I’m honestly not very sure if I can do this review properly. I enjoyed this series. It made me smile, and it made me cry. It is a common love story of “boy meets girl,” with a side of artificial intelligence and a premise similar to that of Blade Runner.
These are things others have probably said about the series, but what I want to focus on are not plot or characters or setting. I want to talk about memories. And what memories mean to us. Because let’s be real: the memories we don’t forget are always the bad ones. Sure, we might remember the good ones too, but they don’t leave that same kind of impression. I want to defend those good memories. Because as painful as it is to watch this series, it ends with a lot of hope.
My readers usually know this, but my SPOILER PORTION begins now.
Plastic Memories puts us in a world where you can purchase a family member called a giftia. These giftia look and act exactly like any other human. They walk with us, they work with us, and with the exception of those who would rather exploit them, they are accepted into society as a good thing. Giftia are bought by those who feel lonely, needed a child, or perhaps a caregiver. They are a benefit to society, not a hindrance!
But our main characters, a human Tsukasa and a giftia Isla, are not here to sell them, but to terminate them. That’s because a giftia contract lasts only nine years, before the memory chip inside a giftia overloads and the subject goes crazy! It’s very easy to forget: these giftia are built with artificial intelligence.
I’m sure you’ve already figured it out. Since Isla is a giftia, and giftia are terminated after nine years of service, Isla will also be terminated. In fact, she is given the length of an anime season before she gets recycled, given a new look, and memories replaced.
Tsukasa only recently got this job as part of SAI’s termination department, the company that produces giftia. To find out that his first partner has an exact expiration date is nothing any of us could swallow easily.
Some folks would ask themselves, “What would you do if you knew that you or someone you love was going to die in the days to come?” But I’d rather pose a different question: “What would you do to make every moment of your life worth living?”
Each person in this series comes with their own memories, a unique history of all their experiences that help guide their decisions. But since these memories are so complex, it is hard to find exact causes for action. Some actions may be in response to repeating past memories while others are out of resistance of them. Either way, it seems useful to consider memories as part of the foundation of one’s character (though not the only part).
Some of these memories are happy moments that they are fond of. But there are also bad memories that haunt them. And even if the good memories happen more often in this series, it’s always the bad ones that we remember from them. Why else would we label this series a “drama” instead of a “comedy,” despite the fact that there are plenty of funny moments in it?
But as the title suggests, this show isn’t concerned with just any memories, but plastic ones, suggesting that memories themselves can be fake. But to be fair, it’s hard for us to judge a real memory versus a fake one, seeing how there is no determining factor that can decide one or the other. Some might suggest that all of our experiences are fake since we cannot be certain of their reality. Others might suggest that experience are only as real as we make them, that we decide on them.
But as this show might suggest, what does it matter that our experiences are real or fake? Our memories shape who we are!
So what does Tsukasa and Isla do to make their lives worth living, before Isla’s termination? To make the best of their memories together!
Whether real or fake, the memories we have with the ones we love are important to us. And even though the happy memories can be suppressed by one bad one, all of those impressions stay with us, even after that person is gone.
Plastic Memories may offer a very simple romantic narrative, but I guess there is at least one point that’s worth a reminder: true love does not admire the perfections, but the blemishes of another. You might say that’s a fancy way of saying love has no bounds, but that claim doesn’t have the same force. If you truly love someone, love their flaws. After all, flaws are not plastic. They’re a person’s true character.
I look back on my own memories as I write this. I’m sure there are happy memories that I had too, but they are always clouded by the impressions of bad ones. And to that effect, Plastic Memories doesn’t quite make me feel better, but worse, to see how many of these memories are actually good ones, yet completely forgotten because of the highly anticipated climax of the series.
Isla’s termination is heartbreaking, even if we all knew it was inevitable. After all those happy moments that happen, all of those come to an end so soon! But if we convince ourselves that that is the purpose of this series, then we have forgotten about what’s good about it. That’s not how I want to remember Isla. Because on the whole, Isla made every moment count as her termination grew nearer.
To do her job well. To make lasting memories with her friends. To give Tsukasa the courage to let her go when he would miss her so much. And to give us a memory of her that we won’t soon forget, if we let it. That’s a plastic memory worth remembering.
So if you’re looking for a good tear-jerking anime that’s worth watching at least once, check out Plastic Memories. And remember to cherish your memories as well.