Plastic Memories and it’s Tonal Shifts

[HorribleSubs] Plastic Memories - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.56_[2015.04.19_19.37.16]

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.

[HorribleSubs] Plastic Memories - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.52_[2015.04.19_19.29.00][HorribleSubs] Plastic Memories - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.54_[2015.04.19_19.29.05]

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.

[HorribleSubs] Plastic Memories - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.28_[2015.04.19_19.40.43]

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?

This entry was posted by Kai.

16 thoughts on “Plastic Memories and it’s Tonal Shifts

  1. This post really brought a new perspective to my view on this episode. As you mentioned above, I was also one of the people who found the overt shift to comedy frustrating, especially after what we learnt at the end of the previous episode. However, the comedy itself was well-executed and animated in this episode, I did laugh one or two times, but I mostly found myself resisting it because I wanted the show to be doing something else.

    I think I may have been too ready to shoehorn Plastic Memories into a rigid box in my mind where I only wanted it to be a certain kind of show, whereas, as you rightly point out, the show likely will take a more humour-focused light-drama route. Maintaining my stubborn mindset of what the show ought to be would have kept me from actually enjoying what it was doing, and I did infact miss a lot of the subtleties of this episode because of that. I’ll definitely be more open minded about the show next week, and may even revisit episode 3 with a fresh outlook!

    • I think it’s because it has such a great emotional first episode, people are expecting the other episodes to be of the same feels-inducing caliber. There WERE however comedy skits though, just not as expanded as they are in episode 3. And yes, I definitely agree that the comedy is oddly well-executed, and I can’t stop laughing at the part where Tsukasa was working out, lol. I guess it’s a bit too early for the story to develop on that “revelation” from the previous episode, they are probably saving that for another “heavy feels” episode.

      It definitely helps to be more open-minded, and I certainly wouldn’t mind the show taking a drama/humor route in any case, as long as they don’t go overboard and these kinds of episode is just “once in a while” kind of thing.

  2. I definitely thought this episode was funny. I love your analysis. It didn’t seem out of place to me either and it actually transitioned well to the more serious scene.

  3. I’ve only seen episode 1, but I can confidentially say I have no problem with these tonal shifts.

    Re: insensitivity of the MC, it’s like he is making memories for himself–to make himself feel good at the thought of being with a Giftia he likes, although he knows those memories are only his at the end. Yes, it may be insensitive, but I’d like to think he’s also doing it for Isla to have ‘good’ memories to look back just before she reaches the end of her lifespan.

    It may be painful, but that’s what living is like, and it seems to me that this show is not just androids-forgetting-memories, but may also be about what living is like–for both human and almost-human entities. After all, our memories only last when we are still alive.

    • Episode 3’s shift in comedy is way more compared to the previous two episodes, but knowing you, you should be fine, lol.

      “It may be painful, but that’s what living is like, and it seems to me that this show is not just androids-forgetting-memories, but may also be about what living is like–for both human and almost-human entities. After all, our memories only last when we are still alive.”
      Indeed, it’s a pretty simple setting and thematic exploration, but very feels-inducing (feels like I used this word for like a thousandth time).

      As for Tsukasa, I think you’re giving him too much credit.

      (The picture is just after that “insensitive” scene and Isla left)

  4. This episode wasn’t bad by any means, but I’m a little worried about the direction it’s taking. Implementing humour in drama heavy series is always a difficult task, since it’s bound to feel out of place to some (an example being Shigatsu, which was never funny regardless of how hard it tried to be). I’m not sure if plamemo got the balance right this episode, since I think it lacked substance in the drama department, but made up for it to some degree towards the end. I was less than pleased when I discovered that Tsukasa and Isla started living together, since it seemed like it was leading to some cheap rom-com antics. Thankfully it didn’t really fall into that trap. I suppose some people’s expectations have been betrayed after the amazing first episode, but I think episode 3 will be representative of the whole series.

    • Ahh KimiUso, that was a trainwreck, lol. It’s final episode saved it for me in some ways. I never did laugh at whatever “joke” KimiUso was trying to execute, though.

      It lacked substance because there weren’t any? The first major half of the episode is dangerously standard romcom, and quite clearly were deliberately going straight for comedy instead of any drama. Like I said though, it’s great as a way to show more of Isla’s characterizations even if it oddly uses comedy to do the job.

      “I was less than pleased when I discovered that Tsukasa and Isla started living together,”
      I was like “Did this anime just totally went the LN route?” And seeing the later parts of it, it is dangerously close. There are some antics here and there you would normally see in a trashy LN, and like you said, fortunately it didn’t went there.

      “I suppose some people’s expectations have been betrayed after the amazing first episode, but I think episode 3 will be representative of the whole series.”
      Yea, pretty much. I think most people just seem to forgot that comedy skits had already been there even before episode 3, just that it’s more expanded this time.

  5. Hmmm…I back away from even watching the first episode because I read that the genre category is Sci-Fi? I’m really a fan of such genre, lol. But if it has more comedy to it and well balanced with the drama, I might not mind picking up the series.

    • I’m not too big on sci-fi either but there’s no mecha or anything. It’s only that the settings is slightly more advanced with technological advanced devices and Giftia (androids). Other than that, it’s pretty much simple slice-of-life, nothing too “hardcore-y” sci-fi, lol. Also, the anime’s written by Steins;Gate writer :p

  6. It’s kinda getting somewhere but boring for me. Despite the fourth episode having some feels, I think the development is really slow, and not that interesting.

    • I think it’s not meant to be fast but just sporadic foreshadowing. There’s a heavy focus on slice of life rather than just pure story developmental, I can understand if it’s not your cup of tea however.

      • My favourite genre is actually slice of life. But I don’t know man.. I just don’t seems to enjoy it as much as everyone else apparently

  7. Pingback: Plastic Memories – Joy, Sadness and How Juxtaposition builds Emotional Investment | deluscar

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