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act05: CHIE & SHIMEI: Melody of Eve

 

Review by Scott Richardson

February 12, 2012

 

Summary

 

After a restless night, Rikuo emerges from his room looking for breakfast. Naoko informs him that Sammy is gone today for monthly maintenance, but made some breakfast before she left. She also chastises Rikuo for practising the piano late at night. This causes Rikuo to recall the last piano competition he entered several years ago, where an android gave a guest performance. At school, Masaki brings Rikuo a print out obtained from his father's computer of an old man who happens to be an android made in the image of someone's father. They aren't currently in use, but that may change if the manufacturers have their way. Masaki points out the part that says they have been testing them in secret, and suggests that such a thing sounds rather familiar. He seems extremely perturbed with the situation, and leaves before Rikuo can respond. After school, Rikuo makes his way to Time of Eve alone, finding Nagi looking after Chie because Shimei is apparently indisposed. Rikuo attempts to make drowsy small talk with the two of them, noting that Chie seems quieter than usual and telling her that he's sure her dad will be back soon. Chie loudly responds that Shimei isn't her dad. Rikuo asks what he is and Chie clumsily responds that he is her foster parent, apparently not entirely sure what the title means. Akiko comes over to entertain Chie and asks Rikuo where Masaki is, Rikuo snaps back that it isn't like they're always together. Surprised by his tone, Akiko notes that he seems rather out of it and takes Chie away to read a book. Rikuo asks Nagi what Shimei does for a living, and she admits that she doesn't know what he does outside of doting on Chie. Rikuo says he should have taken Chie with him, but Nagi tells him that Shimei probably misses Chie more than Chie misses him. Nagi admits that she looks after Chie once a month, causing Rikuo to recall Sammy's monthly maintenance. Rikuo drowsily wanders over to where Akiko and the other patrons are entertaining Chie and plops down beside her, asking her if she misses Shimei, causing her to gloomily reply that she does. Akiko decides to take Chie to the bathroom, leaving Rikuo with Setoru, who becomes surprisingly conversational, informing Rikuo that Shimei began bringing Chie to the cafe quite a while ago and notes that Chie really seems to like it here. Rikuo tells him that he wasn't trying to bully Chie, but something about the situation really bothers him. Setoru simply replies that all humans hurt their companions sometimes. Surprisingly, this sets Rikuo off, who angrily asks him if he's saying that he's a bad guy because he's human. Nonplussed, Setoru observes that Rikuo says some interesting things- does he think that androids never hurt each other? Rikuo briefly reflects on the various bits of drama the cafe has exposed him to recently, and decides to retreat upstairs. 

 

A bit ashamed of himself, Rikuo indulges in a bit of self-loathing and accidently falls asleep, dreaming of an old conversation he shared with Masaki Masaki told him that he planned to become a lawyer specializing in robot law and asked Rikuo if he planned to become a pianist. Rikuo responded that he was actually thinking of quitting after his most recent competition. Masaki attempted to remind him that the android was only capable of playing with precision, but Rikuo responded that he was actually somewhat moved by the performance. Rikuo is finally pulled from his slumber by the sound of a familiar song being played on the piano at the front of the cafe. When he looks over the railing, he is surprised to see Sammy at the piano, ducking praise from the other patrons- insisting that she can't do the song justice as she was only trying to mimic what she's heard a great number of times before. Rikuo seems extremely perturbed at first, but then notices the blanket someone pulled over him while he slept, causing him to reflect on the people and androids he's met in his time coming to the cafe. Enlightened, Rikuo makes is way downstairs. Sammy panics as he comes into view, attempting to explain that she was just trying to play it for Chie. Noticing the sudden tension, Chie latches on to Sammy. Somewhat blankly, Rikuo approaches the piano and notes that he always tried not to play the piano in front of her, as he wouldn't have been able to stand it if she learned how to play. Somehow, though, it doesn't bother him anymore. With that, to the delight of the crowd, Rikuo begins playing. When he finishes, Rikuo notices that Shimei has returned. Shimei thanks him for the song, noting that he hasn't seen Chie so happy in a while. He hates having to leave her, but he is not willing to reveal his true nature to her just yet- Chie still needs him, and his only wish is for her to be happy. Akiko suddenly pops up, asking where Sammy went. Outside the cafe, which her halo switched back on, Sammy smiles. Back inside, Nagi congratulates Rikuo on his performance, causing Rikuo to finally admit that he really likes the cafe. Meanwhile, Masaki returns home, still in a bad mood. Noticing his family's old non-humanoid android does little to ease his temperament.

 

Commentary

 

Despite the episode's title, it's more about Rikuo finally coming to terms with androids than Shimei and Chie's relationship. The reveal of Shimei's true nature is almost ancillary, and serves only to push Masaki even further away and to give Rikuo something to embarrass himself with to get him out of sight long enough for Sammy to show her hand. But that's not necessarily a bad thing as, by this point, you pretty much expect everyone at Time of Eve to be androids. Rikuo's story is pretty well resolved at this point- seeing an android play the piano better than him made him feel useless, but his time at the cafe has shown him that androids are far from perfect, and as such, not worth making him feel so insecure. Masaki's feelings also seem to have come to a head, with him refusing to return to Time of Eve. We also learn that he was lying about his family owning an android. 

 

Overall Rating

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

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