Plastic Memories ep8: come to terms, with the moment

Another slightly rough watch.

I just recently got done watching a show where people were fighting for the rights to keep their homes from being demolished.  Every last one of those people fought with passion to the thing they worked so hard to gain.  And most lost, and some lost more than their homes.  All consumed with the goal of keeping the supplemental thing they had rightfully worked so hard to maintain, they lost their primary goals and dreams.  Their wives & families left, their money for retirement shrank away.  Others lost their homes and cling to the only thing they had left, their partners.  In the end, Tsukasa is going to have to come to terms with his eventual loss and cherish what he has while he still has it.

This episode did exactly what I wanted the next episode to do, which was move forward.  We’re introduced to a new character, Andie.  She’s an employee of an adjacent Terminal Services department that has come to find another owner who has gone rogue with their Giftia.  Tsukasa and Isla are assigned to her, and while she mentioned that their a bit weird as far as partners go, it’s not nearly as weird as her encounter with Eru, who mistakes her for a former partner/friend.  Eru is so weird and lecherous that I’m usually confused about her relationships with females, even if they rebuff her.  The real kicker here is that Andie is a Giftia who shares the body of a long passed Giftia named Olivia, one Eru used to be very close to.  All this happens at the perfect time, as Tsukasa is beginning to feel desperate about Tsukasa’s situation, asking others if Giftia can ever regain memories from their past life.  What Tsukasa (and I to a certain extent) did not realize is that their personalities aren’t just wiped.  They are totally replaced.  A completely different OS is put into a body.  In essence, a soul is removed from a body and replaced with another.  It’s a different person entirely.  Tsukasa is just failing or refusing to grasp this.

Andie and Eru coincidentally striking up a relationship is the perfect way to show Tsukasa how flawed his hopes and ideas about Giftia are.  Through Eru, he learns about his possible future.  And through Eru, he learns that he should be focusing less on how to “save” or “resurrect” Isla.  Now this is still anime, so almost anything goes.  There may still be a chance that Tsukasa is a special princess and can get the impossible thing that he badly wants.  But for now, I anticipate him being a man at the end and accepting what’s been predetermined since long before he showed up.

I was pleasantly surprised by Eru this episode.  For the most part, she’s just been a pair of boobs grabbing other boobs.  It’s the kinda character I get very annoyed by; incredibly unrealistic, one dimensional and loud.  But in this episode, we do get to see her connection to the Giftia.  It’s not just about being a great engineer.  She has attached feeling for these machines, as well.  It was a little rough watching her struggle to differentiate her experiences and memories with the Giftia she once loved, with this totally different Giftia she’s learning now.  It really does strike home that there is a different “person” in the same body.  It is an incredibly harsh reality, especially if you wish to view Giftia like humans.  Could you imagine closely, evenly intimately knowing someone for years, then suddenly they are a completely different person who has never met you before?

The big payoff (and let down) for this episode is when at the carnival, Tsukasa finally confesses his love for Isla.  It was a great moment, a moment completely destroyed when she turns him down!  I’m not taking this too seriously, as Isla likely cares for Tsukasa the same way.  But she likely doesn’t want to hurt him with their quickly oncoming departure.  So I’m sure this will be properly addressed in the next episode.

Overall, it was a good heart-wrenching episode of Plastic Memories.  Not too much time was wasted on any one thing.  The world gets fleshed out a little bit more, along with some of its characters.  The show even took time to show how the Terminal Services world really works, as everyone else in the company in that department is far more ruthless and pragmatic.  Ripping apart memories seems to be what they do, and they don’t shy away from it.  Whatever happens in the future, Tsukasa should count himself as lucky to have loved and known Isla, as well as to be working with such a nice group of people.

Further Reading:

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Knights of Sidonia S2 ep8: lovingly preserved culture and crushes

If not for how much I’ve started liking the characters that actually survive in this show, I’d have a real problem with the slow down in pace here. This series started as hard sci-fi horror, but has been heavily invested in harem comedy territory lately. You’d never know they were at war with god-like alien monsters with all the jostling for penis that’s been going on.

I suppose that I should be grateful that a series that tends to be heavily focused on action and death takes time to build on culture and relationships.  And there are some really nice moments sprinkled through this episode.  We see Nagate, Izana, Shiranui and Yuhata sitting down to enjoy some edgy action movie for a night.  We see even more focus on Izana than in last episode.  As the show seems to focus on her perspective more than anyone else’s.  Nagate seems like almost a side character sometimes.  As we get more personal time and views from Izana, Yuhata, Shiraui and Izana’s grandma, Yure.

Probably my favorite moment was seeing Yure and Izana put on actual dresses and go out for a quick meal at a cafe.  It was short, but it was also nice to see characters in something besides space suits and cadet gear.  Both of them filled out those dresses pretty nicely, I’d enjoy seeing someone cosplay in those outfits.  God knows I could do without another slave Leia cosplay.  And that moment did allow some important questions, or at least circumstances to be brought up.  One of those is Yure’s seemingly infinite youth.  Izana is her grandmother, but Yure looks middle-aged at worst.  It’s not just lifespans, but youth that are preserved in spectacular fashion in this world.  But that only seems to apply to certain people.  I desperately would like to know why and how that has come to be.

Unfortunately, because of Ochiai’s disaster from over a century ago we may never know what really went on in the past.  I don’t doubt that the Gauna are the key, and that really disturbs me.  It makes me feel that I may not like what the truth behind this seeming immortality truly is.  But it also saddens me that we may never know, unless one day Ochiai decides to give us an info dump at some point.  Though right now I’m leaning towards those worms that Ochiai used to preserve his personality and consciousness are also what the Kobayashi, the Immortal Council and other seeming immortals use to gain that ability.  It may be a simple matter of producing clones (which this society seems to make without issue), and then implanting those worms with their “souls” in them into the host.  It may be the reason Nagate’s predecessor  rebelled the way he did.  Seeing the “souls” of the youth bearing his face snuffed out because of his desire to carry on forever.

This still doesn’t exactly explain the constant, evolving attacks by Gauna against the Sidonia.  But if I’m going to be playing with theory, then I’ll go with the human quest to milk them for their own immortality is what starts and continues this war.  In essence, we have stolen from and angered a god, and now it wrathfully hunts humanity down in search for its lost gem.

Getting back to my positive talk about the characters and culture from this episode; the harem aspect of this show is doing a surprisingly good job of covering for one of the shows early and worst weaknesses.  The cast of this show for awhile wasn’t terribly memorable.  The combination of all the murdered youths, the clones, and the masked people made a large cast feel very small and disconnected.  It’s no wonder that what remains is a bunch of freaks for the main cast of buddies.  Nagate is basically a caveman from the past who still is a type of social outcast because of his lack of social skills and his great piloting skills.  Yet strangely, you’d almost assume he’s the only eligible male on the colony given the ever growing and intensifying harem that surrounds him.  Izana was once a gender-less nothing, forever overshadowed by most any other character on-screen.  Though most of those other characters are now dead, Izana has now become female, started growing out of her shell and developing a real personality.  Yuhata is a little genius strategist who is secretly a giant gunpla nerd with a large and passionate crush on Nagate.  And Shiraui is just… she’s just a freak out and out.  I’ve already covered how weird her existence is.  And with these characters now living as well as working together, we’re starting to see a real dynamic set of relationships.  It’s a wonderful contrast from all the seemingly random encounters that seemed to happen for most of the show.

Now on the downside, there wasn’t much action to this episode.  Just some fumbling about in space really, but there was no attempt to build on the terror at the end of the previous episode.  There we see colonists die a horrible and unknown death just as they’re gloating about finding paradise and avoiding the Gauna.  It’s clear the Gauna killed them all, but we don’t know why or exactly how.  Even more frighteningly, it seems as though they discovered the Gauna on that planet.  It was as if they were just there, waiting.  And yet this episode doesn’t address that at all!  We don’t even get to see a short aftermath shot, or the terrified face on a dead body post massacre.  Instead, it’s just a thread left dangling before us as the show tells us to enjoy these nice relaxing character development scenes.  It’s a bit frustrating.

Sidonia has shown at times that it has a knack for pointing out a goal, while still appearing aimless.  This is what I felt this episode.  There were some nice personal character moments in this episode, but it still feels inexcusable to just give the tiniest teases about what’s happening next.  We know the massive hive cluster will have to be dealt with, and the colonists’ fates have to be discovered and addressed, too.  So give us something to even remind us that those things are a priority.  Even in the most light-hearted romcom type of moments, we should never forget the sci-fi horror that this show can dish out.

Note: the thousand year village looked amazing!  It really strikes home how much this is the last piece of Japan in this universe, a most precious piece of their history and culture most lovingly preserved.  Also, the technology of this world is really is awesome, but I probably would have been like Shiraui and been soaking in the joy of having a kotatsu.

Further Reading

Sound! Euphonium ep5: they’re awesome!

This show is being enjoyed by me in the most nostalgic and biased way possible.  It’s hard to look on something that romances and plays to (pun intended) the most positive memories of your adolescence.  But glancing past my rose-colored lenses, I am enjoying seeing this simple story of coming of age and independence unfold.  Kumiko has hitched her hopes and dreams to nothing, something unproven totally.  And in the end, that may pay off the most.

Silly annual physical scenes aside, this episode got me excited to see how this previously haphazard band was coming along.  And we’re not left with much of a mystery for long.  The students have changed into dedicated, hard working musicians.  And you see the anticipation and excitement and hope build as each step progresses further.  From receiving the uniforms, to the grueling repetitive practices in the heat, the actual packing of instruments and students onto the bus to the event; it all builds nicely.  And then when they play-!  Yes!  It was nice to see that little triumph.  It was nice to see the crowd acknowledge that they were now taking notice, when they didn’t before!

What I find also satisfying is to see the silly rift between Kumiko and Reina dissolve bit by bit.  Though it’s ridiculously awkward, the walls of misunderstanding are progressively coming down.  Like the band, they’re coming together, bonding through shared time and sweat.

I guess the only flaw is that this episode was pretty devoid of conflict.  If anything, it seems this show has the current band coming to grips with its disastrous past and the people around it.  Right now, the band has already far surpassed the one from last year.  But with what appears to be a similar group in charge, you have to wonder what the deciding factor is.  The relationship between Asuka and Haruki seemed to be an important part of that.  It seems very much like their roles are reversed from what you’d expect them to be, with the shy one being the president and the outgoing one being the vice-president.  It’s even more glaring a dichotomy when you see Asuka is the drum major – the leader of the band on the field!

The past of this band seems to be the more interesting situation, as the present for the current students is smoothing out nicely.  I don’t doubt that at some point these two things will come to a head.

For now, I’m getting out of here and replaying that scene with band playing and marching.  It gets my hyped!

Further Reading:

Plastic Memories ep7: waste not, what little time you have

I can imagine this episode didn’t meet with a ton of favorable reviews. I’ve already heard quite a few complaints about how weak and flawed this show’s narrative has been. And all the fluff in this episode doesn’t help my defense of it any.

Much of this episode somewhat bored me, while I generally appreciate character development, sometimes a simple situation can be stretched out.  The whole situation with Tsukasa attempting to ask out Isla, and then Isla and girls talking over how the date should go felt elongated to me.  Everything was done to keep this a self contained episode, not showing much in the way of a reaction to Tsukasa knowing of Isla’s soon coming demise.

I do find a couple of this to be intriguing, the first being Isla’s surprisingly neutral yet strong emotional response to the amusement park.  On one hand, it was home to a singular traumatic event, which was the dissolving of her partnership with Kazuki by Kazuki’s will.  On the other hand, she seems to genuinely enjoy seeing groups of happy people just being around each other.  It seemed like a decent pay off to see the couple actually spend time together on a date.  I was for sure that some terrible event would come and ruin the whole thing.  And that brings me to the second intriguing event.

Tsukasa is a surprisingly frail dude.  I thought his appendicitis was just a case of extremely unfortunate luck.  Put aside the absurdity of there being no excuses for someone to retake a test, even in the event of hospitalization, and you begin to see a faintly painted picture of sickly and unlucky soul.  Unfortunately, two events do not make for a pattern.  We can’t divulge anything from this aside from his potential exhaustion due to working too hard with too little calories to support him.

Other than that, not really much happened, and there was no progression in the plot – only time.  And while time is of the essence in this story, it still doesn’t count as plot.

I feel that I may be making the same mistake I’ve made with other shows with interesting concepts.  This show may not get anywhere close to the hard sci-fi that I wish to see from it.  The show may be taking advantage of the proven desire of anime fans to fall in love with a soulless red-eyed, blue-haired doll.  And if that were the case, I would find it quite hard to not be bitter.  The mere concept is too good and has too much potential to just be a mere romcom with a penchant for yanking tears out of your eyes.

In the future, I will continue to hope that this show attempts to sure up its world building, its sci-fi and answer some hard questions.  We’re far past the point of understanding between these main characters.  The show has to go deeper.  If not, the little time this show has left will be wasted.

Note:  good lord, the animation seemed really uneven and terrible in parts of this episode.  It’s one thing when it’s Michiru’s crazy faces.  I continue to be entertained by those.  But some characters, especially Isla, just looked grossly off-model.

Further Reading:

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep7: boobs equal lady

For all the constant death and chaos of this show, I find myself appreciating the silly moments more and more.  It’s funny how when you clear up your preconceptions and fresh perspective can make all the difference.  For all its very light elements, there is a harem running through this show.  So when the action dies down, it’s nice to have scenes now with established characters working through their own real life issues.  Though an impromptu sex change is a bit on the obtuse side of life events.

OK, raise your hands if you DIDN’T think that manufacturing a Gauna into a giant planet destroying weapon was a bad idea.  Right.  Hands should all be down.  Granted, Shiranui has been a resounding success.  And I’m still puzzled by why its worked out so well.  I don’t think anyone realizes how important Nagate has been to the equation.  This is reflected in this latest experiment.  Ochiai can conjure up the projects, but he doesn’t totally understand them.  Kobayashi seems to be enamoured and blinded by unfettered power.  And both of these fools are so powerful that no one can stop them.  Even as this experiment literally blows up in their face and does massive damage to the colony, things just continue down the same road.  It’s madness.

On the domestic side of things, there are plenty of smaller threads being tugged on, some for nearly the first time.  Starting off, Samari, the ace veteran pilot finally has some sit down time with Nagate, gets drunk and offers to photosynthesize with him.  I was a little puzzled by this, and I’m afraid I missed the point of the encounter.  I had no idea she liked him in the least.  Though she may have been intrigued by his peerless piloting at first, and his polite compliments second.  Unfortunately, Nagate is as oblivious and brain dead about social interactions as any of the most inept anime protagonists out there.  I’m pretty sure the one thing that could out right defeat him is the sight of a vagina.  He has no training for that.

Then there’s the minor relationship of Ren and En with Nagate that’s slowly being brought up.  There’s been practically no progress on that end until now, and even then the potential for it was snubbed out with Samari’s surprise visit to Nagate’s station at work.  I’m on the fence as to whether this will actually add up to something, or she’ll just get brutally murdered in space without saying much of anything.

And then there’s Izana!  Oh how I have waited for this day when she would BUST out, and BLOSSOM into a young lady!  Yes, I can finally give Izana a gender, because she’s grown boobs – and I can assume a vagina.  Strangely, they don’t go into what was going on down below, even though that’s arguably what’s the more important “set-up” here.  All we get is –

BOOBS = LADY = YOU LIKE BOYS!

I guess they genetically engineered out all those pesky gay genes?

I’m only kidding.  It’s just another slightly strange thing to me in this already strange world.

I imagine some people at this point in the show might be getting bored. While there was action, it was more of a tease.  The offending Gauna just blew itself up in the end, probably from being too greedy and overloading on energy.  We’re just left chewing on more and more potential as the show keeps teasing its eventual massive upcoming battle.  But at some point, the show has to stop making promises and deliver, or at least give us something a little more tasty to chew on until that big pay off.  Right now, I’m just waiting.

Further Reading:

Your Lie in April ep11: I lean on my frail emotions for you

Harsh realities are harsh realities until you deal with them.  Then like many things, they fade with time.  Failure, triumph, love, hate, inspiration and regret are all dust that get swept along the river of time.  They’re absorbed and fade way, leaving only memories.  Kousei is chasing something in that river.  Something that too will fade away, leaving only memories.

The biggest thing about this episode is the appearance of Hiroko Seto, a former classmate and close friend to Kousei’s mother.  With her appearance, we get to connect a few more dots in the history of Kousei’s life before the show started.  As the country’s leading pianist, I’m quite surprised to see how little fanfare follows her around.  She just kinda casually hangs out in the concert hall without a peep from her until the very end of the previous episode.  I’m puzzled to learn that Tsubaki didn’t know about her either.  How could someone be such a mystery in plain sight?

It’s clear that she holds some lingering regret in regards to Kousei’s past and career.  We learn it was her that suggested Kousei’s mother teach him to play piano.  She saw his massive potential, and thought it would be a shame to waste.  And after seeing how her friend suffered and abused Kousei, and then seeing how he completely fell apart and away from the piano, she seems to feel guilt over her role in the situation.  All that said, she doesn’t let much of that show in her interactions with Kousei, being very up front and teasing with him.  When later in the episode, Kousei asks her to teach him to play the piano again, she seems not at all hesitant to take on the task.  Perhaps this is her chance to make amends, or to help heal.  The percentage of that healing that will go to either party will be determined later.

This was the conclusion of the little arc revolving around Kousei’s first solo performance since his crumble from grace and his mother’s death two years ago.  And the reactions to it were as scattered as his performance.  One moment, the head judge is berating him in passing, and the next one one of his rivals is screaming at him for a sh*t performance.  But what Kousei is really looking for is Kaori’s reaction.  He just wanted his music to reach her, and that was all.  He didn’t think to stay for the results.  And that would be fair in this situation, knowing he was already disqualified.  But Hiroko convinced him to stay, and it was great learning experience for him.  When the results came out, he saw the happy faces of those few that made it.  And then he saw the far more numerous faces of those facing disappointment and anger at their failure to meet a goal.

In the past, Kousei never stayed for such things.  Those results were a foregone conclusion.  He was above and separate from those around him.  But in the present, we see through this moment, how the moments of failure from his friends tie into everything.  His failure and their’s connects them.  They are connected and closer thanks to this struggle.  He understands the tears of Tsubaki and Ryota more after being around others who sat through the same pressure he did, and performed only to come up short of their goal.  That quick realization made it one of my favorite moments of the show so far.

The show wasn’t all fun and happy moments though.  Your Lie in April has been telegraphing clearly that there is something very wrong with Kaori physically.  Perhaps I’ve watched too many shows with sickly characters who die (i.e. Clannad) to miss the signs.  She’s not long for this world.  It’s this situation that turns a beautiful moment into a bit of a gut punch.  Kousei at the end of the episode goes out and clearly states that it was personality, will and their performance at Towa Hall that carried him through that tough night.  But Kaori states that she won’t always be there to lean on in the future.

Sheesh!  As if her talk about fireflies wasn’t already enough of a sign.

In the end, a pretty good and wonderfully emotional conclusion to this arc.  I look forward to seeing how the two of them progress in the effort to put on another combined performance at Towa Hall.

Further Reading:

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep6: advancing & digressing at the same time

The weird harem continues and the Ochiai’s influence continues to seed more and more power and Gauna technology into the Sidonia’s veins.

On the long road that is Sidonia’s storytelling, you have to wonder at this point what the ultimate destination will be?  Sure, it could be pointing towards understanding, or merger.  Or if you prefer to have a more pessimistic view, we could be on the road to ultimate annihilation.  At this point, Gauna material is being imbued into all aspects of Sidonia’s military strategy.  But I doubt anyone truly understands what’s being played with here aside from Ochiai.  With this new graviton cannon being tested, we see the Sidonia having another option for defense and attack, as they have another weapon capable of planetary destruction.  In Shiranui, they have a more mobile weapon able to integrate with and augment their human forces and technology.  The battle with the massive Gauna hive cluster seems more imminent by the day.

The lighter side of this is seeing the ever increasing bond between Nagate, Izana and Shiranui.  I don’t care how native it appears to now be in the show, it’s still really weird.  Things have progressed to the point where Nagate took the time to research and move to a new home in order to better accommodate Shiranui’s visits.  He also takes the opportunity to invite Izana along, who pretends to grudgingly accept the offer.  It’s cute, but I have trouble envisioning how this ultimately plays out.  This isn’t just because they could all die at any point, but because the group dynamic is just so unique.

Overall, this episode isn’t without event, but not much significant happens.  It’s mostly another deliberate step towards the oncoming chaos.  The Sidonia is firmly entrenched on this road towards war with the massive Gauna hive cluster.  Everything being done now is meant towards that end.  All the massive upgrades and experiments and changes in leadership are in preparation to strengthen the political and military machines that keep the floating colony alive.  It’s very much like a boxer training for a match.  They know and continue to learn about their opponent, all while fine-tuning what they have to do to survive and beat that opponent.  I’m just curious if there’s more than a handful of people in Sidonia that knows that they have an enemy strengthening right next to them.  Their next opponent?  Perhaps.

Further Reading:

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