Well, if you’re looking for your weekly dose of depression, you’ve found it in Plastic Memories. Now, now, don’t click out of the review yet—I didn’t say it was bad! The show is certainly sad, but it is strangely balanced out by injections of comedy that don’t feel like they should work with the show’s heavier themes; yet, somehow, they manage to.
Plastic Memories is set in the not-so-distant future, with humans living alongside androids. Among these androids are the Giftia, who contain a synthetic soul and are therefore the closest thing to resembling an actual human. The catch is that these Giftia have a limited lifespan (roughly nine years and four months) before they begin to deteriorate, which means that their personalities will disintegrate and their memories will be lost. As a result, it is up to the employees of the Terminal Service to retrieve these Giftia from their owners and erase their memories (in effect, laying the Giftia to rest). The story follows Tsukasa Mizugaki, a new employee of the Terminal Service, and Isla, a veteran Giftia, as they perform these retrievals.
As mentioned in the introduction, this show is a weird mixed bag, and yet somehow it works. The moments where the TS employees take the expiring Giftias are appropriately emotional: one scene is simply peaceful, with both the Giftia and his owners accepting the reality of the situation. Another shows a man and his Giftia trying to flee, while still another actually involves quite an emotional build up. Interspersed among these scenes are interactions between Tsukasa and his colorful crew of co-workers, which tend to be more on the lighthearted side, and usually right on the tail of a serious scene. For example, one scene has Tsukasa mulling over a retrieval while Isla drives; Isla replies that she knows what Tsukasa’s thinking before proceeding to state her need for a bathroom. Transitions like seemingly shouldn’t work, and yet they do.
The concept and interplay of characters are what carry this show. It’s not that the characters themselves are bad; they’re just very trope-like. Tsukasa is your typically, friendly male lead. Isla is the cute, quiet girl who doesn’t quite have it all together. Michiru is the teenage girl with an attitude (probably a tsundere) who makes you wonder why a teenager has this job. Zack is the cute, charismatic young boy. These aren’t the only characters, but they are the ones with whom you will spend most of this episode. They are all amusing and likable in their own rights, but they aren’t original concepts. You won’t look at any of them and feel like you haven’t seen characters with similar personalities elsewhere.
Overall, Plastic Memories comes highly recommended, at least for shows that you should give a chance. Obviously, it is too early to say if the concept will work until the end, but this is a promising start that makes episode two look even more appealing.
A Christian Perspective:
One question that comes to mind when watching this is, “Why would these people put themselves through this?” These Graftia owners buy these androids (who might as well be human beings), knowing full well that they will only have them for just over nine years. Presumably, they buy them to fill some gap in their own lives (one old woman seems to have a young Graftia in lieu of a granddaughter), which can only make the pain even worse. It’s one thing to feel the pain of not having something; it’s quite another to feel the pain of having had something and lost it. I know that everyone dies, but it’s one thing to live with the idea that one day someone will not be in your life anymore, and quite another to literally be able to count down those days, knowing full well when you will never again see this person (or android) that you have grown to love so much.
The best answer I can come up with is love. Obviously, you might expect me to say that we want to experience love, so buying one of these Graftia to feel loved in an area where we are devoid would be a solution, and perhaps that’s probably part of it, but I had another answer. In Matthew 22: 37-40, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Think about this: the two greatest commandments that Jesus gives are to give love, not receive it. Doesn’t that mean it is possible that we were created to love, and that we will inevitably look for things upon which to shower our love? I’m not saying that we lack a desire to be loved (we certainly have that), but it would seem that love may be a two-way street. I am, of course, only speculating, and not trying to make a solid theological statement here.
Think about it, though: why do we buy pets? In the end, pets are much like these Graftia: things we will grow to love, while knowing that one day we will no longer have them around. True, we may not be able to time our pets’ demises down to the day, but we generally know the lifespan of a cat, dog, bird, fish, etc., and it is generally much shorter than our own. Yet we buy these pets anyway. We love them, we take them places, and when they eventually pass, we mourn them. Many of us eventually do it all over again.
Perhaps I’m just grasping for straws, but we know that we desire to be loved, and based on Jesus’ words it may be possible that we were also created to show love—to God and to others. If so, then we have a good image of why these characters might be compelled to buy these Graftias, despite the pain that will ultimately ensue.
Language: 1 “h*ll”
Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A girl is briefly shown running away in her shirt and underwear; Isla is shown in the shower, but no inappropriate body parts are shown
The Bottom Line