It took me a little while to tumble to “Plastic Memories” (“Purasutikku Memorīzu”), but I realized that it was a take on the “Mahoromatic” theme of limited time and why must this have to be this way? (Disclosure time: “Mahoromatic” is my personal best anime series, as I have all the DVDs plus I have done about 100 fanfics for it).
We are in the future and the future has androids. SAI Corporation, the leading android production company, has introduced the Giftia, a new android model with the most human-like qualities of any model. The lifespan of a Giftia is 81,920 hours (roughly nine years and four months), but if they pass their expiration date, it causes personality disintegration, memory loss and outbreaks of violence. Kind of like a football fan in the off-season.
As a result, the employees of the Terminal Service (responsible for retrieving androids which are close to reaching the end of their service lives and erasing the androids’ memories) must go to the owner of the Giftia and retrieve it. Those assigned to the Terminal Service work in teams consisting of a human (called a “Spotter”) and a Giftia (called a “Marksman”). The story follows protagonist Tsukasa Mizugaki (far right) and a Giftia named Isla (next to him), both of whom work in SAI Corp’s Terminal Service No. 1 office.
The show follows their double problems. The first is that it is no different than taking your pet to the vet to be euthanized. There is a huge amount of emotional distress and separation anxiety and the Five Stages of Grief. You have to be made of really stern stuff to want to take on this job. It’s a wonder any of the branches don’t have a higher turnover rate than it does. Tsukasa really had no idea what he was getting into, but it is made worse by Michiru Kinushima (center), who has all kinds of emotional baggage and unresolved feelings that explode outwards, especially on Tsukasa. I mean, she rides him long and hard and is there to bash him at every turn. Words of support? Not there.
Those other two happy folks are Eru Miru (a spotter) and Michiru’s Marksman, Zack. He is a bit of a needler and there are a lot of folks here who need to be needled. I don’t think I am giving away too much, as the second problem is that Isla is nearing the end of her usefulness and will need to be retrieved.
I found things interesting. The time spread given had me do some “Mahoromatic” research and when she states her ‘age’, she claims to have been functioning for nine years, two months (although she was given a smudge over 10 years of operational time). Also, the desire to make memories is very strong in both of them. You see, this is why they have to do a real retrieval: the memory has to be completely erased. Much like handing over an old PC where you haven’t wiped the data, there is personal information that needs to be taken care of so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands and compromise things about your life.
That is one reason people don’t want to hand over their Giftia, but there is also the emotional import as well. Perhaps it is a child or a mate or some other caliber of companion. You are, in effect, purchasing heartache and grief, as you both know this day is coming. I just wished the show handled this aspect earlier than they did and let it play fully through the series, rather than giving it to us is dribs and drabs. This also leads to the second question: how many of the team members are Giftias? This was a hinted story with “Blade Runner”; that Decker WAS a replicant. (Look, the film has been out for 30 years. This is not a shock, OK?) It was just something in the back of my mind, just because of the way everyone acted.
Overall, it is a good story, but it has showcased a new trend I am REALLY seeing in anime: an overbearing, obnoxious character. And I don’t mean your general pain-in-the-ass person, but someone who is a total and complete jerk, just to be that total and complete jerk. We know something is wrong, but we aren’t really made privy as to why these events made this person a total and complete jerk. Despite this speed bump, it is a compelling show, even with the sobby conclusion.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Some really odd hair styles)
Plot 8 (Good reformatting of it)
Pacing 7 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 8 (Sharp use of flashbacks)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 7 (I felt set up to cry)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I’m from the Agency.