Plastic Memories – Anime Review
Synopsis: After failing his college entrance exams, 18 year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki is offered a position at the renowned SAI Corporation due to his father’s connections. SAI Corporation is known for its production and management of androids that possessed human emotions called Giftia. Tsukasa’s position is in the terminal service department where the main job is to recover Giftias that are close to their expiration, a graveyard department in every sense. To make matters worse, Tsukasa is ordered to work with Isla, a female Giftia who is never given any responsibility other than serving tea to co-workers.(Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Plastic Memories starts off pleasant and warm. We’re introduced to Tsukasa, Isla, the rest of the cast and shown a touching story of how important and painful the work being done by the Terminal Service is, setting the tone for what seems to be a dramatic tale. Overall, Plastic Memories has some random comedic action but apart from flashbacks and one single episode, the show chooses to focus mainly on the drama, the relationship between Tsukasa and Isla, the other office workers and occasionally the customers of the Terminal Service. It’s simple and slow, which is a perfect fit for viewers interested in the emotional and mental implications of assimilated android presence in everyday life.
Tom: The opening’s great, easily sucking in the vast majority of viewers. The response online at the time of its original airing were incredibly positive. Plastic Memories really pulls at your heartstrings with its first episode and lets you know you’ll be in for an emotional ride, even if the rest of the series never quite lives up to that opening. Plastic Memories has an interesting world, one which the first episode does a fairly good job of introducing us to, particularly surrounding, as Linny noted, the Terminal Services’ work. As the series progresses we learn more about the retrieval process and exactly what death means for the Giftia and the effects that has on the people they leave behind.
Linny: Plastic Memories is sprinkled with comedic sequences that will make viewers laugh and chuckle, needed to balance out some of the episodes that come packaged with “all of the feels.” The show is peppered with a lot of sad moments and tragic stories, so the presence of comedic scenes and characters helps to give the viewer a break from all the intense emotions. Even the cast are put to use with some being simply adorable, while others are pure comedic relief. Together, they help to balance out the sombre parts.
Tom: This is where the show starts to fall apart for me. As Plastic Memories continues it begins to leave a lot of its more interesting concepts and characters on the cutting room floor, starting with the supporting cast. About half way through the show’s run we abandon any and all subplots surrounding the inner workings of the retrieval department and focus entirely on the main love story. For example, there’s a periodic subplot of how badly Terminal Service No. 1 is run, constantly going over budget. But as the series progresses we learn that this isn’t actually a subplot at all, but more of a brief example of how care and kindness need to be a part of retrieving Giftia. This might not have been an issue for me if the love felt more natural in the way it developed between Tsukasa and Isla.
Linny: It’s true that the show falters and stumbles as it continues. We end up with what amounts to tunnel vision and the entire show becomes all about Tsukasa’s attempts to woo Isla. It would have been fine if the show had done a better job of showcasing the progression of their love story. Sadly, the romance felt a little silly initially, then progresses slower than two turtles playing tug of war and finally, by the end, milked for maximum sentimental effect. Without ruining too much, let’s just say Tsukasa must have a major tsundere complex which makes this a great pick for any fans of tsundere love stories but for anyone else, it raises the question as to how and why love blossomed. However, once the romance gets amped up and going, it does become entertaining, interesting and maybe even satisfying because you’ve been made to wait for-frikking-ever. Either way, the actual courtship has earned its fair share of fans and had many a viewer in bittersweet tears.
Tom: Despite the show finding its footing again for its final episodes, Plastic Memories does a considerable amount of stumbling between its 1st episode and last. Beyond the underused supporting cast it also never makes great use of its scifi setting. In fact, there’s a part of me that wonders if Plastic Memories even really needed a scifi setting. It rarely plays with those elements, and drops much of the ongoings of the world to focus entirely on the love birds. I wonder if you could simply give Isla an incurable disease and you’d have a story with the exact same essence as Plastic Memories, but without the underused scifi setting naggingly floating about.
Linny: Plastic Memories’ biggest curse is its pacing. While it begins and ends well, the show really meanders in the middle. Nothing of much importance or worth happens, or at least nothing that grabs the attention and keeps one engaged and invested long term. We first watched Plastic Memories back when it was airing and thus were also aware of the online reactions, in particular the final episode before we had a chance to watch it ourselves. This may have proved to be a bit of a curse for me personally as it raised my expectations of the finale which was being touted as a complete and total tearjerker. I found myself disagreeing in that while I DID find the ending sweet and appropriate for the series, it was more melancholic than outright heartbreaking. More jaded or stoic viewers may also feel that the show doesn’t quite manage to fully utilize its premise and potential, sacrificing too much to instead focus on a love story that feels forced at times.
Tom: While the ending is indeed emotionally charged, I still can’t help but feel Plastic Memories became predictable midway through. While the ending was, generally speaking, foretold from episode 1, the way everything plays out prior to that feels incredibly generic and, well, ultimately unmemorable. I struggle to recall most of the events after the series midpoint, specifically after the particularly nasty retrieval hunt. It’s unfortunate, because with a bit more creativity and work Plastic Memories could’ve left a lasting impression. The heart was there, but the execution was lacking.
Linny: Plastic Memories is one of those stories perfect for the anime fan who loves super emotional tales and romances, ones that go so far as to ignore and sacrifice side characters and plot lines to try and milk as many tears from a willing audience. In fact, its first episode is definitely a great start, with a one off plot line about dealing with loss that will have most viewers with damp eyes at the very least. However, everything after and right up to the finale made for much weaker stories, ones that played out in too predictable or pointless a manner to impress anyone except for the drama addicted viewer. If you’re someone who values emotional content over fleshed out plots, Plastic Memories should be a stellar watch but for anyone else hoping for a story that includes more of the sci-fi elements, it might be best to steer away.