Plastic Memories ep4: blissful, ignorant indulgence

There is a whole new world opening up to us in this show. And while information is good, there’s a reason ignorance is bliss. Perhaps some of us can’t handle the ideas of the near and far future. Perhaps you don’t want to think that your parents or love ones will die, often before you. You don’t want to think about things like being old and alone, or dying and finding oblivion on the other side. And maybe even more cruely, you don’t want to think about how the person who has been taking care of you for as long as you can remember doesn’t have a soul, or will be leaving you forever in a week. Yeah, thanks a lot Plastic Memories. Thanks for making me think about the harshest of realities.

This is far from being the show’s fault, but upon learning the relationship and situation that was being tackled this episode, I had a hard time telling the characters to suck it up and move forward.  The relationship is between a young boy who lost his parents over three years ago, and a Giftia that’s been with him since before they died.  So of course it’s time for his only link to his past to be severed.  And we find out rather awkwardly why this is going to be a challenge.  It seems he’s having a bit of a crisis with his identity after learning that Marcia, his caretaker, has been a Giftia this whole time.  He’s only an eight year old boy, who has had his world shattered again, and now he’s coping by believing everything in the past is a lie.  It’s an incredibly tense and awkward situation for young team of Tsukasa and Isla to tackle.

While they’re busy tackling this little crisis, there are several other subplots ongoing and starting.  To start, despite Isla’s harsh rejections of Tsukasa in the last episode, we see things pay off this week.  Isla actually makes an effort to talk to him outside of a work setting!  This is a huge step!  Even better, we see during this episode a strong possible cause for her actions.  Isla recalls for us, her memory of her break up Kazuki.  It was Kazuki calling off their partnership, probably to spare themselves the pain of seeing her deteriorate and then become reclaimed.  She attempted to spare Isla’s feelings, but we can see the after affects it has had on the poor android.  Her attempted to spare Isla has translated in to Isla’s attempt to spare Tsukasa.  And in both cases, the tactic has caused emotional harm.  I’m really happy to see that hurdle traversed.

The other developments involve the long hinted problem of efficiency in their branch of Terminal Services.  It seems that their heartfelt attempts have resulted in skyrocketing costs to the company.  It has gotten to the point where their manager, Takao is getting reamed by his higher ups for a consistent failure to meet their standards.  He’s on the brink, and this no doubt spells future disaster and upheaval for the local department.

The presence of rogue Terminal Services or Black Market Terminal Services is brought up to us as well.  And this seems like a natural extension of the world.  You have these highly advanced, likely very expensive and unique commodities running around, and if people can find a way to kidnap or repurpose them, I’m sure they’ll be willing to work for that quick payoff.  There will always be conartists and thieves, and this seems to be the worst of both worlds.  I doubt the world of this anime is so cutesy and naive that they merely take the expirant Giftia home to help them clean and decorate.

We hear when Isla and Tsukasa first get their assignment that Michiru would naturally be a better fit for the mission.  And this is explained to us as we learn more about circumstances behind.  Michiru halfway through jumps in to help out, revealing to everyone that she was raised by a Giftia after her father died, and the story is actually tragic.  We learn that her younger self refused the Terminal Services outright for so long, that her Giftia was allowed to become what they call a “Wanderer”.  These are Giftia that have deteriorated so much that the only thing they have left are their mechanical abilities and instinct.  In this case, the Wanderer is capable of badly hurting someone.  It explains very much why this is done in the first place.  We aren’t just dealing with a piece of merchandise that just wears out breaks and doesn’t function.  If a Giftia is allowed to become a Wanderer, it could prove possitively disasterous to the company and especially for any victims.  It makes me wonder why the owners are even allowed to put up as much resistance as they do.  You would think this would be a hard law, enforceable by police.  And maybe we’re getting to that point and it just hasn’t been revealed yet.  But until I learn that is a fact, I will continue to be puzzled by the difficulty of some of these situations.  Of course, like many things, it may only be a contrivance for better story telling.

In the end, the job is accomplished through the miracle and magic of food.  Marcia is helped by the Terminal Services staff in cooking the boy’s favorite foods from childhood, including a strawberry tart that was one of the fondest dishes from the past.  This is all accomplished to great effect on his birthday, bringing the poor boy to tears, and allowing him to finally accept Marcia reality.  A beautiful and somber ending, no?  Well it would be if not for those damned Black Market Terminal Services phonies popping up the day before to steal Marcia away.

I dare say that I’m almost grateful to this episode for not just merely tearing my heart out like the first one did.  I was for sure when I saw the set-up for this involved a lone boy and his Giftia that I would just be crushed by the end.  What we actually get is a very informative episode that greatly expands on the world of Plastic Memories.  The plot is being revealed and ironed out at a very even pace.  And as a fan of in-depth world building, I love seeing how these situations can turn dark and involve criminal activity or vacuous end to a Giftias life as it’s a mere hollow shell of what it used to be.  And you’ll have to forgive me for this, but I can’t help but compare its situations and setups to that of a Dark Souls game.

Pardon the paraphrasing, but in those games the victims in the story become Hollows.  These are creatures that eventually have their souls withered away over time to the point of going insane and losing any and all things about them that were once human.  Instead, they are mere creatures surviving on instince (sound familiar?), attacking all who attract them indiscriminately.  The cycle for Giftia differs quite a bit, with the exponentially shorter and more finite lifespan towards this process, but the symptoms are eerily similar.  Just as I can compare Isla to being an elderly person on the edge of succumbing her whole personality to some mind debilitating disease, think dementia; I can also compare her to those hollows.  Though the effects of dementia do more to mute a person’s existence than do harm to them.

I find this all fascinating and scary.  In the long term, it begs questions about emotions, relationships and the science behind them.  In terms of humans, it can mostly all be explained with science.  But it complicates things if you consider the posibility of things being programmed.  The definition of life is already murky enough.  Can we handle the possible answers if we open up our minds to these androids being alive as well?  Or is blissful ignorance the way we choose to indulge our changing world?

Further Reading:

Kyoukai no Rinne ep3: it’s all about meeting that quota

This is damn near depressing. But I suppose the afterlife wasn’t set up for a half-breed and his problems. I have to wonder why being poor makes for so much more excellent entertainment? It sure as hell doesn’t work out that way in real life. My inability to buy a Kudos bar and soda back in the day wouldn’t entertain my own mother.

*sigh*

From the very beginning, the look on Tamako’s face should’ve let me know she was up to mischief, purposeful or not.  The mystery behind Rinne’s origins is mostly solved here, as we see in this episode how Rinne came to be – sort of.  And we have a mischievous cat to thank for it all.  Can’t remember I gave a dumb cat credit for much of anything.

One half of the story is told by Rinne, as he explains how his mother ( a full shinigami) showed up to reap the soul of a sickly man with but a minute left to live.  True to the form of a god, she succumbs to his human handsomeness and throws all sense out of the window.  She bargains to give the man an extra fifty years of life and marries him A.S.A.P.!  Unfortunately, she does like so many black parents do with their kids, she opens up a line of credit in someone else’s name.  Part of her bargain for his extra life is to have her grandchildren take over part of her work if she’s unable to handle exponentially higher quota placed upon her.  Does she meet the quota?  Of course not, or else there wouldn’t be a story!  Hence why her half-blood grandson is left in over his head with shinigami work.

The other half is explained by Rokumon, the mischievous black cat spirit that has been hanging around him lately.  Turns out that he’s not really suited to shinigami work, since he doesn’t have the natural tools that they have.  So he has to go about dealing with the problem with tools he has to buy.  These tools are expensive, and his work is time consuming; hence why he uses the thermometer box for offerings and salary.  His somewhat unscrupulous ways can be seen as more forgivable in this context, especially in comparison to his far more unscrupulous black cat guest.  Rokumon sees no issue with stacking the deck in order to get more work and meet a quota.  He even shows up a food meant to empower and embolden evil spirits, so that they terrorize the populace.  This makes the shinigami seem more important, and increases the pay, offerings and jobs.  Though, it’s still pretty sh*tty that he’s willing to scare or endanger humans for a commission.

I don’t know whether to think Rokumon and Rinne make a good, or horrible team.  Everything that happened that was bad this episode was the fault of one or the other.  Rinne never investigated the rat spirit that was skalking the clubhouse he was squatting in, and Rokumon’s stupid evil spirit food turned it into a terror that attacked dozens of people and beat Rinne’s ass.  Though on the positive side, Rokumon was able to stomp the emboldened rat spirit single-handedly (as a cat spirit should do to a rat spirit), and he saved Rinne some money and an ass whooping, too.

In the end, Rinne sees the benefit of having Rokumon around with some insight and insistence from Sakura.  She takes a liking too him after learning his plight.  After all we learn that he used to work for Tamako, but was fired not too long ago.  Though I still think he’s a trouble maker, and that he was probably fired for that very trait.  I can at least rest somewhat happy that he’s not getting a great job by working for Rinne, who is at the very bottom of the shinigami totem pole.

A pretty good episode for one that was mainly dedicated to introducing a new, seemingly minor character and shoving some exposition at us.  I think this show is slowly growing on me.  I find myself interested more and more in seeing Rinne work off his lowly debt, and using Sakura’s wallet as his way to tap into more power.  It’s an interesting concept and set-up when you finally learn what’s going on.  I’m looking forward to the next episode, especially with what appears to be a new rival character showing up.  I wonder if he’s gonna be another poor person, too?  They’re so fun to watch.

Note:  if someone left me five f*cking yen as even a tip for doing my work, I’d haunt them for years!  This has nothing to even do with being a shinigami!  I’d just haunt them for being a bag of d*cks!

Further Reading:

Check-in Station: Knights of Sidonia S2 ep1 (behold an ugly new god)

Knights of Sidonia has been able to give me that special “burn” that I was only able to get from Evangelion.  That special feeling of being in a world that is not only at the brink of existence, but at the edge of reality.  A world that is dying and being reborn without humanity.  It makes me forget just how cool and awkward the machinery is in this world.  And I’m pleased to see the show continue on this trek towards the destruction.  As morbid and dour as it sounds, the journey to see humanity destroyed or evolve out of existence is beyond intriguing to me.  Leave it up to the show’s new villain to put it in clear terms anyone can understand.

Reading the source material past the part, I was very much looking forward to the new arrivals promised in this second season.  One is clearly working towards the destruction of humanity in the guise of a human, the other could not appear more alien, but strives for the protection and understanding of it, even as a prisoner and pariah.   But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The beginning of this episode is about Read more…

Check-in Station: Ninja Slayer ep1 (I wasn’t expecting what I should have expected)

I’m going to come out and say it.  I don’t have nearly enough experience with this kind of anime.  I see part of this show and I immediately think hyper violent 70s era Go Nagai.  And I didn’t watch nearly enough of that you comprehend what I’m seeing now.  That said, I came to see a show where ninjas are killing ninjas.  And that’s what I’m getting, along with very creative weirdness.

There’s not much for me to dig into here.  There’s not much in the way of pretext.  We basically get a set-up, see what’s going down and then are left to assume that there is going to be quite a big more bloodshed in the future.  The hero appears to be an undead, brought bad from the death, or near death by a vengeful spirit.  He appears to be nothing more than another victim in his salary man suit, about to suffer a painful, atrocious death at the hands of a pair of sadistic weirdo shinobi.  And that may have been true, if not for the vengeful spirit that turned him into  a skilled killing machine.

The back story is simple, and could apply to most any vengeful spirit, or superhero or vigilante.  He had a family, they were murdered.  You could blind him and give him Kingpin as a nemesis and he’d be Daredevil.  You make him a burnt out ex-soldier, put a skull on his chest and make him Punisher (actually, he’s pretty close to Punisher in terms of motivations and lethality).  I’m not expecting much depth for him in the future really.  But I wouldn’t mind it either.

The real stars of this show were the animation styles.  I was shocked when I saw the South Park style animation take over for a bit, I say this for lack of a better term.  I think many a person would accuse studio Trigger of being cheap with this little production.  The drastic changes in art style coupled with  several very long, still a pauses in production lean to that.  But I don’t doubt for a moment that this is just intentional lengthening for the sake of tension and atmosphere.  It’s weird to see a show that mostly appears hectic, but in actuality is in no rush to deliver its story.

I do wish I had come into this production with more knowledge of the shows it is so clearly influenced by.  But that’s just not the case.  As it is, I still wish to enjoy this show for the unique, violent and mindless romp it appears to be.  All I’m searching for is true entertainment, so if this show keeps delivery this kind of stylish, over-the-top ninja violence, then it will be an easy watch for me.

Further Reading:

 

Plastic Memories ep3: how to romance your robutt!

I was a little puzzled watching most of this episode.  And for a moment I lost some faith in the show’s direction.  But there’s something to be said for patience, and that it’s one of the major unspoken themes of this show.  To witness these goofy scenes is to also witness someone trying to make memories, and someone refuses to accept them.  Even as the goofy comedy and sexual innuendo is splashed all over this episode, it still shows focus in delivering and embelishing on its points.  If you knew you were going to die at a set, relatively soon point (1-3 months per se), what would you do with that time?  Both Isla and Tsukasa’s answers to that question are equally valid.  The real question and challenge will be to see who comes over to the other’s side by the end.

By the end.

The main set-up for Read more…

Kyoukai no Rinne ep2: that was surprisingly simple

Well that was a hell of a lot more interesting than the first episode. The show has been nice enough to give us a few answers while leaving one big nice mystery for us to ponder moving forward. And that question isn’t anything along the existential route. It’s just Rinne. What business does this boy have being a reaper?

This cute little episode made Read more…

Check-in Station: Your Lie in April ep6 (can you overcome passion, can you wipe away memories?)

I can’t say for what aspect of this show’s development I’m more happy about.  There’s the appearance of new rivalries, the development of one between friends, or how the goals of this show are starting to flesh themselves out more.  Or perhaps, I should be happy for having one genuinely pleasant episode.  The oversappiness continues, but I can’t say I’m not slowly developing an attachment to this show and its characters.  Even as their more base emotions are starting to be confronted in this series.

I’ve enjoyed how Read more…

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