Home > Episode by Episode > Plastic Memories ep2: gaining a unique perspective

Plastic Memories ep2: gaining a unique perspective

Watching this episode with someone who hadn’t seen the first was an interesting experience.  If you were to reverse the episodes watched, 1 and 2, you’d get a very mysterious first episode, followed by one that packs one hell of a wallop.  Though if you viewed the episodes in the order you should have, this episode was quite a let down.  The phrase, “beating around the bush” comes to mind.  Though something universal, is that by the end, you have a solid understanding of Isla’s predicament and the reason for her nature.  The Rei Ayanami archetype takes on a surprising bit of depth in this series.  It’s a very different type of somber that applies to this little android.

I’ve been beaten over the head by the sadness of androids/robots in popular media for quite some time.  Though, generally I find the drama surrounding that predicament in Western culture often to short and bland, or far too romanticized.  Scenes like the Terminator giving the thumbs up as it’s lowered into its oblivion fall into the former category.  While a movie like A.I. tried so hard and failed so awkwardly.  But in Eastern, mainly Japanese culture, real depth and intensity is powered into this subject quite often.  Whether it’s a being without a soul, like Rei of Evangelion, or actual complete androids falling into decay and gripping with the idea of death (again, oblivion), there is often emotion pouring out of the story.  For these two episodes of Plastic Memories, I’m almost shocked by how subtle the show has been regarding the subject.  And that subtlety is episode 2’s most positive aspect.

Getting into the beginning of the episode, we meet Yasutaka Hanada.  He’s a veteran of the company who has been away for some time, and is just now getting back into office work.  Of course, my currently least favorite character in the show, Kazuki takes up her usual role of attempting to bully and question people.  But we see that this doesn’t work on Yasutaka at all, instead we get to see him dig into Tsukasa’s past and reasons for being with the company.  He’s quite upfront about Tsukasa getting connections to get his job, but it also appears that he doesn’t care much about it at all.  Most likely, he’s testing Tsukasa out to see if he can have any of those benefits rub off on him.  Unscrupulous, he is.  I’m not about to gloss over the real point of this moment though.  We learn that the reason Tsukasa needs help is because he’s a flunky who couldn’t pass his college entrance exams due to sickness.  Why the hell this should be looked down upon is beyond me.  But I will admit that this is likely very much a difference in cultures, and Japan’s business culture has been known to be quite hard and ruthless.  I don’t doubt that extends into the educational field as well.  Oh well, it was an interesting encounter, but in mere moments Yasutaka is whisked away by his very serious and stalwart partner, Sherry.  And like that, we must all move on.

Something that confuses me throughout the episode is how anyone could possibly mistake Isla’s mistakes for Tsukasa’s.  If you’re watching these retrieval mission scenes from the perspective of this being the first episode, you can’t quite figure out what’s going wrong, but you certainly know it’s not Tsukasa.  Though if you’ve seen the first episode, you know why it’s likely happening, and you know the division veterans know that it’s likely to be expected of her.  Though that does bring up the question of why the hell they’d put her back in service.  A question they better answer in the next couple of episodes.  Regardless, this group is easily fooled an unattentive.  The problem is supposed to be that Tsukasa is taking credit for Isla’s screw ups.  But the problem with that is that Tsukasa practically does nothing until things go haywire, and then it’s usually too late.  Any incident report, or witness testimony would reveal that Isla’s acting in a suboptimal way.  I suspect Kazuki most of all to have the heads up on this.

Speaking of her, she’s a terrible drunk.  I mean dreadful!  But that pitiful scene of her at the bar with Tsukasa isn’t wasted.  We do learn that Kazuki used to be Isla’s partner, which explains the protectiveness and depth of care she shows Isla.  Though the situation isn’t helped when Tsukasa says he wants to get to know Isla better, and she just assumes he wants a f*ck doll or something.  It always bothered me in shows with this kind of set up.  The shows where there’s a new guy that is entering a tight group of colleagues.  I can’t stand how everyone just sh*ts on the new guy and assumes the worst about them right off the bat until that person is able to perform some miracle to make them trust him.  In my eyes, all it does is paint the people the main character is trying to bond with, as a bunch of cruel a-holes.  It’s a major reason why I didn’t enjoy watching so much of a classic show like Eureka Seven.  Granted, this isn’t as bad, but Kazuki is so unreasonable and such a stereotypical character that I just would rather do something else than watch a scene with her in it.

Something I very much did enjoy watching, was the scene of Isla’s training.  It shows in a very subtle way, how somber and hopeless Isla’s situation is.  When you see training, you assume it’s an act meant to improve or reacquire something.  But as the engineers Eru and Master Tetsuguro explain in this scene, it is completely fruitless for Isla’s kind.  She cannot improve, her mind won’t get better with practice or activity, nor will her physical functionality improve.  This is because that too relies on her ever deteriorating mind.  You see this, and you really do realize that Isla is far from being the young girl she’s built to mimic.  At this point in her “life”, Isla is an old woman who is slowly losing her faculties due to old age and disease.  The eventual rampancy eats away at everyone part of her by the secon, d.  Even still, I like how Tsukasa takes this awkward and rough moment, confronts her, and shows how he’ll go all out when it comes to supporting her.  He will even switch roles, if it means supporting his partner.  The dedication is admirable, and lightens up a scene that can be quite depressing if you think about it.

The next interesting turn soon comes when we see Michiru confront Isla about Tsukasa.  It’s been burning her up seeing the failing partnership between Isla and Tsukasa, and she decides to bang out a solution by talking to Isla.  Unfortunately, her attempt to do so and confide in Isla ends up revealing how much of a burden Isla has actually been to her partner.  But Tsukasa is up front in revealing that she’s actually the one that’s been a burden to the team.  This then leads Michiru to confront Tsukasa, but I’m impressed by how the actually confrontation works out.  Instead of just biting Tsukasa’s head off (figuratively), she actually addresses something he’s been failing to get the whole time he’s been working with them. She gives him good solid instructions and guidelines, cluing him in on the extra effort that is taken to gently work past the sorry of the owners and Giftias parting.  The job isn’t just about retrieving the ailing Giftia.  The job is also about mental health and cherishment of the precious remaining moments of the Giftia and its owner.  And Tsukasa put that information and his own hard work to good use.  They took one of their horribly failed retrievals and completed one by the end of the episode.

Going back to my earlier thoughts about how this would play out if it were the very first episode shown in the series, up until the very end you probably would have been confused as to what was really going on here.  But the double whammy of seeing a retrieval, and then learning how finite and close Isla’s expiration is would do more than enough to send the message home.

Overall, it took more than one watch of this episode, but I really did appreciate it by the end.  I don’t believe there was much wasted effort in this endeavor.  And there were some nice moments and revelations coupled throughout this entry.  Going forward, I hope for and desire more depth.  I’m not saying the show is shallow or simple at all.  I just crave more information, more examples and more of a past to this show.  I find the science, the science fiction and the potential psychology of this show to be fascinating.  And it fills me with hope that I may be watching something special.

Further Reading:

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