OP: 「Ring of Fortune」 by 佐々木恵梨 (Sasaki Eri)
「足を引っ張りたくないので」 (Ashi o Hipparitakunai node)
“Don’t Wanna Cause Trouble”
To think that the second episode of Plastic Memories wouldn’t be about artificial intelligence, or corporate conspiracies, or ethical quandaries, but about, of all things, workplace relations.
It’s certainly not an irrelevant topic, considering our protagonist’s situation, and it seems like even in the year 20xx humans still face much of the same mundane troubles as we do now. That’s one way to keep your science fiction from being pie in the sky stuff: make the technology shinier, but keep social interactions at about the same place (as opposed to the retrofitted, used future settings where everything looks even older). For those of you who have never worked in an office or anything resembling a corporate setting before, I envy you. For those of you who have, you’ll probably empathise with Tsukasa’s position. Being the newbie is tough, and if you’re a newbie with no credentials and no real protections from your patron like Tsukasa, you’re basically shark food. You have nothing to fight with, always having to watch for toes to avoid treading on, and if you rock the boat you’ll be the first one overboard. In a collectivist society like Japan, it must be even more suffocating.
So I understood where Tsukasa was standing in this episode, needing to juggle delicacies with his partner, whom he needs to work with on a continual basis, and with his various seniors and managers, those who sign off on his paycheques. It’s not just about looking cool; it’s about not offending, and taking the fall to preserve harmony is often expected of underlings. These are real issues! It’s not what I was looking for from Plastic Memories, but it seems they want to be meticulous about fleshing out their character dynamics, even for a featureless corporate drone like Tsukasa.
Stop moaning about office politics, Passerby
Besides workplace relations, we also see more of the workplace itself, and even more characters are introduced to work at SAI’s retrieval unit. They’re mostly introduced to deliver information to the viewer, though, especially in the case of Hanada Yasutaka (Tsuda Kenjirou) and Miru Eru (Uesaka Sumire), who really like to blab. I am slightly concerned about how Plastic Memories intends to juggle its increasingly large cast, but I’ll choose to believe that they know what they’re doing.
(I must say though, Japan has a much different idea of the Engineering alumnus than I do. If I knew that buxom beauties with liberal dress codes liked robots so commonly, I should really have changed faculties. Where did my life go wrong?)
The information the new characters actually give us is not exactly anything we couldn’t have guessed at before. For example, one red flag that pops up in this very episode is that they have a ‘Unit Testing Room’, not a ‘Unit Training Room’. Perhaps one could get so used to Giftia mimicking humans to such perfection that they forget the fact that they are androids, and who has ever heard of androids needing to ‘retrain’? But it’s not even an android issue. It’s an issue about aging and about death. It’s about losing your grip on the person you thought you essentially were as you grow old. With that in mind, Isla’s klutzy antics can only be so funny. The last bombshell is dropped, to the surprise of nobody. Isla is dying.
2000 hours ~ looking ahead
2000 hours is less than three months. That’s not a lot of time, but from her diminishing dexterity and confused speech, we already know that without a hard number. None of the other Giftia that have been retrieved have displayed these symptoms outwardly, though, even though we’ve been told it happens. Why Isla, specifically? Is it just because we’ve known her more personally, that we’re allowed to notice these signs?
I had an elderly grandmother who suffered severely from dementia. I think Plastic Memories is going to hurt me before we’re through.
Well, for now we can distract ourselves from the inevitable with other little mysteries that Plastic Memories has laid out for us. I’m still wondering what it is Isla whispers at every retrieval, and grow ever intrigued about the task of ‘ripping apart memories’, on learning that Tsukasa’s office, with their soft approach, is considered maverick. And, of course, with the OP finally playing, there’s even more speculation fuel. For example: there seems to be two contrasting Isla’s in it. Ponder its meaning with me until next week.