There aren’t many anime series that make me look back at them feeling nothing but disappointment. But Plastic Memories is one of them. Today let’s have a look at this series.
Beware – the following text contains spoilers.
In the future mankind is introduced to androids called Giftias. Many of those who can afford them treat them as friends and family. However, Giftias don’t work forever. Each of them has a designated number of hours they can work, which is roughly nine years. After that they start to malfunction, eventually going berserk and becoming aggressive. To prevent any damage and retrieve the Giftias, the Terminal Services unit is opened. In teams of two – consisting of a human and a Giftia – the workers retrieve Giftias gone rogue, and if that has not happened yet, they simply erase the Giftia’s memories and take their robotic bodies away. One day, a new face in the unit appears – a teenage boy called Tsukasa Mizugaki. He’s paired up with a cute Giftia named Isla, who (surprise!) unbeknownst to him, is getting dangerously close to her “due date” – in just about three months she will have to be terminated.
I must say that the first time I heard about this show, I got really intrigued. Many people said it has tugged on their heartstrings. I was always a fan of good drama/slice of life, so I thought “what the hell, I’m gonna check it out”.
So, what do we have here? A typical harem anime good boy and a cute girl with a due date. These two could be the two elements that either make or break the series, but NO! the creators had to push for a harem, as small as it is. There’s Michiru – a human girl raised by a male Giftia, who wasn’t retrieved in time and became aggressive, resulting in another company having to intervene and take him down. Michiru is your typical tsundere, who develops feelings for the protagonist but of course won’t confess. There is also Kazuki, a woman with ten years of experience working in retrieving Giftias, who used to be in a team with Isla. She had her leg amputated after getting attacked by Michiru’s father.
I keep wondering, having such a good topic for a long, reflective, philosophical series, how and why did the creators screw it up? Oh, right. In just thirteen episodes they tried to squeeze drama, romance and pushing for some harem and fanservice as well. Which is sad, because the topic is just perfect. Think about it – a seemingly unusual situation being an excuse to tell a beautiful, philosophical story about mankind. Sounds familiar? Exactly. This idea took off before, and many times at that. So why try and oversimplify it? The theme of people living with androids and treating them as loved ones is booming with possibilities. If only this show got at least twice as many episodes as it had, things could be so much better. Otherwise it just feels forced, especially the romance bit. I was never one to be moved by romance, and neither was I in this case. The protagonist saw a beautiful girl and it took him way too long to realize that she could be really close to her deadline. From then on, everything went too fast.
The thing I don’t like about this series really boils down to this – time. The story went by way too fast, and in a way that didn’t enable me to fully submerge myself in it. It could’ve been so good. If only it was handled with more care, Plastic Memories could’ve been a story that captures the viewer’s heart, to break it later in the most beautiful way possible.
It won’t probably be of any surprise to you when I tell you, that there is a visual novel based on the anime. I know, not the other way around like usually. But still, the set up is obvious. The three ladies that we meet as the protagonist are so different, with such specific personality types, that they’re basically sim date material already. Which again is heartbreaking, because if this show got more funding, more episodes, more plot, then I’m sure the ladies would also become way more fleshed out an interesting to observe as the plot advances.
I’d like to again come back to the matter of time in this series so that I could complain some more. Namely, I don’t understand why Isla’s time left when she met the protagonist had to be those three months. I feel that if the characters were given some more time to bond and be together, it would be, first of all, way more interesting to watch their relationship grow and evolve, and second of all, for the sake of drama, it would be way more touching if Isla had about a year left when Tsukasa first meets her. That’s an amount of time that would really let the characters’ personalities grow, it could show even better how Tsukasa submerges in the world of retrieving Giftias, how he becomes more empathetic, how he ultimately becomes a professional and continues to be one even when Isla is no longer with him.
Think about it this way – we could get entire arcs with satisfying conclusions, interesting cases that our main duo had to deal with, we would get such intense, transformative emotions out of this story. We could go so much deeper into the world and the story told in it. But no, not this time.
I guess this series left me with certain bitterness that I won’t be able to forget. I can’t think of any other show that has left me quite so… Angry, in fact. And disappointed. But luckily there are way more shows out there for us to truly enjoy, no? And that’s what I want to stick to.
Until next week, sweeties!