Plastic Memories Ep. 6: Character-driven, schmaracter-driven

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I knew this would happen if Plastic Memories wouldn’t focus on the big picture. Being a character-driven anime is fine. Being a character-driven anime that features the same, boring anime characters that you can find in any other show? Welp, now we have a problem. As such, I will always roll my eyes when people defend a show’s lack of ambition by claiming that it has instead opted to be “character-driven.” Again, Plastic Memories raises questions about mortality, humanity, interpersonal relationships, so on and so forth. In theory, anyway. In practice, the show is just another dull slice-of-life anime about the same guy that we’ve seen a thousand times before meeting the same girl that we’ve seen a thousand times before, and then they proceed to do the same “let me prostrate myself before you in order to earn your trust” dance that we’ve seen a thousand times before. Nothing’s changed. The small details don’t actually have any effect on the story whatsoever.

Oh, she’s an android with only a thousand hours left on her lifespan? Meh, no different from, say, a high school girl with a terminal illness. It’s really quite a pity how much the whole android thing — artificial fucking life, man! — has been downplayed. The differences between them and humans are superficial. You can argue that this is the point of the narrative, but it’s something that we should’ve built towards, not merely something that is accepted. But the thing is, Plastic Memories could have been a story between two high schoolers instead, and the anime wouldn’t have skipped a beat. Nothing you see here would be impossible in a high school setting, and that’s what we’ve come to. High schoolers pretending to do adult things, and adults pretending that they’re still children. D-d-did you just ask me if I wanted you sexually? O-o-oh my gooooooood!! Yep, that’s pretty much the long and short of it.

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— Yeah, get used to these moments. Isla looks forlorn a lot in this week’s episode.

— I can understand giving androids the ability to feel sad, because this gives them humanity or whatever you want to call it. But why can she cry? Why are they given tear ducts? And where do her tears come from? What would be the point of that? Again, the android thing is downplayed. Had she not been able to cry, the story could have spun this in so many angles. Do you know why we cry? It has been suggested that it’s akin to a system reset. It allows us to release our emotions without being overwhelmed. So imagine how tragic it would be for an android who can’t cry. How pitiful it is when you want to cry but simply, physically cannot. Nevertheless, the android feels. The idea is that humanity is undeniable even if you can’t show it in a physical way. But in the Plastic Memories universe, androids can simply cry, so we don’t even have to worry our small, little heads about any of the stuff that I’ve written above.

— Hell, it makes me wonder what other bodily fluids these androids can secrete for no particular reason whatsoever.

— When Isla finally comes to, she finds Tsukasa sleeping nearby. The robot maintenance dude to feed us unnecessary exposition. Apparently, Tsukasa insisted on staying by her side. Yeah, well, we can plainly see that. He also tells her that her maintenance will take a little longer because of her age. Again, something we could’ve just seen instead. We could have seen her struggle to regain her mobility or whatever. Oh, but how convenience it is to have the guy enter the room at the exact same time that Isla wakes up!

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— Tsukasa eventually wakes up as well, and he puts on a brave smile for the girl. Obviously, recent events are bothering him, but it wouldn’t help for him to be down in the dumps as well. But ah, Isla is confused by Tsukasa’s cheerful countenance, because she personally doesn’t hide her emotions all that well. This is okay. I actually don’t mind this, because I don’t expect an android to understand every nuance of human emotion. It’s something you have to pick up and develop over a lifetime, but it’s unclear how these androids were “raised.” Did they spend any significant time with a caregiver to help develop their emotional intelligence? This is one of the many questions that the story could address, but alas…

— Isla soon returns to work, and Takao doesn’t waste any time asking her to fetch him some tea. I imagine that androids can be useful for a lot of things, so it feels like such a waste to ask one to make me a pot of tea. I can do that myself. Hell, it’s not even a hassle. Anyway, the girl is distracted by Tsukasa, so she ends up pouring tea everywhere. Maybe the lazy asshole could’ve just gotten the tea for himself.

— She then openly confesses to Tsukasa that he’s been on her mind lately. As a result, we get more of this nonsense. Any hope that the story would turn a corner after last week’s episode is just a pipedream. We’re right back to pointless interactions that I don’t give two shits about.

— As a result of Isla’s newfound attachment for Tsukasa, however, Eru seems to think that the android has fallen in love. So we spend the next few valuable minutes stalking the guy.

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— Great character-driven story, boys. So character-driven that Isla inadvertently enters a wet t-shirt contest. Ten outta ten! Would do it again! Character-drive all my stories!

— Blah blah blah, tsundere Michiru is salty as fuck. Maybe if she wants to hook up with Tsukasa, she could do something other than being temperamental all the time!

Quality.

— Two words: character… driven.

— In reality, Isla hasn’t quite fallen in love with our generic nipponjin just yet. Oh, I’m sure that’ll come later. At the moment, however, she just doesn’t understand how he can smile! Has he forgotten about Souta, the kid who just lost his precious mommy robot?! I’ve just discussed the point about nuanced human emotions up above, so I won’t get into it again, but… I mean, you could just try asking the guy. Why would she have any hang-ups about that? Why wouldn’t she just ask him directly?

— Tsukasa is already getting the hang of how to disappoint his future son.

— Isla wonders if she’s a burden in her current state. Perhaps it would be better if she didn’t do field work, but Kazuki merely tells her that the decision is Tsukasa’s and Tsukasa’s alone.

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— So the android eventually returns home to an empty apartment. When she goes looking for the guy, she overhears him talking to Kazuki. The latter finally decides to tell the hero the truth about Isla’s situation. Blah blah blah, 1000 hours left. She swears she never meant to mislead him! Why didn’t she just tell him at the start of his working relationship with Isla, then? In fact, it seems rather unethical to tell someone to partner up with a person that won’t stick around for much more than a month. Then again, this is the same universe that decided to give androids the ability to literally cry, so who even knows what’s going on up there?

— Needless to say, generic nipponjin does generic nipponjin things. This scene doesn’t require any elaboration.

— Haha, that is the most deranged “happy” face I’ve seen in a long while. She looks like she’s going to go yandere on her rivals. But right, she’s happy, you guys. Character-driven to the very end.

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2 thoughts on “Plastic Memories Ep. 6: Character-driven, schmaracter-driven”

  1. I think it’s time for me to watch some Time of Eve to make me feel better. While it has its flaws I do enjoy its focus on what defines humanity rather than the usual run around of the typical anime high school drama.

    1. Time of Eve is one of the shows that I think shines in its genre. Maybe even a “lighthouse” of sorts. Sure, it does have some problems, but I’m firmly in the camp that perfection is literally impossible. That being said, the show has a charming setting, a charming set of characters, and a charming set of dialogue and interaction. Not to mention, some very good art direction. Other than Chobits (from what I can think of), not many other equally quality shows of that sub-set.

      My only real gripe with it was that it was too short.

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