What They Say:
In the distant future, a constantly-expanding company known as the “SAI Corporation” has created a way to install human emotions into androids in order to assist with various levels of human companionship. Tsukasa Mizugaki, after failing his college entrance exams, had no choice but to accept a job at SAI following a recommendation from his father. His role in the company was none other than working in the department that retrieves androids that are on the brink of expiration. This completely original new series will leave you grasping for tissues far more often than you can handle.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
This sci-fi drama by Naotaki Hayashi (Memories Off 2nd/Steins;Gate: The Distant Valhalla) is the first complete anime series from the seasoned scenario writer. Plastic Memories is animated by the somewhat lesser known studio “Dogakobo” and was produced by Aniplex with some help from MAGES. (The studio. No actual mages were used in the making of this series…as far as I know). I’m the kind of guy that reads through every listing on AniChart prior to the launching of the new seasons. And if there are any two things that catch my eye during those moments of intense eye-straining, they would be “Original series” and “Drama”. Needless to say, I Immediately highlighted Plastic Memories in green and eagerly chalked it down as my most-anticipated show of Spring 2015. Having no knowledge of what it would be, apart from the brief description available on a few news sites, I was ready for anything..Almost anything, at least.
Plastic Memories follows 18 year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki as he lands a job at the “Terminal Service Department” of the SAI Corporation. Terminal Service’s only real responsibility is the collection of humanistic androids known as “Giftias” as they reach the end of their lifespan. This job normally comes with anguish and disdain, seeing as these androids can fulfill the roles of child, parent, friend, etc. Needless to say, most owners are quite reluctant to give up their companions. The thing is though if the giftias go on to “Live” past their expiration date, things get kind of bad. The androids basically go haywire, resulting in a nearly complete loss of memories and a state of shock/confusion for them that can even cause them to harm others in rare cases.
But the show takes an even more dramatic turn when Tsukasa is paired with a giftia as his partner at Terminal Service. It becomes less of a show detailing the hardships that come with relinquishing companionship, but instead becomes more of a depiction on how things get to that point — how things like relationships decay over time. And more often than not, that time and those relationships go by faster than anyone could ever realize. The chemistry between Tsukasa and Isla grows stronger with each episode. At the same time, however, so does the knowledge that their relationship will come to a close a lot sooner than they want it to. So now we get this roller-coaster ride of emotions as we are essentially forced to watch the two fall apart. This brings up questions most of us are too afraid to ask, particularly the age-old question, “Would you want to know exactly when you are going to die?”.
The characters apart from Tsukasa and Isla are good, but not particularly interesting apart from who I would call the “Main” side-character, and that is a fiery redheaded tsundere Michiru. Only one side-character apart from her has actual background information, but, to be honest, the show doesn’t really get you to care about it at all. But that’s just a problem you are going to come across when you have such great chemistry between the two main characters. Any situation they don’t factor into becomes obsolete in a way. And so those brief moments detailing the past are okay, but there are more important things we have to deal with right now. Tsukasa and Isla only have so much time together. I don’t think that time was well-spent in those glimpses into the past for other Terminal Service members.
Another thing I want to touch on before we wrap this up would be the noticeable mood-shifts in the series. Even though they do create that “Realistic” feel I mentioned earlier, something still seemed…amiss about them. I can’t put my finger on what it was exactly, but it just didn’t feel right at times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely fine with the show playing out like this, but I would understand why some people would call it an issue. In my opinion though, which is what reviews are really all about, the mood-shifts only slightly take away from the overall experience. There is still a plethora of important themes like mortality, coping, and how many relationships are doomed to fail from the get-go. These themes are what really make Plastic Memories the show that it is.
Plastic Memories creates a story viewers actually care about. Its relationships, even though they are set in a sci-fi environment, feel a lot more real than other relationships in current anime. The story is well-paced and well-written in an impressive semi-debut from Hayashi. The ending, though I will not spoil it right here, provides slight closure but still gives that looming sadness that will creep all over your body. It leaves room for a second season but does not beg for one. And though I highly doubt there will be one, I would still love to see it. Plastic Memories is equal parts adorable, touching, and memorable all at the same time. It is easily accessible and I would recommend it for new and old fans of drama. Original shows are becoming less common with how many different ways things can be adapted now. But where they are done correctly, they look just like this.
Content Grade: B+
Streamed By: Crunchyroll, Daisuki, Hulu