Cosplay in the Time of Eve

Eve1
Second Life, cosplay, or anime? Sammy the female android with Rikuo her human in the anime Time of Eve ©2009/2010 Yasuhiro YOSHIURA / DIRECTIONS, Inc.

Pardon my cosplay, but an intriguing anime called Time of Eve has arrested my imagination and prompted me to explore an interesting parallel: namely, how the prejudices that humans had about androids in the anime often resemble the prejudices that outsiders have about a “virtual” second life (not to mention a Neko life!).

What is the definition of a “real” life or friendship? Do the definitions differ between first and second life? Do you talk about your Second Life with First Life friends?

In here you can talk with everyone, right?
So you learn lots of things, right?
Like… other people’s feelings…
Other people’s beliefs…
And what it means to be “real.”
– from Time of Eve

Time of Eve (イヴの時間 ) / Ivu no Jikan is an online anime that explores the prejudices between different subcultures, when it comes to defining “real” life and friendships. Much like Second Life, the story is virtual — “in the future, probably Japan” — and takes place primarily in a secret coffee house / café called Time of Eve. (Much to my cosplay delight, I found all sorts of similarly beautiful cafés built in Second Life… the only difficulty I had was choosing one…).

As the story opens, androids are quickly becoming accepted as household ‘servants.’ Because their appearance is entirely indistinguishable from humans, a Robot Ethics Committee has been established to ensure de rigueur behavior between humans and androids, by promoting the belief that androids are nothing more than household appliances. Androids must even wear a halo-like ring over their head — the societal “mark of an android” — to avoid any mix-ups.

And yet… humans being the weak, anthropomorphizing and lonely creatures that they are (in first life, second life, or anime), latent signs of android empathy, friendship, and (heaven forbid!) human-android relationships are already emerging in this futuristic anime society, causing all sorts of prejudices to unfold.

One fateful day, tender-hearted Rikuo and his more cynical friend Masaki confront this bias face to face when Rikuo discovers his android Sammy has been visiting a mysterious place called ‘Time of Eve.’ It’s there that Rikuo stumbles upon an entire subculture of androids who live, feel, converse, think, behave and evolve alongside humans — even going so far as to “turn off” their android halo to remove all distinction. Rikuo must then decide what his perceptions of “real” life and valid friendships will become.


Secret doorway to the underground coffeehouse called “Time of Eve”

Subcultures and Perceptions

As you can imagine, I couldn’t help but see the parallel between this anime and Second Life, where our strange little subculture of avatars lives, feels, converses, thinks and evolves in a sort of underground world… much like the androids did in their secret Time of Eve coffeehouse. Many SL friends I know don’t even like to talk about their “second life” to “first life” friends. Why? I suspect it all goes back to perceptions and prejudice…

In the anime, humans are frowned upon when they make friends with / “empathize” with androids… often getting called derogatory names like “android addicted” and “android-holic,” and being accused of social problems in their inability to make “real” friends.

However I’ve seen the very same thing happen in first life, where humans are frowned upon for “having avatars as friends,” (despite the fact that there’s a “real human” behind those avatar pixels), or not having a “real life / real friendships,” or appearing to be addicted to “that game.”

(Certainly the media is no help when it comes to explaining Second Life to your first life friends… news sources never seem to mention things like Second Life’s community of independent live musicians, innovative artists, and 3D builders, grid-wide events that raise large donations for charity, the ability to earn a “real life” income, new experiences for the disabled, not to mention the endless learning opportunities… but hey I digress…)

So I’d like to challenge the “first life” perception of a “real friend,” whether that friend comes in android, human, or SL avatar form (not to mention the many forms an SL avatar can take… :: smooths an ear ::).

Rather than fall back on an inherent human distrust to anything “out of the norm,” we humans have the capacity to be bigger than our fears, to throw open the gates of bias… which suddenly allows friendships to take many forms… and worlds… be they defined as real or virtual.

In my life, and I’m talking both first and second, my friends are chosen for who they are, rather than where I meet them, or what “form” they choose to take (real life tattoos, piercings, blue hair, or second life Neko bits). These friendships are no less valid based on where I happen to be when I talk to them (on the phone, via email, or in internet / second life chat).

When I start up Second Life software to visit my girlfriend in Oslo, it doesn’t feel much different from starting up my car to visit my girlfriend across town. First life? Second life? It’s all life.


Time of Eve Coffeehouse & Café in the anime Ivu no Jikan (イヴの時間 )

Cosplay, Androids, and Neko

You’re probably asking yourself what all this has to do with being Neko in Second Life, right? Well, let me ask you: how do you validate your second life? What is your definition of  a “real” friendship? And how do all those definitions apply when one of your first life friends discovers that you’re not only active in a virtual world, but you’re part of a strange little subculture called “Neko?”

Sometimes we Second Life Neko feel like “Time of Eve androids” who are never quite understood by human avatars. We’re often a curiosity, sometimes frowned upon, and occasionally not even allowed or accepted.

But do you see the inherent oxymoron in this bias? Every one of us SL avatars has something very much in common. No matter what our shape — Neko, human, furry, tiny, cyborg, butterfly, dragon or whatever — we’re all lumped into the same strange “android” perception by people in first life, who haven’t yet learned to expand their awareness of what it means to have an extended second life.

My point is this: perceptions and prejudices are a matter of choice, as Rikuo discovered in Time of Eve. A virtual world like Second Life brings these choices to the forefront… giving us the opportunity to redefine our perceptions and eliminate the biases that so often plague us in first life.

As for the validity of a virtual world? I believe it’s an incredible expansion of life, much like the telephone was over 130 years ago… no matter what form (neko!) and numeric assignment (second!) you give this life.


Left: Concrete Flowers’ beautifully textured armwarmers; LPP’s “Heart of Automata.” Middle: Custom android halo; new Neko ears by Zero Style (a perfect match for Zero Style hair); amazing eyes by EDDesign. Right: Ephemeral’s Neko tail… probably the BEST textured tail I’ve seen in SL… comes in shorthair or fluffy, with different sizes in the package, and an easy HUD to change colors and movement.

Neko Cosplay: Sammy in Time of Eve

| Android Halo | Custom made by Bobby
| Ears | Zero Style: Nekomimi
| Eyes | EDDesign: HD cat eyes green 2 new generation (new favorites!)
| Tail | Ephemeral: Neko Tail Moxy Plain, fluffy, medium (tinted to match my hair; you MUST go see the texture on these tails first-hand… they come in short-hair too!)
| Hair | AY.LinE: Akane red line in Peach, tinted more brown
| Sweater |Atomic: Cozy Cardi – Granny
| Armwarmers | Concrete Flowers: Seppel Armwarmers in “Mixy” (check out the matching legwarmers too!)
| Shirt | Pink Outfitters: Poppy sheer chiffon blouse in white
| Chest Data Port | LPP / Le Petit Prince: Heart of Automata, metallic with cover
| Skirt | Artilleri: Simplicity Pencil Skirt in grey
| Stockings | Bluebell: Lace top stockings in champagne
| Legwarmers | Super Noel: Loose Socks (in a small box by the front door for just $20L; can be duplicated and tinted to make as many colored pairs as you like!)
| Shoes | Super Noel: Loafer (comes with brown and black pairs in the same box)

Ivu no Jikan / Time of Eve ( イヴの時間 ) was produced by Studio Rikka and directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura. Watch it here online, legally, for FREE:
Background Story: http://www.crunchyroll.com/library/Time_of_Eve
Next Six Episodes: http://www.crunchyroll.com/media-452708/time-of-eve-1

Official Time of Eve Website:
http://timeofeve.com/e/

More About Time of Eve:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_of_Eve

Exploring Cafés in Second Life:
While attempting to find “just the right” setting to complement this story, I discovered all sorts of fun cafés (and some other cool places) in Second Life. Here are my favorites:

Chirihama Cafe (the café we used in this story)
De Che Ilyes Cafe (upon arrival, open up your Mini Map and follow the red beacon to find it)
Drowsy Café
La Café Poulard at Mont Saint Michel
Itutu Cafe
Frog’s Café
Souptonic Café
Bar in Edo Japan
Triad Town Chocolate Factory and Kitchen

Photos by the wonderful-in-both-lives Bobby Yoshikawa <3***

© Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko in Second Life – 2010
http://virtualneko.com

=^..^=

=^..^=

~ by Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko on February 14, 2010.

6 Responses to “Cosplay in the Time of Eve”

  1. *^___^* Oh what a wonderful post!

    While I was reading my way through it, I was thinking about how very much this applies to being neko in SL ~ as neko (along with furries, vampires, etc.) encounter a double dose of prejudice ~ first from RL for being in SL and then from our fellow grid inhabitants for the form we choose to take inworld.

    The comment, “perceptions and prejudices are a matter of choice” is at the core of my frustration in this matter. How can people defend their right to be in SL against real world biases and then turn around and inflict the same type of prejudice at others in-world just because they *look* different…because they know full well that there IS a human behind the keyboard. The irony bakes my noodle.

    • So very true Kulta… it seems we “humans” insist on drawing lines in the sand wherever we go, in any world, never admitting these lines are merely the boundaries of our own fears.

      I remember National Geographic’s special on human evolution, and the comment about the difference in skin color being so infinitesimal in terms of DNA, as to be utterly insignificant. Unless you’re a human looking to build walls…

      As I always love to say, minds are like parachutes. Always better when open. Glad you liked this story, thank you! ^_^

  2. Great post Stacia, we have very similar views on this and the telephone analogy is one I use myself with people outside of SL. I’m sure, as I mentioned on my post, that it won’t be too long before the idea of justifying a virtual life and friends will be laughable. What isn’t so laughable is the perverse ability of humans to create barriers and form prejudices to make ourselves feel comfortable and boost our self esteem. I love how you’ve expanded on this theme, Stacia!

  3. Stacia sweetie, I think you knocked one out of the park with that post. So very true about how some of us do not talk about our Second Lives with people we know in real life.

  4. Thanks everyone for the comments! I’m only one of many to muse over this topic, so in addition to Cherry’s blog, I did some googling and found other links to those who’ve blogged about this topic too…

    Cherry’s two stories:

    http://dollyrock.co.uk/blog/?p=13

    http://dollyrock.co.uk/blog/?p=14

    Botgirl:

    http://botgirl.blogspot.com/2009/09/are-virtual-friends-as-real-as-physical.html

    Mo Hax:

    http://imohax.com/2009/04/20/friendship-not-virtual/

    Dusan Writer on love in virtual worlds:

    http://dusanwriter.com/index.php/2009/04/14/impossibly-positive-love-in-a-virtual-world-newsweek-on-relationships-and-second-life/

    Debbie’s Rainbow Notes blog:

    http://debbiesrainbownotes.blogspot.com/2009/05/online-friends-and-virtual-pals.html

    Rocky Constantine’s blog:

    http://in-worldandout.blogspot.com/2010/01/second-life-is-real-lives-real-people.html

    Last but not least, a discussion about why SL “feels so real” by Peter Small / Eliver Rang:

    http://www.stigmergicsystems.com/stig_v1/secondlife/whyItSeemsReal.html?

  5. Wow Stacia, what a wonderfull post! For me there realy isn’t a difference between “real life” and Secondlife friends, I concider my best SL friend a real life friend too. But, just like in real live, not everybody on my list I concider a friend…some are merely aquaintences or work contacts.
    For me there’s no SL without RL, as soon as a conversationj becomes more personal people enter my RL, it’s just the way of communicating that may be different :-)
    Interesting read, thnx for the links!
    *gives you a biiiiig hug!*

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