「はじめてのパートナー」 (Hajimete no Pātonā)
“The First Partner”


So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
– Genesis 1:27


Before we begin, there are some reference materials that you may want to partake of that will aid us in the discussion of Plastic Memories. Isaac Asimov’s science fiction portfolio is a given, but there’s also the anime it inspired, Time of Eve (especially the third ‘episode’), and older fare about aging androids like Mahoromatic. Needless to say, Japan loves its robots, but rarely does it engage in a serious discussion of AI, and when it does it’s very much, from my less than comprehensive experience, a product of Western influence. Isaac Asimov and his Three Laws were just too good; it’s hard to break away from his canon. Here we have Plastic Memories, though, offering us two very Japanese elements to our android anime: cute girls, and death.  Mmm, that’s good. More than that later; let’s lay out the show first.


I think the overall tenor of Plastic Memories is pretty much established when it first starts with our protagonist, Mizugaki Tsukasa (Takumi Yasuaki) contemplating mortality, before he has his boy-meets-girl moment with Isla (Amamiya Sora). The rest of the quirky cast come from a very familiar stock—Kuwanomi Kazuki (Toyoguchi Megumi) is the scary boss, Kinushima Michiru (Akasaki Chinatsu) is the tsundere (and by her age, also a dropout), Zack (Yahagi Sayuri) is the devilish child—but it’s already fairly assured that’s it’s not going to be sunshine and lollipops and rainbows all the time for Plastic Memories. A stint of drama aside, though, most of this first episode was comedy, courtesy of Isla, who manages to be stoic, enthusiastic and clumsy, and exposition, courtesy of Tsukasa, who conveniently knows nothing about anything. They also had to quickly establish that this is science fiction, so that means in the future architecture is weird, fashion is weird, and we have corporatised the manufacture of life. I refuse to believe that, in the future, cars don’t drive themselves. It’s already enough that they don’t fly.

Playing God

Let me make something clear: when a company claims to be creating ‘synthetic souls’ and the results are indistinguishable from a human being, they are effectively manufacturing sentient life, and that’s an ethical quagmire in itself. I don’t know if Plastic Memories will actually address that, and in any case such questions, like whether androids dream of electric sheep, are discussed in other media. Again, much of this is from or influenced by the West, perhaps because modern artificial intelligence theory was birthed there. Before Alan Turing (who I hear has a movie made about him, one which I sadly haven’t watched) proved that computation was universal, artificial intelligence as we imagine it now wasn’t even theoretically a thing. Plastic Memories seems to a softer science fiction, focusing on emotional attachments and the process of wiping them away. As such, while the West often deals with robots that will one day be superior to humans both morally, because they are bound by ethical rules, or physically, because they’re bloody Terminators, the Giftia are still very much beings beneath us. They die, and they die quickly, and as I discussed frequently when writing about Mushishi, the ephemerality of life is a topic dear to the Japanese heart.

(On that note, watch Mushishi. It’s high-class anime.)

Think of the children

Plastic Memories certainly isn’t tiptoeing around its central themes. The fact that the retrieval crews call themselves ‘spotter’ and ‘marksman’—a sniper team—is already a bit grim, and Plastic Memories brings out the big guns right from the beginning: dying children. A bit heavy handed? Yes. But it also addresses one of the elephants in the room from the outset: all of Giftia are essentially children. Even the older looking Edward has had less than 81920 hours on the good earth. He is the same age as Nina, they are both treated as family, and they must both die. What exactly is SAI doing here? They are marketing surrogate children, and eventually putting them down. That’s a lot of moral responsibility, on their part. Is the contract they enforce not the one of Rumpelstiltskin, on which one’s firstborn is bargained? And we haven’t even seen what actually happens if the time limit expires naturally—what is at stake here? All that said, it’s still not exactly clear why Plastic Memories has to be a story about androids; so far it more evokes euthanasia. These are nuances to be worked out, I’m sure.

81919 hours ~ looking ahead

This was a pretty good setup episode for the rest of the series, with the broad themes established, world and characters introduced, and some key questions floating around that we know will be the subject of our plot before we’re through. For the introduction of our anime, though, they sure laid on the drama quickly and heavily. I found that Nina’s retrieval involved a bit too many tears shed a bit too early in our run, and it didn’t work as well for me as the comedy. These big Oscar-baits need to be set up slowly and methodically, sneaking on the viewers and ambushing them when they are emotionally open. That’s what I’m assuming the comedy is doing at the moment. That said, if any one thing is going to move me in Plastic Memories I wager it would be the music, which featured both effectively chirpy pieces for lighter scenes and more gently melancholic fare when we needed melodrama (this week’s insert song: Again & Again by Melody Chubak). It also helps that the show just generally looks good; they had some fun with the camera, facial expressions showed a lot of fluidity (especially when Nina broke down), and I fell in love with the night-scape on first sight. Hurrah for production value!

So I’m looking forward to seeing what else Plastic Memories is going to do, especially after having expended an emotional climax in its first episode. I would guess that we’d step a bit back next episode, and learn more about our cast beyond their initial archetypes. In particular, female lead Isla, the ‘industry veteran’ who does naught but serve tea,  is an enigma. Tell me her story, Plastic Memories. I’m keen to know more.

Full-length images: 10, 29.


  1. That was a pretty damn fine pilot. I’m guessing the pacing is going to change and build up to whatever all the flags we’re seeing come to fruition, but here’s to hoping they’ll manage to keep up the good work throughout.

    1. That record was held by Cross Game.

      I bet this will be a tear jerking ending where Isla will lose her memories…

      Or by power of deus ex machina she lives happily ever after.

      1. I have seen some weird speculations such as :
        MC is a giftia who has been working at the terminal services for ten years
        When he was in the elevator his personality and memories had just been erased. Isla was crying because it was her farewell while he couldn’t remember her anymore
        After rebooting he went back to the first programmed command in his system, which was to report to terminal services as his first job.
        That would explain why Isla thinks of her diary more as a manual.

      2. I don’t think they would go full sky crawlers, but it seems as though Isla’s recent partner died? and that is why she was so sad, and also why Kazuki didn’t want to send her back out right away, the only reason I think that is because they said they are teams of 1 giftia and 1 human.

  2. Am I the only one who was rather surprised by all the hand-shaking? Is it merely there to show how westernized Japan is in this future, or is there more to it? Seemed very unusual at any rate; too physical, too intimate and/or casual. For Japan anyway.

    At any rate, I’d say this is one of the strongest opening episodes I have seen in quite some time. I usually never cry while watching anime, even less so with the very first episode. Plastic Memories didn’t care though, and made me wipe my face once it was over. Very impressive.

    Wonder how far they’ll go into the morals and ethics revolving AI, something I’m personally very much interested in. It’s also pretty clear to me that Isla is near the end of her own lifespan, and it’ll be interesting to see where that’ll go. Something tells me it’ll involve more face-wiping. Lots more.

    Tl;dr: yay Doga Kobo. They are *very* firmly establishing themselves as one of the best studios out there currently. Hope they can keep this up.

    Tsugumi Henduluin
    1. Indeed, handshaking is tricky thing in Japan, and customs surrounding it are still not completely uniform (well, customs are probably not uniform anywhere). When you get to more corporate environments though, as Tsukasa seems to want to be in, people seem more used to it, perhaps because the handshake has sort of proliferated as a universal business gesture. I have only anecdotal experience with this phenomenon, though, so don’t quote me.

      1. To add on, I feel like part of its inclusion in the first episode is also to show how there’s little to no distinction between regular humans and the Giftia, and if anything, it’s symbolic in and of itself that Tsukasa extends a handshake to Isla despite it being a typically human gesture.

        I can see where many others in the universe might shudder to extend such a courtesy on the basis that “they’re not really human,” so it also gives some nice insight into who Tsukasa is as well.

      1. It makes you wonder though, because

        Show Spoiler ▼

      2. I think a lot of the speculation we can do at this point depends on how much you trust SAI on Giftia lifespan, and what happens when it is exceeded. On my part, I’m not inclined to trust corporations without some evidence. But Plastic Memories should show us the right of it at some point.

  3. I see this less Asimov and Philip K. Dick who you indirectly reference by “dream of electric sheep”. Though more people would be familiar with the movie Blade Runner than the novel. Here androids are programed to love and basically be accepting of their lot instead of trying to escape their fate. Painfully so IMO. Isla appears to be an exception and possibly due to some malfunction or trauma. The comedy fell totally flat for me because from the get-go the story has such a pall of tragedy about it. Isla especially, since she doesn’t seem to have the programing that prevents her from feeling sorrow at the need to take what are basically innocent lives. For the owners or lessor (I’m not sure what the actual deal is) the situation is equivalent to having a dog or cat (in terms of the longevity of the android). Odds are you’re going to outlive them and you are probably going to have to have them “put to sleep” so their end is not one of suffering. Now make their “pets” humanoid sentient beings and the thought of making the show comedic just rubs me the wrong way.

    1. Since Plastic Memories seem to move a step away from those influences, I wonder if they’ll delve too deeply into the ‘programming’ at all. Other than the limited lifespan, we don’t really know how Giftia differ from humans, and the answer may very well be ‘not at all’.

  4. I was actually thinking Blade Runner without the darkness
    (or maybe that’ll come into play, who knows).

    The thing I got from the writing, so well done, is that no
    plot path has been excluded. I can see many different plausible
    possibilities: is she already “expired”; will she expire soon;
    will the team stop expiring these lives; on and on. And of course
    the developing love interest – what part will he play in her fate.

    And too, very emotional interwoven with simple, effective gags
    that really underscore the character they’re about.

    Yeah, I’m on board with this!

  5. I looked at this season’s overview, thought most of it was crap.

    That’s the way it usually goes until I browse through screencaps on here and think “this looks quite good” XD

    Keep up the good job, I’d be sat here just watching Fate if it wasn’t for RandomC!

    Kurisu Vi Britannia
    1. RandomC: Watching anime so you will too.

      There’s usually a lot of good stuff out there that belie first impressions; Plastic Memories just happens to be especially good ;). Even then, it’s hard to convey exactly how sound, animation and writing work together just from screencaps. Hopefully our writers can convince you to pick up other hidden gems as we introduce them.

  6. Very interesting challenging subject they took on here.
    Examining the meaning at the “end of life tale.”

    Shall be a very interesting watch just to see how they handle this.

  7. This feels train has no brakes! I wasnt ready for like Clannad level sadness on episode 1 – manly tears were shed!

    All round though this was a fantastic pilot episode – going to have me watching this every week but if they continue with this level of feels I dont know if I can take it……

  8. Looks good so far, but I’m a little fuzzy on one thing: are they androids or are they synthetic humans? Because they have programs which are being terminated, so very android like. But Isla eats and drinks (and apparently has to take a wicked haircut at the end of the ep.), so is that biological behavior, or is she running a program to simulate human behavior?

    Or is it some-kind of uber-creepy fusion of the two? I have a deep-seated NEED to CLASSIFY these things!!!

    Isla falls off of a multi-story building and is unharmed, so robot? But she seems indistinguishable from a human in other respects, so she’s not?

    That was bugging me throughout the episode.

    The other thing that bugs me: they create these sentient beings with a limited lifespan, and sell them off to random people without their consent. When your robot/android/Giftia/toaster/w/e is self-aware, and cries in the elevator because it knows its lifespan is limited, isn’t buying/selling it essentially enslaving something? That bit smacks me as fundamentally wrong and kinda f’ed up.

    Doga Kobo has done great work before, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I hope they go into greater detail about what Giftia REALLY are, and don’t just make some cheap weekly grab at my feels without explaining what’s going on.

    1. Im 99% sure that Isla is already malfunctioning, or shes been programmed wrong from the start. The other androids seem to accept their fate as if its hard coded into them, but Isla doesn’t. Even more telling is the fact that shes deliberately hiding those emotions from others; only MC knows that she was sad, for instance.

      I also think granny this out too, given the way she ended up acting towards MC. She might have realized hes in the same boat as her.

      1. Also if you think about it from that angle, it could very well be why she didn’t have a partner prior to Tsukasa in the first place. Could very well be that they’re preparing for the end of her shelf life.

    2. As far as I’m concerned, a ‘synthetic human’ is an android. If it makes you feel better, we can start using other fancy sci-fi neologisms like ‘bioroid’. I suspect finding the differences between them and humans will be our continual task, Blade Runner.

      Your second concern is one of the great questions in these kinds of science fiction. Use of artificial intelligence seems very much like manufacturing slaves, but the difference is that obedience is not physically forced upon them; instead, it’s programmed into them. And of course, there’s always the question about whether AI is ‘real’ intelligence etc etc.

      1. Well, you could check out the Wikipedia page for that movie if you don’t mind spoilers (but since it’s a sequel movie to In The Mood For Love, you might want to take a look at that first.)

        Basically, the synopsis of Plastic Memories immediately reminded me of the sci-fi story Chow Mo-wan (2046‘s main character, played by Tony Leung) was writing/narrating within that movie.
        Show Spoiler ▼

        I know part of 2046‘s appeal was the melancholic, introspective tone, but without descending to overt tear-jerker territory. Plastic Memories‘ first episode was heavier on the tear-jerker moments, though.

        The question, “What measure is a non-human

      2. Hey, that’s cool. Thanks for taking the time to type that up. It’s neat to see that the Hong Kong movie industry also has some interest in AI, fast becoming one of the more relevant sci-fi topics of our time.

  9. A good opening episode, although I have concerns similar to Akame ga Kill about the fusion of comedy with tragedy here too, the ending car ride felt completely out of place and in bad taste compared to the previous acquisition of Nina. The ideas here are good, but they certainly require a more defined and delicate approach to get right; hopefully the next episode can alleviate the doubts.

    One question not explored yet either is do the Giftia really lose their memories after ~9 years? Why do the owners have to sign off on a machine which otherwise would “die” in time? Seems incredibly strange to me treating the ownership of a machine like the Giftia as a credit/debit card (i.e. you don’t own it, you’re simply in possession of it). If there is a hidden plot line amidst all of this I’ll take the gamble it has to do with senescence rather than our fascination with moral superiority. After all Japan’s grave concerns right now have to do entirely with age and population sustainability.

  10. After all these years, I can handle pretty much anything, horror, splatter and guro, deeply emotional scenes, protagonist’s death … at least I thought so. There’s no way I’ll ever get used to children being “put to sleep”. I could never do that job.

    What a first episode. The comedy and the drama contrasting each other made it somehow unconfortable to watch, you can’t relax with the comedy, and the thought provoking scenes get disturbed.
    But I liked it, it feels like something different, for once.
    I’ll be following this, thanks Passerby for your great coverage as usual.

      1. Sorry mate, I can’t tell if your words imply anything more than their plain meaning.

        I can only say, I don’t care if a living being has an artificial or natural body, or an artificial or natural intelligence … if they can’t be distinguished from a human being, they are human beings to me. That’s my phylosophical position, and I’m open to discussion, but I don’t think this is the right place … maybe. Maybe this anime will lead us to exactly that discussion. Let’s wait and see.

    1. You’re welcome, of course. Thank you, and everyone else, for reading.

      One thing that I’m also wary of about this show, and others have already mentioned (and perhaps I should have stressed more in the post): the juggling of comedy and drama is going to be Plastic Memories‘ chief trial. For me, I found the drama slightly less effective than it could have been, while for others it was the comedy, and really the two don’t usually play very well together so using them both so vigorously in the same episode is probably going to be difficult. I don’t know if this pilot was just in a hurry to cram in everything to show off what it was about, or if later episodes will slow down a bit. As you say, let’s wait and see.

      1. I think the difference in the comedy is that it was / is an endearing
        type of comedy that serves to strengthens the character’s personality,
        as opposed to making the character look ineffective.

        In her case, I believe that “tea” joke was meant to show that she
        strives to improve on a skill and doesn’t throw in the towel, but is
        less adventurous with trying a new approach to solve a problem.

        In the end it “paid off.”

        I really doubt this series will take the silly route, but the real question in
        my mind is will this series take the unusual route that Ano Natsu de Matteru
        did and she will be terminated (wisked away to her home planet) in the end.

        I’m looking to stock up on the kleenex anyway, just in case.

  11. I don´t know. They are able to create such being in the first place, but they can´t solve time- or memory-limit? Not convincing. Maybe there are other reasons for that limit. Also that whole disposal thing is strange. If they know that those beings are time-limited, that mentioned consent they are trying to get within the last few days should´ve been included in the original purchase contract. And I get a feeling we´ll get a tearchoking ending when it´s revealed that our heroine has to get disposed off. Just a guess though.

  12. For me, whether this show is good or not all depends on one thing: what was the point of that last, completely out of place joke? Is there some deeper meaning behind it (maybe Isla has done this job for so long that she has started to block out the emotions that come with the job or maybe she knows she doesn’t have much time left and is acting out to avoid falling into depression), or was it just a desperate attempt for comedy so the episode wouldn’t end on a melancholic note. I really hope it was the former because this show has a lot of potential.

    1. To give the show the benefit of the doubt, I think the last joke served two purposes. Yes, it’s cheap toilet humour to try and relieve the tension left by Nina’s retrieval (another problem with having such high drama so early: how do you wind back from it?), but the other purpose is to show that Isla has something akin to biological functions too. That is, it’s got an exposition effect, to show that Giftia really are replicants.

  13. Damnit, it started to rain towards the end of the show, and I’m not saying within the show. All the while, all dat mood whiplashes are splicing through the foreshadowing on Isla makes watching the show a tad awkward. Maybe I’ll get past that by the 3rd episode. Though I’ll finish this either way.


    Let me make something clear: when a company claims to be creating ‘synthetic souls’ and the results are indistinguishable from a human being, they are effectively manufacturing sentient life, and that’s an ethical quagmire in itself.

    The fact that the Giftias have a certain time span of operation (similar to the ‘artificial humans’ in Appleseed OVA1) already make themselves different, the fact that the giftias know about and accepting their own fate may make the playing God argument moot if the company never walk across that boundary…

    Which made me pop a question for you all to think about: what happens if there are any “illegals” running loose without the company knowing?

    PS:spoiler for trying to not expose a women’s age, they get older every time it’s mentioned. 😮
    Show Spoiler ▼

    PPS. We should be seeing them again soon, no?

  14. I think i was not that wrong, in saying this Anime will have many Emotions, and we should prepare tissues just in case. Looks like i am right. Bladerunner vibes. Perhaps there is one unique Clone, that do not have an expire function

    1. but, in the past and still in the present and future. Androids or Robots pretend to be Humans was mostly used for the “red light district” side of Dark side of Animes and Mangas…

      This Anime is an exception? Let’s see

    2. But this Idea of Humanoid Androids or Robots being part of a Family. Even in Ghost of the Shell i can remember a Episode of these AI’s expiring problems. Yes, there they was AI’s like here

    3. On a different note, you may help this site to stay lean and clean by organizing your thoughts in a single post. It can be done, just take your time to read what you have written, and edit it.
      Posting too much is a form of spamming, and it’ll result in other people skipping your posts entirely.
      I don’t mean any unjustified hating, I just thought I would remind you once (I think other people already told you anyway, when you used the nickname “German Guy”).
      Have a nice stay, see you in next episodes comments.

      1. i know i know, i am working on that. But sometimes my Thunderstorm just keep out of control and Lightnings of Wisdom struck me, and a shame that this site here do not support edit function.

      2. @WorldwideDepp

        Treat it like submitting an essay; every time you finish an episode, have a cup of tea first, compose your thoughts, get them all onto paper, tidy them up, and only then hit the submit button. I understand having a lot to say—look, I’m blogging anime—but presenting your thoughts in an organised and concise way is very important for helping other people be receptive of your ideas.

  15. The first episode is just…. How can i say? To many feeling. It’s like watching The first episode of Yoru no Yatterman all over again.

    Well the story itself interesting, but the jokes is hit or miss, sometimes it hit sometime it miss. I wish they make up their mind whetever it’s a show about “feel” or just plain gag. The story retrieval of nina is good, but it lack build up. they need more story focused on nina to make the “feel” more impactful. other than that i don’t have any complaining.

  16. Considering that Isla is a “veteran” who was the boss’s partner back in the day, and has begun to act oddly as of late, it’s likely that her time’s almost up.

    (Or it already is, which is why the boss didn’t want her doing stuff. Which also means that Giftia don’t actually die when their time is up, they just go all weird.)

  17. Damn, this is the second time that an anime CHILD character named NINA almost broke my heart. Compared to that one though, this was bittersweet.

    AOTS for the feels genre. 11/10

  18. Damn, I felt sad and uneasy the whole time I was watching this. Even through the lighthearted and comedic beginning (which was funny, for sure), the premise was enough to already get my emotions worked up in anticipation of what this show really has in store.

  19. Just finished watching this, I think theres something falling down on my cheeks.

    I actually watched this on a whim without any knowledge of the preview post and I think I just found my favorite show so far for this season. Was also pleasantly surprised that this is anime original from based Dogakobo, the studio I have a soft spot for those lighthearted shows.

    Anyway, the thing Isla whispered to Nina is really bugging me for some reason.

  20. That was an impressive first episode I must say!

    I’m surprised that the post or comments didn’t mention Chobits; that was the first thing that came to my mind! It also blurred the lines between humans and AI, and a few but varied cases that involve that. Highly recommended!

  21. So far the best premier of this season. There are many potential rputes the series could take from here, so I’m interested in something more trival: I wonder if the red-haired boss is going to end up as a Yandere for Isla.

  22. At first, I was expecting that they would exceed the time limit and already curious as to what would happen then…
    But boy, was I not expecting this right off the FIRST episode.
    Plastic Memories, I’ll have you know I had a HARD time trying to hold back my tears yet it just simply wouldn’t. THE FEELS ARE STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

    Red HeartGold ZX
  23. This looks pretty good so far. It has an interesting premise with many possibilities for plot development. What really happens when the androids’ software expires? Do they really go crazy or is there some secret that the corporation that makes them does not want revealed. It will get more interesting once they encounter cases of androids who do not want to be flashed (which is tantamount to death in this case) and their owners who do not want to let go of them.

    There was also some nice comedy particularly with Isla and her hijinks. I almost died of laughter when she jumped from the balcony. Overall she is a pretty cute and funny character.

    The last farewell scene with the grandmother and the little girl android was pretty emotional.

    The only negative aspect of this show is the so prevalent in contemporary anime pushy/abusive girl and timid/submissive guy dynamic. I’m not a big fan of the orange-haired tsundere and the red-haired bitchy field ops leader’s characters. I found them meaner than necessary. In contrast, both the boss and the protagonist were too weak-willed to my tastes. Is it too much to ask to actually stand up to an overbearing girl and tell her to lay off rather than just cower in fear?

    Also, the protagonist was pretty much useless in the whole episode. All he did was getting yelled by girls the whole time and wondering what is going on. I was hoping he would come up with some solution with the problem of the day but it did not happen. At least at the end of the episode he acknowledged that he did not do anything, which means the show itself also acknowledges it and conveys that this is not really normal/expected and will hopefully get fixed in the episodes to come.

    Overall this is a minor complaint for an otherwise nice and enjoyable first episode, but I just see the violent girl/timid guy routine so much in anime nowadays that it’s an instant turn-off to me.


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