Do you ever have an instance where your friend asks you “Hey do you remember (random movie/anime here)?” and despite them asking you about that subject, you remember one entirely different? Perhaps someone said “Do you remember Point Break?” and out of nowhere you just think to yourself “Oh, yeah, I remember watching ef: A Tale of Memories right about the time I saw that!”
Just the other night when I was up at a baseball game, I was reminded of Plastic Memories as a result of a random reminder while being asked about an unrelated movie. In my long list of anime ranking (which I promise to get back to after the summer semester stops in a month or so) I have this series ranked somewhere in the middle to lower side of the pack. I didn’t find it to be bad, but I definitely did not get wowed from anything it brought either. It was cute, animated well and told a good story while not being game changing.
Maybe I just get a little too fidgety while I’m waiting at my seat between innings, but I just had my reflections on this series on the back burner the whole night I was there. It was the first time I had given serious thought to the show, and I ended up jotting down some notes to share here.
I want to make this article spoiler free, however I will discuss thematic notes to the show that are presented in the synopsis provided for the show online (or, in other words, information that is already disclosed before the viewer watches it, typically). There is one character detail I wanted to briefly mention, but I will throw up a quick spoiler warning for that one near the end. I know this is a little bit older of a show, but I wanted to be respectful nonetheless.
Something I found really appealing when I was first watching this show was the premise itself. Just having a guy at his new job go around and collect androids from families was wild on its’ own. There are so many more layers added on to this as each family is unique. Further, the employees doing the collecting have their own reasons for their work and it was entertaining to see those stories play out (even if a few were disappointing).
There is a central theme that carries itself right from the pilot that I think the series never loses sight of when it is telling this story: life in finite and people will go through a multitude of processes to cope with this reality. It sounds remarkably girm and existential, but the show never steps over the line with how it conveys this message.
On one level we have Isla, one of the main characters and an android, who is fighting the clock in more way than one. She goes through extensive rehab despite her failing functions. There is the central theme of the androids having expiration dates as well, and Isla’s is due soon. As a result, her new partner must develop his relationship with her with this in mind.
Additionally, there are instances where the families these partners meet while collecting androids show their processing of the reality that parts of their lives are being taken from them. Some simply try to shrug it off as a non factor to their life, but there is always an impact that hits them when the weight of the events occuring sets in. These androids are retrieved because they can become threats to families if they are still present after their expiration dates, and some people resist this. As a result of their running away from the facts, they are met with grave circumstances that put more than themselves at risk.
These layers to the central theme are worth bringing up because it dawned on me the real beauty in this storytelling: for being a story about androids and the end of life, it is so charged with the beauties that come from life’s cycle. One of my favorite parts of the show is when they show Isla watering her plants, because that alone is something worth appreciating- an android (something that is meant to be considered lifeless) showing a care for life. These families that go through the surrendering of their androids are given lessons about themselves and build their values that contribute towards furthering the quality of what life they have to live. Rather than dwell on losses, the show develops and grows people from what could otherwise break people. All of these lessons are conveyed through the most unlikely of ways...it is moving from a writing standpoint.
I know this conclusion in reflection is probably a “no duh” to most, but I enjoyed the time I had thinking back on this anime. I’d like to take some time to reflect on what I liked best in anime more often.
How about you all? Do you ever randomly think of an anime you might not have given much reflection on? Did it ever change your mind on it? Have a great day!