What They Say:
As Tsukasa continues his work at SAI, he starts to wonder whether or not the Giftias can regain their memories after their OS replacement. However, he always gets the same answer of “NO” no matter who he asks. Until one day he encounters a Giftia from Terminal Service Three named Andie, who turns out to be Eru’s best friend Olivia after her OS replacement. As Tsukasa learns more about Giftias and grows closer to Isla, he must also comes to terms with her lifespan getting close to the end… in Plastic Memories Volume 2.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only and it’s done up in the uncompressed PCM format in stereo. The show is a dialogue piece for the most part so it’s not one that has a lot of stretching to do, though there are a couple of brief areas of “action” if you want to call it that where it gets to shine a bit more. The music is where it gets to stand out the most when you get down to it as there’s a warm and richness that clicks very well in making it feel right. The incidental music weaves in and out almost unnoticed at times in really good ways. Dialogue itself is definitely well handled with good placement and depth as needed and a clear sense of movement as well. It’s a well put together mix that’s encoded without problems, but it’s not a mix that’s going to grab your attention.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The six episodes for this set are spread across two discs with three on each. Animated by Doga Kobo, the show has a very appealing looking with some nice little quirks to the character designs with the white edges of the hair to give it an interesting look. The character artwork is solid with some very good detail to many of them while the backgrounds bring the show to life in a lived-in kind of way while still feeling slightly into the future. The fluidity of the animation is spot on where it needs to go big while the more laid back scenes have their own richness. It may not be a show that stands out in some ways with its animation quality but what we get here is very good with some very beautiful moments to it mixed in with the great character moments.
The packaging design for this release brings us a soft slipcase that holds the standard sized clear Blu-ray case inside. The slipcase is pretty nice as the front cover has a good pairing of the leads together as they watch the fireworks, which certainly will make those that know the show smile, while the back works a familiar look at the cityscape with Isla seen from behind that has a wistful feeling about it. Within the box we get the clear case that has some really nice artwork of some of main SAI staff together at the office for a picture that shows a fun team that works well together. That wraps around to the back and gives us a good flow overall even if the spine breaks it up too much. They’re good covers all around and I like that they use as many as they do here across the various panels. The reverse side doesn’t have any character artwork but it does break down each disc by episode number and extras. Also included in the first pressing of the set is a small packet of postcards that uses the cover artwork and is perfect for framing.
The menu design is one that fits in with how Aniplex does a number of their menus, which tend to underwhelm me, as we get a lot of blank space and a lot of text over it. The three-lined logo is along the left and it has a small window of clips playing underneath it from the show. The right breaks out a few blocks in which we get the navigation itself, which has submenus for the chapters and access to subtitle options and extras. It’s just very simple and kind of bland since it’s done with white and gray, leaving the only color the window with the clip animation, which itself is about 25% of the menu’s real estate. Everything works quickly and smoothly without any problems, so the functionality is spot on, but it just doesn’t sell the show well or set the mood much.
This set comes with just a couple of extras that are fairly standard fare as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as the web previews for the show.
The first seven episodes of Plastic Memories with the first collection proved to be a fairly enjoyable show overall that worked an interesting concept with the lightness that one can expect. The show is not intending to look at weighty matters of how civilization and people truly deal with such machines in their lives and how it would change the fabric of, well, everything. It wants to focus on a couple of human elements and tug at the heartstrings in all the right ways. That made it an enjoyable experience overall though one that had me wanting it to dig into things more – or to have the whole thing at once so that the emotional impact of the back half could be felt better.
With the foundations set up previously for the show as it explored how all of this works while also giving us time with Tsukasa and Ilsa growing a bit closer, we get a little more look at how some of this plays out with a couple of jobs retrieving end of life units and seeing the various ways that different people cope. It’s something that’s certainly complicated and I like that over the course of the series that we see these different paths because it serves to teach Tsukasa ways he can handle what’s inevitable here. Whether it’s younger “couples” that are separating or an older woman, each has their own story that could make for a great anthology series to dig into. One that’s intriguing here is an older woman who is losing her companion but wants the same model as a replacement. For Tsukasa, he can only see that as being painful as he can’t understand why she’d want to start from scratch with the same person. We get that within the office as well with a side story that shows a reconnect that reminds that you have to leave the past in the past.
What the show has to deal with as it progresses is more about the two main characters, something that I definitely appreciate as it doesn’t try to slide Michiru in as a substitute or come up with some crazy over the top out for everything. Ilsa knows what’s coming and is trying to figure out how to handle it because she has that sense of wanting to really live before things come to a close. At the same time she doesn’t want to cause Tsukasa any pain since that would just be the worst thing for her. She does her best to keep some distance between them but with Tsukasa confessing things to her and spending time with her, it makes it complicated. Having Kazuki step in to separate them and reassign partners may feel out of left field, but I actually sympathized with Kazuki since Ilsa was her partner for quite some time. You can see her wanting to bring things to a close herself while also trying to stave off some pain for Tsukasa.
But the real strength of the show is when everyone does get on the same page to ensure that Ilsa and Tsukasa get what they deserve in making as many good memories as possible for the amount of time that’s left. While what we do get here is mostly standard light romantic/drama material here with clothes shopping, meals and just generally spending time together, the real payoff is that final episode where they have their biggest date knowing that it’s coming down to the hours. One cannot imagine the feelings that either may have until you deal with someone’s life ending in front of you. It’s such a mixture of anger, sadness, joy, and beauty that it can leave you feeling very empty afterward for a long time. What carries you is what you have before all of that and Plastic Memories makes the case to make the best of what you have in the here and now because that’s all you truly have. I definitely appreciate that the show went through it in full and left it open to just enough interpretation with the final frames to leave you smiling.
Plastic Memories is the kind of show that works a familiar near future story concept that doesn’t dig too deep or too hard but pleases nonetheless. The show in its back half is working more of the actual emotional payoff to the foundations that it set and I suspect that those that marathon it will get a lot more out of it because of that viewing form. There’s a lot to like here as it’s a well put together show that doesn’t get too schmaltzy as it finds the right balance. I really liked the animation for this series as well as the character designs set themselves off just enough to make it stand out without being that big of a draw in how it handles things like hair design and costumes. Plastic Memories sounds like a silly series but it avoids many of the usual traps and instead works towards a solid conclusion that doesn’t hold back. And that makes it worthwhile compared to a lot of other shows that cheap out at the end.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Web Previews
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: September 27th, 2016
Running Time: 144 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.