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Time of Eve: Another Act
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Mike | 145 comments "I found an unusual entry in my homebot Sammy's activity log, and followed the data to see what Sammy had been up to. I arrived at a mysterious cafe called Time of Eve, where robots and humans are treated the same. Everyone knows that homebots are nothing but appliances: useful for helping humans, but incapable of feeling genuine emotions. Why would Sammy come to a place like this?

This novel tells the story from the anime series and movie from the perspective of Rikuo Sakisaka, a high-school kid who confronts the emotional and moral implications of life with androids who look exactly like humans. This story reveals new insights into the characters, and introduces a new character and alternative ending. Features original full-color and black-and-white illustrations by Time of EVE's character designer Ryusuke Chayama."

Discuss Time of Eve: Another Act here!

Reading Schedule
7/31-8/6: Prologue & Episode 1
8/7-8/13: Episode 2
8/14-8/20: Episode 3
8/21-8/27: Episode 4
8/28-9/3: Episode 5

Joanne | 113 comments I watched the anime series thinking it would help me understand the book better. It seems that the series has quite a few spoilers for the book. As a matter of fact, it the book follows it fairly closely. However, the book gives me a chance to follow the plot better and have a better understanding of what is going on in the story. I found with the anime series that I often couldn't follow the English subs fast enough to keep up. Now that I have the whole story in English, I can find out what I missed.

The prologue leaves me with an eerie feeling that is a good start to the story. I thought about how some people today are getting into the business of digital composing. I have heard some of this composing and it really does have something close to the finesse a real person could have. That is pretty scary. Then that would give us reason to ask, "why have music in schools?" I think the answer is that it gives kids a way to engage in activity with positive outcomes.

message 3: by Mike (last edited Aug 02, 2016 06:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 145 comments This is one of the rare cases where the anime came first. I watched the movie version of the anime, and remember loving it. I expected the LN to be either a spin of or prequel, but it does seem to be a retelling so far. The description mentions additional insight and a new character, so perhaps things will take a different slant/focus as the book goes on.

Totally agree on the prologue. It really establishes the tone strongly in only a couple pages. Interesting societal questions too. I agree with your take, and also think these things still have to be taught on a human level to be able to appreciate and continue to evolve music, art, etc, even if mechanical production means are used.

message 4: by Mike (last edited Aug 02, 2016 06:41AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 145 comments Read episode 1: It gets right to the heart of things pretty quickly without feeling rushed at all. Excellently paced and written. The same feeling and atmosphere of the anime is captured really well, although at this point there's absolutely nothing new.

I'm often surprised how frequently I see Asimov's three laws pop up in novels/manga/anime/movies/etc (obviously most often those about robots). Shows how timeless and logical they are and how much depth and story potential they're perceived to have. They provide an instant framework for life between humans and robots so the author can get right to telling their story.

Joanne | 113 comments Mike wrote: "Read episode 1: It gets right to the heart of things pretty quickly without feeling rushed at all. Excellently paced and written. The same feeling and atmosphere of the anime is captured really wel..."I would have liked to see some credit given to Asimov in the pages of the book. I see nothing in the "Thanks to" part. I know its classical writing and most of us know where it came from but I think he deserves to be recognized. Since you say the three laws are used so much, I guess there are no copyright issues. I don't know how that works.

Mike | 145 comments Not sure. His books are still under copyright of Asimov's estate, but there could be a loophole regarding such a widely applied / discussed single concept. It might also have to do with the definitions regarding "inspired by" and "fair use" in Japan. Agree that a mention would be nice/appropriate, but I wonder if printing his name might put things back under copyright issues. I also have no idea of the intricacies involved.

Off the top of my head the three laws were used in the manga Gansta (applied to genetically modified humans instead of robots) again with no mention of Asimov, and I know I've come across other instances.

Joanne | 113 comments I started thinking about a movie called "AI". In this movie, a man and wife get themselves a robot son because they can't conceive. Later, they wind up being able to conceive a human son and there are conflicts in the situation. Ever see that movie?

Mike | 145 comments I haven't. Sounds really interesting though. Will have to add it to the "to watch" list.

Mike | 145 comments Read episode 2: Still a direct adaptation of the anime so far, and still an extremely good one. Does an excellent job of presenting different characters' points of view and attitudes, and this chapter has a key moment that already seems to be opening the plot and themes up a great deal.

Joanne | 113 comments I finished this chapter about a week ago and I'm trying to remember what's in it. I think a lot of its contents deal with the question of whether an android can have feelings. I was discussing this book with my husband. He quoted the Turing principle of true artificial intelligence which would be the ability to create new thought. Doing something such as what Sammy did to make the coffee better without being told might be considered an example.

The guy's sister has to tease him about talking to the robot as if it (she?) is a person.

message 11: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 145 comments Yeah, it focused on the main character starting to think about the possibility of androids being more than machines. Interesting point about the Turing principle. It sounds like Sammy's more general concerns about wanting to make him happy and the simple thought of doing anything different to accomplish that might also qualify.

The sister is a bit one note and strong, but that skeptic / societal pressure role is quite important as a counterpoint so I'm ok with it.

Read episode 3: Still a note for note adaptation of the anime, but there is some nice extra exploration of / insight into the thoughts of the main char as things happen. Having an old, more robotic type android interacting with Time of Eve was a brilliant way to push the characters further in their individual journey's of self discovery.

Joanne | 113 comments I just finished episode 2. It seems that it is no coincidence that the eyeglasses were lost just as Sammy was in the cafe. It seems that everyone was trying to hide from Rikuo that Sammy was there. Could the little girl, Chie been trying to hide it? Nagi could have just taken advantage of the situation to convince Cie to give her the glasses so that Rikuo wouldn't find out about Sammy.

What do you think? It didn't seem to appear that way on the anime series but I don't remember.

Joanne | 113 comments I read a bit more about the Turing Test of Artificial Intelligence. For the purposes of this book, I think it is good background reading if you have time. The basis of this test is here as I quoted it from Wikipedia:

""Let us fix our attention on one particular digital computer C. Is it true that by modifying this computer to have an adequate storage, suitably increasing its speed of action, and providing it with an appropriate programme, C can be made to play satisfactorily the part of A in the imitation game, the part of B being taken by a man?"

In the context of our story, it seems that yes, a person would not be able to tell the difference between the androids and people when they don't have the rings that distinguish them above their heads.

That is the newest androids of course...

But how about the older models of androids? What should we make of them? How about the character of the old android which is introduced in chapter 3? Its (or his) character is fleshed out in much more detail here. I really see him as a whole character. I see that in many ways, he is coming close to exhibiting human characteristics in that he really seems to have a sincere desire to fit in. It is unfortunate for him that he experiences so many systemic difficulties whenever faced with ambiguity.

As noted in the story, the more advanced models can handle ambiguity better. However, does that make them any more or less human-like?

When do we get to the point where by very virtue of their resemblance to humans, we begin to let them have the same rights to respect? The Time of Eve gives the androids the one location they can go to where they can seek refuge and be allowed respect. It seems from the story that many of the androids really do crave the respect the cafe offers.

message 14: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 145 comments Joanne wrote: "I just finished episode 2. It seems that it is no coincidence that the eyeglasses were lost just as Sammy was in the cafe. It seems that everyone was trying to hide from Rikuo that Sammy was there...."

Not sure. I don't think Chie was in on any deception, and if Nagi was trying to help Sammy hide she timed giving the glasses back extremely poorly...

Really interesting questions about AI and the Turing Test. The older model android in chapter 3 certainly illustrates some of the grey areas. I'll give it some more thought and try to expand my comments when I get a chance.

The movie Ex Machina has interesting things to present regarding turing tests too (although is quite dark in subject matter).

Joanne | 113 comments Episode 4
I had a lot of thoughts when I read this part that I didn't have when I watched the anime!

Robot Teachers and 3 Robot Laws.

I was talking to some of my friends who are teachers yesterday. They were saying how hard it is to be a teacher in today's world. It seems as though its not the kids that make it hard to teach. Its the parents and the administration. Its all the rules and push to use technology vs free play. If a robot were teaching, perhaps things would be more peaceful in that way. All the rules would be followed. Probably not a good thing.

About the first law, not allowing a human to be harmed. I laughed out loud at the part where a student falling asleep in class is considered. The student could say, "you can't wake me up because I need my sleep". That reminded me of a few cheeky teens I know whose names will remain anonymous! Then the teaching robot would need to be trained about the greater long term good of keeping the student up so he or she could learn the subject.

The last part that I found interesting was about service. Adult vs child. As a musician, I really relate to the idea that many times when I am playing, I play for myself. Perhaps there are times when I use it to compete with others for attention. Never thought of it until just this moment. There are also times when I play to make others happy. The purist thought that robots only play music or do anything else to serve humans is a sobering thought. It was what some of us call an "aha!" moment for Rukio. It got him to the point of wanting to play the piano again just to make others happy. It got him past his depression about the robot who could play better than him. I think in many ways, that was an "aha" moment for me as well!

message 16: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 145 comments Episode 4: I also felt this part added a lot of insight and interesting questions that didn't come to mind when I watched the anime, even though the plot is still quite parallel. As good an adaptation as this has been until now, I think this is where it's finally coming into its own as a work that adds to the mythos and story.

It also made me realize what has been omitted from the book, namely the details of the subplot with the couple, as well as a moment where Sammy's hiding from Rukio in the bathroom (if I recall correctly). It's interesting as it allows each version to convey all the main themes and plot points, but each have something that the other doesn't.

The pondering on teaching and music, including the true objectives of the "performers" and whether there's a use for humans if robots can do the task, are wonderful. I tend to agree with your conclusions on robot teachers, especially given how it's been shown they act in public, but the idea of an emotionally "free" robot that can act the way they do in Time of Eve cafe trying to teach is very intriguing and seems more complex.

I got a little of the music motivation from the anime, but they did a beautiful job of fleshing that out here. Rukio realizing his music has value even if he's not the best in the world is a wonderful moment, and is played just right with acknowledgement that while it's a huge step, it doesn't immediately erase all his flaws.

Nice to hear it resonated so much with you as a musician. Thanks for sharing! :)

message 17: by Mike (last edited Sep 06, 2016 01:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 145 comments Finished: Episode 5 was the big divergence from the anime, and it was GREAT. Totally fit and gave big new insight and events. The focus of this ending and some of the things we've already talked about really makes Another Act Rikuo's story, while the anime was as much about Time of Eve and Sammy as him. They make fantastic compliments.

If anyone's reading this thread who's on the fence about this LN and/or the anime, both are well worth seeking out and neither is a replacement for the other. I'd recommend starting with the anime (which I believe is still available online) and following with Another Act if you enjoy it.

Joanne | 113 comments Mike wrote: "Finished: Episode 5 was the big divergence from the anime, and it was GREAT. Totally fit and gave big new insight and events. The focus of this ending and some of the things we've already talked ab..."I agree with you Mike. I saw the anime series also. While reading the Light Novel, I could go back to the colorful images in my mind and that enhanced the reading of the book. There are a few illustrations in the book but that is not the same as a full color animation.

As you said, the characters are beautifully fleshed out in this last episode. The musician robot is really given life as we are told his story. The ending and the resolution of both bothered me though. I wanted to see an alternate ending.

The problem for Rikuo in the beginning was that everyone was saying how the android musician was better than he was. In the end when the android goes back to playing the piano, it seems that everyone only wants to hear him and is really enthralled with him. It goes back to the scenario of the beginning for me. That is because Rikuo does not get a chance to play in that scene at all. I asked myself will the people at the Time of Eve ever want to hear Rikuo play again now that they have the android back? Will he always have to step aside whenever the android comes in? Would there would have to be some sort of discussion agreeing that they are both important? The same with Sammy. She should still be allowed to play too.

I fall into these thoughts possibly because I am a musician. In some situations, I have had to stand aside for better musicians and resented it. In those situations when I wanted to share the stage with them, they were too self-centered to allow it. Or maybe they weren't too self-centered, maybe they wanted to maintain their identity.

Anyway, the ending was disturbing for me in those ways.

If you take it from the intended message though, you see Rikuo watching the android play and everyone enjoying it. Rikuo is happy just to see that everyone is enjoying themselves. He is in the moment.

I suppose every musician gets a chance at some point to play for someone to make them happy. Sometimes it can be enough to find some quiet time to play alone just for the musician to make themselves happy.

message 19: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 145 comments Very interesting. Thank you for sharing this perspective.

I don't feel like the LN really addressed this aspect. It seemed implied to me between the supporting cast's general characterizations and the fact that Time of Eve is a "safe space" for humans and robots that that same attitude would extend to supporting Rikuo, Sammy and the robot in equal measure as friends as each of them played in the future.

As for Rikuo and the robot themselves, it seemed their conversation and the understanding that they had both hurt and subsequently forgiven each other point towards them being considerate and supportive of each other as far as playing time and effort goes.

But it is an underlying theme that perhaps SHOULD have been addressed explicitly, considering Rikuo originally stopped playing because the robot was better than him. As you point out, the subject of talent leading to entitlement doesn't go away just because Rikuo's decided to play for other's happiness instead of being obsessed with being the best.

Another interesting question is what happens at the robot's company once he starts playing again? Will they put his "model" into production? If so what happens when they play "against" each other? Since he's "fixed" will they try to improve on his design and replace him? The more I think about it there are a number of dark possibilities going forward from what initially seemed like a fairly happy ending.

Joanne | 113 comments Mike wrote: "Very interesting. Thank you for sharing this perspective.

I don't feel like the LN really addressed this aspect. It seemed implied to me between the supporting cast's general characterizations an..."
Yes, I agree with you Mike. There are lots of thoughts that can go into this book which make it seem less happy. I didn't think about the new models. Maybe they could be programmed to not care about how others feel about how good they are?

Here's a weird thought. My son claims he is "immune" to some feelings. For example, he claims he is "immune to cute". If he sees a cute little kid, it doesn't phase him. Sometimes, I find him quite unfeeling and sometimes, I think he covers his feelings for some reasons. So, the point I am making is maybe androids could become immune to some types of human responses and not interpret them as meaning the human is hurt. For example, if an android sees a human upset about its music playing, maybe it could be trained not to care. Maybe it could be trained to only respond to physical harm.

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