After watching episodes so far, I would say this already looks like quite the amazing anime. This is a summary and review so far after the summary, RATING NOT FINAL
Plastic Memories (プラスティック・メモリーズ) is about androids with human souls called "Giftia". When these Giftia are created, they only live for about approx. 81,920 hours, or 9 years and 4 months. As their time towards expiration comes closer, the Giftia start to lose who they are and their memories, and are required to be picked up by SAI Corp. Terminal Service. In the Terminal Service, there is a Human and Giftia pair, or spotter and marksman, and they work together to retreive the almost expired Giftia on their list. The story follows 18 year old Mizugaki Tsukasa, a newbie within the Terminal Service. Only getting in because his Father is friends with the director, Tsukasa has no idea what he signed up for. Tsukasa soon is paired up with Veterian Giftia Isla.
The anime so far has made me tear up in each and every episode. The anime has a bit of comedy, with a bit of mystery, all together with it's ability to pull out the watchers strong emotions. No romantic themes or such so far, but might be expected as the anime progresses. The story isn't REALLY Ecchi ("soft" for those who would like me to specify, although not enough to that it's a REALLY big deal. In fact, I don't really notice.)which is a refreshing approach, being so closely related to Chobits in a way. I definately recommend this so far, very well written and pleasant to watch. Will add more indepth review as time passes.
When you watch the first episode of this anime you may be put off by the slow intro that feels so much like every other light hearted romance/office hijinks show you've seen but I'm telling you that you owe it to yourself to sit through the whole thing. Without spoiling it, its really hard to convey the range of emotion that this anime is able to get across without seeming as though they made it just to pander to audiences. This show has weight and substance but isn't afraid to lighten the mood in-between just so that things don't seem so bleak.
In my pre-airing thoughts about Plastic Memories, I stated that it had the potential to be a good sci-fi, if it doesn’t turn into another romantic comedy, or at least a good dramedy if it focuses on its themes as Chobits did. Others had set their bars way higher and expected another Blade Runner or Time of Eve, claims I found ridiculous, judging from the promotional videos and posters. So when the show eventually aired, it only proved my predictions true as always: It was another romantic comedy.
To its defense, Plastic Memories is not completely comical and does have heavy doses of drama at points. The problem is, they are not that many, not that good, and do not blend well in with the romcom bits. Anime in general have a huge problem when it comes to tonal shifts; the creators either don’t know or don’t care about proper transitions from comedy to drama. One moment you are supposed to laugh, and the immediate next you are supposed to cry. It doesn’t work.
… Or at least it doesn’t work for a mature audience; I would be lying if I said nobody likes that sort of crap. Look around and you will find thousands of people who are crying their hearts out with overblown drama, despite the forced humor and the weak theme exploration. You are just left wondering why would the anime creators need to try harder, when a huge portion of the target audience will eat whatever shit they make, and call it exceptional. Thankfully, I am not a tasteless casual like the majority is, so you will get the truth about what this show actually is: A crappy romantic comedy with terrible tonal shifts and bad theme exploration.
… What do you mean I already said that twice? I was about to get into details of why it is so.
Pick your favorite human-like robot story, add a hint of romance, a pinch of terminal decease shenanigans, and Death Star sized classic romcom jokes. What you get is Plastic Memories. While it seems to be going for a Blade Runner type of story at first, it quickly throws that “what it means to be human” concept far in the background and focuses on your typical “Oh noes, my moe waifu is sick and sad, I gotta protect her” type of date simulation bullshit, in the likes of Clannad.
And ok, you could say that it is just another silly show that tries to hook you with an interesting premise in the first episodes, before forgetting it altogether and heading for slapstick humor or something. It’s a pretty standard trick most comedy and romance anime use all the time. I can even say that I found many who liked this overblown piece of garbage, telling the same things to those who were disappointed with it. “Hey guys, relax, just because you didn’t get what you expected, doesn’t mean the show is bad. Why weren’t you pleasantly surprised for getting something different instead?”
Good point; why weren’t I and others, not pleasantly surprised with it, for NOT getting what we expected? I can mention two simple reasons for that. First, because we were expecting something WAY better than yet another dramedy, and second, because the show itself is A PRETENTIOUS PIECE OF SHIT!
Plastic Memories keeps trying to fool the viewer into thinking it is way more than what it is. Most anime drop the pretence after a couple of episodes and go on being the generic comedies or sols they are. Plastic Memories does NOT do that. It keeps throwing these hints at the viewer, making him assume that there has to be more than what it seems, down the line. If you check out the Reddit threads about it, you will find a dozen speculation topics. People were forming theories and trying to predict future plot twists based on these very distinctive hints the show was full of.
Some would simply label these speculations and predictions as over-thinking, where the viewer is making up crap out of nowhere, just because the themes of a series inspired him to think about stuff not found in the actual anime. Others would call all that wishful thinking, because the viewer is not willing to accept the predetermined sad ending the series is promising him in the very first episodes, and expects a twist that will change everything to a happy ending.
I on the other hand say that all that are caused intentionally by the show itself, and not by the viewer. They did not come out of nowhere; there are parts where Plastic Memories is copying the exact same scene composition of Neon Genesis. Also, the end credits show the lead female character having different expressions each time. There is also the notorious episode 5 that tried to make you expect the show to turn really dark and violent afterwards. And of course there is Isla’s diary, where she keeps writing down everything she doesn’t want to forget. None of that led to something substantial. They were also not placed there simply as Easter eggs for those paying attention. They were placed so THE VIEWER WILL BE MADE TO THINK THERE IS MORE TO IT. This is why this anime is a pretentious piece of shit, instead of an honest dramedy. It trolls its audience into believing it is more than yet another forgettable mediocrity. And no, I will not call a show intelligent for managing to fool people into believing that. I will call it sleazy and manipulative.
Leaving aside the trolling aspect, I can’t even call the whole get-up of the show successful. Even if you try to see it as a typical romcom, it just falls flat on its face the moment you realize it is about the sexual attraction between a human, and a toaster. No really, that is what the joke revolves around. A guy needs to live under the same roof as a house appliance that looks like a cute girl, and has lots of done to death sexual jokes going on. How fun is it to imagine this guy getting horny or embarrassed over a refrigerator? Yeah, ok, they do make it seem like the robots in the show think, act, and have the structure of real people. But down to it they are still not people, they are bolts and wires. I don’t know about your fetishes, but the idea of having sex with an inject printer is not sexy, nor funny.
And no, I am not a heartless person who doesn’t get that there is supposed to be drama going on. I fully understand that the main guy feels sorry for the female robot because she is running out of energy, and this eventually turned into love. I am just posing a very simple question regarding that: Would he fall in love with her, if instead of a cute girl, she had the appearance of a fat smelly male? Of course and he wouldn’t. Let me redirect the same question to you people. Would any of you find it cute, romantic, or tragic, if the lead guy was in love with a toaster that looks like a fat smelly male? Unless you are f*ed up beyond repair, of course and you wouldn’t. You would be grossed out, and would call this show deviant porn. That is why the show is again being pretentious, for trying to build a relationship based on how people and house appliances look, and not on how they are inside.
I can’t even like in the least the world the story takes place in. Aside from how the concept of Giftias was never explored, it is also never presented in a plausible way with the bits of information we were given. Ok, let’s accept that no robot can be recharged after a decade passes. Let’s also accept that shutting down means losing all your memories. Why the hell can’t they simply transfer memories from one robot to another? They are machines, so that would be a piece of cake and would solve all the problems in the show. Why don’t they make the robots ugly or emotionless, so people won’t be so emotionally attached to them? Why do they even allow the distribution of robots that go berserk and kill people? None of that are excused, so it is impossible to take the show, and by extension its conflict, seriously.
Oh, and let’s not overlook how it eventually came down to a sappy romantic drama tale, which renders the sci-fi setting completely meaningless. You could replace the lead robot with any generic moe girl that suffers from a mysterious incurable disease, throw the whole thing in a normal world like our own, and it wouldn’t make a difference. In fact, it would make the show better by not being about robots that make no sense. It would be a generic romcom.
I can’t even like the characters, even if I strip away the terrible romcom, and the nonsensical setting. They are nothing but archetypes, defined by a few very simple traits. I mean, really, what can you say about the main character that can differentiate him from any other harem protagonist out there? What can you say about any of the rest of them? Even worse than that, they end up being overshadowed by the drama surrounding them. You cease to see them as people, and instead view them as plot devices in the service of an overblown dramatic relationship, that built on sand. BOO HOO HOO, INCURABLE DECEASE, SO SAD! … What people? They all feel more robotic than Isla herself.
The way the show ends is partly good, and partly bad. The good part is how it didn’t chicken out in the last moment and went for a happy ending. It really ended in the tragic way it promised it would. It’s so overused these days to use some BS reason for resurrecting the dead, turning back time, or jumping dimensions for the sake of magically undoing everything that was wrong. I can only applause this anime for not doing any of that crap.
On the other hand, the ending is also dull. Since we are told how it would be like, the whole thing was just a slow downhill towards a predictable destination. There isn’t much to build around this concept, so it fizzles away in interest after a few episodes, and yet it still keeps going. By the time it actually finishes, you don’t really care anymore. Grouped with how the setting is unexplored, the dramedy is one of the same, and the characters are bland as hell, you are left with nothing but disappointment. For a show titled Plastic Memories, you have close to nothing to remember it for (BA DUM TSSS).
They are ok.
… What, you expected me to say more? Why would I? No amount of pretty colors can make this anime better, and most of you would dislike it, or would cry about the dying moe chick, regardless of how badly animated it was. So let’s skip these completely unnecessary parts.
It sucks, and if you liked it you are contributing to the death of good anime. Plus, you would have bad taste.
If Anime Planet had post titles, this one would be "I've already forgotten Plastic Memories".
(Warning, there be some spoilers ahead.)
The backstory is simplicity itself - in the near future androids indistinguishable from humans, the Giftia, with human intelligence and emotions are real. The catch is that they only live for nine years and when their end nears, they're recovered by the manufacturer. Our Hero, Tsukasa, has just been hired as a Spotter, a member of one of the recovery teams. However, his life is complicated by two factors; First, the law requires that the Giftia's owner be present when they are recovered and shut down. Second, he's fallen hopelessly in love with Isla, a Gifita girl and a co-worker, who has less than three months to live.
The requirement that a Gifitia's owner be present causes particular heartache. Almost every owner grows attached to their Giftia, who often serve as surrogate parents for orphans or as companions for the elderly. Some accept the fate of their companions with equimanity, other fight to avoid accepting reality, a very few go on the run to avoid recovery. These few are a particular problem, as their end approaches Gifita suffer from dementia and the controls that keep their strength and speed down to merely human levels gradually decrease in effectiveness.
They could have gone so many directions with this story, high concept SF, a simple story of tragic romance, or an office drama. (Just to offer a few examples.) With care, they could even have stitched them together...
But they didn't excercise that care. They simply tried to cram too much into thirteen episodes, and the writers just weren't up to the task. They either couldn't or wouldn't chose one path or work to bring the elements into balance until almost too late - which resulted in a kind of plot whiplash as they jumped from one incompletely worked out idea to the next. Worse yet (and emblematic of the overall problems), whenever things turned serious, they often tried to relieve the tension with comedy (sometimes an entire episode's worth)... that generally wasn't actually all that funny.
Which isn't to say there weren't moments of brilliance, there were actually quite a few of them. In particular the final arc, which concentrates on Tsukasa and Isla's relationship during her final days, has many well done moments as they grow together and accept their fate. The final scenes... as Isla tries to reassure Tsukasa that she accepts her fate and has no regrets as he breaks down under the twin burdens of losing Isla while also being the one that has to shut her down and recover her verge on the best I've ever seen in any media.
The result was a show that was bad enough to always be on the verge of being dropped, but not quite bad enough to actually go ahead and drop.
Simply put, a muddled mess, only emerging with clarity (far too late) in the final arc.
Clean and bright with a very modern palette. Even though most of it is undistinguished, the final score is pulled up because they do a very good job of expressing emotions through motion, posture, and facial expressions. The same is true of the cinematography, mostly middle of the road but with many well done cuts and scenes.
As far as music and sound effects go, they're neither noticeable nor forgettable. Basically average.
Much like the plot, the characters are all over the place. Many are simply tropes with legs, a couple are very well done. Some even shift back and forth from one category to the other as the season progresses.
Despite the better parts of the plot, animation, and characters, I can't honestly give PlasMem a rating that doesn't amount to "not quite makes the grade". The concept had great potential, but they ultimately wasted too much time and failed to capitalize on what they had to work with.
Plastic Memories (PM for short) is an anime that one would classify as a slice of life romance. It is one of the very few that has managed to hit the marks required of such an anime effectively, making you invest in the characters, and in the plot, containing heavy moments, yet balancing them with an overall lighthearted feel. So let us look at this anime in more detail.
Story - 9.7
In a romance anime, the story is very important, more so than in any other anime. Due to a romance's lack of action, combat or mistory, it is important that the story is delicately and thoughtfully written. Plastic Memories achieves this in a rarely achieved elegance.
Romance - 10/10
There are two major step-falls for any romance anime. The first is being cheesy. Plastic Memories managed to avoid this very effectively. It even managed to make fun of the cheesy moments most romances resort to. It created new moments, and brought new ideas to romance and to what we consider to be romantic moments. More than any of this, though, it used the few cheesy moments it contained, in such a way that they fit perfectly. Everything felt natural and gentle, unforced and were clearly done very thoughtfully.
The second step-fall for a romance is having the same old basic plotline. Boy meets, girl, falls for girl, confesses, they have a fight, they break up, they get together, and live happily ever after. Plastic Memories threw a major spanner into the works. That is all I'll say, as otherwise I would be spoiling a major element of the story. Suffice to say that they turn the romance typical theme of love overcoming all on its head. Showing us that reality is unfortunately just that, reality, whilst at the same time showing us that we can never lose hope in what the future may hold.
Balance - 9/10
There are only two words I have here, Plastic Memories. For any romance balance is a very hard thing to find. You need to find a way to make the romance progress in a way that both feels natural, yet doesn't drag out so long as the bore your audience, or force you to resort to using clichès and cheesy moments to fill screen time. Plastic Memories is one of the very few anime that I think did well to be a half season. If it had tried to push itself on to a full 24-26 episode anime it would have become too dragged out.
The creators of Plastic Memories knew the strengths of their story and used them well. The progression feels natural, the interactions easy, and the growth of Tsukasa and Isla's relationship was perfectly paced.
Suprise - 10/10
Unless one is a die-hard Romance fanatic, the fact that an anime has romance in it isn't ever enough to sell one the anime. The creators of Plastic Memories understand this and take you on a completely different journey. In the early episodes of the anime, until you learn the horrible secret of Isla, you come to love the characters, and truly root for them. You can see the sparks flying and just want to keep watching. As the season matures and you realise what is bound to happen, you pray with all that you are worth that they find some way to overcome the obstacle in their way, that somehow what is predicted doesn't happen.
Plastic Memories is one of the anime that I found myself most compelled to watch. Where Code Geass went with cliffhangers, Plastic Memories' story inherently compells you to watch. You just can't get enough of Tsukasa and Isla. You are simply hooked and addicted and never want the episode to end. No matter how much you loathe knowing what is inevitably going to happen, you can't stop watching.
Plastic Memories has set a new president for Romance and Slice-of-life anime, a president that they will find very hard to follow. But I do hope that the other anime out there take up the challenge, for even if they can only manage it half as well as Plastic Memories did, I'm certain we would have dozen more fantastic Romance/Slice-of-life anime every season.
Animation - 9.3/10
Anime has become a major market over the last couple of years. We've seen many animation houses and companies jump up and a certain quality standard has been set up. Even so it is still uncommon to find an anime that truly blows your mind. Plastic Memories does that in such a delicate fashion you would hardly realise it.
Animation Style - 9/10
As I said, more and more anime are being produced every year that have high quality animation. This is due not only to the fact that it is becoming cheaper and easier to produce high quality anime, but also because more and more companies and animation houses are investing more money in getting better quality animation. This is a trend that I am only too happy has been going on. Romance Anime have always been pulling the back-up wagon when it comes to budgets, so to speak. They aren't as popular as Shounen Action or Mecha anime. And as such aren't paid as much attention.
This is very sad, I personally believe that Romance anime are simply for a more refined audience. It is an art to appreciate a good romance, and an even greater art to produce a good romance. Thanks to the trend we have seen over the past couple of years, and because of the diligence and care of the creators of Plastic Memories, the anime has one of the better animation styles I've seen this season. It may not be on par with anime like Kekkai Sensen, but it certainly is well above average, a beautiful style to compliment a beautiful story.
Colour - 10/10
Plastic Memories has a colour usage that is definitely on par with Kekkai Sensen. It is colourful and beautiful beyond measure. However, like many of the other facets, Plastic Memories doesn't just toss itself around without thought. It's colour usage is very sparing and very delicate. It knows exactly when to use a burst of colour, and when to use softer colours. Often it plays the gloomy mood of a character against the beauty of the scene, a contrast it majestically achieves.
Where an anime like No Game No Life, overpowers you with it's use of colours, yelling at you at the top of its lungs, Plastic Memories whispers into your ear in soft and sweet tones that make you swoon at every turn.
Motion - 9/10
Motion isn't the forte of Plastic Memories, not because it isn't done well, but because it doesn't feature as much as in other anime. There is only one fight scene in the entire anime, that between Marcia and Isla. However, in this one moment, we see that no detail has been overlooked by the anime's creators. The motion is fluid, realistic and is over before you know it. In the bursts of speed here and there when a character runs you can see careful attention to detail that many other anime overlook. It is certain that this anime was created as a labour of love, more than just another commercial product to rack in some money.
Sound - 9.5/10
There isn't very much to say about the sound in the anime, other than it was very well done. Once again, Plastic Memories was very careful, tactful and gentle. It made sure to play the sounds and music as an afterthought, letting it sink into your subconscious and play beautiful tricks with your mind without you even noticing. The subtle and muted flavours in the background sounds, and the subtle tones in the characters voices were like the gentle aromas of early spring. They dance and play around you, softly nudging your senses in such a way that you a pushed to ecstasy before you can close your eyes.
Music - 9.5/10
I have a confession to make. I had to go back and listen to the songs when I started this review. I was so enthralled with the story that I skipped the opening themes and ending themes to be able to spend more time watching the story. I was just too hooked on what was happening to care. But when I went back I was stupified as to why I would want to skip the songs in the first place. They were, like everything else in the anime, soft, gentle, thoughtful and majestically done. They match perfectly with the anime, gearing you up for the episode, and letting your get your thoughts in order afterwards. Works of art in their own right.
Characters - 9.8/10
The characters, along with the story, are the great forte of Plastic Memories. Once again, thoughtfully and carefully assembled to be both realistic and dream like at the same time. A balance hard to strike, and even harder to keep once established.
Motivation - 9/10
With a romance, motivation fades a little to the background. The whole point of the anime is not to tell you why a character is in the situation that it is, but to show you how he finds his motivation, how he finds his reason to live, namely, through the love of his life.
However, this love is very hard to do right. Many romances feel forced, unrealistic, too quick to form, to easy to change, and too fleeting to ever have been love. But the love in Plastic Memories is very different. The anime does a brilliant job of setting up the various reasons characters act as they do, and at the same time believably alters those motivations as the story progresses. The changes feel natural, even and steady. Characters don't act one way the one episode, and then completely differently the next. They don't forget their motivation when it is convenient for the story, instead, the story is written around the motivation, taking them into account and staying true to the characters.
Breaking from Archetypes - 10/10
Here Plastic Memories does a brilliant job. Every character is unique. I could honestly not find any one archetype in the entire anime. The character that comes the closest would be Yasutaka Hanada, yet he is developed in such a way as to truly come into his own that one can't really say that he falls into the archetype one would otherwise categorise him under.
Each character feels real and whole, carefully assembled in such a way that you can see who they are, and you come to love each and every one of them for being exactly that, who they are.
Main Characters - 10/10
Isla and Tsukasa are two of the best main characters I have ever seen. Not only is each perfectly balanced, uniquely assembled as an individual, but their interactions are so beautifully orchestrated, their relationship so brilliantly crafted that I honestly couldn't find anything to fault the creators on. I found myself bawling my eyes out like a kitten when they cried, and secretly smirking when something good happened to one of them, or I found them smiling. I felt like a kid in a candy store, I simply just couldn't get enough.
Supporting Characters - 10/10
Plastic Memories contains a truly beautiful cast of supporting characters. It is one of the few anime I have seen that flushes the supporting characters and main characters out in equal measures. It establishes each as it's own person, with it's own story. You honestly don't feel like any one of them is a supporting character, but is a main character of his/her own life, who just happens to not be focused on during the anime. Each is beautifully crafted and lovingly made.
Importance to Story - 10/10
Both the Main and supporting characters in Plastic Memories are of great importance to the story. Though they aren't necessary all as cardinal to the development of the plot, they each have an important role to play in setting up the mood, the environment and building each other up, especially the main characters. Both due to their history with the characters prior to the beginning of the story, and through their continued contributions throughout. Many of their actions are done subtly and only come to light upon a second or third rewatch of the anime. Truly everything in this anime is handled as a whisper, instead of a shout.
For some reason I put this anime off till yesterday to watch it, and I'm actually glad I did. If I had to wait a weak between each episode I might well have committed suicide. The anime is so addictive and so compelling that I would likely not have made it. It is brilliant, truly a gem that is worth it's weight in platinum. A work of art that was done with almost as much love as the two main characters feel for one another.
The characters and the story are so well done and carefully developed that I found myself honestly sobbing during their moments of sadness and praying with all my heart that they find happiness. The ending tore my heart to shreds, luckily I held on though, as after the credits were done rolling on screen, a scene played that made me smile and cry all over again with happiness and hope.
As I said in the beginning, the anime shows you that reality is just that, reality, but that you can never lose hope in what the future can, and may, hold. The ending was beautiful and truly poetic. Plastic Memories is an anime that I will be watching and rewatching for many years to come.
If you are looking for a beautiful, caring and gentle anime that will pull at every heart string you didn't even know you had, then watch this anime, and keep the tissues close by.
Naotaka Hayashi, well done.