Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Drama, Romance, Comedy
Age-Appropriateness: 13+ (Occasional profanity, violence)
Platforms: Crunchyroll, Hulu
TheAwersome Rating: 7.3 / 10 (Dece)
Premise: 18-year old Tsukasa is beginning his job at Sion Artificial Intelligence Corporation. SAI Corp is responsible for the creation of “Giftias,” highly advanced androids nearly indiscernible from normal humans. Giftias have a set lifespan, however, of nine years and four months before losing their memories and becoming hostile. Tsukasa is part of Terminal Service, which is responsible for collecting Giftias before their expiration date. Tsukasa is paired with a beautiful Giftia named Isla as his trainer, a veteran in Giftia retrieval, but can’t seem to connect with her at all.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: I feel like this was a better version of Angel Beats, at least for the first half. Like Angel Beats, Plastic Memories deals a lot with the struggle of accepting and acknowledging death, and how it affects people differently. I feel Plastic Memories did a better job with the balance of serious drama and comedy, with nowhere near as many jarring juxtapositions of nearly insulting “shonen funnies.” Plastic Memories does drag around episodes 8-12 in comparison to the first half of the show, which have more of the above-mentioned themes. The second half focuses on romance elements, but I feel they really could have done it simultaneously with more Giftia retrieval stories to keep the pace going. There’s about four episodes that mostly feel like fan-fiction romance drama that didn’t really add much to the show. It’s got a good ending on it too, so that’s another plus.
TLDR: A good number of emotional gems stand out among cookie-cutter anime formula.
Here’s my main beef with Plastic Memories. The first six or so episodes paint a world and tone of grappling with difficult themes such as dealing with death, lack of self-confidence, and aging. With such themes being presented in a heavy, dramatic fashion, there’s a caliber you come to expect of the rest of the show, specifically in character depth and interaction. Unfortunately, despite the setup, the characters and their interactions with each other feel like they were written by someone who up until then has only done single-cour, comfy, Slice of Life comedy. Which in and of itself is fine, it just really doesn’t fit when you have such heavy premises to have cookie-cutter characters e.g. The Tsundere, The older lazy perv, The overbearing boss, etc.
On the subject of premise, the interesting sci-fi aspect has no bearing on the second half of the show. A lot of psychological elements and questions that could have been explored are not, and we are left with an average romcom/drama. Which is a shame because the dramatic elements brought up by the sci-fi premise are quite intense and heartbreaking. Where I felt Angel Beats was written by three separate High School fanfic writers, Plastic Memories feels like it was written by the writer of Minority Report and the writer of 27 Dresses. Just because I love chocolate ice cream and I love grilled asparagus doesn’t mean I’m going to like a bowl of chocolate ice cream with grilled asparagus chunks.