Unexpectedly I have found that my general reaction to this series has been very similar to that of another anime airing this season – Re-Kan. First off, let me get the opinion out of the way that the production values in general for Re-Kan are lower than Plastic Memories, irrespective of any evaluation of what I think of the content, and also the clarification that Re-Kan is based on a 4koma for source material while Plastic Memories is an anime original production. With all that mentioned, however, what these two series do share in common for me is that they are pretty unsuccessful when resorting to a “standardized humor” and much better at handling material that deals with serious or thought-evoking content. Both series shine here, but just as Re-kan’s values are objectively a little lower than the average, so also Plastic Memories gets really, really interesting when it touches on the classic “sci-fi/cyberpunk” question of asking what it is that makes a human a human. On the other hand, when both these series show flashes of really shining it becomes frustrating – the overall package has elements that just plain “get in the way” for me.
This week the question brought into focus was whether or no the “software related data” side of a Giftia could somehow be “saved to a disk” or the like and then “re-installed” in a new set of hardware – that is, the Giftia’s “new body”. Alongside with that was whether or no a body was able to “remember” a previous software installation’s 10 year data accumulation. The one asking these questions this time around (it has been asked by plenty of people before, it seems) is Tsukasa and it is in relation to Isla, of course. When told that it is not possible he proceeds to ask several other people the same thing … possibly because there is a part of him that just does not want to accept what he is repeatedly being told by others with far more experience in either interacting with Giftia or with the technical know-how (hardware, software, engineering, etc.). Unsurprisingly he is told the same thing over and over – it is impossible with the current level of technological know-how SIA possesses.
While in the middle of repeatedly refusing to accept what everyone around him is telling him an unexpected event takes place that almost makes one wonder if he were deliberately being teased by fate – he and Isla are assigned to help a Giftia from the Section Three Recovery team bring in an escapee. What we saw in episode one does indeed seem to happen with a bit of frequency; the human romantically falls in love with the Giftia and refuses to give them up, necessitating the Recovery Section’s members to take up a pursuit. The Giftia from Section Three happens (hardware wise) to be a Giftia that the Section One tech Eru happened to be very close friends with a few years back – the Giftia’s name is now Andie. Eru is, of course, ecstatic, but also feels the pain of knowing that the “Giftia version” she knew before is now “dead”. Tsukasa and Isla are able to help Andie complete the recovery of the fleeing Giftia, but Andie carries the recovery out in a very business-like manner – one very different to the default approach Kazuki has put in place over the years, but also the standard “modus operandi” of nearly every other Retrieval Section of SIA.
To Eru’s surprise, though, Andie seems to have taken a shine to her exuberant greeting and personality from when they “met for the first time” in Section One, and asks to spend more time with her. She invited Eru out to a local festival, which unexpectedly turns out to be a fairly sensitive (in the sense of uneasy) offer on Andie’s part, because it turns out that Eru visited that very same festival with Andie’s previous Giftia personality installation. Eru is understandably nervous, and begs Tsukasa and Isla to also come along, even using Tsukasa’s current pondering over the question of swappable personality data as a hook – essentially saying “you can come and see for yourself that Andie will remember nothing”, offering a “proof is in the pudding” kind of answer. Tsukasa (and Isla) accept Eru’s offer – and it makes for some thought-evoking moments while they are all at the festival proper.
Of course in many ways the main character if the story, Isla, finally is able to “step up to center stage” during the festival sequence. She has been experiencing strong emotions and feelings difficult for her to fully identify and wrap her head around for a while now, but her affections are just barely, barely beginning to blossom – the expressions she shows during those split seconds of sorting through and trying to understand what her emotions are telling her are rather subtly animated, and make for some of the best scenes in the episode proper. Unsurprisingly Isla suddenly finds herself lost, and true to his promise Tsukasa finds her a bit after the festival’s firework show begins. A touching exchange takes place, but immediately afterwards an unexpected event occurs – Tsukasa embraces Isla and confesses his love for her! Isla is (understandably) shocked and if ever a moment of “Error! Does not compute!” were applicable to come out of Isla’s mouth this was it. She understandably panics and refuses … not Tsukasa individually, I think, but the entire reality and ramifications of the situation as a whole. Where the series will go from here I am not quite sure – there are still five episodes left. “Stay tuned” folks … the series is finally getting to the core of the story. Here’s hoping it will be able to nail the conclusion well!
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