「想い出が埋まってく」 (Omoide ga Umatte Kimasu)
“Filling up with Memories”
Oh no, the tears. It’s beginning. I was actually sort of dreading this development (which had to happen), since I’m generally weak to drama, but the episode turned out to be rather good. In fact, I’d describe it as some of the best that Plastic Memories has to offer, playing on all of its strengths.
On superficial levels, this episode is not all that much different in substance to the previous one. Tsukasa’s diligent, Isla is cute, the supporting cast is, er, supportive, and we even have some of the comedy hijinks persisting (Pygmalion starring, apparently, Phoenix Wright? I’d watch it). The difference, of course, is that the spectre of death looms, whereas we were completely distracted from it last week. I must commend the one who coined the term, ‘spectre of death,’ because it is most apt here. Isla isn’t dying quite yet, but the thoughts of mortality haunts all the same, colouring the entire episode. Every little thing, from Terminal Services One’s enthusiasm, to private gestures, to the party celebrating Isla’s last (and Tsukasa’s second last) job, is honed with an emotional edge. it does sometimes make the atmosphere heavy, but never oppressive, because the emphasis always turns back to a stoic calm. Isla and Tsukasa don’t need to wallow in doubts about the need to wipe Giftia, or the pain of separation, or the possibility of eloping together, because that’s already been done, sometimes by proxy via the retrievals they’ve done themselves. Their last job together only finalises the entire debate.
We also see in this episode, compared to the previous, is that Isla and Tsukasa’s relationship has matured. Whereas last week they were very awkward in each others presence, this week they have settled into a comfortable rhythm. It’s not just that they seem to actually be fine with personal contact now. Their relationship is much more of an emotional one than a physical one, with physical contact seemingly only used to affirm the emotional. Isn’t that how it has always been, with human-Giftia relationships? They get emotionally attached, they have to break up, lots of sobbing. Perhaps Isla and Tsukasa have already gotten over that phase. Or perhaps Isla, like other Giftia before her, will have to be the stabilising force of this relationship. Signing that release form for Isla’s retrieval must be like consenting to taking your aged parent off the life support. It was a given that Tsukasa would sign, after all they’ve been through, but that doesn’t mean it has to be easy. It’s one thing for a loved one to pass away, it’s another to have to look death in the eye and have to give up. If Tsukasa is taking it hard now, I’d hate to see him react to Isla shutting down.
168 hours ~ Looking ahead
So, while this episode quite deliberately never really escalates above a reflective melancholy—something it seems that Plastic Memories excels at—it’s entirely possible we’re in for full waterworks next week. I know I wanted Isla to go out quietly, and I still support that, especially considering how well it was done this week, I won’t blame anyone for gushing when the moment comes. I’m preparing some tissues myself.
Of course, I still don’t know how things will end, but considering the all the foreshadowing in the camerawork, I think it unlikely that we will part with anything less than bittersweetness. Of particular note, we now know what Isla whispers to all the Giftia she retrieves. ‘I hope, one day, you will be reunited with the person you cherish’. Quite Buddhist, indeed. Besides thoughts about reincarnation, my main question is: who will actually be doing the retrieving? I assume Giftia can’t wipe themselves. Someone will have step up to conclude this sobering business.