Here's a few seemingly simple questions, in a not-so-simple context: What if androids had successfully integrated into human society? They would be nigh indistinguishable from the average human, able to perform at nearly the exact same level of empathic, emotional, logical capacity; how could we differentiate androids from humans? And would it be morally correct to do so?
Plastic Memories, an anime that's currently airing, shows signs that it may help us understand and possibly even answer this question. There are multiple ways in which it is similar to the movie Bladerunner, but even more so with the original book, 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by the Sci-Fi author, Phillip K. Dick. The both deal with big questions, though that may change with Plastic Memories.
*DISCLAIMER : The following is mostly conjecture on the part of Plastic Memories, and as such should be taken with a grain of salt. This is what the author wishes will happen, so this is again, entirely conjecture *
The premise of both are quite different. In Plastic Memories, androids known as Giftia have entered human society as companions to humans. This contrasts heavily with the androids in Electic Sheep, where the androids are escapees from Mars, where they serve as servants. They will be known from here as E.P (electric people). Giftia so far have shown very 'human' characteristics, and seem to conform to their owners' actions. EP however, seem to be fueled by personality. Those that have inserted themselves into human society Take up jobs like Opera singing, pet care, and even policemen.
They both apparently deal with the tricky dilemma of humans getting attached to androids. In ep 1 of Plastic Memories, we are introduced to our protagonist, Mizugaki Tsukasa. He joins the Terminal Service Department of the SA Corp. , whose task is to retrieve Giftia who are nearing their expiration date. Expiration causes them to lose their personality and memories, which are stored on their 'souls'. This is again very similar to Electric Sheep, where the protagonist, Rick Deckard, is a bounty hunter who hunts androids. It is yes, more violent and action packed than Plastic Memories, but you can still see the similarities.
*HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD*
In episode one of Plastic Memories, our MC is paired with Isla, a Giftia and 'veteran' to retrieval. After training, they were sent to retrieve Nina, an android near her expiration, from her stubborn owner, Mrs. Chizu. They are repeatedly turned away, but Isla then climbs over the wall, into the house. She meets Nina, and is then invited to take a shower, as she got filthy after climbing over the wall.
In the bathroom, a highly philosophical and emotional talk ensues. Nina understands that she has to be deactivated, and fears not for herself, but instead, for her grandmother. She laments not being able to brush her grandmother's hair anymore. The only word to describe the event is human. You can feel Nina's sense of loyalty, her love for her grandmother, the sheer humanity behind her words. She doesnt feel indignation towards her own deactivation, but instead feels it towards the fact that she won't be with her grandmother anymore. Unknown to either Nina or Isla, Mrs. Chizu was listening outside.
Mrs. Chizu finally understands that she is hurting Nina, because she won't let her go. She signs the form, and Nina is taken outside, to be deactivated.
Tsukasa is struck with guilt seeing Nina and Chizu's lasts moments together, but can only stand by and watch. He begins to see how precious any existence is, without judging whether it's human or android.
*INSANELY HEAVY CONJECTURE AND PREDICTIONS*
There isn't such a heartwarming and emotional scene as this is Electric Sheep, but I can see where this anime would hopefully go, and it's in a similar fashion to Electric Sheep. Rick goes through a lot, having to kill innocent androids, but also goes through increasing emotional duress, which forces a change in his way of thinking. This would be ideal if it occurred in Tsukasa. That would become the ending. I mean, what if Tsukasa, who's alread proclaimed his love for Isla, had to watch her get deactivated, after watching countless ones? Would his capacity for empathy have eroded away? Or would he still weep, and rage against the world for its unfairness?
*SPOILERS END HERE*
I don't think I've had an episode one push me to cry before. Even writing this, I feel those same, strong emotions push up through me again. I can't help it. Plastic Memories is a deeply human story, which I can only hope goes Electric Sheep's way. I will of course be continuing to watch this series. I couldn't stop even if I wanted to. It's the most beautiful, human story I've seen so far, and it's about androids.
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