Synthetic beings that are indistinguishable from "real" humans are far from new to storytelling, and are a fixture in anime and manga in particular. From Blade Runner to the new Battlestar Gallactica to Chobits, chances are you've seen these themes explored before. But even, maybe especially, if you think you've seen it all, Eve no Jikan is worth a watch.
Part of it is brevity. At 6 episodes of 15 minutes apiece, you can finish the series in less time than it takes to get a Carly Rae Jepsen song out of your head. Another plus is the series' solid writing and ability to surprise. While steering well clear of "cheap" plot twists, and broadcasting a few plot developments early on, I felt that I was learning new things about Eve's appealing cast until the very end.
Ah, the cast. Again, the series is too short to get to know anyone particularly well, but the odd family that emerges over the 90 minute experience inspires affection from the very beginning. While it is never entirely clear who is "real" and who is synthetic in Eve, every character is deeply human in perhaps the truest sense of the word. That isn't something I could say about most media I enjoy.
Then there is probably the most important character in Eve, the eponymous bar itself. Great care is taken to make the location as appealing and transformative to the viewer as to the characters who inhabit it, and boy is it a success. If I knew a coffee shop like that, I don't think I'd ever leave. Animation and music and inhabitant combine to give the viewer an almost tangible sense of the bar's identity, from the moment the characters first set foot in it until the end. Outside of Pixar animation and Hayao Miyazaki, I can't think of a modern animator who can achieve the sense of atmosphere and emotion which pervades this series.
I suppose I would be remiss in reviewing this series without at least touching on its central conceit, so here it is. Eve no Jikan owes a lot to earlier AI science fiction, and knows it. Noticing the subtle nods to greats of the genre is part of the fun. In the end it falls on the optimistic side in its exploration of AI technology, and thus the optimistic side in evaluating humanity, but whether it is right or interesting in doing so is an exercise I leave to you.
Just don't blame me if it leaves you wanting more.
Highly recommended: 4.5/5.