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Plastic Memories – 13 (END) »« Plastic Memories – 11

Plastic Memories – 12

「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.

Full-length images: 11, 12.

June 21, 2015 at 8:19 am
19 comments »
  • June 21, 2015 at 10:47 amWorldwideDepp

    who will actually be doing the retrieving? I assume Giftia can’t wipe themselves. Someone will have step up to conclude this sobering business

    I dunno, just hope that it will not be someone of the “Military force” section how retrieve her.

    • June 21, 2015 at 11:38 amJekoJeko

      I’m worried that’s how it’ll play out – a clash between the sentimentality of the situation and the normal Terminal Service approach trying to subdue that, which will only bring it out more.

  • June 21, 2015 at 11:23 amcruiser2710

    Stock up on the tissues and put flood control parties on high alert next week lads.

    Flood control parties got to be on their toes next week.

  • June 21, 2015 at 11:44 amJekoJeko

    I wish the last episode had been as dimensional as this one. The whole plotline of them getting over their awkwardness was sweet, but too simple in contrast of the subtle veins of philosophy that have run through other integral developments of the series. Now PlaMemo is being more considerate of its depth when it’s relaxed; we’re definitely headed for a conclusion that will stick in our heads for a while after the credits have rolled.

    Liked how Isla was constantly smiling at the end of this episode’s OP sequence. Nicely represents how she’s reached not only a kind of happiness, but a stable kind of happiness.

    • June 21, 2015 at 6:48 pmPasserby

      I agree that this is certainly the superior episode, but while the previous may not have been as rich, I would argue that is was necessary. Otherwise, there wouldn’t really be a point of comparison. This episode builds on the previous. Plastic Memories also makes the point that while death hangs heavily it shouldn’t be about death all the time, so it can’t always be like this episode, because that would be defying its own philosophy.

      • June 22, 2015 at 9:59 pminfo600

        I’d prefer less awkwardly bad jokes in the first half (in hindsight) myself. That thinking was especially prominent in episode 3… *shudder*

  • June 21, 2015 at 11:47 amShinn Agami

    Does anyone know where i can get one of those anti-ninja cutting onion devices? I really need one next week.

  • June 21, 2015 at 12:16 pmZen

    While I agree that this episode was stronger than average for this show on the dramatic front, I have to say that it was done “well” in the most straight-forward, least intricate manner possible.

    What Plastic Memories did this time round is like having a pair in a poker hand of five. Only 2/5 cards matter- i.e. This episode alone stands out as being exceptional relative to the rest of its hodgepodge, hit or miss peers.

    I enjoyed this week’s (relatively) strong showing. But as I’m sure is evident from what I said last week Plastic Memories had the potential to make all its cards matter, to make every episode work in synergy, increasing the dramatic impact, intricacy and through this the overall objective quality of the show as a whole- as every card in a royal flush hand works in tandem to maximize the value of the hand as a whole.

    Few parallel emotional notes to earlier episodes were struck this week, the only clear examples of this being the ones mentioned by Passerby above; (Isla’s secret quote [Overt]) and (The fact that Tsukasa likely didn’t hesitate too much about signing the retrieval form although he did think of eloping for a moment as he’s been through the drill by proxy [Covert]). Both instances were general parallels to the emotional state of every Giftia owner whose companion is about to be retrieved; neither drew specific parallels to the actions, emotional states or circumstances of any prior individual Giftia owners in the show.

    Neither was individualized and therefore both lack impact- Isla proffered her quote to literally every retrieval subject and the desire to elope to evade retrieval is something virtually anyone in love with a Giftia would experience. And the thing about specific, individualized emotional parallels is that when done right they have a powerful multiplicative stacking effect on the dramatic front- it’s like you’re experiencing the past emotions of character one all over again on top of and through character two who is experiencing something similar in the present. This lack of individualized character-specific parallels is quite disappointing. General parallels also possess this multiplicative stacking effect- but it usually isn’t as powerful because there isn’t a specific face to empathize with; to take advantage of this smaller multiplier the emotional subplots being referenced need to be particularly strong- many episodes of Plastic Memories were rather lukewarm on the dramatic front, so there isn’t too much to multiply here. (This effect come from the same aspect of human psychology which causes the “faceless statistic effect”- think of general emotional parallels as “faceless” and unlikely to invoke empathetic self-identification barring particularly impactful prior individual instances and specific parallels as being tied to a specific individual with a face- with which viewers are far more likely to identify and empathize.)

    Had the writers built an adequately strong and coherent narrative foundation beforehand, there was the potential for a veritable symphony of specific emotional notes parallel to prior episodes- if done competently, putting the beauty and complexities of human emotion on bare display- resulting in an exemplar of drama in anime. But as things stand they did not, and with just one episode remaining, it’s too little, too late.

    I like Plastic Memories and it’s been a lot of fun to watch. It’s premise is particularly interesting. However as a critic I have to say that it squandered a ton of potential…

    • June 21, 2015 at 12:38 pmZen

      ***Essentially, I’m referring to an empathetic recall effect. How well one recalls something he felt in the past when faced with something similar in the present depends on the individualized specificity of the present analogy and the magnitude of the original emotional impact…

    • June 21, 2015 at 6:40 pmPasserby

      I think at this point it should be evident that Plastic Memories is really a very simple show. Sure, it could be more, but it never set out to be, so I have duly readjusted my expectations.

      I don’t think that the divide between the general and the specific is so clear cut. For example, Isla offering the same final rites to every says something about Isla herself. The feelings of elopement may be general, but I prefer to frame it as being shared amongst multiple (but notably, not all) individuals and in any case the main point is that Tsukasa has thoughts of eloping, but does not. And overall, there is a uniqueness in Isla and Tsukasa’s circumstances (the briefness of the relationship) and the way they chose to spend their last days together. In my opinion Plastic Memories is much more focused on the individual than the general, which is why there is an emphasis on Terminal Services One engaging with each of their clients. But of course, all of this depends on largely subjective reactions.

      I also do not think the individual is necessarily superior to the general, only that they serve different purposes, but that’s a different point for a different time.

  • June 21, 2015 at 1:43 pmRandomness

    Hey, off topic question.. How’s the summer preview coming along? Not to sound impatient, but the randomc summer preview is one of the things I most look forward to every year. Will my wait be long? :3

    • June 21, 2015 at 7:18 pmPasserby

      It is happening, but I can only say that it will be ready when it is ready. You can rest assured, though, that there will be a preview on RandomC before the season starts, as usual.

  • June 21, 2015 at 5:26 pmThe Last Idiot

    After a series of heart warming episodes, today’s episode becomes painful to watch… And that caught me of guard. I know chances of Isla returning is near zero since in this episode hints that Tsukasa will end up with Tsundere-chan.

    Well since its the final episode next week, I am expecting a tearjerking ending but even though I am expecting it, I will be readying lots of tissue just in case.

    — Still hoping for a better happy ending.

  • June 21, 2015 at 11:48 pmZen

    I don’t think that the divide between the general and the specific is so clear cut.

    I think of “general” and “specific” as running on a spectrum. The generalized grief that everyone feels when a loved one dies versus the bizarre mix of grief, perverse relief and guilt felt by the narcissistic Character X, who is the primary caretaker of his mentally disabled brother (A duty taken on not out of altruism, but out of the selfish desire to look like a hero to his family) who died due to neglect. Just my opinion of course, but I felt the two examples you mentioned above fell closer to the “general” end. X feels as he does because of who he is (His personality) and what he has done- not because “it’s what lots of folks/anyone would feel.”

    And to clarify, when I use the terms “specific/individual” and “general” I’m not referring to the uniqueness of the circumstances surrounding particular characters. I very much agree with you, Tsukasa and Isla’s circumstances are highly individualized and unique, and are the focus of the whole show. What I am referring to is the specificity of the analogy between the emotions felt by two different sets of characters at two different points in a story. I.e.; whether the emotions felt by character set A in subplot X at a prior point in the overall timeline and the emotions felt by character set B in subplot Y at a subsequent point in the overall timeline are similar in a more general manner such that a large subset of people in similar circumstances might experience the same thing or are more specifically similar, arising due to factors like similar nuances of individual personality such that others in similar circumstances would not generally feel the same way.

    Circumstantial analogy is not a pre-requisite for emotional analogy, although the two are often closely related. Instances with lots of circumstantially and emotionally analogous overlap tend to be more “general” as the similarities in emotional experience are due more to factors external to the individual. Whereas instances where emotional analogy occurs more independently of circumstances tend to be more “specific” as they are due to individual-centric factors like similarities in unique nuances of individual personalities- for example, Character A and Character B are both very prideful individuals who withdraw emotionally and refuse to open up to anyone about their grief and emotional neediness after A lost his mother, and B his son- their withdrawal even manifests differently, although at the core the emotion that causes a change in their behavior is the same- A covers up his emotional vulnerability with anger, while B hides away and becomes a hikkikomori. Very different circumstances but similar core emotional reactions due to similar individualized aspects of each character’s personality- most people in similar circumstances would not react as these characters did because circumstances were not the main contributor to their emotional reactions which were instead determined by specific nuances of personality (And perhaps several other special factors that I have not contemplated).

    I also do not think the individual is necessarily superior to the general, only that they serve different purposes, but that’s a different point for a different time.

    Yeah, both techniques definitely have their place- both are essential to writing strong episodic drama- and it would be remiss to omit either. Nonetheless, I do maintain though that “specific emotional analogy,” when done right generally has a greater multiplicative effect on the dramatic element than “general emotional analogy”- I think humans are simply wired psychologically to react more strongly to the former than the latter (An empirically testable and falsifiable hypothesis I’m sure, one that a professor of the fine arts might be interested in testing). This doesn’t make the role of general emotional analogy any less important, notwithstanding its weaker multiplicative effect on drama- I should not have been so dismissive of it. I do still think though that this show’s omission of emotional analogy from the more specific end of the spectrum results in lackluster dramatic impact- you kind of need both to make it work- and preferably more specific than general.

    I think at this point it should be evident that Plastic Memories is really a very simple show.

    As I’ve stated many times before I’m enjoying this show thoroughly and like it a lot the way it is. Just disappointed by the wasted potential- the premise is actually in my opinion quite great, and I’m just a little sad to see it go to waste…

    • June 22, 2015 at 2:54 amPasserby

      Woo, text. These days I don’t have the time to respond as fully as may be justified, and for that I apologise, but I tried to squeeze out a few paragraphs anyway.

      In the interest of simplification, is this not still a subjective matter? To take your example, is it not up to the audience to interpret that both character A’s actions and character B’s actions stem from the same, or different, emotional core? I could well say that A and B are simply at different stages of grief, and A is angry while B is depressed. That’s no less valid than saying A and B differ in personality. I should also be open to say that ‘most people’ in similar circumstances do behave similarly to either A or B (or even both, depending on circumstances), because ‘most people’ is simply a shorthand for ‘people I know of’. And in fictional circumstances without perfect real world analogues, more often is the case that ‘most people’ is simply my own views projected onto a demographic. For example, based on my own views I do not think that Tsukasa reacted in way like most people, because I personally would not even have considered eloping with Isla because I find Wanderers horrifying. You would be free to disagree, and neither of us would be really ‘wrong’. Indeed, in Plastic Memories we do see people react to the retrieval of their Giftia in various different ways.

      The thing is, writers start with a personality, subject them to circumstances, and describe the reactions. The audience, on the other hand, sees the reactions first, judges them against the circumstances, and only then derives a personality. Of course, this is short of a writer outright saying that character A’s personality is X, but in those cases I’m prone to simply disbelieve the writer. What the writer has most control over, in the end, is how consistent a character’s action is with themselves. For example, I am used to Isla fretting over her mortality and Tsukasa being cool with it, so when the roles were somewhat reversed this episode, it drew my notice.

      Re: disappointment
      I know I can’t exactly stop you from being disappointed, but I’ll say that I don’t exactly see it the way you do. I also went into Plastic Memories with lots of ideas about what it could, but it was clear after a while that it was not going to be very many things. I don’t consider this a waste, I consider it a matter of scope. Plastic Memories has established for itself a very specific scope, which is its prerogative, and as long as it fulfills that I cannot fault it. Yes, it’s a shame that it’s not some other kind of show that I was hoping for, but some other show will have to fill that space.

      • June 22, 2015 at 4:09 amZen

        Well, yeah all individual interpretations are certainly logically valid. But empathetic emotional recall is likely a non-subjective, sub-conscious psychological effect. I understand what you’re saying here, and I fully agree- the audience can consciously interpret a scene to mean whatever they want. But in terms of mechanistic, sub-conscious processes, I’m pretty sure that most human brains operate in much the same way (short of being autistic or something)- My goal here isn’t to mandate how everyone should consciously interpret a story but rather to present a theory that a writer could plausibly use to exploit the subconsious, mechanistic tendencies of human psychology to consistently invoke a powerful emotional effect in a large number of people. It’s based on elementary psychological rules of thumb: People tend to feel more empathetic when there’s a good story and individual faces to attach the story to, and people tend to remember things better when the story is unique, emotional recall is more likely to occur if the second subplot draws parallels to specific, unique aspects of the first. How then as a writer can you attempt to exploit these subconscious psychological tendencies of the audience and maximize the number of people who experience a strong emotional effect from your story?

        But perhaps I’m wrong about empathetic emotional recall being fully subconscious. Perhaps a conscious perception of specificity is required to achieve a strong subconscious empathetic recall effect. Tests would have to be run to verify if this is true, but it very well might be so. If this is the case then it would become important to figure out what most people tend to consciously interpret as being “specific” or “general.” Perhaps more people agree with your interpretation of “generalness” and “specificity” as opposed to what I think is “general” or “specific”- in that case write according to my technical framework utilizing your definitions of “general” and “specific”- or perhaps tailor it to the conscious perceptions of the average member of the target demographic or something. My point is, storytelling’s really just an author playing mindgames with his audience- what I’m trying to do here is figure out good winning strategies…

  • June 22, 2015 at 10:13 pminfo600

    Gosh have we been through a lot watching this show…

    …with it’s highs…
    http://randomc.net/image/Plastic%20Memories/Plastic%20Memories%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2015.jpg

    …and lows…
    http://randomc.net/image/Plastic%20Memories/Plastic%20Memories%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2025.jpg

    Maybe we just might see a miracle in the end?

    PS. My guess from last week still stands. Especially when it looks like Isla got tipsy on a single glass of champagne.

  • June 23, 2015 at 6:11 amlegwkio

    Just don’t let Black Market Retrievers or the (I think) military get involved next episode. That arc was the low point of the series, totally unnecessary.

  • June 25, 2015 at 9:40 amAki-Chan

    That supporting cast really is one the most supportive supporting casts ever. It’s both mind-boggling and wonderful