Plastic Memories

Plastic Memories

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After failing his college entrance exams, 18 year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki is offered a position at the renowned SAI Corporation due to his father’s connections. The SAI Corp. is known for its production and management of androids that possess human emotions, called Giftia.

Tsukasa is given a role in the terminal service department, where the main objective of staff is to recover Giftias that are close to their expiration date of approximately nine years and four months – a grim reaper-esque objective. To make things more complicated, Tsukasa is paired with Isla, a female Giftia who is usually never given any responsibility other than serving tea to her colleagues.

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As soon as I started watching Plastic Memories I knew it wasn’t going to be an all-out-laughs comedy, but the story is touching and emotionally-charged with an interesting concept and some well-developed characters. It tackles the complex themes of death and loss and how they manifest themselves within individual people.

We watch Tuskasa and Isla’s relationship progress initially through episodic focuses on their Giftia retrieval assignments and the way they approach the androids and the humans that have lived with them as a part of the family for the past nine years and now have to say goodbye. For something so routine, it’s great to see the different directions that each assignment goes through – from those that sadly accept that their Giftias have come to the end of their predetermined lifespan to those that refuse to give them up and run away together. It means that a concept that would otherwise become formulaic remains fresh and interesting.

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Plastic Memories also succeeds in walking that difficult line of comedy and drama. As the story progresses, there are little moments of comedy and fun scenes that make the overall mood a bit more light-hearted. Then finally, when the dramatic elements start revealing themselves it makes the story even more hard-hitting when you realise that some innocent relationships are destined for heartbreak – and that the characters know this, too.

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Many people have criticised this anime for having a predictable end and ‘going nowhere’, but I believe that this is part of the form so that we can enjoy the overall story and not just focus on the denouement. I feel that, although we know quite early on where this anime is heading, we don’t know how it will happen and what the overall outcome will be. A twist is going to happen – that’s what I think. It means that we can enjoy the journey more rather than focus on the overall destination.

The weakest part of Plastic Memories has to be the main protagonist himself. Tsukasa is your typical bland male anime lead that serves as nothing more than a blank canvas for the rest of the cast to use as a sounding board and deliver the necessary exposition needed to further the plot. Whilst we see Tsukasa’s personality developing in the later episodes, it is still a case of ‘too little, too late’ and he still seems more of a plot device than a character.
IMG_2371.PNGIsla, on the other hand, proves to be a standout and loveable character. Her way of approaching Giftias close of expiration and the way she interacts with them and the people that live with them in order to make them understand why Giftias need to be retrieved as they are is truly what makes this anime special. She is cute, mysterious, complex and unique enough that she makes a very solid female lead.
IMG_2363.PNGDogakobo’s animation is consistent and fluid and the characters and backgrounds are very pleasant (if not a little on the shiny side, which limits the realism). The scenes where Isla and Tsukasa are in the amusement park or when they are working in the rain are particularly impressive.

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Plastic Memories is a bold and powerful sci-fi series that raises and addresses interesting ethical questions on morality and what qualifies as human. It also showcases examples of how humanity’s treatment of machines would alter in a world where androids and artificial intelligence are more commonplace.