masaki dive under the table, only to look like fools when the robot pulls a tube out of its neck and sucks the coffee into a holding tank. 

 

With the crisis averted, Rikuo and Masaki are once again safe until Chie suddenly appears, and makes a bee-line for the strange new customer. Shimei calls out after her, causing the previous lie about eight-year-olds to fall apart. Thrust into panic mode once again, Rikuo and Masaki are able to prevent meltdown by convincing the robot that Shimei is Chie and Chie is merely a cat (which is, of course, Chie's preference anyway). None the less, the constant stress seems to be gradually unhinging the robot. Nagi returns and calms the situation by asking the robot about its job. The robot seems happy to discuss this and tells them that it was the caretaker of a young boy who has since grown past the need for such things. It loved its job and was given a name by the boy, which it regards as extremely important. Rikuo asks the robot what the boy's name was, resulting in a static outburst similar to its name. Rikuo notices that the robot's serial number has been filed off and asks the robot if it remembers any contact information for its family. The robot does not react well to the request and claims to have lost all such data. As the robot's attempt to recall deleted data send it spiraling into a final crash, Nagi, realizing the truth of the situation, embraces it. As its memory gives out for good, the robot recalls the drawing the boy gave it, informing him that it was a picture of Katoran. With that, the robot's eyes go dark. As Nagi continues to hold the now effectively dead robot, Rikuo explains to Masaki that the robot was illegally abandoned- when androids are replaced or no longer needed, they are supposed to be returned to the manufacturer to be properly disposed of. In order to avoid the fee associated with the return, some people attempt to delete any data in an android's memory that could be traced back to them and then abandon it somewhere. Nagi proclaims that the robot spent all those years avoiding the authorities because it wanted someone to remember it, but Masaki responds that it didn't know its name and didn't even realize it. Nagi baselessly argues that he remembered in his heart, but Masaki simply scoffs at her. Becoming excessively annoyed with Nagi's sorrow and Rikuo's sympathy, Masaki leaves the cafe, stating that affection is impossible for a robot.

 

Commentary

 

This is definitely the most comedic episode of the series, despite ending on a rather depressing note with the reveal of the robot's abandonment by its family and Masaki storming off. Both Masaki and Rikuo have issues with androids, but while Time of Eve seems to have soothed Rikuo's feelings somewhat, it seems to have exacerbated Masaki's. Interestingly, though, Masaki seems more angry at the humans who get to close to androids than the androids themselves, as displayed when he kept Koji's secret after discovering he was an android, despite being angry with him when he thought Koji was human. Anyway, the last minute or two not withstanding, most of the episode was pretty hilarious. The robot's vision and a couple music cues when he first appears heavily referenced The Terminator. Plus, using CGI for the robot helped make him look properly jerky and out of place- a nice change of pace from CGI mechs that don't blend in well at all with their 2D counterparts. The whole series is full of these kind of little touches- if you look closely, you can see some Three Laws compliance graphs in the robot's HUD. 

 

Overall Rating

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Time of Eve Episode 4 Time of Eve Episode 4

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