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?