Plastic Memories – Smile Through The Tears

Giftias – Androids, made by SAI Corp, that look, act, and feel like humans complete with real personalities, emotions and memories – have a lifespan of 81920 hours. Giftias have become such a part of human society that they are everywhere: they are peoples’ friends, hired help, and even surrogate parents in some circumstances. Once their roughly 9 and a third years are done, they don’t die… they begin to deteriorate, losing their memories, their personalities, and their restraint. In other words, they go crazy, becoming violent and dangerous.

SAI’s Terminal Services department has the unpleasant task of retrieving these Giftias before that happens and erasing their memories so they can be upgraded for later use. They have to convince the owner to give their consent, and they always do the memory erasure in front of them – afterall, these androids have very personal information contained within those memories. Our protagonist, Tsukasa, is a new employee at SAI Terminal Service No. 1. He is assigned the Giftia Isla as his partner and, naturally, he swiftly develops strong feelings for her.

What he doesn’t know is that Isla only has around 2 months left before she, herself, will need to be retrieved…

Ferris Wheel

Around The Water Cooler

Plastic Memories boasts a rather large cast for a 12 episode show, with ten side characters – the entire staff of Terminal Service No. 1 – all receiving near-equal attention. Of course, the show focuses most of its attention on its protagonists Tsukasa and Isla and the relationship building between them.

I say the cast is large, but that isn’t a bad thing, as the characters all have very prominent roles in the story and some of them are really well written characters. Isla’s former partner Kazuki and Tsukasa’s tsundere neighbor Michiru are probably my favourites, as they have the most emotional impact on the story. Kazuki, you see, is extremely protective of Isla but tries not to let Isla see it… while Michiru is a romantic at heart and is enamored of the romance growing between Isla and Tsukasa, but her tsundere side won’t let her just be happy for them in public.

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What makes the show work is that the office is a part of the office romance. When you have two awkward characters like Tsukasa and Isla, the push has to be external… and the characters around them are often catalysts for events. And the other characters are constantly cheering them on, in their own little ways. It makes the show that much more adorable and sweet to watch.

Ripping Apart Memories

I expected this show to have a tragic tone to it. The first episode sets you up for tears. Isla describes their job as ‘ripping apart memories’, after all. But the show is actually more focused on the hopeful side of everything. It’s an impressive feat to take such a potentially depressing subject and make a show that feels positive.

But, that doesn’t mean there won’t be sadness. You will cry at times. You will be expecting it, you’ll prepare for it, and you’ll still cry. And the ending will be exactly what you expect it to be… and even still, it’ll catch you off-guard. No amount of preparation is sufficient. Even writing this, I’m struggling to not tear up remembering it, honestly.

Whisper

But all the while, even when you’re bawling, you’ll still have a hopeful smile on your face. Because they never let matters feel depressing. Even during – no, especially during the saddest moments they never let it feel too heavy. They add these little touches of happiness to matters… humour to bring hope, final good memories to bring closure. Whatever it takes. And it works wonderfully.

Sparkling and Shining

There isn’t anything particularly unique about this show’s visuals. But it takes a variety of simple elements and makes something truly beautiful to watch. When watching Plastic Memories, you’ll be introduced to a wide variety of mundane scenes… scenes that are somehow charming and beautiful despite that, or possibly even due to that. It’s not distinct, but it makes the everyday look special.

Part of this is due to the show’s absolutely stellar use of music. The opening and closing are so beautiful they alone will probably bring tears to your eyes after watching this… especially since they’re used in the show as more than merely boundaries to close off the show. One of the show’s most incredible moments, for example, features the show’s opening playing subtly in the background and it helps to tie the show together in a fantastic way. But, it’s not just those two songs… the show’s ambience is stellar and it also has a couple of good insert pieces that work well.

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Overall

After the first episode, I was expecting to like the show… but not this much. I was expecting it to be another tragic show that I’d enjoy watching when I wanted to give my eyes a good rinse. What I got was not that at all(well, except the crying part, that was definitely there)… it was a show with some of the most amazing hopeful overtones. The show has such a great message and it was such a pleasant surprise, despite being so predictable.