「もう、パートナーじゃない」 (Mō, Pātonā Janai)
“No Longer Partners”
I was expecting Kazuki to be playing the bad cop this episode, and she does start off doing so, but it turns out she didn’t really have much of a plan at all and her entire front crumbles rather quickly. So instead she just breaks out the alcohol, shouts YOLO, and loses herself to the liquor, with dire consequences. Not exactly the kind of mature perspective I was expecting. All that sobriety at the end of last episode was wasted. Plastic Memories stay serious? Not even in episode 10.
Playing these serious developments for laughs is not necessarily a bad thing, because one of the points that Plastic Memories likes making is that it’s more important to focus on the fun parts. Therefore, in general everything in Plastic Memories is rather positive. There are no real villains in this show (except for arguably the illegal retrievers some episodes ago); even the mafia are a fairly swell bunch (but, now we know that SAI sells robots to the mafia. Of course they would). Tsukasa’s colleagues are all warm and supportive (even if a bit creepily so). It wouldn’t do, I suppose, for the boss herself to be directly obstructive. Oppositional, but she must still end up as an enabler.
All that said, this episode does get serious when it needs to be. One of the strong points of Plastic Memories is that although it never likes dwelling on the serious for too long (a sentiment I can empathise with, being prone to such emotional cowardice myself), those serious bits still trudge steadily forward in their own way. Indeed, when have we ever seen Isla so upset? None but Kazuki could have been so confronting with her, and Isla really did need confronting. While last week was largely about Tsuakasa and his feelings, this week is about Isla’s and we needed Kazuki to bring down the heavy hand, stage an intervention, and draw them out of her. Turns out, Isla is suffering from some kind of burnout, having founded Terminal Services One’s customer service model years ago and investing too much emotionally into it. Perhaps it’s a warning against being too personal in these lines of work. All of your clients are dying. Getting overly attached is going to wear you out in the long run. I think the turn of phrase is ‘professional distance‘, because caring is tiring. Of course, Isla believes that it’s her duty to care because of the ultimately cruel task Terminal Services is in charge of, and masochistically threw herself into it. Perhaps, even before her retrieval date, Isla broken long ago.
The idea, then, is to do some healing in the time we have left, and so it’s now take two of the confession reply. The first time around we bombed basically because Isla was afraid of being happy, but some navel gazing should fix that. There. Having the girl throw herself into her boy’s arms is an old act by now, but is it not necessary? Plastic Memories has so far played itself out along the lines of a classic romance, and if these kind of classic romance flourishes are not employed there will be protests. They will be picketed. No, this feels good. And look how happy all of their friends are! Aw. I’m all for feelgood moments amidst all my existential drama.
Actually, what the blazes is the entire office doing while they’re still on the clock. This is why the higher ups don’t approve of Terminal Services One. Get back to work.
504 hours ~ looking ahead
In a plainer rom-com (or rom, or whatever. Genres are so unhelpful), an episode like this would basically the climax of the show, even the final episode. He confesses, she reciprocates, or vice versa. We’re done. Alternatively, this is the first episode and then they hit the heroine with a bus, to ruin someone’s life for 10 episodes. For drama, you see.
Instead, in Plastic Memories we’re 10 episodes in and the big moment has come, and is now gone. What now? I suppose the point of the show was always less about hugs and kisses and more about the inexorable passage of time. There’s even an hourglass! I really thought that when the sand ran out something dramatic was going to happen, but Constance was just brewing tea. Bah. Well, I guess it was just an overt piece of symbolism. Notice, when the sand runs out, an hourglass can simply be turned over. Oooh. I see what they did there.
two three episodes left, and Isla, like Plastic Memories itself, should make the most of it to try and make the last stretch memorable. I don’t really wish for there to be some 11th-hour twist, or Isla going Wanderer, or even anything particular exciting. In my ideal framework, Isla will just go quietly into that dark night. Quietly, but with dignity. I think that’s the kind of ending appropriate for a show like Plastic Memories.