Aki and Taki are two girls who share an impenetrable bond even beyond the restraints of school hours. They hang out at arcades, perform music together, and sometimes aimlessly frolick the city for fun. It is even heavily implied that their relationship is outright romantic. At a cafe, the two discuss strange, disturbing nightmares they both have been having revolving around a “one-eyed monster”. Not too long after, Taki mysteriously disappears. While this puts her in an uneasy state of melancholy, Aki searches for her.
Aki grows wistless, seeking out her friend all around the city to no avail. She tries to depend on her fond memories with Taki to maintain hope, while also trying to continue living her life day by day. But through these memories, it becomes more and more clear that there was something brewing under the surface and that Taki was troubled. As Aki struggles to come to terms with her denial of the truth of Taki’s disappearance, the one-eyed monster that has been haunting the girls’ dreams penetrates their reality, appearing in different parts of the city to the point it becomes inescapable.
Adam by Eve: A live in Animation is a visual album trying to create an original narrative paired with music, similar in vein to other animated visual albums like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Daft Punk’s Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem for their album, Discovery, and the more recent Sturgill Simpson Presents SOUND & FURY.
The film is set to music by Japanese singer-songwriter Eve (not to be confused with the American rapper of the same mononym), intertwined with the story of a compelling relationship between two girls—including theme music he made for the anime adaptation of Jujutsu Kaisen. Eve’s performances, which are essentially music videos that can also stand on their own, are intercut with Aki and Taki’s scenes, while surrealist dream visuals are slowly introduced in the form of animation and motion graphics.
Studio Khara has handled much of the animation, including the contributions of Hibiki Yoshizaki, who is known for—and is even directly referenced within the film—in having also animated visuals for the music video of TeddyLoid’s “Me!Me!Me!” The animation’s stylization borrows monikers of Eve’s own visual branding, such as various original character mascots, all while using them as a foundation to establish the aesthetics of the dream world in Adam by Eve.
The animation’s stylization is intentionally rough and loose, evoking the feeling of something grunge and underground, contrasting the sleek mundane of Aki’s real world. This juxtaposition becomes even further widened when more 3D CGI elements are introduced as Aki eventually becomes completely plunged into the follies of the one-eyed monster.
It is clear that Eve has an eye for the visual just as he does with sound and music, the style established for Adam by Eve is confident. Unfortunately, the visuals are where most of the film’s strengths lie devoid of its story as the narrative that it tries to concoct fails to properly synthesize sights with sound. Despite the pretense that the music’s themes loosely ties with the progression of the film’s plot, Adam by Eve's music video narrative fails to properly coalesce with the main story’s narrative.
Adam by Eve ultimately ends up feeling more like a montage than a cohesive, singular piece. Theoretically, this might be a deliberate choice so Eve’s performances can be extracted to stand on their own for later purposes—and specifically for the purposes of benefiting Eve’s branding —while willing to do a disservice for the rest of a movie that cannot.
While the visuals neither help or hurt, the story does admittedly struggle to stand on its own with or without them. There is way too slow of a build-up to establish the stakes of the story more than halfway through its duration and too much time is dedicated to defining Aki and Taki’s relationship with many scenes spent on Aki repeating information that has already been established. No doubt, viewers may be stunned to be subjected to what is mostly a live-action drama, especially when the anime segments to the film have been marketed most openly and are established as a significant expectation. Perhaps there is an intention behind this repetition, symbolizing the cyclical feelings of Aki’s grief and the nightmares that keep happening, but at a glance, it immediately comes off as more of a pacing flaw.
By the time Adam by Eve finally takes a dramatic turn, its payoff does not feel effective when it has to eventually close its bookends. Approaching the climax, the world turns into an overstimulating portrayal of the girl’s dreams, following a character implied to be Aki awakening in this twisted, animated version of her city. The character stands within a sea of other schoolgirls who have also lost their former identities and must fight off a horde of one-eyed monsters in a bombastic sequence that checks the boxes of many anime tropes and cliches. As fascinating as this sequence is, it is completely disjointed and at odds with the rest of the film which is reflective of my overall problem with the rest of Adam by Eve: There is more focus on flashy aesthetics of very different parts as opposed to seeking to make them make sense as one whole.
Even surrealism has logic to its philosophy, and Adam by Eve has failed to establish its own rules to break. Although it is commendable that it sought to explore a subtle, grounded depiction of an ostracized relationship and the internal and external odds against it, Adam by Eve: A Live In Animation sadly fails to compel especially compared to other visual albums. All else, it will likely intrigue and encourage one to check out and listen to Eve’s music.
FORMAT: MOVIE AVAILABLE ON: STREAMING FROM: NETFLIX RATING: PG-13 RUNNING TIME : 58 min
IN A NUTSHELL: Adam by Eve: A Live In Animation is more flashiness than actual film, and at best, offers a strong, convincing advertisement for a musician’s brand as opposed to telling a cohesive story.