「いつかまた巡り会えますように」 (Itsuka Mata Meguriaemasu Yō Ni)
“I Hope One Day, You’ll Be Reunited”

If the fear as described in Plastic Memories is that happiness only makes the parting harder, well… here’s people being happy! I doubt anybody expected a light-hearted final episode for Plastic Memories, exactly, but it’s not like they can spend all 23 minutes being sombre either. Drama doesn’t work as well when stretched thing, being more effective when gradually built up before crashing down. It’s the tsunami effect.

So I wasn’t exactly surprised that Isla and Tsukasa were so very cheerful on the start of this episode, but I was wary of it. Were they not, I thought, too happy? Was Plastic Memories leading me into a trap? Or has someone finally snapped and decided to raise the chocolate rations to maximum? As I watched on, though, I realised that I recognised this happiness. This almost cheesy happiness. And I knew it wouldn’t last. Assuming it’s not just my ears playing tricks on me, I’d like to commend Takumi Yasuaki, the voice of Tsukasa, for managing to sound one degree more highly strung than usual. Though eventually the tortured facial expressions start (that’s definitely one of the better forced smiles I’ve ever seen in anime) and it’s all quite obvious.

And so, predictably, there’s a moment, there’s a kiss, there are tears. Like much of Plastic Memories, none of this is a revolutionary twist. Considering the emphasis on the inevitability of death, this is really the only way Isla and Tsukasa’s relationship could have turned out. But it still managed to affect me somehow. I didn’t bawl, exactly, but I felt that pang in my chest, and I think that if I wasn’t turning my mind so heavily to analysis, to taking notes and screencaps, to the general business of blogging, I might not have been able to control myself. A lot of effort was certainly invested into execution of an otherwise simple scene. In particular, I wanted to draw attention to the music. Sound and music has certainly been one of Plastic Memories strong suits, and here they show they know how to use silence too. The music at the amusement park stood out as very upbeat, which made the silence on the Ferris wheel stand out sharply. Perhaps I’m use to the ambiance of Ferris wheel scenes to be gentle and nostalgic, which made this contrast palpable. Ah, and then the sad theme plays again for their farewell. I know not everybody is going to respond the same way to Plastic Memories, but on my part if all of the anime was to build to that one cathartic moment, well, I’ll consider it worthwhile.

Appropriately, perhaps, there isn’t really much more than that. Isla has some final words, but we were well set up for that. Tsukasa gets a time skip epilogue, but that’s only to show him moving on from his grief. There’s no discussion of Isla’s Giftianess, what they did with the body, the future of Terminal Services in SAI’s corporate structure. It just goes to show, the science fiction was never really the core of Plastic Memories. It was, simply, about a short-lived romance, about living and dying. Fault Plastic Memories for not striving to be more, perhaps, but on seeing it neatly resolved in this episode, I’m not sure there should be more. Some other anime can always explore what Plastic Memories did not. This was Isla’s story, and it is done. There’s not a lot more to ask of out of life.




Final Impressions

When I first signed up to blog Plastic Memories, I was expecting it to be hard science fiction, full of implications about robotics and AI, a version of Time of Eve from a more tragic angle. That was unworthy of me. My expectations were simply me imposing my own preconceptions on a show I didn’t know enough about. If I ended up disappointed it would have been my own damn fault.

Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed per se, but I did need to recalibrate my assumptions about the show. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but it dealt with equally worthy themes. I may say often that Plastic Memories is a simple show, but its subject matter is not. The fact that art is still trying to grapple with death, arguably its oldest topic, to this day, and the fact that the euthanasia debate is still up in the air, shows that humanity will never run out of things to say about our mortality. And Plastic Memories certainly had its two cents too. The entire sci-fi world and the Giftia was but a device to create an entire subclass of short-lived people, and a department of normal folk tasked with ushering them to rest. In fact, I would say that Plastic Memories was at its weakest when it tried to be too sci-fi, i.e. during the illegal retrievers arc. The mercenaries, the fight, the Dominator; in hindsight those things don’t seem to really fit in with the tone of Plastic Memories. They did show that Wanderers were very Seriously Bad Business, but otherwise it was an odd distraction from the usual human drama.

Perhaps it’s wrong to categorise Plastic Memories as strictly science fiction. Science fiction is usually about speculation, about exploring hypotheticals, but Plastic Memories wasn’t as interested such esoteric things. Isla x Tsukasa was chiefly about personal impacts, not social impacts, and technology presented not as opening new opportunities but still very limited (i.e. Isla still cannot be saved). Sure, as a series it still provokes sci-fi questions like humans playing god and our responsibility for our flawed creations, but Plastic Memories was never going to answer those questions. They were simply not within its scope.

Judging it only within this limited scope, I think Plastic Memories did well. Even without those humble confines Plastic Memories was capable of displaying subtle strength at times, best represented, in my opinion, by episode 12. Isla’s death, and how she came to terms with it, and the way she strode dignified into it, had the kind of personal touch that an anime with wider scope may not have been able to accomplish. And I think that’s really all that Plastic Memories wanted, that her life impacts her as the Giftia she retrieved impacted her. An emotional legacy, nothing more.

I must admit that I’m fairly biased in favour in Plastic Memories, since it did affect me personally, in its small way. Since we’re been together for a while let me go full blogger and share a private story with you all. When I was but a wee lad, I had to stay at the hospital frequently. One time, I had to share a large room with many other children. One of my neighbours was a girl whom I judged to be a bit older than I was. When I arrived, she was the first to strike conversation with me. When I was there, she was my best friend. When I was discharged, she remained.

She had leukaemia. I never saw her again.

I’m not particularly attached to childhood memories, but that one haunts me to this day. I don’t even remember her name, but perhaps I should. Plastic Memories, small in scope though it was, just another story of a fictional girl who dies, causes me to reflect. I don’t believe stories need to be complicated, and Isla herself leaves nothing behind other than her memory. But one day, I’ll face death again. I’ll have to say goodbye again. I may have to make the difficult decision to turn off the life support. And when the time comes, I think a corner of my heart will remember Plastic Memories.


  1. This show was good for what it was, I will give it that. But, perhaps unlike you, I was unable to completely move past my disappointment with the focus of the show. Then again perhaps if this had been 24 episodes instead of 12 they could have tackled both aspects of it. I just feel that if they wanted to tell a story like this they could have made Isla a flesh and blood person that was terminally diagnosed with cancer and it would not have changed too much about the core story.

    Gouka Ryuu
    1. My sentiments exactly. The premise was clever and had a lot of potential- disappointingly all squandered. Having said that I think it does add to the story, if only a little, by having Isla’s impending doom be due to a bizarre sci-fi contrivance rather than simply having her be some chick with cancer- it helps to keep things fresh in a story focused on simple themes that’ve been done to death…

      1. Squandered? That’s a bit harsh. Nothing stops a hard sci-fi anime about advanced AI from being made; it simply wasn’t Plastic Memories. I do admit that it makes the sci-fi elements a bit contrived, but they were useful. It allowed for an entire class of short-lived people, it created the Terminal Services, which was fairly unique, and it allowed Isla to be active until the end instead of wasting away.

        @Gouka Ryuu
        If you want to sample a ‘terminal illness’ version of this kind of story, I would recommend reading Narcissu, which is conveniently free on Steam. It’s pretty good too.

      2. Nothing stops a hard sci-fi anime about advanced AI from being made; it simply wasn’t Plastic Memories.

        Like I’ve mentioned in previous weeks a hard sci-fi is not what I’m asking for. But perhaps I was unclear, or maybe I didn’t read the comment above carefully enough before saying “it mirrored my sentiments” so I’ll say it again- it’s perfectly okay that this show didn’t choose to take the hard sci-fi angle. I say “squandered potential” because I believe that Plastic Memories’ premise has a lot of untapped dramatic potential- I’m entirely unconcerned about hard sci-fi potential. Wanna do a sci-fi where the sci-fi elements are subtext and drama’s the main focus? Awesome, it’s uncommon and innovative. Just do the drama well.

        They played their plot too straight to be profound- dramas on loss are a dime a dozen and you need innovative nuance in your narrative structure and scenarios to set yourself apart, technically strong writing alone only gets you so far when your subject matter’s been done to death- and even the writing technique seen here while sometimes strong was still far from perfect overall. Their unique premise allowed for the use of innovative and interesting narrative structure and scenarios. They could have to explored the decidedly mundane topic of human loss in new and interesting ways often impossible for conventional dramas- but they did little of this, opting instead for a mostly simplistic conventional-archetype storyline wrapped in a thin sci-fi veneer.

        Emphasis on narrative structure and scenarios, by the way, and not a shift of thematic focus onto something sci-fi-ish like “The impact of short-lived citizens with full human rights on society.” Thematic focus can remain solely upon traditional dramatic themes like the issue of human loss while sidestepping all hard sci-fi questions entirely. An example of a unique conventionally unattainable scenario exploring decidedly traditional dramatic themes while sidestepping hard sci-fi elements would be one exploring the feelings of a child for his Giftia surrogate dad versus his real human dad who’s never home- functionally the same as having a stepdad who took better care of you than your real dad in an emotional sense. Surrogate Giftia dad gets retrieved, cue drama with real dad due to resentment, etc. And an example involving narrative structure would be something like what I mentioned in previous weeks- an episodic format dealing with different retrieval subjects with disparate, unrelated Giftia-death related emotional problems weekly all relating back to some kind of internal conflict that the main character is facing- conventional dramas would find it difficult to accomplish this form of narrative outside of a limited, specific set of premises (Like a story about a social services agency or an ER nurse, or something)…

        What I mean by saying that Plastic Memories “squandered its potential” is that it squandered the dramatic potential of its premise. The show did also have the potential to be a great hard scifi, sure- but I couldn’t care less about that. What I do care about is the fact that it could’ve been a drama of the likes which we’ve never seen due to its unique premise but chose to play by the books instead…

      3. Is this not the same issue from a different direction? It’s still about wishing for complexities that Plastic Memories never set out to deliver. Truly, Plastic Memories is simply a love story. There’s a girl, she grows, she falls in love, she dies. Those left behind have to find some meaning in that, just as she found meaning in those who passed before her. That’s really it. Done before? Sure. But I also don’t believe that every anime has to reinvent itself, especially not with narrative structures. That’s a high and unnecessarily onus. Rather, the question should simply be, ‘why would I watch this?’ and that answer differs for any given viewer. If you’re looking for high drama supported by innovative writing, that’s all right too, but this show is not where you’ll find it. That doesn’t means Plastic Memories was wrong or ‘squandered’ anything; it just wasn’t more than it was. Unambitious, perhaps, but there are other series to fill the gaps.

        On that note, if you haven’t already, try Time of Eve.

      4. Rather, the question should simply be, ‘why would I watch this?’ and that answer differs for any given viewer.

        See, this I think this is the source of our disagreement. You’re looking at things from the perspective of an anime fan looking for something enjoyable to watch- while all my comments on this show have been from a critical perspective. The anime fan in me is just as satisfied with Plastic Memories as you are, I assure you. But when the critic hat is on, personal enjoyment takes a back seat and I instead start looking at how a show measures up to others similar in genre/themes, etc.- enjoyment certainly factors in, but is just one of many factors.

        That’s a high and unnecessarily onus.

        If all you’re concerned with is “Why should I watch this” then yes, I agree, the onus is unnecessarily high. But where the primary concern is critique this standard is completely reasonable. The critic who says that a technically well executed but ultimately iterative show inspired by a classic work that was innovative for its time is superior to the original simply cannot be taken seriously- it doesn’t get a free pass just because it “Didn’t aim to be more in the first place.” Now, such a show may be just as enjoyable as the original- but this doesn’t change the fact that from a critical perspective it’s just a very good clone- yes, doomed to relative critical inferiority due to its lack of ambition. And that’s what Plastic Memories is- above average-ish execution but ultimately highly iterative in spite of possessing huge potential not to be by virtue of its premise. Still very enjoyable. mind you, but critical quality ≠ enjoyability.

        And yeah, Time of Eve is indeed awesome…

      5. I personally don’t feel that critique needs to go above and beyond the scope of the show—seems a bit impractical to me. But if you’re looking for more, I certainly won’t be the one to call that invalid.

  2. I took a look at this series after the premise reminded me of that story within 2046 and expected a sci-fi story that asked, “What measure is a non-human?”

    But after watching through this series (and this finale), Plastic Memories actually felt more similar to The Fault In Our Stars (there, I said it), and I couldn’t help but remember the concept of mono no aware–the transience of things.

  3. i dont know what but it do made me teary (quite awhile since clannad S1 ep 9)… having you, “kill” your love one is quite painful. add up some depressing ENGRISH bgm and its heart wrecking.

    as to the ending, its an open ending… they can use that opening to insert a plot leading to a season 2. but isla #1 will not return that is for sure if they do plan a S2… specially if my theory that giftia’s brain are organic (like human brain) and was powered by an alternative limited power source (thus the 9 year life span) is correct… if you are a medical course related graduate you will know what I mean.

    either way, writers can change the story (via a S2 if it will happen) to end it positively. SINCE ITs an OPEN ENDING. what happens to retrieved giftias is not clear or in detail… all we know is that they replace some parts and reinstall a new OS. writers can use those to change the end. eg, the change part are memory banks and are stored in a central supercomputer

    The Last Idiot
    1. Was he really though? I think throughout the show I vaguely remember that I kind of got the impression that this was being implied a few times, that it seemed to be suggested that the chairman neglected raising Tsukasa, getting a Giftia be his surrogate father or something, but it was never explicitly stated- and since it ended up having no plot significance is probably untrue? I could be totally wrong about this, of course…

    2. He wasn’t, his father was an acquaintance with the ceo. I don’t even think they were labeled as friends.

      I believe the only point to that relationship was so they didn’t have to give Tsukasa a proper backstory for why he was there. Simply a “My father asked his friend if his bum son could have a job for the summer” was an easy way to get him in the door, and oddly enough happens quite often in corporations.

  4. Plastic Memories is good, but I think that it would have been better if it was a movie. Trimmed down the scenes (especially the illegal retrievers BS in the middle of the season) and just focused on Isla and Tsukasa.

  5. My question is: would it be worth it? Yes, many experiences are (e.g. having a dog despite the fact that it typically has the lifespan of a Giftia), but in some cases the loss really does outweigh the better parts of a short lived experience. I know that’s not very idealistic, but it’s the truth. Some people never get over the loss of a loved one (especially if you have a very good memory and are able to recall emotions vividly).

    I would be interested to see if Tsukasa would fall in love with a Giftia again–let alone one that has 3 months left to live.

    As for my impression of the show, even though it was nothing spectacular I still liked it. But knowing the ending, I’m kind of thankful I wasn’t as engrossed in their relationship as I’ve been with the romances of some other anime/manga.

  6. I was going strong until the Ferris wheel…….

    God damn anime making me shed manly tears once more. Loved the ending though, the feels train had no brakes, and I have to say thats one of the saddest anime episodes ive seen in quite a long while.

  7. Although I dont think it will happen I would love to see this series pick up giftia after they have been reassigned. Touch a little bit on the rebirth of these robots which is the real tragedy in my opinion. the idea that Isla is somewhere, only a short time afterwards with a new personality is heartbreaking.

  8. Anyway Maybe it is just me but I got a feeling that those daruma dolls have a significance to the story.

    Ep 1 shows 1 eye painted. Story ends and it still shows one eye painted, meaning the goal or probably wish/hope hasnt been achieved or granted

    The Last Idiot
  9. Passerby, thanks for picking up and blogging this amazing show for us, you’re a true bro.

    While waiting for this episode I made a mistake of checking out some other places like MAL to read some comments about it. And it struck me how many people were going the “this episode/show was so bad because we could predict what will happen” route. I mean, SRSLY? What did they expect, a spaceship landing in the amusement park and giving Isla her second life? Or maybe that in fact it’s him who’s giftia, not her? Some other kind of bullshit? This series’ strenght lies in the very fact that we all knew what was coming. And we had to face it.

    I’m amazed how strong Isla turned out to be in this ferris wheel scene. Truly worth the best girl of the season award.

    1. I suppose often one’s reaction to anime (and most media, really) is based on what one expects out of it before they go in, and I think a good portion of viewers watch anime for the thrills (the summer blockbuster crowd). That’s not ‘wrong’, per se, but it does detract from their ability to enjoy a show like Plastic Memories, which is a shame.

  10. Overall, was a nice a ride.

    The one thing I’m really glad they didn’t do was cop out and have Tsukasa miraculously finding some sort of magical “cure” for Isla (given the way he was trying to hard to look at such options a few episodes back) just so they could have a “perfect happy ending”, which would’ve made a lot of the drama, both for themselves and involving various retrievals, feel a bit pointless.

    Heck, from the way the end looked, they didn’t even have Tsukasa’s new partner at SAI be Isla’s body, but with a different mind/personality like they showed recycled Giftia could have done to them when their time runs out. Otherwise, I would’ve expected Tsukasa to have a surprised/shocked/etc. reaction when he looked at them.

    1. Sorry to say that, but your overly long article is pretty much like your review of the show – it carries a thought that could be told better in two or three paragraphs.

    2. I must agree with you about the idea that living in the same old way and doing the same old stuff seems pointless when you are willing to create meaningful memories.
      I also agree with the fact that Tsukasa seemed awfully resigned with Isla’s fate, that’s something that i never understood and maybe that’s what the ending needed. That last moment of despair where he tried to frantically save her; only to find that he couldn’t or something like that…
      I mean we all know about the phases that one needs to go in order to overcome a tragic event: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
      For me that’s the biggest fault in a show that managed to keep me focused when they left the sci-fi plot behind and then still manage to disappoint me in the drama department…
      It’s not memorable, it’s not one of those shows that one will watch again. It was nice, a guy sheds a tear; but all said and done it lacked something.

    1. but that wasn’t the point now wasn’t it? it is still better than half the series we got this season. i can’t stand shows that try to coast trough fanservice alone so when a slice of life like this comes along I tend to snap it up and forgive wonky logic. last one I enjoyed as much as this was Barakamon. as for the giftia bs as you call it, take it as a way to appeal to the japanese otaku and their love of non-human moe. while alhzeimers would of worked or cancer. it would require a completely different setting and might not gotten as wider an audience as the giftia gimmick did. remember for all they gave us such memorable or unremarkable series, all the people involved on the series need to make a living. so if that means add some moe and use a poor robot girl struggle to get it. you dammed right they will.

  11. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed per se, but I did need to recalibrate my assumptions about the show. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but it dealt with equally worthy themes.

    Yeah it wasn’t what I was looking for but it had a certain charm and the feels I got at the beginning whenever they would ‘reap’ a giftia was touching. But they got away from that and focused more on the romance. Show was still enjoyable but for sure not what I expected.

    Rick Anime
  12. Stringing back the series description from the Spring 2015 preview:

    In a future not too far away, androids that look exactly like humans begin to spread across the world. The android production company SA Corp created the Giftia, a new kind of android that has the most emotions and human-like qualities out of any model ever seen. However, due to problems with the technology, the androids have a service life, and once they pass that, it gets bad. For this reason, SA Corp created a terminal service in order to retrieve Giftia that have gone past their service life. Mizugaki Tsukasa (Takumi Yasuaki) is a new employee at the terminal service. He forms a team with the Giftia girl Isla (Amamiya Sora) to retrieve androids near the end of their lives.

    I would dare to say that no one expected a love story going to its first episode. I’m pretty sure the commenters here that stayed with the show to the end was not as bothered with the lack of proper explanation of the world from the start (in a similar vein as Tsukasa staying with the origially expressionless Isla all the way to the end, despite the knowing of her small amount of time left).

    It’s kinda sad in a less obvious manner as we were teased with the world the series was in the entire way through and have almost nothing to show for the combing information from each week.

    So, what’s left? Raw emotions since we all see how it will end (barring any false hope that should have been crushed in earlier episodes). Did it do well? Despite the fallen-flat jokes and less than usual amount of information about the world, yes it did well enough. Though personally, I think the series can do better without quite a number of those flat jokes (as evident by the final episode)…

    …Also, someone on reddit saved Isla’s reaction in the end the opening sequences of episode 2 to 13.

    …And of course the redditor compiled it into a single gif.

    Well, it was great reading and sharing thoughts here. Until next cour, hopefully with some unexpectedly good shows to be surprised by.

  13. Dear Passerby,

    Thank you for blogging this show al the way trough the end. And thank you for sharing your personal reasons for why you liked this show.I always think it is quite brave for a blogger to do so, so thank you again.

    I also think I wil always remember plastic memories as something bitter sweet. Mostly the bitter in that there wasn’t more of it. But even so this show really made me feel invested with the charachters the story and the heartbreak.

    I found something quite suprising in a SFI show, I found something really human. I think one of the underlying themes of the show was a silent one. How human is a robot, this is ofcourse an ancient SFI theme. In this show I found it expetionally well done, I loved the relationship between Isla and Tsukasa. I loved the way that nobody looked weird at them together how accepted it all was. (except the wanderar option thing ofcourse)

    I loved the way this show sometimes akwardly stumbled trough it’s different fases and themes. And that it ended so strong and full of emotion. For me, this show was the hidden gem of the season.

  14. have not watched the ep yet but I am guessing that all the dead giftias as reused (it is like clean reinstalling windows 7, all the personal files from the past are gone).
    They could have done something like the “fifty first days” movie where everytime Ayla is rebooted she is shown a tape with a summary of her past memories and they live happily ever after, expect when the time comes when Tsukasa dies then the next time Ayla is rebotted she is not shown the tape and therefore she no longer has any knowledge of Tsukasa existance.
    Also it seems that Ayla never closed the deal with Tsukasa. At least in Tsukihime Shiki got some.

  15. Greatly Put.

    Memorises are records electrically stored. This does make wonder about the thought of loosing such memorises.

    We all know age is something that will catch up and whether it be Alz/Dem we hold our memoires to reassure our present and future self.

    Sadly, I seen the worst at it ugliest. But with no possible cure what else is there but to carry on. There is no upgrade or reprogram I mean no way of even igniting through pictures or film.

    Once Again, love the analysis of this show from start to end you have done a great job.

    1. Shows like Plastic Memorise make me more fervently wish that our scientists find a cure for Alzheimer’s soon. And watching your loved ones lose themselves as they waste away is often harsher than the death itself. Maybe I’d prefer to be retrieved too, if I had the choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *