LOVE FOUND. LOVE LOST. WOULD YOU STILL CHANCE IT? (Anime Limited)
In a future/alternate Japan, Giftias, sentient androids, act as companions to humans – until their lifespans (81,920 hours) elapse and they have to be retrieved and deactivated before they deteriorate and turn into mindless Wanderers. Tsukasa, eighteen and working in the retrieval department (or Terminal Services) has found out that his partner Isla is reaching the end of her allotted lifespan as a Giftia. He determines to fill her last days with happy memories, helped by the others in the department, but when he confesses his love to her, he’s met with a polite but firm rejection. Is this the end of their relationship?
In these concluding episodes, Plastic Memories comes clean in concentrating on the feelings that Tsukasa has for Isla (and she for him?) – or at least no longer continues to pretend to be all about the science fiction. It’s the old ‘boy meets girl – falls for her – discovers she’s only got a few more weeks to live but decides to create wonderful memories for them both before she ‘dies’ (reaches her termination date)’ story. So if by now you’re invested in the relationship between them (and the series has worked hard to make that happen) you’ll be expecting an affecting but emotion-laden tale of doomed young love. As consolation, we get to learn what words Isla is seen whispering to the Giftias she and Tsukasa recover just before they’re deactivated and sealed inside a containment box/coffin. This special message is one that she alone has thought up and is proof again of what a unique personality she possesses. What a pity that writer Naotaka Hayashi (Steins;Gate) didn’t – for whatever reasons – develop the concept and investigate what the short lifespan means to the Giftias themselves, or what kind of society could ethically condone their existence.
Plastic Memories doesn’t play fair with its viewers; it pretends to be telling a Science Fiction story about the relationships between AI functioning in lifelike humanoid bodies and humans but it isn’t interested in what that might really mean in practical or ethical terms. Tsukasa asks why it isn’t possible to retain a Giftia’s memories and identity but is just told it isn’t a possibility. So Plastic Memories evolves into yet another ‘boy falls in love with girl who has terminal illness and they make beautiful memories together before she dies’ scenario but sanitized by making the object of the boy’s affections an android. You’ll be moved. The sensitive performances from the voice cast, especially Yasuaki Takumi as Tsukasa and Sora Amamiya as Isla, are genuinely affecting. Sora Amamiya also sings the Insert Song in Episode 10 “Suki na no de.” (‘Because I Love You’). The character designs are attractive and the animation is fluid and relies only infrequently on stills. And kudos (as in Part 1) to the composer Masaru Yokoyama (Your Lie in April, Mobile Suit Gundam:Iron-Blooded Orphans) and director Yoshiyuki Fujiwara for not using music in certain key scenes; it’s very effective and makes the moment when music quietly slips in again so much more poignant, heightening the emotions, rather than over-emphasizing them.
The extras included in this Limited Edition set of two Blu-rays from Anime Limited are a Collector’s Poster, six artcards, with Clean OP and ED, the remaining web previews and some trailers (not for AL releases).
If you can ignore the SF-light trappings adorning Plastic Memories and watch it as a bitter-sweet romance, then you won’t be disappointed in these final episodes which are movingly executed – just don’t expect anything more than that.