Eighteen-year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki has failed his college entrance exams, but after pulling some strings, he manages to land a job at the Sion Artificial Intelligence Corporation. SAI Corp is responsible for the creation of "Giftias"—highly advanced androids which are almost indiscernible from normal humans. However, unlike humans, Giftias have a maximum lifespan of 81,920 hours, or around nine years and four months. Terminal Service One, the station Tsukasa was assigned to, is responsible for collecting Giftias that have met their expiration date, before they lose their memories and become hostile.
Promptly after joining Terminal Service One, Tsukasa is partnered with a beautiful Giftia named Isla. She is a Terminal Service veteran and considered the best in Giftia retrievals, contrary to her petite figure and placid nature. Time is fleeting though, and Tsukasa must come to terms with his feelings for Isla before her time is up. No matter how much someone desires it, nothing lasts forever.
When I first started watching Plastic Memories back in April I was immediately very impressed by it because the first episode was simply amazing. It forecasted an original anime with beautiful artwork, an ambient atmosphere, likeable characters and a lot of tragic drama. At the time, I really thought that it would become the next hidden gem, and the biggest surprise of the season.
As it turned out however, Plastic Memories instead ended up being one of the most misleading anime I've seen in quite some time. Unlike what the opening seemed to imply, in reality the show is mostly a cute and light-hearted slice of
life comedy with quite a lot of romance in it. Now this doesn't mean the anime turned out poorly in the end, quite the opposite in fact, but it never reached the level that I thought it would have reached in the beginning.
The story takes place in a future world where humanoid androids are a common part of human society. The androids, named "Giftias", are fully equipped with human emotions, and help their respective human owners however possible. But the Giftias have very limited lifespans, and thus they need to be taken out of commission before too long. Enter Tsukasa, an 18-year-old boy whom is offered a position at the SAI Corporation; a group responsible for retrieving Giftias who are approaching the ends of their lifespans, and eventually scrap them. Right next to him, we have his fellow co-worker: the incredibly cute and loveable Isla, who is actually a Giftia herself despite her position. The two of them form a team by order of their boss, and they consequently start working together, socializing together, and of course fall in love with each other.
This is how Plastic Memories suddenly becomes something totally different from what it originally promised to be. Despite the premise, the anime is in fact not about the retrieval of various Giftias, nor is it about the SAI Corporation itself or any of the other people working there. Plastic Memories is about Tsukasa, and it is about Isla. That is all. And honestly, that's totally fine in and of itself because they make up one of the cutest couples I've seen in ages, and watching their awkward romance is surprisingly enjoyable no matter how much you see of it. But for a lot of people, this was nothing more than wasted potential because the cool and interesting premise of the story itself is heavily neglected in the process. For everyone who wanted to see a melancholic story about the tragedy of having to say goodbye to your loved ones and how they deal with it... you're probably going to be left disappointed, because Plastic Memories doesn't actually focus very much on that at all other than right at the very beginning. The only character the show ever really emphasizes this point for is Isla herself as her lifespan is of course also very limited due to being a Giftia, but for everyone else... not very much.
However if you can get past the fact that the show is more or less in disguise and try to see it for what it actually is (in other words a romantic slice of life story), then suddenly Plastic Memories is a very enjoyable anime again. Why? Because it actually has *proper romantic development*. Quite a lot of it in fact. This is not the kind of show which ends with a confession in the final episode and nothing more; no, there are actually things happening from very early on in a romantic sense, which is something that is unfortunately very rare in today's anime. Especially seeing Plastic Memories airing in the same season as Nisekoi was pretty amusing to me; they're like night and day in comparison as far romantic progression goes.
Overall, Plastic Memories is an anime which you will probably be given a very different impression of depending on your expectations on it. Is it a good anime? Yes, but it's a completely different anime from what you're most likely anticipating when you start watching it. That doesn't make it a bad show per se, but it feels a bit like false marketing. It's up to each and every viewer to do their best at adapting to what the anime has to offer.
If you're looking for a deeply touching and emotional melodrama like Clannad: After Story or Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, then sorry to say but you're looking in the wrong place. But for a cute yet beautiful story about young love, it's hard to find a better example than Plastic Memories.
Human/technology integration has always been a fascinating topic to me. Just thinking of humanity's next leap towards further development being aided by biomechanical intervention could cause even the cynical-minded to wax philosophical. It's a topic that's inspired countless debate and discussion for many; redefining the idea of what it means to be human with the continuously blurred line between man and machine. And what better way to view this delicate balancing act than by seeing it unfold through the guise of a romance. It's an interesting "what if" scenario, that, to those who share my fascination with the subject, could find many interesting facets on
exploring that very idea.
Can such a nebulous idea of "true love" be found with a man-made being? Where do we draw the line between augmented reality and primal attraction? Many different forms of media have tried to tackle this intriguing concept; from movies like 2013's "Her" and 2015's "Ex Machina," to novels like Jonathan Lethem's "As She Climbed Across the Table." There are even a few anime titles that tackled this subject as well, such as Eve No Jikan, Armitage III, Chobits and many others. When this topic is done right, it can be a highly rewarding experience, leaving the viewer with something to wrap their heads around.
So when I sat down to watch Plastic Memories, a show that had the right ingredients to make something truly thought provoking, just flush this potential down the toilet, for what essentially was forced melodrama... let's just say I wasn't a happy camper when everything was said and done. Under normal circumstances, I would categorize shows with Plastic Memories's setup as a bait-and-switch, but from the way it was presented, it never seemed to care about, or even acknowledge the ideas it could have implemented. What we have here instead was a cookie cutter rom-com that was oblivious to its own potential.
So no, I didn't get what I wanted, but does that render the rom-com that took its place bad?... Unfortunately yes, it does. It's a show that forces a catch-22 on the audience with an inevitable conclusion spurred on by contrived logistics. It suffered from heavy-handed manipulation at the cost of proper buildup and engagement, which was made all the more noticeable when you take into consideration the setting the show presents everything in.
In the future, sentient androids known as "Giftias" has become incorporated into everyday society. However, like everything else that has a beginning, so too does the Giftias have a limited lifespan as well, with about a decade or so of functionality before they are decommissioned, resulting in their memories being erased (which is the android's equivalency of death). This, of course, becomes the core focus of the show, as we're introduced to our protagonist Tsukasa, a human, who finds himself involved with one of these Giftias named Isla. And from there onward, the show chronicles their daily interaction and growing relationship. And as you would guess, it becomes a tale of a fleeting would-be romance with only one possible outcome.
When trying to present a romance, there must be proper interaction between the main love interests in order to sell their position as lovers. We as viewers need to see this bond slowly form, see the chemistry that they share, and the mannerisms that they portray when expressing themselves to each other. To get down to brass tacks, we as viewers need to be convinced of their validity as a couple for it to feel organic. If this isn't handled properly, it can cause the relationship and development to feel forced or manipulated. This is Plastic Memories 1st noticeable blunder. It tries to build this chemistry on a premise that just screams victimizing; with a character predestined to be terminated from an expiration date, a protagonist that makes no visible effort in repealing the outcome, and a romance bound to go nowhere because of it. It isn't bittersweet nor is it heart-wrenching since the reason these androids expire is contrived and contradictory to the world setting presented. How may you ask? Well, let's explore the ill-defined logic the show tries to spoon feed us.
We're made to believe that this show takes place in a future where the creation and distribution of androids are a fairly commonplace occurrence. In other words, it's an advance society that's leagues ahead of us in terms of technological breakthrough and scientific advancement. But at the same time, the show wants us to believe that they have no methods of storing or switching memory from one device to another. And I shouldn't have to spell it out but do you see how this nonsensical explanation doesn't work? A society advance enough to have androids with empathy, but not advance enough to store memory or transfer it? So if you own a USB flash drive, then congrats, you've officially surpassed this society's current intellect. And that is just the tip of the iceberg when talking about this show's implausible setting. Later on, we find out that after an android passes its expiration date and isn't decommissioned, they take on a savage state, becoming dangerously violent against humans, escalating to the point of murder (in other words, they go ape-shit). Which begs the question, why in the hell would anyone endorse a machine that can go "Terminator" on citizens when they lose their memory? It's unfathomable to think any governing body with a modicum of common sense would allow such a hazardous time bomb to be integrated into society. There was even an episode dedicated to showing how such a terrible downside could reek havoc, or even worse, be exploited as a weapon, but like the setting it's a part of, it was never explored beyond that. It was simply brought up and never mentioned again by the next episode just so they could allow for more rom-com moments to continue undisturbed. Just look out for the 'Psycho-Pass' episode, you'll know it when you see it.
Tsukasa and Isla both work at the same job, and it's also the place they 1st make contact with each other. From what you can easily read in the synopsis, they both work for the Terminal Service Department: a subdivision of the larger company responsible for the distribution and recall of androids. They're tasked with retrieving androids that are approaching their expected expiration date from their owners. This, of course, brings up yet another question; why is the task of retrieving androids so primitive and counterproductive? Like I've stated, these androids are like ticking time bombs with the added bonus of being empathetic. You would think something as important as this would be tasked to a more organized unit, but what we're introduced to instead is a motley crew of quirky characters that only share one personality trait and act so outlandish that entrusting them with such a task is almost ludicrous. It's like handing police duty over to the circus. It's like the creators were dead-set on an end goal and didn't care how little sense it made getting there. On a whole, the sci-fi elements of this show were never explored or utilized. It was simply used for flavoring, and it quickly became apparent that they didn't care about common sense when they duct-taped the narrative and setting together.
The relationship was also diminished by the fact that 3/4ths of the show's run-time were dedicated to slapstick comedy and silly misunderstandings. Half of it was wasted away where it could have been used to develop the relationship between the characters, which was made even worse given the short episode count the show was already working with. While I'm not the biggest fan of shows like Clannad or Toradora, I at least acknowledge that it did this aspect correctly. It utilized its run-time by building the relationship between the characters, either by their direct contact with each other or the indirect result of their influence on each other. It allowed us as an audience to grow attached to their interaction and relationship.
Most of the characters, like I've already stated, are just a range of archetypes. From your tsunderes to your beta-male, they all follow one-note traits and won't be remembered for anything else. This also applies to our two main characters. Tsukasa is as generic as a protagonist can get, ripped right out of the pages of cliché-land. You've seen his type many times before, and to be quite frank about it, he's indistinguishable from the lot of them. Isla is yet another Rei Ayanami clone, completely packaged with the silver hair, red eyes, and the signature porcelain complexion. Dull, monotone and devoid of personality, the only good thing I can say about her is that she truly acts like an android. Outside of the main cast, we're occasionally introduced to androids and their masters that the team has to retrieve. But they're introduction is done more so for forced "feels" than for actual world building. Just toss in a sappy backstory and an unavoidable conclusion and it really becomes more annoying than anything.
And really, that's the main problem with this show in a nutshell; it's constantly trying to get the audience to care but doesn't seem to have any idea how to do so without coming across as fake. It's a show that forcefully tugs at your heart strings while thinking that people will easily be duped into falling for it. It thinks that simply playing melancholic music and animating tear ducts is more than enough to fool viewers, while forgetting that genuine character investment is what allows the audience to sympathize with hardships. And who knows, maybe this falsehood would fool some into buying the creator's snake oil. There are certainly viewers out there willing to suspend their disbelief, regardless of the amount of mental gymnastics required to do so. But for those well-versed enough to see past the smoke and mirrors, it's a detracting quality that causes the show and its conflict to implode on itself.
The art and animation for Plastic Memories were above average and made the whole experience better than it would have been without it. It was bright, vivid and used a broad range of color palettes to convey whatever mood or tone they were going for. While it felt overdone at times, there were moments where it truly shined and help to sell the scene at hand; most notably the show's finale episodes and epilog. While the art and animation served their purpose, the character designs were a hit or miss. On one hand, a few had distinct features about them, but a lot were also cookie-cutter in a bad way as well. It helps to better personify their characteristics, but when they lack dimension and personality, it made them feel like carbon copies of other characters in the same vein as them. There was also moments where the show paid direct homage to Evangelion with certain scenes and shot compositions, which, while being a fun little tribute, didn't serve any purpose whatsoever. At best, they were Easter eggs for those that caught on to them.
The soundtrack was a mixture of pop and electronica flavoring. It was "fluffy" during the comedic bits and took on a more somber tone during the show's more "emotional" moments. While there weren't any noteworthy tracks, it was fine and served its purpose. Average but effective. The opening and ending themes were both fine and easy listens. Nothing that might stick with you but catchy and worked in unison with the show.
Like most titles of this nature, my problem doesn't stem from what it's trying to do, my problem comes from how poorly it goes about attempting it. If a show is aiming to get me as a viewer, emotionally invested, I expect it to do so in a manner that doesn't distract from its target intent. If I'm duped and fall for it, despite my better knowledge of its intent, I will credit it for its efforts. However, if I'm viewing the show and have to signal the "bullshit" flag every other minute, then as far as I'm concerned, that anime failed at its job.
My enjoyment of Plastic Memories was intermittent at best, but for the most part, the show was a face-palming experience. Because of the sloppy portrayal of its themes and forced melodrama, there was no engagement to speak of. The ending was decent, but the journey to said ending was buffoonish at best and can't be overlooked.
Plastic Memories was an uninspired and underwhelming experience. It had the opportunity to craft a decent romance, or even better, a good sci-fi tale, but it did neither and ended up falling short of the mark. While some might find it touching, I simply couldn't buy into the dilemma for the reasons I've stated. If you decide to watch this show, do so with low expectations, for whatever it tried to do, have been done to a much higher and better degree somewhere else.
While Plastic Memories had the potential to be a unique and intelligent show, it instead managed to encompass all of the things that ruin dramas and cause them to fail every time. Forced plot devices that make no sense? Check. Inopportune comedy that ruins the show’s tone? Check. Shallow characters defined entirely by their archetypes or tragic backstories? Check. While this anime showed flashes of good ideas and has its moments, its poor execution dooms it to be lost among the sea of poorly written, mediocre emotion porn.
Synopsis: In the near future, technology has allowed for the invention humanoid-like robots known as “giftias”,
who look, talk, feel, and emote exactly like actual humans do. The catch is that they can only operate for a little over a decade before they must be shut down, resulting in the loss of all their memories. The story follows Tsukasa, a human, and his relationship with Isla, a giftia.
The biggest and most obvious problems with this anime stem from its forced and melodramatic plot devices that range from just plain stupid to cringeworthy. For example, when Tsukasa and Isla first become partners at work, we are suddenly told that this means they have no choice but to live together! Because that makes total sense and is definitely not a lazy plot device to provide a setup for bonding and slice of life shenanigans! The other one that sticks out is the big “reveal” they make about what happens to giftias if they aren’t properly retrieved, which defies all notions of common sense and even basic science. That’s especially bad given that this show has a science-fiction setting for some reason. In fact… was there ANY reason for there to be robots in the first place? Literally the only difference between a human and a giftia is that giftias lose their memories after a certain period of time, so now that I think about it, that makes the entire sci-fi setting and concept of giftias in general completely pointless and nothing more than yet another contrived plot device for drama’s sake. They certainly didn’t explore any sort of difference between the two life forms; it’s very much an accepted fact that giftias are equal to humans, so why was everyone not just regular people to begin with? Was there no other scenario they could come with that incorporated death-like elements, like, y’know, DEATH? It’s this kind of thing that makes the show very difficult to take seriously.
There are other major issues with the show’s plot, namely how laughably predictable it is. You can LITERALLY guess every major plot point of the entire show by the end of the first episode, and I’m not exaggerating, because I literally did. I just kept waiting and waiting for something that I didn’t see coming a mile away to happen, and with the exception of a single contrived plot device which I already mentioned (a plot device that doesn’t even lead to anything…), it simply never does. Now, one thing that I will give the show credit for is that is has some genuinely sweet moments. The final stretch of the show made me feel something, at least. However, then it just sort of… ends. And it ends, like, EXACTLY how you would expect it to. I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that it left me with a feeling of “So what?” I mean, you told one of the most obvious and straightforward stories I’ve ever seen, so much so that I could have stopped watching after a single episode and gotten the gist of it, so what did you put into your show that justified the time it took to watch another 12 episodes? Were there any meaningful themes? No. Did the characters learn anything or change in any meaningful way? No. So why would anyone EVER want to watch the entirety of this show? *Sigh, I don’t know if this is making sense. Let’s just move on:
The last aspect of the plot that really bothered me was the random comedy that completely ruined the show’s tone by being interspersed throughout parts that are supposed to be serious. To give an example, the first episode of this show really hooked me. At the very end of the episode, there was a well-executed and genuinely emotional scene that was actually getting to me. I’m the kind of person who almost never gets legitimately emotional when watching a TV show, but this one scene was just hitting all the right notes for me. By the time it was over, I thought we had an extremely promising show on our hands. Now, guess what this beautiful, emotional scenario was immediately followed by: …A BATHROOM JOKE. That’s right. No relevance, no context. They just decided to throw in a random bathroom joke and ended the episode on a ridiculous note instead of a serious and powerful one. That, to me, is a decent microcosm of the entire show. Every time you might be about to get invested in a serious scene, WHAM! Random, generic, slice-of-life comedy comes out of nowhere and blindsides the plot. It’s just a disastrous display of a lack of tonal understanding and, ergo, bad writing.
I think the real thing that would have saved Plastic Memories for me was if the characters were given any form of depth whatsoever. Tsukasa, our protagonist, is a cardboard cutout straight from the generic, beta, male protagonists factory. My god, there was, nothing, NOTHING unique about him. I don’t think I’m alone in the sediment that I don’t care about other people’s relationships if I don’t know them, and I certainly didn’t feel like I knew Tsukasa, so how am I supposed to give a damn about him and Isla’s relationship? Speaking of Isla, talk about yet another shallow character. I put her squarely in the mary-sue category, given that she is an idealization of a pure, innocent, kawaii waifu with no real flaws whatsoever. Can she be funny at times? Sure. Does that mean I at all cared about her? No. As for the side characters? Boring. Bland. Generic. They are all basic stereotypes with nothing to distinguish them. I know they attempt to give a few of the side characters a backstory, but the backstories don’t actually accomplish anything other than just being sad. They do absolutely nothing to add a dimension to the character they are attached to and none of them are given any form of a story arc. I’ve seen casts like this a million times. The characters, to me, might be the biggest reason the show failed. I might have been able to overlook all the previously mentioned problems with the plot if this show actually gave me a reason to care about the couple of Tsukasa and Isla, but they simply don’t.
Pretty much the only thing I can definitively say I liked about Plastic Memories was the animation. It’s pretty fluid, but what really got me was the cinematography and shot composition. Besides the number of Evangelion references they threw in, there were a lot of well thought out and extremely well directed scenes that actually succeeded in conveying information and emotion without words. That’s VERY difficult for a show to do, so kudos for that. The settings were always detailed and full of bright colors as well. The world looked really cool, which is part of the reason I wanted them to actually tell me something about it. Like, literally anything would have been nice. Instead, the writing is so barebones that it could have taken place pretty much anywhere else, and that brings us full circle, doesn’t it?
I wanted to like Plastic Memories. Really, I did. It didn’t have to be some complex, philosophical inquiry into the definition of humanity and how it differs from artificial intelligence (which is the kind of show that many expected it to be); I would have been totally content with it just being a drama if they actually gave me a reason to care about its characters. If they didn’t ruin every moment they ever created with inopportune comedy. If they didn’t make the plot so damn predictable. If their plot devices weren’t so incredibly contrived. There were simply too many major problems to overlook, and that forces me to make the sad conclusion that Plastic Memories is a massive missed opportunity for what could have been a really enjoyable original anime. It lacked direction and coherent writing on all fronts, and I cannot recommend it to anybody.
The story written by the author who made Steins;Gate, but if you were expecting a well written story look elsewhere. Conversely, if you’re a fan of forced melodrama and rapid tone changing, or enjoy unoriginal characters and are interested in seeing another Kanade clone feel free to waste your time on this.
‘Plastic Memories’ takes place in the future where technology has advanced to the point where androids labeled as ‘Giftias’ exist and are capable of implementing human thought, emotion and memories. These exist for the purpose of human interaction and wish fulfillment, targeting those in need of company of some sort. After around 9 years,
Giftias can no longer function and they must be shut down, terminating their memories. The story mainly revolves around 18 year old Tsukasa Mizugaki, a human, who along with a Giftia named Isla, joins the SAI Corporation and is placed in the division in charge of retrieving the Giftias.
Giftia’s that fail to be retrieved will eventually expire and turn into a wild savage machine which they label as “Wanderer”. If technology has advanced so far that they can create artificial humans, there would be no reason why there should a 9 year limit, nor why they haven’t made any attempt to increase it like an extra memory card or something? The show never bothers to go into and explain that. It’s only clear that 9 years’ time the androids that they hand out will go hostile and attack anything in site. Good writing. They should implement cloud storage to expand the memory space, as increasing the limit would yield a huge profit margin for companies with proper marketing strategies. Even just transferring memories from one robot to another should be possible, they are machines after all. We have this technology now, it’s unthinkable to imagine that we couldn’t utilize it in the future. There is no reason to suspend this belief for this ridiculous premise. I can’t even fathom why they would distribute androids that could possibly attack people in the first place. And despite all of these complications, the show just chooses to just stick to the romantic comedy aspects the entire time which makes the sci-fi elements meaningless.
The series focuses on the relationship between Tsukasa and Isla, so at first glance it seems like it will delve into the ethics of Giftia and human interaction. However, terrible execution renders this attempt at a moral irrelevant, as any point they were trying to make was invalidated by the constant tone shifts and forced drama that was impossible to empathize with.
When I first had started Plastic Memories, the first episode presented all of these themes and ideas about cherishing memories; but it had a flaw that most dramas suffer from, poorly timed humor where it doesn’t belong. There was a sad moment when they had to retrieve a loli Giftia from her grandmother; it was supposed to be a sad moment but I couldn’t take it seriously because the sad tone was abruptly shifted to an out of place comedy routine. The drama is laughable and becomes out of place when scenes before and afterwards are inserted with poorly timed comedy. In fact the tone shifts are a common recurrence that continues for the rest of the show.
In episode 3, Tsukasa moves in with his work partner Isla and wants to grow closer to her, attempting various methods to get Isla to open up, which leaves us with a wasted episode of rinse and repeat cliché slapstick humor. A majority of the episodes consisted of these dumb comedy skits; whenever something serious is happening, the very next scene presents a gag that kills the tension. All that is achieved in this case is a lot wasted episodes. Instead of spending time building and developing an atmosphere for empathy to establish a justifiable drama, we instead get a 60/40 split of slapstick comedy and forced drama. The theme of cherishing memories that the show tries to present is lost in translation due to rubbish execution.
The characters were bland and dull archetypes, including the beta protagonist who exists for the purpose of self-insertion and whose only notable traits include being “nice” and a pushover. the typical Kanade rip-off who undergoes the standard kuudere “development”, the textbook tsundere, the drunkard, the dumb blonde bombshell, the nonchalant ladies’ man, and the prepubescent boy who you’ve never sexualized, not even once. This is a cast of unoriginal characters with no depth and minimal development that we will instantly forget about. Since the characters are archetypes it makes it difficult to provide empathy towards them.
Art and animation did a fairly good job. The original character designs were done by okiura, the one responsible for the art and character designs for IS: Infinite Stratos. Although the designs themselves aren’t anything too special, looking at Michiru reminds me a lot of Asuka from the Evangelion series. The animation itself did a good job, it was consistent and it never had a massive dip in quality.
For the sound it was fitting, the OST itself had a couple tracks I found to be lovely. The opening and ending theme are pretty good, they’re fitting for the show. They’re catchy and memorable, nothing amazing but I did like them.
Plastic Memories was something I honestly thought had potential. I really wanted to like it. I was even pretty satisfied with the first episode despite the flaws it had toward the end. Overtime though I just couldn’t ignore the fact that these flaws kept reoccurring throughout the show. At least the ending wasn’t bullshit, but it was exactly what was expected making it predictable from episode one. I would be lying if I said I never enjoyed myself, but I found myself to be bothered more and more if anything. It had good ideas but it didn’t mean anything and the premise was ruined because the execution was abysmal. The show’s theme exploration was weak and the humor killed any of the attempted drama. If you want to watch something that is similar but is actually good then just check out Eve no Jikan instead.
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