12 Days of Waifus – Day 8: Isla (Plastic Memories)
Note: There will be spoilers in this post.
Another new character from this year’s anime to make it on the list, and for good reasons.
What I like best about Isla is her character development. Developing a character from “zero” is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but is a trick which still gets my attention every time, because even if it’s formulaic, it’s pretty damn effective.
Isla started out as being clumsy and couldn’t even do her job properly. She also has an extremely isolating behavior, cringed even at the thought of hanging out with Tsukasa with the exception of work. Additionally, she could barely form any expressions with a few rare exceptions. It’s the epitome of a character at the “zero” state prior to development. At the very least however, she’s very earnest and helpful, she’s just clumsy, both at handling the actual jobs and her relationship with people.
Aforementioned however, Isla is a developing character. While she was mostly indifferent in the early episodes, signs of changes begun to show at a later date. If there’s one thing about Plastic Memories, it has a lot of LN-esque romcom antics, and while people may love or hate these romcom scenes, these for me very successfully show the gradual changes in Isla’s demeanor, and her ever-changing relationships with other characters, and most predominantly, with Tsukasa. She begun to grow more expressive midway through the show, and by episode 9, her moe levels is literally through the roof.
Speaking of moe, the other interesting effect this played on Isla is that unlike typical moe characters, it actually takes time for Isla to achieve the same status. Instead of showing everything on day 1, her delayed cutesy really makes it that much more endearing. I can still remember that scene in episode 6, where Isla smiled very naturally for the first time. It was one of the most beautiful scenes in the anime, purely because prior to this episode, she was never shown to have the ability to make this kind of expression, even if slight teases were given throughout the show as a means of development. Apparently, reddit agrees with me too in regards to that wondrous scene. Since that episode, she furrowed her brows lesser, she eased up; she begun to grow cuter and cuter by each passing episodes, and the best thing about this is that it felt genuine, since all these are properly developed instead of being a cookie-cutter cute character.
That’s about it, really. Isla charmed me, not just because of her personality, but the fact that her cuteness is also a nice by-product of her character development. The way she only started making colorful expressions midway through the series feels extremely genuine and heartfelt, which is all thanks to her slow but organic character development. Because her cuteness was born from the development as well, she seems more cuter and adorable than other “cute characters”-there’s substance within that cuteness after all.
In fact, her development throughout the show was hinted subtly during the OP sequences. There was a scene in the OP where Isla looked up at Tsukasa, and if you watched through several episodes, you will notice her facial expression in this scene changes progressively each episode. This is actually a very clever idea of subtly showing Isla’s development throughout the show, and also perfectly summarizes her current mindset and progress in the course of her development in respective episode. In fact, one guy in reddit even compiled all of them in one video:
Of course, we all know what would happen in the end. It was sad, it left a bittersweet taste in my mouth, and I was left wondering why the world is such an unfair place-but despite anything, and even more so, I will always remember Isla’s beautiful smiles. Then, now and forever.