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.
The theme of artifical life created by humans has been a staple in the world of scifi, particularly when the artificial life are androids that closely resembles its creator. It's these near-humans that provide an expansive world of possibilities in story telling that reflects back on what it means to be human. In Plastic Memories, this is the starting point for the story of the relationship between Tsukasa and Isla, a young man and an android, both of whom struggle to understand their feelings for each other while under the shadow the technical limitations of artificial humans in the story universe.
The story wastes no time in establishing the plot framework for the androids called “giftias”. Purchased by individuals to be used as companions and servants, the giftias are manufactured by the same massive corporation that has employed a down-on-his-luck Tsukasa in its retrieval department. With an operational life span of nine years, Tsukasa learns that giftias must be retrieved from their owners before their expiration date, the risk being that their artificial minds will quickly degrade with potentially disastrous results.
The limited lifespan of the giftias is the underlying plot mechanic that progresses the story as Tsukasa's relationship with his work partner, Isla, develops. With her expiration date rapidly approaching, both characters face a situation where their growing feelings for each other is constrained by the unmovable limitations of the giftia technology.
It's the premise of this story that originally attracted me to this series, which seemed to be rich in opportunities for further exploring a much-loved scifi theme. Unfortunately, I felt that it came up well short in this regard. The giftia concept worked nicely in relating to the contemporary issue of the development of artificial human companionship, modern Japan being a prime example of these efforts. But in Plastic Memories, it feels more like a secondary plot mechanic to kickstart Tsukasa and Isla's relationship and drive it to the conclusion of the story.
There is some effort to explorer the human-android relationship implications through the clients of the retrieval service, but those are all too brief and really only touch briefly on some of the issues without raising any substantial questions. In this respect, the world of the giftias and its technology felt under-developed and seemed more like a simple background setting for establishing the framework for the couple's relationship.
In contrast, the romance side of the story does succeed. Isla and Tsukasa's characters effectively work well together in the story to portray two young lovers caught in a hopeless situation. A weak point is that Tsukasa's character is rather generic in design, Like many male leads in a romance, there's never really any doubt that his seemingly limitless reserves of optimism and dedication will ever waver. Of the two, we see the most progression with Isla. I found her rather offputting at the start of the series, as she felt like a mishmash of well-worn traits designed to pull in the audience, but as the story developed she gained a lot of depth. The supporting characters were serviceable in advancing the story, but none of those characters particularly stood out or were memorable.
In the visuals department, the animation was quite nice overall, particularly the animation for the characters and their facial expressions. Nice background art tied everything together visually. However, there were numerous times when it felt like the studio had focused their animation efforts and budget on key scenes. There were far too many still shots and static montage scenes that were immersion-breaking. It was those moments where I kept getting the impression that they simply didn't have the resources to fully animate some scenes and had to take shortcuts as a result.
Is it a show that I would recommend? The first few episodes were particularly weak. If anyone is going into the show looking for a good romance, they need to know that they should stick it out to the end. For anyone going in looking for a compelling story about androids and artificial life, they may be disappointed. A lot of opportunities to explore some really interesting ideas were not taken. With these caveats in mind, Plastic Memories is still worth a watch. It comes up short in the scifi, but does deliver on the romance drama side.