Plastic Memories is a series that sounded tear-worthy from the very first description I read. And I was right to assume that. The anime is set in a world where humans live happily alongside very human-like androids named Giftia. Giftia are specifically developed for various ‘owners’ requirements, whether it be for work, companionship or to fill a missing family gap, they mean a great deal to those who own them. The problem is, with a lifespan of 81,920 hours (roughly nine years and four months), Giftia do eventually have to be let go. Although they possess very human emotions and personalities, they do not age as a human would. When a Giftia approaches the end of its lifespan, the Terminal Service comes and collects the expiring Giftia, erasing their memories before they begin to deteriorate.
Now, if you don’t find the idea of someone’s nine year beloved companion suddenly being hauled away and shut down to be a sad one, then I’m not sure you are capable of feeling sadness. Within the very first episode of Plastic Memories, we are subject to witnessing the heartbreak of a Giftia reaching expiration. Although it’s more of a bittersweet and peaceful goodbye, it’s extremely touching. It only took this show twenty minutes to get a tear from me and that’s quite an achievement within the pilot episode. The show appears to deal a lot with the characters within, focusing on relationships and bonds and how much one person can mean to another. It really can be quite thought provoking as you watch and evaluate how you would feel in these various people’s lives. Throughout the initial episodes, we come across four very different instances of Giftia and their owners and the purposes they serve to each other. The show is well thought out in terms of making the relationships diverse and making sure the audience is aware of just how real these Giftia are. It’s very absorbing and can be easy to forgot that they only last nine years. When you realise that as you’re thinking up a storm of the attachment these two ‘people’ have, it’s kind of heart shattering.
We see events unfold in Plastic Memories as we follow our protagonist, Tsukasa Mizugaki, as he embarks on his first day working for the Terminal Service. Tsukasa is a very average-Joe kind of character. He’s an eighteen year old college dropout, due to medical reasons of course because there’s literally no other issues in anime… apparently. Although clueless and seemingly useless, Tsukasa is accepted (mostly) into his new job and assumes the role of a ‘spotter’. The Terminal Service works in the format of teams. One human, the spotter, and one Giftia, the marksman. The partners work together as two points of view in order to persuade Giftia away from both willing and very stubborn owners. However when Tsukasa is paired with his marksman, Isla, it becomes clear that not all Giftia are particularly good at their job.
We see Isla within the first literal seconds of episode one, judging purely on her timid appearance, one would guess that she would be a typical quiet and stern type. Complete opposite. Isla is a huge klutz with a plethora of quirks and ‘flaws’. She’s adorably child-like and accident prone, which makes her the perfect balance for Tsukasa, who admittedly, by episode two, was already becoming quite boring and dry. The use of partners, however, does serve the anime well. With multiple teams working within the Terminal Service, the writers clearly seized the opportunity to create both functional and utterly dysfunctional pairings which serves constant entertainment, as well as giving the audience that fun choice of which pairing they like/dislike the most. It’s all about the comparison.
That being said, when comparing Isla to the other, more talented, Giftia in her line of work. It becomes increasingly obvious what the deal is. Without spoiling anything, although I wouldn’t class it as much of a spoiler, the anime dishes out bad news after bad news. Most people won’t believe me when saying it, but when I first saw Tsukasa and Isla meet eye to eye in their opening scene, it didn’t take long for everything else to fall into place. Unfortunately for such an interesting premise, the anime is far too predictable. The surprises are like long awaited guesses and can make it feel almost disappointing as you wait for something amazing to happen. But that doesn’t mean to say that the show isn’t worth watching. For an original series with no previous source material, it can’t be faulted. It’s unlike the stereotypes seen in each anime season and definitely stands out as something different for those who are sick of the usual romance and sports anime. As predictable as it seems, it’s still going to be a series that demands a tissue… or ten.