Before we begin, I just want all of you to know that, on the first episode of Plastic Memories, I cried like a little girl. I’d like to say I’m ashamed of myself, but the truth is, this anime just has that many feels. I believe that’s why some people call it Plastic Feels instead of Plastic Memories.
Despite how heart rending some of the scenes were, I really did enjoy this anime. The emotional scenes were emotional and never failed to bring tears, but they were also offset by some really nice humor that lessened the, “I just wanna curl up into a ball and cry.” moments.
18-year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki is offered a position at the renowned SAI Corporation, known for its production and management of androids called “Giftia”. Tsukasa’s position is in the Terminal Service Department, recovering Giftias that are close to their expiration date—it is a graveyard department in every sense. Tsukasa is partnered with Isla, a female Giftia whose only responsibility appears to be serving tea to her co-workers.
While the anime is labeled as a sci-fi, the actual sci-fi itself isn’t all that important beyond the idea of Giftia, the androids who can experience human emotions. Society in this anime has advanced to the point where they can literally create robots that replicate human emotions – these androids feel, think, act, and interact as if they were human. In many ways, they are human. However, this anime is also somewhat misleading. While there are a number of scenes that are heartrending, a good portion of this anime is light-hearted, funny, and deals with the awkward romance between Tsukasa and Isla. I didn’t mind this so much, mostly because I don’t think I could’ve dealt with too much heart break, but I know others who might be turned off by this. Also, while this wasn’t a deal breaker for me, there is one thing about this anime that I didn’t like and made much of the story feel a little contrived.
If this wondrous, technological society is so damn advance, then why the hell do they not have a way to store a Giftia’s memory and place it in a new body? This is the one sore point for the anime, and also an issue that makes the feels less feely than they could be. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if they explained WHY a Giftia’s memory couldn’t be stored in some hardcore USB drive, but they don’t, and because they don’t, a part of my disbelief is suspended, which cheapens some of the really heart rending moments.
I did enjoy the artwork in here. The art style is very bright and vivid, and there’s a wide range of color palettes being used. Some of the character designs were a little bland, but a lot of the secondary characters are just archetypes and don’t get much screen time, so I feel like I can forgive them. I do like Isla’s design, but even I’ll admit that she’s a dead ringer for a long-haired version of Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
I’d say about average. Honestly, there isn’t anything inspiring about the sound, but the quality is nice and I didn’t hear anything wrong with it. Also the op and ed was very good.
Spoilers incoming (for: Plastic Memories, Kyoukai no Kanata/Beyond the Boundary, Angel Beats).
Well, the good news is my tear ducts are now so empty that I’ll never cry again. I think that’s good news, anyway.
The bad news is that I finished Plastic Memories and I’m fuckin’ sad. This show didn’t even try to attempt some fake happy ending. This was no Kyoukai no Kanata, this shit straight up Angel Beat me over the head with feelings.
And it was stronger for it.
Because unlike Beyond the Boundary, character deaths in this series don’t come as a surprise. We’re given an explicit timeline for them, and when that time runs out, there are no resets on the clock. No coming back. And, unlike Angel Beats, we actually got to spend the majority of the episodes watching our lead couple meet, connect, and grow together.
There is something immensely powerful about two characters forging ahead in love when they know it’s doomed. I really appreciated the fact that the series allowed romance to blossom before the final few moments, getting the misgivings of the lead couple (and their friends!) out of the way so we could enjoy their last days together alongside them.
This anime isn’t all feels and tears. The humor is actually pretty damn funny. The main heroine in this story, Isla, is a Giftia, an android that possesses human emotions to the point where you’d never be able to tell them apart from a regular human – and she is an absolute riot. Seriously, some of the crap she pulls off in this anime makes me laugh my ass off.
I remember watching her jump off a railing and belly flop into a trash can in one episode. I laughed so hard. Of course, the fun and games is also played up because of how heart breaking this anime is. Isla, especially, is a tragic character, in spite of all the humorous stunts she pulls. I think, for me, this is what makes me like her so much. She’s funny, but at the same time, I really feel for her – because Isla is a Giftia, and Giftia only last for a total of 8 or so years before expiring. That’s what this entire anime is about, and it’s why the story is so tragic.
The show did have a few occasional tonal stumbling blocks – sometimes its humor worked great, but at other times it would attempt to shoehorn in an awkward sex joke at the worst possible time, as if afraid it was taking itself too seriously.
Then there was an entire plot line that revolved around how terrifying the Giftia (androids) were if they were allowed to go out of control that only served as backstory for one character and a relatively unnecessary action sequence. I think the slow degradation into a vegetable state was much more poignant and tragic than a small percentage of Giftia suddenly going berserk and trying to kill people.
But these were small flaws I could overlook in the face of surprisingly meaningful character interaction. The typical archetype characters in particular subverted their natures in ways that brought tears to my eyes – the tsundere going out of her way to help the MCs find love and being brought to tears over it; the emotionless girl quickly being revealed to never have been all that emotionless in the first place, instead trying to protect those around her; the “oblivious main character” proving again and again that he was far more intelligent and considerate than anyone could have guessed.
Tragic or not, there were some really touching scenes in this. I thought the romance between Tsukasa, the main character, and Isla, was downright adorable – incredibly funny and potential deadly for Tsukasa, but mostly adorable. Watching them muddle through their relationship, seeing Tsukasa try – and usually fail – to make Isla happy, really made it worth watching this anime. For those who enjoy watching a heartfelt romance with touching moments that are mired in beautiful tragedy – I’m looking at you Clannad fans – you’ll definitely enjoy this. For those of you who don’t like crying your eyes out, well, you probably won’t want to touch this with a ten foot pole.
This was a show that didn’t rush itself; it moved resolutely and honestly towards its inevitable conclusion. The kind of steadfast journey forward that brings tears to your eyes slowly – first a burning, then a blurring in the eyes, until all of a sudden you’re crying because you want to (not because you were meant to).
It’s a series that celebrates (not mourns) the brightest of loves, the ones that shine too bright and too quick, the ones that are everlasting and never fading, because they ended too soon.