Plastic Memories Ep. 1: Don’t get your hopes up

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How would it feel to know that my life is predetermined? That’s a heavy question. That’s a question I would really like to sit down and ponder about all day. It’s just too bad I’m currently very distracted. I’m distracted by the heroine’s moe character design. I’m distracted by the redhead’s by-the-books tsuntsun attitude. I’m distracted by the hero’s awfully generic characterization. Yes, him being nothing but a carbon copy of every other sad sack of mild-mannered nipponjin shit was expected. Even so, this still doesn’t change the fact that the show’s anime trappings very unfortunately detract from an otherwise interesting premise — a premise that might even have potential. And unfortunately, this is why anime in general feels so restricted and confined. The foundation of the story can have as much promise as it wants, but we’re still going to throw some bog standard bullshit on it. It’s like an unspoken agreement that every show out there must drag itself down with the medium’s conventions. Androids considering their mortality? Let’s stick some cardboard cutout anime characters up in this shit! A great struggle for absolute power between mages and assassins? Let’s make it about high school characters! A war between two planets? HIGH. SCHOOL. CHARACTERS.

So the characters here are technically working adults. Not that it means much in execution, though. After all, the main dude is just eighteen. Like right on the edge between childhood an adulthood. Hell, in most cultures, you might be legally considered an adult, but no one actually treats you like one. So while our buddy over here isn’t another high schooler, he might as well be. After all, the other tsuntsun girl is only seventeen. Seventeen. C’mon. Give me a fucking break. What? Are anime fans literally allergic to anyone over the age of twenty or something? I guess I’m supposed to be grateful that Isla isn’t just Chi for the year 2015. If the first episode of the series lays out the foundation for the rest of the story, then I’m already apprehensive. The current approach is too basic. Too cutesy. Too after school special. There are tearjerky moments, of course. You don’t wrest away what is essentially an old woman’s granddaughter without tugging a few heart strings, but a lot of the first episode tries too hard to be comical or humorous. Ho ho ho, Isla’s not quite the veteran that they say she is. And every so often, the camera focuses on her ass. Now, keep in mind, she has a childlike appearance to reflect the fact that these damn robots only ever exist for about ten years before unfortunately breaking down. But that won’t stop us from scoping out her ass, though!

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It’s not that I want Blade Runner redux. I don’t. Blade Runner is its own thing, and Plastic Memories can be its own thing. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m going to be fond of whatever the anime chooses to be. And there’s a lot of pain inherent to its premise. Maybe Nina can accept the finality of her short-lived life, but you certainly don’t expect all of her kind to act the same way. And you can perhaps expect resentment to breed in the other robots. But how far can Plastic Memories actually go? Again, we don’t necessarily have to get violent, but the tone is established by the first episode leaves me wary. I can imagine all sorts of scenarios. I can imagine protests as people don’t believe robots should be designed to be so humanlike just to live such short, unfulfilling lives. I can imagine robots running away from home because they want to embrace the sweetness of the time they have left. I can imagine other robots lashing out because the finality of their existence feels so arbitrary (why such a specific number?). Perhaps their lives have been conveniently left short so that customers would have to replace them every so often, thereby providing their creators with a steady supply of profit. And as short as ten years might be, these robots are nevertheless a functioning, contributing members of society. Should they have rights? And if the answer is “Of course!” then how much rights do they get? The same as us?

Hell, aren’t we taking advantage of these “children?” An older-looking robot may very well have been programmed to have the personality of, say, a 25 year old young man. But that’s not quite the same as having the emotional development and maturity of an actual person who has had the luxury to literally experience 25 years of life on this planet. One can wake up one day and feel as though one should be an adult, but if there’s nothing substantive behind one’s motives, actions, thoughts, and feelings… it leaves one in quite a strange spot. It’s as if you’ve been cheated and robbed of your agency. After all, at whatever age you are, you are the culmination of the many years of personal actions and feelings that you’ve built up over the year. We cannot say the same for these robots. They don’t get to start from scratch. They have roles to fulfill right from the get-go, and what sort of life is that? I suppose you could just embrace determinism whole-heartedly, and sweep this whole problem under the rug. Just say that we are all the same way, i.e. shaped and molded by our genetics, upbringing, and environment. Who’s to say we’re any different from these robots? But that’s another potential angle that the premise can explore. The little girl says she wishes she could leave her grandmother with a smile, but is that heartwarming desire even authentic? Was it ever really hers? And as we consider this question, we can’t help but wonder about the authenticity of our own actions as well…

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But that’s just me sitting here, thinking about what the story can be. The story isn’t anything yet. The story can take so many interesting directions, and to be fair, it can still become anything, including all the things that I’ve mentioned above. But let’s face it… I’m not going to get my hopes up after years and years with anime. I’m not going to get my hopes up when an eighteen year old kid sees a twelve year old looking robot for the first time, and declares love at first sight. I’m not going to get my hopes up when her ass is then highlighted over and over. I’m not going to get my hopes up when the first episode follows a tearful departure between an elderly woman and her granddaughter with Isla potentially wetting herself because hurr hurr pee jokes.

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19 thoughts on “Plastic Memories Ep. 1: Don’t get your hopes up

  1. Paulo27

    About the love declaration at the start: it feels like that was him looking back, the narration comes from the future, this is basically saying he falls in love with her at some point (or at least he notices he’s in love) and looking back he thinks he has loved her ever since they first met.
    Either way, it’s clear this will be a character driven show rather than plot driven, I imagine they’ll go over some of the stuff you mentioned but the characters and their interactions will always take the spotlight, and honestly, I think I prefer that, if it ends up being executed well it can be both, this episode didn’t go too indepth into anything in particular but it already touched on the idea that maybe it’d be better for them to not have memories, or maybe not, and I think that’s enough right there for now, give me both sides of the argument, let me ponder on the subject and above of all, don’t decide for me.
    If I had to pick between a show that’d only focus on androids and their place in the world and all that jazz and this one, I’d rather take this one.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      it’s clear this will be a character driven show rather than plot driven,

      Not mutually exclusive. And no point being character-driven if the characters are boring.

      If I had to pick between a show that’d only focus on androids and their place in the world and all that jazz and this one, I’d rather take this one.

      No one said to focus ONLY on androids and their place in the world. False dichotomy.

      Reply
      1. Paulo27

        Obviously they are not mutually exclusive, what I’m saying is that it likely won’t focus on the big picture or introduce any element that would mess with things too much, it’ll stick to these characters and will explore them, given how bad MC was at his job it’s kinda obvious the story will bring a big focus to him trying to understand how people feel towards the androids and perhaps even life in general, and Isla also has some backstory waiting to be told, if the amount of times she cried in the first episode alone are anything to go by and it’ll stick to this and explore androids and their implications that way.

        Regarding the second point, what I got from the article was that you wanted a more serious story, a story that’d focus more on the implications behind the androids and not have as much fluff in it, maybe I misunderstood and you actually don’t have such an extreme point of view on things and actually don’t mind it as long as it is not overdone and simply brings more attention to the big questions.
        My point was that I think the show is fine as it is, I also wouldn’t mind what I said above, I’d enjoy it just as much, but making it too serious would possibly hurt it.
        The people working on this aren’t stupid and they know when it’s time to be serious and they do it well, I think the show has a good balance so far.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          That’s our fundamental difference. As it is, I think the show sucks, awfully basic and elementary. Character-driven is fine. The characters here are not. And I have no reason to make any assumptions about the intelligence of the shows’ creators, positive or negative.

  2. juances

    Now let’s imagine Giftias are real. What would be the best way to market them? Make them as cute/sexy as possible. No one would sell ugly robots. The character designs might be distracting to you, but this time it’s justified :/

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Yes, the only cute and sexy design possible is a prepubescent looking girl. And the only alternative is flat out ugly robots.

      Reply
    2. spectreandy

      Are we talking about “real world” or “anime-land”? Because if it’s anime-land then everything can get tossed out the fuckin’ window. Because everything in anime-land is flat-out fantasy and retarded.
      Real world robots? Think about iRobot-style bots. They won’t have a gender with little personality and they’re flat out machines, like your smartphone.
      Why?
      Because Joe in Marketing for Generic Robotics Inc. isn’t going to flash out SEX ROBOT for the world market. The market made up of the middle-to-upper class that will have one of these robots in their homes around their children. These robots don’t NEED to look pretty or have personalities; the only real marketing that needs to be done is “Look how fast this thing can mow the lawn”.

      But around this time, there will probably be a niche market for sex robots because the only other thing that drives progress forward that isn’t war is how we can reach coitus better. These robots will probably be quite a bit more expensive and hopefully won’t look like plastic surgery dolls. IE, look at the robo-chicks in this show. Yeah, they’ll basically be sex robots. Creepy sex robots for freaks that rub one out listening to Cortana’s voice.

      Again, this is anime, so kind of taking anything serious away from it is kind of fruitless.

      Reply
  3. gedata

    “I’m not going to get my hopes up when an eighteen year old kid sees a twelve year old looking robot for the first time, and declares love at first sight”

    Well she wouldn’t be around if she was 12 years old, so I guess she’s even younger.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Looks like “Plastic Memories” have been stealing the plot premise from the Shounen Ai anime “Hybrid child” especially the first chapter.

    Reply
  5. spectreandy

    If you want to have the premise of exploring actual interesting robotics-and-existential topics, then you don’t need to sex it up. You want to be taken seriously? Then frame your story seriously. If you want to fuck around and make another fan service show then go make a fan service show for easy money. We don’t need your version of a Rei-Clone so you can hook in suckers who like that character type.

    I’m guessing what these type of sci-fi based show WANT to achieve is to ask questions like what constitutes as “being alive”, can robots/androids really be considered “alive”, and can you place emotional and romantic value on something that is imitating organic life.

    Only, you don’t need a fucking Nippon-brand loli character to do that. You want to market your LN or show? Then actually be confident in exploring ideas that would make people like it for being intelligent and at the same time heart-warming. Instead we’ll get fan-service out of a pre-pubescent looking “Giftia” (already fuck that retarded name already) and what looks to be an unremarkable love sub-plot for “emotion”.

    Chappie sounds like a good thing to watch.

    Reply
    1. Snokle

      Aside from Chappie as you stated, A.I. did exactly the same thing that this show’s is playing around with. Honestly I almost feel this anime is just ripping for A.I.from what I have seen in this review, I will watch the episode to confirm this, but my hopes for this show is low to begin with.

      Reply
  6. ironherc

    I’m in the “Have to watch a bit more to judge” I agree that we get standard anime characters, but the ideas of this concept can be really well done and it seems that someone working on this seems like he/she is trying to make something good at it, but with some forced jokes looks like somebody else took the scrip for a few minutes and tried to make it otaku appealing. Maybe they want to make it a hybrid of both. Will it succeed? who knows, need to watch more. I do agree with some of the comments, who wants to have ugly robots? I wouldn’t be surprised to see people wanting pretty boys and girls as their partners for a few yes, hopefully there is a well established reason why do they last so little. Maybe is the same like cars, they last for a while till you need to replace it, thus profit.

    Reply
  7. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    “him being nothing but a carbon copy of every other sad sack of mild-mannered nipponjin shit”
    HAhaha! There’s “burned” and then there’s “set aflame in a pool of gasoline”. That was brutal.

    Surprised you said “Blade Runner” and not “Ghost in the Shell” there, mate. It’s not as though anime hasn’t accomplished this before, yet we keep getting anime today that stars exclusively teenage characters even if it’s not in a teenage setting with a teenage story theme.

    In fact, wasn’t there an anime that featured an episode under a similar concept of identity and purpose? Something like a young girl robot meant for servitude and sex or something contemplating her existence. Man it’s been a long time since then. Wish I could remember the anime.

    Anyway, your train of thought went down some Deus Ex style tracks for a bit there and I really dug that. I sincerely doubt this will ever flap its wings, let alone reach that altitude, but I’m sure this anime will lift off the ground given enough time…right?

    I mean they didn’t just make this because Chobits was a big seller and wanted another “teenage robo-love” story to milk for nendoroids and figmas, right?

    Reply

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