Plastic Memories – Joy, Sadness and How Juxtaposition builds Emotional Investment

[HorribleSubs] Plastic Memories - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.50_[2015.07.08_19.17.09]

Ever since episode 1, Plastic Memories has become known as one of most feels-including anime of the season. Although there had been constant episodes throughout the show that may suggests the contrary, I personally think it’s able to fulfilled it’s promise it had shown since then, and I also think, the romcom structure and inclusion of LN-esque comedy actually helps the anime a great deal.

No! I swear! This is supposed to be an emotional anime!

No! I swear! This is supposed to be an emotional anime!

A lot of these has to do with character investment. I had seen some comments where they were hoping for a “Crying of the Week” structure. They were hoping for a formulaic structure where Tsukasa and Isla (and possibly other partners as well) retrieve Giftia on an episodic basis. Personally, I’m not sure what this will accomplish, sure enough, you will get your weekly dose of feels, but that seems like a cheap emotional investment to me.

In contrast, I like what Plastic Memories did. Basically, what I said back in episode 3 has come to pass. It’s kinda related, so I’ll quote my last paragraph from that post:

“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.”

Tsukasa working out. This is important.

Tsukasa working out. This is important.

Instead of following the “Crying of the Week” format, Plastic Memories integrated LN-esque humors, sometimes even occupying near full episodes, but these happy moments are just as important as the serious episodes. It allows viewers to feel cheerfulness and happiness for the characters, only to feel sadness and downhearted after the transition to the inevitable feels-and the juxtaposition between these two emotions make everything feels more genuine and heartfelt. It’s not an entirely original trick as far as crying-esque drama narratives are concerned, but it sure is effective. (spoilers in the next two paragraphs)

[HorribleSubs] Plastic Memories - 13 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.41_[2015.07.08_19.11.30]

Watching episode 13, that ferris wheel scene is one of the most heart-breaking scene I had watched in recent years. It’s also interesting too, because it was actually Isla who took on a more talkative role this time around, and also who’s conscious of Tsukasa’s pain, despite his failed effort to hide it; this is a complete role reversal from episode 1. That scene also shown how much Isla has grown as a character-this is coming from someone who grimaced simply just over the fact that she had to hang out with someone before (remember, episode 3?). The absence of sad background music very effectively empathizes the impending melancholy too, and as far as technicality are concerned, this is a very clever decision-the lack of music helps augmented the conversation between the two, as well as Tsukasa’s sorrowful expression; and it’s effective, perhaps even more so, than having an actual sad background music.

Predominantly, Tsukasa and Isla’s back-and-forth exchanges during this scene, when they were saying why they love each other is pure touching and bittersweet-emotionally bolstered as well, due to their happy romcom moments during the course of the anime. Again, this contrast really helps emphasized the emotional strength of that scene, and without said romcom moments, I feel it would had been weaker.

[HorribleSubs] Plastic Memories - 13 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.34_[2015.07.08_19.12.47]

To that end, I would just like to point out that Plastic Memories’s humors do more good than harm to the anime, after all, how do you invest in characters without even feeling happy for them first? At the very least, this will be difficult to achieve if the only emotions we invested from them is depression. The balance between the two spectrum of emotions here very effectively set up the anime to be the ultimately feels-inducing crying anime it intended to be since episode 1-it’s a heartfelt journey of both laughs and cries that make Plastic Memories such a wonderful anime.

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This entry was posted by Kai.

3 thoughts on “Plastic Memories – Joy, Sadness and How Juxtaposition builds Emotional Investment

  1. I think my main issues with PlaMemo (which I wrote about at length here: https://unnecessaryexclamationmark.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/why-i-wont-remember-plastic-memories/) were that the show became what many people fear a feels-driven show will be – oversimplified. I got emotional over the series, but it left me not wanting to be emotional about it ever again, since the last few episodes overstressed an ideal that I couldn’t get on with, with little else to explore. The show relied on in-the-moment cinematography and storytelling far more than it used its themes, setting and supporting cast to get the tears flowing.

    As for feeling happy about characters, I’m more interested in conflict. Isla and Tsukasa’s final moments were too unconflicted for me to be invested in them. It doesn’t have to be happy or sad – what matters in a story is the struggle a character goes through, and the lack of obstacles for Tsukasa in the part of the story where the most obstacles should be arising made for an ironically unmemorable climax and finale.

    But it’s good to see that some people enjoyed it for what it was.

    • The bulk of your issue is that you wanted more conflicts right? I don’t know, I think I’m perfectly fine with what we get. I think we do get some conflicts prior to the climax, even if those conflicts are minimal, admittedly. This isn’t a typical romance human drama however, so I don’t think there’s a need for that much conflicts in Tsukasa and Isla’s relationships. The main theme here is to accept the fact that Isla’s life span is limited, and for Tsukasa to continue making happy memories with her despite so, and to finally move on. The way they get to these probably isn’t the exact way you preferred, but yeah, like I said, I’m perfectly fine with it.

  2. Pingback: Kai’s Favorite Anime of 2015 | deluscar

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