Plastic Memories Anime Review
Written by: ClayDragon
The first time I heard about Plastic Memories, all I saw was a summary that said that this was a show about a boy and a female android who work at a company that retrieves androids that have gone past their service life. From that brief summary, I figured that this series would be in a similar vein to Death Parade, in that it would ask the tough questions about mortality and suchlike. I certainly didn’t expect the main genre of the series to be a romantic comedy.
At some point in the near future, technology has advanced to the stage that androids that look and act like humans (called ‘Giftias’) can be produced, and are available for purchase by the public. Giftias are used for a variety of functions, such as construction work, bodyguards, ‘children’ for people who can’t have kids naturally – the list goes on. However, Giftias have a limited shelf life; after roughly nine years, their personality and memories begin to break down, and they are then retrieved by a collection service.
Tsukasa Mizugaki, the main protagonist, is a new employee at the Terminal Service offices, and he is teamed up with a Giftia partner called Isla in order to help him retrieve other Giftias. As the series progresses, Tsukasa begins to fall for Isla, but this is complicated by the fact that she is already nearing the end of her life, and she only has another two months left before she deteriorates.
Given that the series deals with ‘death’ (i.e. the retrieval and shutting-down of Giftias) quite a lot, I was expecting there to be a number of heavy emotional moments, but they were surprisingly few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a few heartwarming moments, as well as one or two sad moments (and these moments do pack a punch), but the vast majority of the series’ emotional impact came from the humour derived from the relationship between Tsukasa and Isla. There are funny moments, sure, and they did make me laugh. But the show changes pace and tone so often that I occasionally got emotional whiplash, as it goes from a funny, cutesy scene to an outright depressing one.
The characters are another problem, although nowhere near as bad. Despite being the male lead, Tsukasa is actually pretty bland, and his past, personality and motivations aren’t explored in any great depth. On the other hand, Isla is the complete opposite. Her personality is analysed in great depth throughout the show, and the narrative uses her knowledge of her impending retrieval to great effect when it comes to explaining her behaviour. Plus, her awkward and clumsy tendencies easily endear her to the audience, making her the best character in the show by far.
Visually, the series is amazing. The animation studio, Dogakobo, put a lot of work into the backgrounds and character designs, and the quality of the animation never dips or falters. For proof of this, just check out the opening and ending, which are not only beautifully animated, but also feature fitting and catchy music. The show’s soundtrack is less noticeable, but it still does its job well, especially in the more emotional scenes.
To be honest, part of me feels that the show would have worked better were it a little closer to home. For example, there was no real reason for Isla to be an android, as the show would have worked just as well (if not better) had she just been a normal girl suffering from a terminal illness. The introduction of androids to the plot created so many unresolved plot threads that it makes you wonder why the writer went down that route at all.
Despite all of this, I would be willing to give Plastic Memories the benefit of the doubt on a lot of things. After all, this is the first original story that Dogakobo have produced, and it’s very unlikely that anyone would produce a masterpiece on their first try. However, there is one factor that I cannot overlook, and this results in me judging the show more harshly than I would otherwise. The writer of Plastic Memories is none other than Naotaka Hayashi. This is the man who created Steins;Gate. Given that this writer is evidently capable of creating great series, it means that I can’t be lenient with Plastic Memories.
I once described Plastic Memories to one of my friends as a cross between Death Parade and Chuunibyou, but after watching the entire series that metaphor doesn’t really work. It’s like combining gold and silver and ending up with bronze. It performs well in both the heavy emotional scenes and the comedic instances, but it fails to mesh the two opposing tones well. The characters are mostly bland and uninteresting (with the exceptions of Isla, Michiru and Zack), and the series suffers from pacing issues and mood whiplash. On the other hand, at least it’s pretty, and when the emotional impact hits, it hits hard.
Good Things: Isla’s depth, characterisation and personality.
Genuinely funny moments every so often.
Emotional weight and impact (occasionally).
Bad Things: The tone and pacing are quite inconsistent.
Underused secondary characters.
Got a suggestion for an anime I should review? Post it in the comments, or submit it to ask.fm/ClayDragon!
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at email@example.com. He has an ask.fm account at ask.fm/ClayDragon. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. I have a degree! On a sheet of paper and everything!