Plastic Memories: Episode 1 — Robots With Feels

We’re not going to slowly build towards “this is a tragic reflection of human loss and the ways we both engage with death and celebrate those we’ve lost” – we’re already there, with this first episode already containing a poignant little vignette and embracing Isla’s own insecurities. – Nick Creamer

And this is a positive, how? I guess it clues you right in if this show is for you, but…

I don’t understand the amount of positive responses the first episode of Plastic Memories got soon after airing. Well okay, I get the MAL response because there are a lot of melodrama lovers amongst them, but I’ll never understand everyone else’s. This show has nakige game adaptation – except without the actual game – hanging over it with a neon sign so bright and big that it can turn night into day, and it doesn’t help that the animation isn’t all that. It’s energetic at points, but it’s mostly pretty bland. I certainly can’t remember it being used for anything special, although I guess following Gunslinger Stratos, almost anything can look good by comparison. But then again, that director’s art style isn’t really my cup of tea to begin with, so take what I say about the show’s looks with a grain of salt.

– Those character designs are horrendous though. It’s the Infinite Stratos guy who’s doing them and, well, bleh.

As some of you may know, this anime is written by the semicolon guy, who I just dub “sci-fi Jun Maeda” because he pretty much is a Key writer if you replaced magic with sci-fi. I haven’t always been positive towards the guy’s stuff…actually, scratch that. I’ve never been positive towards any of his stuff. But to be fair, this episode starts off better than his last atrocity (if you guys don’t know what I’m talking about…that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned) in that it introduces conflict straight up rather than meander for twelve episodes of fucking nothing before kicking the plot into high gear, only to end up letting me down in the end. The only problem? Said conflict only takes up four minutes of the episode, is painfully rushed, is very emotionally manipulative about a group of characters I barely got to know, and I doubt it’ll have much relevance on what’s to come. There’s a minute or two dedicated to establishing the basic premise if I remember correctly. The rest of the time is filled with awful AWFUL plot-less setup and unfunny comedy that made me go “oh yeah, here’s where the VN roots kick in”.

Like this.

Or this.

Many of the jokes here come less from actual character lines…and more from smart comedic timing, great expression work, and well-chosen jump cuts. – Nick Creamer

I notice you didn’t mention anything about the jokes having some actual bite, Bobduh.

No seriously, what exactly is in this show that separates it from stuff like Clannad, Myself;Yourself, or Da Capo anyways, “guys who like this episode but don’t like those shows”? Having the main girl be more confident than Nagisa isn’t good enough – especially since I personally find her boring because she feels like every “reserved anime girl” ever. Well the writer is “sci-fi Jun Maeda” rather than “regular Jun Maeda” for a reason, so let’s look at what the actual sci-fi stuff is about. In whatever future this show takes place in, there’s a company that produces androids who can act like real humans in a sort of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence sort of way. Due to problems in said technology, these androids have to be returned to the company after a set time or else something bad will happen – although the show hasn’t really clarified what. And…that’s pretty much all we know of the premise. Yeah, it’s a nice backdrop, but you can’t rely on that to save the show unless you actually do something with it. Retrieving said robots in a melancholy way is not exactly the most substantial of plots as is, but to put up with all that crying…

Look, I’m not inherently against emotional manipulation. After all, all drama is manipulative at the end of the day, and I have several of them amongst my favorite anime. I even liked the Clannad movie for god’s sake. But you need substance to back it up, and I’m seeing nothing but empty promises so far, even by “first episode standards”. Having the characters be well-written isn’t enough (and I’m very against the opinion that they’re well-written to begin with). You need a good story, and right now, all I see are hints that this show will be leaning towards the “great relevant issues wasted on socially shallow and emotionally pandering personal stories” side of the drama spectrum populated by critically acclaimed tripe like Now and Then,Here and There or Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – both shows I heavily dislike for said reasons. Hell, it’ll be bad if actually ends up like its movie brethren, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, itself considering the less than positive reception it got from me and many audience members.

Yeah, the rest of the show could change my mind, but given sci-fi Jun Maeda’s record, I’m not holding my breath. But that’s enough complaining from me today, since I very much doubt we’ll be watching an entire show centered on these characters picking up robots with no personal drama on their end anyways. Let’s see what next week has to bring before I expound my thoughts further.

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