「同棲はじめました」 (Dōsei Hajimemashita)
“We’ve Just Started Living Together”
So apparently Plastic Memories is a rom-com now. All the usual is there: a flimsy excuse for our male and female leads to live together, some fanservice, some sexual tension, and general hijinks all around. Impressively, a good half of the episode was basically just one long running gag, and while I was amused for the most part, the other part of me was left wondering whether, in this future, Tsukasa was genetically engineered to be the thickest man on the planet. Sure, some of it was not exactly his fault (though, trying flambe the first time cooking, no matter how good you think you are with following manuals? Totally your fault), and you have to give him points for persistence, but at some point you’d think the poor sap would get the hint. The advice of his colleagues are variably useless or misogynistic. There is no version of reality where horrible chuunibyou crossdressing is going to charm the girl. At least, save it until after the first date. You have time to be kinky later.
There would be those who, after the previews and the pilot episode, would have expected Plastic Memories to be a more serious show, all the time. I was certainly one of them. But perhaps some lighthearted comedy is good for the soul, once in a while. After covering a rather heavy episode of Unlimited Blade Works, I certainly felt like I needed it. For others, I suppose the romantic comedy is going to be hit or miss, though I think I can objectively see the purpose of it. For a story about relationships breaking down along with memory, it would be important for them to actually build up that relationship piece by piece before, I suspect, they tear it down in the same fashion. Get us invested with fun and laughter (and, equally importantly, time), then get capitalise on returns later by making sad things happen to people we care about. It may sound trite when I put it that way, but it’s effective. So don’t try to think about it too much. Just let the show carry you along. Nothing worthwhile comes from this kind of deconstruction anyway.
The other purpose of the fun and games is to soften some of the more serious issues discussed in this episode. I won’t go into the wider philosophical quandaries in this post, but it’s an opportunity to consider: why AI (and for that matter, why glasses?)?. For what are essentially robotic servants, is it wise to actually give them intelligence? We’ve seen the Giftia being used as not just mechanical helpers, but as actual emotional supports for human beings, so they need to emulate humanity to a large degree. But perhaps SAI hasn’t fully thought through exactly what they are doing. Is creating these sophisticated intelligences that can hardly live longer than a pet rabbit an irresponsible thing to do? It’s not surprising that Isla resents it and prefers isolation. Her job is to put down Giftia, and she has witnessed firsthand the relationships painfully terminating far before their time. There’s plenty of reason she would want to avoid leaving any of those behind herself.
1832 hours ~ looking ahead
I think it would be unreasonable to expect the same level of emotional intensity as the pilot every single episode; Plastic Memories would burn itself out far too quickly. Rather than a ‘Giftia retrieval of the week’ format, it seems that Plastic Memories is going to spend more time developing its central pairing, Tsukasa and Isla, and creating conflict mainly around those two. We’ll probably see other Giftia now and again, but the story has a clear focus. That’s a good thing, in my opinion, because strong central narratives really hold things together, especially for an original series. It’s too easy to meander without them.
After three episodes, I’m still feeling good about this show. Sure, nothing particularly brilliant has emerged yet (episode 01 remains the highest point, probably), but everything is done solidly enough to ward off complaints for now. At the very least, Plastic Memories seems to have a clear sense of what it’s doing, which is always a good sign, and that confidence allows me to rest easy waiting for it to show its hand. If we consider the high drama of episode 01 to be just a taste of Plastic Memories‘ potential, then we can expect the main course to have an even stronger kick. Of course, the key to enjoying original shows like this is to have no expectations, so I’m going to try to temper my own and give Plastic Memories the benefit of tabula rasa.
On a purely positive note, I enjoyed the ED that we were finally shown this episode. Music has been consistently one of Plastic Memories‘ strong suits and, together with the watercolour look, made for a fittingly storybook atmosphere that I found effective. Yet another little thing that Plastic Memories does well. With enough of those we’ll be in for an excellent series all-round.
ED: 「朝焼けのスターマイン」 (Asayake no Starmine) by 今井麻美 (Imai Asami)