Given its future with human-like AI, the Plastic Memories anime had a lot of potential. Here’s why many fans were disappointed.
Set in the near future where human-like AI coexists with humans, Plastic souvenirs it had the makings of an exciting and dramatic love story. However, this long-awaited anime flopped due to an underdeveloped premise and highly predictable plot.
Plastic souvenirs is a Doga Kobo studio anime that ran for a 13-episode season in 2015. Here’s why, despite so much excitement surrounding its release, the series ultimately left many fans disappointed by its poor execution.
Weather Plastic souvenirs contains science fiction elements to create a future with human-like AI called Giftias, the science aspect ends there. Despite a seemingly fascinating AI twist, these Giftias have no special powers, abilities, or superior intellect. Since humans and Giftias are viewed as equals, viewers have questioned the reason behind them in the first place. The only thing that separates Giftias from humans is that they need to be retrieved and their memories erased every nine years at the end of their life cycle, or they will become dangerous “wanderers” who forget who they are.
Since Giftias are only used as a dramatic plot device to put a time limit on their lifespan, the same conflict and suspense could be achieved with a terminal illness or fatal accident. Other than this caveat, other science fiction elements that leave behind are not explored or explained Plastic souvenirs‘premise largely underdeveloped.
In this futuristic world, Terminal Services is the agency in charge of recovering Giftias that have reached the end of their useful life. This task is difficult, as many Giftias join human families who will not let them go without a fight. While this dynamic leads to several heartbreaking moments where humans are forced to hand over their beloved Giftia, awkwardly timed comic moments are scattered throughout the recovery process. These sporadic and unnatural pitch shifts between dramatic sadness and out of place comedy are enough to give any fan a whiplash.
Terminal Service One is the only unit that focuses on the emotional well-being of both Giftias and their owners during the recovery process. This method is presented by Isla, a Giftia who is reaching the end of her life and who works in the agency as a marksman. As the recovery teams work in pairs containing a human observer and a Giftia shooter, Isla is suddenly paired with Plastic souvenirs‘protagonist, Tsukasa, who only joins because he was handed the job through a connection with his father. Since Tsukasa didn’t even know what the agency did when she took the job, she acts painfully ignorant for someone who suddenly takes over the most delicate moment of Giftia’s life.
Tsukasa sees Isla for the first time when she is crying in the elevator, and her appearance instantly captivates him. However, they do not speak until they are officially paired as teammates and told that they must live together. This plot device is convenient and cliche, and it sets an unrealistic setting for bringing two love interests together. Whenever they are in her bedroom, Isla sits in a fetal position in her chair all night and doesn’t say a word to Tsukasa, even when he’s talking to her. This creates a very uncomfortable atmosphere where love is awkwardly imposed on a disinterested character.
As Tsukasa tries to win Isla’s affection, the reason why he likes her is never fully explained or developed. Your love comes from physical attraction as you continue to pursue her without establishing a mental or emotional connection with her. The pair say very little to each other for much of the series before suddenly declaring their feelings for each other. Their relationship feels strained and unnatural, making it difficult to support them. Not only is their bond lacking in proper development, but most of the characters in Plastic souvenirs they are superficial and defined only by their archetypes and tragic backstories.
Plastic souvenirs it has a sad and ambiguous ending that frustrates viewers. After Tsukasa and Isla confess their feelings for each other and agree to go on a date, she is soon forced to be retrieved by Tsukasa himself as he cries on the Ferris wheel with her. Since sad endings aren’t necessarily a bad thing, it would have improved a lot if it had just stopped at this shocking scene.
However, the episode continues after the end credits to show an older Tsukasa continuing his job at the agency when his new teammate arrives. Tsukasa smiles and shakes the teammate’s hand as the scene slowly fades away. While it is strongly implied that the new teammate Isla is reborn without her memories, this was never confirmed and left. Plastic souvenirs hanging with an open and unsatisfying ending.
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