Plastic Memories is a show that just recently ended its thirteen episode run. If you haven’t seen it already and don’t want to get spoiled I suggest you go view it right now. It’s on Crunchyroll and you can watch it all streaming for free.
Plastic Memories takes place in a world where humans have created artificial souls and bodies. These beings are called Giftia and they are indistinguishable from humans. That is except for two very big differences, one is that they do not grow. Whatever form they are manufactured in is the form they keep throughout their lifespan. The second difference is their lifespan, the Giftia soul can only last for 81,920 hours before it starts to decompose and lose its sense of humanity. This is where Terminal service comes into play. A company run by the manufacturers of Giftia to retrieve Giftia before their expiration date. Enter Tsukasa Mizugaki a new member to Terminal Service and his Giftia partner Isla. Together they will do their best to retrieve Giftia while trying to cause as little emotional damage as possible.
Now just by the basic plot of the show it was always clear on what this show would be about. Taking the bonds that people have formed with these Giftia and having to tear them apart. Have it be a mother figure, or a granddaughter. Any possible relationship you can think of can be between a Giftia and human. And I think the first episode really laid a good groundwork for the type of emotion we are suppose to be feeling. Sure it’s obvious but seeing the characters react to the situation is real enough to where you can feel it anyway. At least I could. I’m not the kind to try to fight an emotion that’s trying to be conveyed to me. Especially if it’s as sincere as this show made it out to be. Going into the second episode I was expecting this show to be a masterpiece.
But like my title suggests, Plastic Memories just didn’t have enough content to keep its thirteen episode run feel fresh and compelling enough. The parts that you cared about were interrupted by a lot of roundabout ways of getting there and certain side characters felt just as placeholders until the main leads could get their act together. This show I think would have done exponentially better if it had been a two-hour movie and had a tighter story to better keep the emotions it’s trying to deliver throughout the whole run.
Now with that said, for the most part I did enjoy this show. Plastic Memories did have a lot of engaging and interesting things spread throughout the show. One would be the world building. Shows that invite new concepts to a relatable world often stumble at giving rise to too many questions. These questions often leave the viewer asking these unexplained questions about the world and not focusing on what the show wants them to focus on. Plastic Memories gets real meta, real fast and dives deep into all the possibilities that a world with Giftia would have to offer. And once you really understand the world it’s easier to identify with the characters living in that world. So let’s get into the characters.
Tsukasa and Isla are the mains that the show is focusing on and their relationship is really what carries the show. Sure it may not be enough at some points, but I already said that. But when they are progressing with getting to know each other and having to deal with one another, the show shines pretty bright. For one, I really like how Isla’s defining feature in early episodes wasn’t just her stoicness. Even though she has a hard time showing emotions she is still able to be expressive. Especially when she is on the job. Which is a good way to show her dedication to what she does and how much she cares for these people who she’s working with. This makes it more believable when Tsukasa starts to take an interest in her because there is actually something that warrants interest. He wants to see what caused this divide in her personality and better try to understand her feeling on retrieving Giftia. But it’s not only to better understand her, it’s also for his sake. After all she’s a veteran when it comes to retrieval and he’s just a newbie. Although at times it may seem like she’s a newbie herself.
As for the main conflict concerning Isla’s remaining three months of operation time, I feel the show dilly dally’s around with this. But I’m sure it’s just because they needed to stretch it out. But the emotions Tsukasa goes through during this time seem very real and sincere. He’s stuck with a choice that not many people can really compare too. Does he try to connect with this girl who only has a few months to live? Or does he keep his distance so he won’t get too hurt when it happens? He knows that if he does it will be horrible when the time comes, but he does it anyway. Which delves into the core message that I think Plastic Memories is trying to convey. Some things can’t last forever, and sooner or later bad things will happen. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for the good things. And that doesn’t mean that good things can’t happen after the bad times have past.
So Tsukasa tries his best to get to know Isla and eventually grows to love her. Throughout the show we get hints of Isla’s own fears of being retrieved herself, and we get a better look at what it’s like being a Giftia and leaving the ones that you have grown so close too. But with Tsukasa being by her side and making each day up until her retrieval special, Isla is able to enjoy her short amount of time and not think too much about that inevitability.
After episode ten Tsukasa and Isla start dating and the heartbreak time-bomb just starts ticking away. Now even though they are dating, both of them are still relatively new to this. So we get a lot of cute scenes with them not really know the boundaries of being a couple. While I can see this could be annoying for some people, it just works for me. It seems natural for them to act this way since they’ve only known each other for a couple of months. In a way it could show their dedication to their feelings despite being shy and nervous about their relationship. Since they only have about a month they have to try their best to make it count even if that means going out of their comfort zones.
Thankfully the awkwardness is treated sparingly and by episode twelve they are completely comfortable with each other. Now is where the real intimate bonding happens and with having the fuse so close to the bomb at this point, it makes you cherish and feel the emotions almost as much as the two of them. Plus the added bonus of getting a lot of cute Isla faces.
The last episode really brings home all the emotions that it built up in the previous episodes. It’s now time for Tsukasa to retrieve Isla himself. Which I think is handled great. It feels believable when he starts to get all nervous when he sees the sun go down. It feels right for him to suggest they just run away together while in the ferris wheel. Because who wouldn’t try to look for a way out at the end. No matter what you say, it’t hard to prepare yourself for the end and its natural to try to fight it. I love the way Isla comforts him in his time of doubt giving them both strength to get through this. And for them to both say their final goodbye without any tears, but with a smile and a kiss.
Now it may seem like this is a great show but like I said in the beginning it certainly has some major hiccups spread throughout. Now if I could just rate the first episode and the last four the score would be totally different. But I have to admit there were some tough times in between the developing relationship of Isla and Tsukasa. Also to point out there were plot lines that I feel that could have been removed entirely. Mostly things involving Michiru and her dad. Ultimately though the ending is satisfying enough for me to justify watching the show. And maybe enough to warrant a second watch to pick up on subtleties in Isla’s mannerisms that would make more sense now that I know what I know.
Stories are one of the great tools that people have when it comes to drawing strength to get over your own problems by relating to someone else similar problems. Being able to see how other people have faced hard situations, even though they are fictional can be empowering. It can be the trigger someone needs to fight through what ever it is they’re going through.
Sure the concept of losing someone to death isn’t a very new concept but I think that this show has enough special things about to make it worth the watch.