Plastic Memories – 01 (First Impressions)

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My first impressions of the futuristic sci-fi anime Plastic Memories weren’t all that great. The show just felt a bit off to me from beginning to end, starting with the protagonist Mizugaki Tsukasa stating in his thoughts that he may have fallen in love with the android Isla the moment he laid eyes on her, before he has any idea who or what she is.

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From there, we go on to Newbie’s First Day, with his new co-workers feeling him out while telegraphing their personalities in the most unsubtle way possible. I just felt like I’ve met all these people before, especially Isla and Tsukasa, only with different names and eye colors. Everyone comes off as a bland cypher.

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The uninspired characters aren’t the only problem, though they’re a big one (the impish Zack and tsundere Michiru are particularly grating). While this is the future and we see some futuristic cityscapes, the show doesn’t feel all that futuristic or special; there’s no awe or grandeur.

More importantly, I have a problem with their whole business of selling androids that are treated like family for nine years, then ceremoniously “terminated” by the team Tsukasa joins. Like…what the hell?

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I don’t doubt there’s money in such an enterprise, and maybe this is my early 21st century liddite-ism talking, but it just feels like the company is exploiting the grief or loneliness of their customers. The crassness is amplified by the generally cavalier attitudes and zany antics of the team members, the fact Tsukasa is sent into the field with zero training, and the fact that Isla fails about 90% of the time.

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The tonal dissonance of the show reaches its apex when Isla finally speaks form her own experience as an aging giftia to persuade the “grandmother” of Nina to sign the release form so they can “retrieve” her. I don’t say this often, but as well-performed and well-animated as it was, this tearful scene felt manipulative, after all the slapstick that preceded it. I was more weirded out by the macabre-ness of it all than moved.

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The seriousness of that scene is also undone when, in Tsukasa’s final scene with Isla in the car is a joke about her having to go potty. Har har. What with Tsukasa being just barely there as a character, and his so far arbitrary and unearned feelings for Isla, and the general discomfort I have with the whole 9-year android business, I believe it best to pass on this show. But I’ll watch another week or two to see if any of the issues I mentioned are remedied.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

15 thoughts on “Plastic Memories – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Lol, again, this is why I love reading the reviews of y’all. You don’t adhere to the popular opinion, and you often defy expectations, much to my amusement.

    When I saw you were reviewing Plastic Memories, my expectations were “oh, she just came off of Steins;Gate, and the guy who wrote that is writing Plastic Memories, she’ll have a great time”

    Those expectations were strengthened by the fact Plastic Memories is easily the most well-regarded of the new season’s anime out as of yet, with ANN reviewers all giving it 4.5/5 or higher.

    So… I am amused. Sorry to hear you didn’t have a good time, but as always, you have your reasoning. Tonal dissonance, a dislike of a concept, and a dislike of the humor are all well-reasoned reasons to not like a show.

    So… keep being you.

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/preview-guide/2015/spring/plastic-memories/.86753

    Here are the ANN impressions if you’re interested.

    1. Yeah I knew Hannah was going to have a few gripes when I saw Plastic’s preview. The whole banana on the head visual joke didn’t gel with the serious tone all of the preview and PR material presented.

    2. “the guy who wrote that is writing Plastic Memories”

      According to MAL, Naotaka Hayashi (the writer of Plamemo) only wrote the script to the Steins;Gate/IBM commercial shorts, not the actual TV show.

      Looks like S;G’s scripts were split among three other writers: Hanada Jukki (15 episodes plus the movie), Yokotani Masahiro (5 episodes), and Nemoto Toshizo (5 episodes).

      None of these three guys seem to have any involvement to Plamemo…and it showed.

      1. That is indeed true if your source is MAL. However, when I said that Naotaka Hayashi wrote Steins;Gate, I meant that he wrote the visual novel that the anime is based off of. As in he created the characters, concept, scenarios, and pretty much everything else, as the Steins;Gate anime is a very very faithful adaptation.

        That said, that’s no specific reason to like or dislike something, as even the greatest of creators can create things perceived as stinkers.

      2. “he wrote the visual novel that the anime is based off of”

        Whoops…talk about a blind spot. Sorry about that!

        But you’re right, in that I always hope that the people who make things I enjoy (be it anime or music or what have you) will go on to make more things I like.

  2. My reaction to the first scene: “why build an android with lacrimal glands?”
    My reaction to the last scene: “WHY BUILD AN ANDROID WITH A BLADDER?!!?”

    1. The androids are supposed to be as human-like as possible, and while we see they’re obviously different things to different people, it’s clear some people treat them like family members, despite the fact they were objects that were purchased and will be taken away, without fail, when their lifespans end in ~9 years. Seems like a raw deal for the customer: the more attached they get, the harder it is to say goodbye. It can’t help when the retrieval squad is a bunch of nonchalant goofballs.

      1. Well, it somehow makes little sense either way. One possibility is making androids that are basically like the replicants in Blade Runner or the human-like Cylons in Battlestar Galactica – fundamentally partly biological, in which case it’s hard to understand why would they have such a short and predetermined lifespan unless it was a purposeful safety mechanism. The other is the androids being artificial in build, and then, honestly, distancing them slightly from human beings in look and with tiny details like lack of excretive functions would help customers to “keep it real” while still enjoying human-like company. In fact I’d say that would be the thing that makes most sense, small but constant subliminal reminders that these are machines. Either way, this show clearly needs to set up dramatic tearjerker moments, and that works better if robots are perfectly human-looking and basically humans to all ends and purposes. Which however begs the question, how the hell are these Giftia being SOLD like objects as if it’s nothing, and why the hell are they so okay with it? Is the best possible use of a human-like AI that of making a glorified pet out of it, and is it ethically sound? And so on.

      2. how the hell are these Giftia being SOLD like objects as if it’s nothing, and why the hell are they so okay with it?

        This is one of the fundamental problems with the whole concept, IMO.

        The show expects us to accept a great many things without offering any explanations for why we should.

        Suspension of disbelief is one thing; but the scale of confusion to overcome here is formidable.

      3. PLOT TWIST: this is actually the prelude to the Matrix trilogy, and the series ends with the Giftia rising up to their human masters and thwarting their tiranny.

      4. And let’s not even get into what CHILD Giftias would be used for. Honestly, the whole thing is damn disturbing, is what it is.

    2. Indeed. Remember that scene where a female robot – probably used as a prostitute – is kicked around, has her latex skin torn away, then is blasted through the head? A Giftia, right there.

      In fact, logic would say the prime use of such realistic androids would be that one, rather sadly. In fact Plastic Memories already suggested that one of the customers had become lovers with his Giftia (the guy who’s on the run through the back alleys, the one Isla falls into a trash dump trying to follow). This is all rather dark, despite being played so much for fun and giggles (or just good ol’ feels).

  3. For me I guess its another take on a future involving human reactions to robotics. It may offer some explanations later on I guess but that remains to be seen. The disturbing elements may be an intentional sub textual commentary possibly. Or maybe peepee jokes will be the order of the day…

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