Plastic Memories and it’s Tonal Shifts
I just watched episode 3 of Plastic Memories, and looking up some MAL discussions, I seen some people getting really butthurt with the shift in atmosphere. Why so butthurt though?
I can however, understand where they are coming from. Plastic Memories had one of the best first episode of this season, it was able to instill incredibly feels-inducing scenes in just 20 minutes. The idea of forced departure-of Giftia leaving their guardians/family is a simple narrative, but emotionally powerful if done right, and they did. Episode 2 was slightly weaker in that aspect as it was a more story developmental episode, though it did left us with a huge “pipebomb” by the end of the episode. All the while, the anime was mostly able to maintain the emotional seriousness of the situations even if at times, the characters went at it in a visually comical way, but minimal, and mostly doesn’t detract from the seriousness.
All of a sudden, this happens.
Now, this takes ‘comical’ on a whole new level. This is coming from an anime with one of the most emotional, feels-inducing first episode, turned into almost trashy LN-esque by episode 3. But you know what? It’s still oddly entertaining. Despite the joke being repeated several times in different variations, it doesn’t feel old. Instead of just some extremely light chuckles or dry laughs, I actually had some genuine laughs, despite how stereotypical the scenes are, and anime which made me genuinely laugh are rare nowadays. Though ironically, I don’t think Plastic Memories was meant to be a comedy anime in the first place.
Actually, earlier I said trashy LN-esque but let me take that back. The delivery is more Angel Beats-esque if anything, and the conclusion (getting busted) is more of the former.
But more importantly, these comedy scenes actually have substance. They weren’t there for the sake of being there, there are context within these comedy scenes. Remember that the core concept of this show is the relationship between human and the short-lived androids, Giftia. We get to see how Isla acted outside of work, we learned that she only communicate when necessary, mostly at work, and she keeps her relationship with Tsukasa strictly professional, or as professional as she can be.
Outside of work, she deliberately puts up a robotic demeanor, just like the nature of her existence-a Giftia. This is all to minimize emotional damage, avoiding forging stronger bonds and creating memories especially knowing that her life as a Giftia is short-lived and that her memories in the end will just be ripped apart. But we see Tsukasa constantly trying to break that robotic “shell” of Isla in (failed) repeated endeavors, but when he does succeed and Isla becomes more open with herself, the feels will be unreal.
Indeed, this episode was one where it revealed more characterizations of Isla, even though it does seems kinda odd (but funny and entertaining nonetheless) that it actually used comedy as a tool to do it.
I think Plastic Memories will maintain this kind of atmosphere-an episodic slice of life humor and drama with an overarching plot, with small dosages of foreshadowing, revelations and character developments sprinkled along the course of the story. While the story are still within developmental stages at this time, I have a feeling Plastic Memories still has the potential to be one of the most emotional and touching show of the season by the time it’s near conclusion, even if it’s humor may seems misplaced to some people for the moment. If anything, this rather light-hearted episode seems like the calm before the emotional storm.
What do you think of Plastic Memories so far?
P.S: On another note, I can’t say I’m really liking the protagonist at the moment. Especially knowing how Giftia’s memories will be ripped apart when their life span is over, how can he be so insensitive?