26 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

The difference in love between Chobits and Time of Eve

Both Chobits and Time of Eve deal with humans’ relationships with robots. In fact, they both go further than that. They focus, in some or another, on love. In both instances they say that a human can love a robot. Hideki is, completely and utterly, without any sign or hint of creepiness, in love with Chi. Time of Even prefers to focus on several short stories to highlight the relationship and love each duo shares. However there’s a difference in their messages.

Take the robots inside Time of Eve. The first episode makes a big deal out of the fact that the girl is bubbly and hyperactive inside the cafe, but when they see her in school she’s lifeless. In the cafe, the sign specifically says there is to be no discrimination between humans and robots. The robots all act like humans, getting rid of the halo above their head and in doing so removing their status as a robot. The final scene in episode 5 sees Sammy, the robot belonging to the main character, leaving the cafe and returning to her lifeless robot form, only to briefly smile, showing her ‘human’ side.

The robots in Chobits are always robots. There is never any doubt that Chi is anything more than a robot. A more advanced robot with the programme making her capable to fall in love yes, but still always a robot. They are never once humanised over the course of the series. If they were ever to say something that sounded remotely human, it was often followed up with a reminded that this was the way they were programmed. The robots never lose their ears, the sign that they aren’t humans, unlike the disappearance of the halos in Time of Eve (although in the Chobits manga they do start producing persecoms without the ears, but I’m talking about the anime so let’s leave that aside).

There’s only one instance in Time of Eve where it’s never a doubt that someone is a robot in the Eve Cafe (well, episode 6 was kinda like that but didn’t follow the same format of the other episodes so it’s hard to fit it into the pattern). Episode 4 with ‘nameless’, the clunky, near broken-down childminder intent on drinking that cup of tea. Never once were you left guessing as to whether this person was a robot or not, but the loving the robot as a robot was the main message of the episode. Incidentally, this was also by far the best episode of Time of Eve.

Both Time of Eve and Chobits say humans can love robots the same way they love other humans. Time of Eve says humans can love a robot as if they were a human. Chobits says a human can love a robot as a robot. I’m not saying that the message is correct or anything. It’s just a huge leap of faith to make you believe you can actually love a robot. But Chobits goes further than that. It says that a human can fall in love romantically with a robot. Whatever about a robot loving you. With the right programming that’s believable and I can easily make that leap of faith. But for a human to properly fall in love with a robot, without being under the delusion that it’s anything other than a robot, while also being in an entirely non-creepy way, is a huge mental boundary to cross.

That’s why I love Chobits. It made me believe. It made me believe in a love that, before I began the series, seemed so implausible. Because I’m a bit romantic sap at heart.

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26 Comments

  1. Hogart
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Nice analysis.. I had similar thoughts after watching Time of Eve as well.

    To me, Chobits was really more an exploration of how human relationships would be affected by robots; what would it take for a person to “fall in love” with a robot, and would such a love be the same thing?

    Time of Eve focused more on whether we can distinguish sufficiently-advanced robots from people, and whether a clear line is necessary for them to even “feel” human.

    Both do overlap in themes of love, but Chobits wasn’t as obsessed with the “robot” part of the equation.. it was far more intent on the question “what is romantic love, really?”.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, that’s a good way of putting it. Chobits is about humans love for Robots while Time of Eve is about robots love for humans. It’s just robots loving has been done before and doesn’t take a lot of convincing to commit to the idea. A human loving a robot is a bigger leap in logic

  2. Posted June 28, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I should watch Chobits. I’ve been holding this anime for a long time and should given it a chance. It looks pretty good of an anime. Loving robots.

    Hope I get a chance to watch it. In ur opinion, should i watch the sub or the dub?

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      I watched the dub and liked it but they’re pretty much equal. Depends on your personal preferences

  3. Hogart
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    @Hinochi: read the manga. The anime is pretty weak in comparison.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      I think I’m the only person who prefers the anime

  4. Taka
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    I think another thing that is different in the 2 series is the portrayal of the duties of the robots. Chi for the most part was completely useless in terms of the utility she was meant for as a persocom. In Time of Eve the robots were mostly subservient to their human creators. Time of Eve goes beyond the experience of “love” as it’s portrayed in chobits and goes into things like stretching that servant-master relationship. The robots can not only perform their duties but they can care about the people they are working for. If Time of Eve is to be believed, when a robot leaves the cafe and returns to being a robot servant they are fully aware of their experiences. So they must be the servant of the humans willingly. Which says a lot about the robots ability to “love” on more than just a romantic level.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Thing is, Chi wasn’t made for any other purpose other than to love. That’s what a Chobits is. By adding that into the equation, they instantly bypass the theme of Time of Eve by simply saying ‘yes, the robot is programmed to love’. That’s why it spends the rest of the time focusing on whether a human can love a robot

      • Taka
        Posted June 29, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        Is that in the manga? I’ve only seen the anime but I thought Chi was special in her ability to love. I was of the impression the persocoms were just like any other android except the chobits model had free will, emotions, and human-like intelligence. Which in my mind doesn’t necessary mean built to love.

        What I meant is that ToE addresses beyond eros or passionate/romantic love (which I felt Chobits mainly focused on) and explores agape; that is love without conditions. Which is explored in ToE in several almost every episode; most notably with Shimei/Chie and Koji/Rina, but also with “nameless” in a more subtle way.

  5. Samshel
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Mmmm I remember watching a trailer of Time of Eve long ago, forgot about it, definitely giving it a try, there are only 6 episodes anyway. About Chobits, it was good, not GOOD, but I enjoyed it overall.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Time of Eve is great stuff. Studio Rikka are a small studio but they also made Pale Cocoon, which I think is better than Time of Eve, but they’re both worth watching.

      Chobits has a special place in my heart. It’s the odd one out amongst my all-time favourites

  6. Posted June 28, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I think Time of Eve had bigger fish to fry. The robot-nature was used in part as a metaphor for any difference which can cause intolerance. It could be viewed as a criticism of racial intolerance, for example. For example, LUH-3417 was human because he felt human, regardless of what he looked like. And he was loved because the kid he looked after loved him.

    I think ToE also tackled the issue of “love” in a much broader sense than simply romantic love. For example the final story. Without giving anything away, I think it shows a kind of love that isn’t romantic love at all (more like the love you have for a family member).

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      I don’t quite agree. Well, I agree with what Time of Eve’s themes and metaphors are but I don’t agree that it’s bigger fish frying. Asking whether Robots can love humans is not a huge leap in logic and has been done before. So has most of the other things done in Time of Eve. The main point of this post is to point out what a big leap of faith Chobits makes you perform

  7. fable
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Man, I loved Time of Eve. It was an excellent series. I agree episode four was probably the best, but I also loved episode six.

    I’ve never watched Chobits, though. Maybe because I have somewhat mixed feelings about animated CLAMP series. Or maybe because it’s an ecchi series. I suppose I’ll have to give it a shot.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      For some reason I didn’t like 6 that much, but the rest of the series I loved.

      Chobits is…well, I guess it is ecchi, which is probably why I watched it all those years ago. I love it (obviously) but it clicked with me so I’m wary about reccomending it to anyone else. Most people like it but few people love it

  8. smallish
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    I think that I’ll put both those anime on my to-watch list. :)

  9. Posted June 29, 2010 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    I used to have a relationship with a robot. However, I accidentally doused her in water and she stopped working. I guess you could say I “broke her heart!!!” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    • Hogart
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      Guess you could say that joke was as rusty as your ex (ba-da-bum-psh!)

    • Posted June 29, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      I bet she was positively electrifying.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      I bet you had good sex with her

      …wait, is that not how you play this game?

  10. Elysium
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Ah, I love Chobits. :D That was one of my top ten favorite anime… for a while, at least.

    I’ve never watched Time of Eve, but it sounds interesting. Maybe I’ll watch it some time…

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      It’s one of my favourites but I rarely mention it because…well…it’s Chobits

  11. Posted June 29, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with episode 4 being the best episode of ToE. The robot with the least amount of visible humanity displayed the strongest characteristics. The robots might have a fear of being scrapped, but it’s not even close to recognizing your own mortality.

    I admit it. I shed a few tears for the guy.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      It’s one of the best episodes of anime I’ve ever seen. I think it stood far above the other episodes in Time of Eve, and it’s not like they were poor episodes themselves

  12. Poro
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    I am surprised such a post came to be. I remember watching Eve no Jikan and loving it. But I wasn’t an aniblogger yet, so I didn’t say anything about it. I think Eve no Jikan is better because it is
    1. less ecchi
    2. delves around all kinds of robot/human scenarios in surprising depth for a 6 episode anime.
    3. better explains the stuff
    4. go go 3D animation
    5. I really like the symbolism too.
    No wonder it won the International Tokyo Animation Award

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