Tag Archives: Spring 2015

Review: My Teen Romantic Comedy Too!, Episode 7: Yet, That Room Continues to Play Out the Endless Days

Review:

Hikigaya’s frustrating school council experience continues as the date of the event looms ever closer with no concrete plans set in place. This episode does serve to reintroduce Tsurumi Rumi (a season one character) back into the plot, albeit with very little function or influence on the overall progression of the plot, although there is a bit of enjoyable interaction between her and Hikigaya in one scene. For the most part, the episode continues to focus on the continuing stress of the student council situation and Hikigaya’s relationships with the people around him. It is particularly interesting to watch his interactions with Iroha, as the potential for another love interest is clearly cropping up.

My Teen Rom-Com (OreGairu, in its Japanese abbreviation) continues to be an interesting creature, because despite its title, there is still very little comedy to be had. Outside of Hikigaya’s banter with Komachi (which may also be the most genuine emotion we see from him) and his meal with Totsuka, there really isn’t anything “comedic” about this episode, just as there hasn’t been for pretty much the entire season. What the show excels at is weaving the overall thread of the show just below the surface of the present story arc, so that the viewer’s attention is kept on the problem at hand while simultaneously never being far from the problems that have developed amongst the three members of the Service Club.

For maybe the first time in the season, we also see Hikigaya begin to question the effectiveness of his methods, and to wonder if perhaps he is not going about things the wrong way. This type of gradual self-realization is another high point for the show, as it doesn’t force character progression (lets not forget that we have a whole season plus seven episodes under our belt at this point), but it also doesn’t keep characters as they are simply to milk whatever comedic aspect it can. A good example is the ending of this episode, which finally takes all of the underlying pressure that has been building between Hikigaya and Yukino and puts it into action. Granted, like anything else in the show, it gets a slow start, and probably won’t come to a head until later in the series, but the progression is there.

OreGairu continues to be one of this reviewer’s top shows for the Spring 2015 season. The combination of likeable characters with a genuinely interesting plot makes it something that you will want to come back to week after week in order to see what happens next.

A Christian Perspective:

At one point in this episode, Hayama comments that he isn’t the good guy that Hikigaya thinks he is. At this point in the story, we really don’t know what that means, but that statement made me think of the Pharisees. In Matthew 23:27, Jesus say, “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Despite looking good and righteous on the outside, the Pharisees were really anything but. Their holiness was only skin deep. Whether or not Hayama’s true stripes are as bad as the Pharisees is as of yet unknown.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “h*ll”, 1 “p*ss”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Other: There is a scene with Hikigaya having inappropriate reactions towards Totsuka

Review: My Teen Romantic Comedy Too!, Episode 6: Without Incident, The Congress Dances, But Does Not Progress

Review:

The student council arc may be over, but Iroha’s involvement in the plot certainly isn’t.

On the surface, things seem to have returned to normal in the Service Club: Yukino sits quietly in her seat, entertaining Yui’s endless chatter, while Hikigaya sits silently at the other end of the table. From Hikigaya’s own comments, though, we can easily discern that everything is not alright, especially with the end of the previous episode. This is pretty well alluded to in the tension between Hikigaya and Yukino. On the other hand, things may finally be progressing between Hikigaya and Yui (however slowly), as the two end up walking to the Service Club together, which is certainly not in Hikigaya’s character.

In any event, the focus on the Service Club is fairly minimal in this episode (although Hikigaya’s actions seem to be largely motivated by the Club, and quite possibly Yukino specifically). Remember how I mentioned that Iroha’s involvement in the plot wasn’t over? Apparently, she has been roped into planning an event with another school’s student council, and she wants to enlist the Service Club to help her because she has absolutely no clue what she is doing. Hikigaya instead takes the task upon himself, while making it appear to Yui and Yukino that he rejected the job altogether. Thus starts another crazy adventure for our beloved social misfit.

If you end up feeling confused when the student council meetings actually start do not worry, because you are not alone. The other school’s council president offers a bunch of fancy sounding ideas, but nothing constructive is actually being said. To make matters worse, Kaori (Hikigaya’s middle school crush) is also on the other school’s council, which means Hikigaya will get to spend even more time around her. Ultimately, the plot doesn’t progress very much, other than to show Iroha and her council getting laden with a bunch of work, but that’s more than likely the point. This show rarely has one shot episodes, so we likely won’t see what the point of all of this was until the next episode. If the point of this episode is to create intrigue and make the viewer ask questions, then it does so very well, and it plants that seed of curiosity that makes coming back for more a desirable option.

A Christian Perspective:

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. – Ephesians 5:6

Seriously, is this not a great verse to apply to the other school’s student council president? Throughout the entirety of their meetings, he throws out sentences and phrases that sound constructive and intelligent, but that are ultimately meaningless and fruitless. Hikigaya eventually catches on to this and tries to “speak their language”, but it backfires on him. At the end, it just seems as though Iroha and her council have been laden with a bunch of work, and that Iroha’s fellow council members are thoroughly annoyed with her. It’s true that we don’t know the true motives of the other school yet, but it is fairly evident that nothing is actually being accomplished in these meetings. Essentially, the other student council is good for nothing besides blowing hot air.

During our Christian walks, we will inevitably meet people like this. Whether it’s a prosperity preacher who wants to convince you that Jesus died so you can have a Corvette, or whether it’s someone less obvious who subtly twists Scripture to make it sound like you also need to do x, y, or z in addition to faith in Jesus for salvation, the result is the same: someone who sounds like they know what they’re talking about, but their words are empty because they don’t convey truth. They will lead us astray down unknown paths.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “h*ck”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Review: My Teen Romantic Comedy Too!, Episode 5: The Scent Of Tea Doesn’t Fill That Room Anymore

Review:

This episode finally brings to a close the student council president story arc. Upon reconciling with his sister, Komachi, Hikigaya finds himself in a bind: how does he stop both girls from running and ultimately breaking up the club while also handling the issue of finding a student council president? While initially feeling like there’s nothing he can do, Hikigaya eventually finds inspiration after Komachi rounds up some support (in addition to Zaimokuza, whom Hikigaya had already recruited). Ultimately, he realizes that there is no way for him to fulfill his sister’s request to keep Yui and Yukino in the Service Club and to also keep Iroha from becoming the student council president. Komachi declares that Hikigaya’s first priority has to be to his little sister, which he agrees to. From here, the group hatches a plan that relies heavily on deception and reverse psychology to convince Iroha to accept the role as president while also convincing Yui and Yukino that they cannot win.

On the one hand, this episode was a nice change of pace from the recent tone of things. Hikigaya is shown with a much more positive attitude (well, in terms of Hikigaya moods, at least), and the overall mood of the episode felt much lighter than it has in a while. At times, Hikigaya almost seemed friendly. On the other hand, much of the plot’s resolution relied on deception and manipulating Iroha’s desire to maintain her self-image. It certainly doesn’t leave a lot of room for pulling a Christian message from the episode. As things wind down and wrap up, we also see a brief scene between Hikigaya and Yukino that suggests that things aren’t exactly fixed between them with Hikigaya’s solution.

Overall, the episode was enjoyable in terms of the story and seeing how the situation resolves. It certainly requires the viewer to actually pay attention, because the exact details of Hikigaya’s plan aren’t spelled out step-by-step—you have to really observe what he is doing to connect the dots. Unfortunately, when you stop to think about the episode from a morality standpoint you realize that the direction the plot took leaves a lot to be desired, even if the ending is as close to a “happily ever after” as we could possibly get. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t watch the episode or that you should disown the show, just that you shouldn’t necessarily expect a positive message in the end.

A Christian Perspective:

In keeping with the general conclusion of my review, the focus here is on integrity. While Hikigaya does manage to bring about an agreeable solution to all of the problems presented, his solution isn’t really moral. He relies on deceit (creating multiple support accounts for various ghost candidates, before changing all of the names to Iroha’s) to convince Iroha that she has a lot of support for the presidency (hence why she should take it) and to convince Yui and Yukino that they should just give up. A popular saying is that “the ends justify the means”, but I personally don’t see that as a biblical concept. True, a lot of bad stuff happens in the Bible, and God uses them for good things (see Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20), but that doesn’t mean that the people who did the wrong or bad things were justified in doing what they did.

A couple of examples: Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Now, God ultimately used this to bring Joseph into power in Egypt, so that he would be able to prepare Egypt for the coming famine and ultimately save his family (which would ultimately lead to the Israelites living in Egypt, as well), but that doesn’t mean that Joseph’s brothers got off scott-free for betraying their own flesh and blood. If you recall the story, Joseph punishes them quite a bit for their treachery. Another example is Moses. If you recall, he kills an Egyptian who is beating a Hebrew, only to later be found out, which ultimately leads to him living in the desert for 40 years. Again, God used Moses for great things: he lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he spoke to God as a man speaks to a friend, he was given the Ten Commandments, he wrote the first five books of the Bible, etc., but Moses was still punished for the wrong that he did (not to mention the fact that he was ultimately denied the right to see the Promised Land because he disobeyed God and struck the rock instead of speaking to it).

The point is, let us consider the whole of our actions, not just the end results, because while dubious methods could produce favorable results, they may also come with undesirable side effects. Instead, we should seek to employ methods that uphold the values and integrity that we as Christians claim to believe in, so that we keep out consciences clean throughout our entire ordeal(s).

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “p***es”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Other: The methods by which Hikigaya solves the problem of who will be student council president involves a lot of deceit

Review: Plastic Memories, Episode 9: After the Festival

Review:

Well, you saw it last week (and if you haven’t, then why are you reading this review?): Tsukasa confessed and was denied. Enter this episode, where he is little more than a disconnected zombie thanks to his rejection. Of course, that just means that the staff members of Terminal Service 1 are going to stick their noses right into this situation! From trying to cheer Tsukasa up to attempting to get Isla to admit how she really feels about Tsukasa, you can bet that this group of busybodies will stop at nothing to bring this couple together! But can everyone accept what is going on as feelings are bared and facts unearthed?

Okay, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way right off the bat. Within the first minute of the episode, Yasutaka tries to get Tsukasa’s attention with a dirty magazine. Yes, this is mentioned in the content guide, but it also bears mentioning here, because it was a point of considerable frustration. Firstly, because it puts something completely debauched in the middle of a story that is dealing with emotions, relationships, and other serious topics (even if does so comically at times), and secondly because it really isn’t necessary in the first place. It’s the same effect that Eru’s perversity has on the narrative. Sure, what they showed wasn’t the worst they could have made the content, but that doesn’t mean what was shown was acceptable by proxy.

Thankfully the above mentioned scene does occur in the beginning of the episode, which allows the rest of the episode to get better. Not that this makes up for the fact that the dirty magazine is shown in the first place, but at least we didn’t sit through a good narrative only to have it ruined by this terrible content. Instead, the episode gets to redeem itself and build a quite enjoyable narrative with only a slight disturbance by Eru’s presence in a couple sections. Other than that, we actually get quite a bit of Tsukasa/Michiru interaction in this episode, which just goes to further cement Michiru’s position as the resident tsundere, although her concern for Tsukasa and Isla really does shine through this time around. Ultimately, she steps in to help the situation, even though she knows how badly things could turn out and in spite of her own feelings for Tsukasa. It is also interesting to see the contrast between how she handled her dad’s “death” and how Tsukasa is handling Isla’s imminent “death”.

Tsukasa’s characterization is also commendable in this episode. While he ultimately does not give up his pursuit of Isla, nor his desire to be with her until the end, he doesn’t simply bounce back from his rejection as if nothing happened. His shock is certainly played up for comedic effect, but I imagine this is a little more realistic than the characters who tend to get rejected and jump right back to trying as if nothing ever happened. While he may not necessarily grow in this episode, his steadfast resoluteness is cemented even further, which is good, because the ending of this episode will undoubtedly put that resolution to the test in the next.

One thing that does seem out of place is the lack of any mention of the black market retrievers that were introduced near the beginning of the series. While the show has definitely shifted its focus more towards Tsukasa and Isla, it seems like a waste to have a perfectly legitimate point of conflict in this world and not use it to further the story. Of course, there are still several episodes left until the end, so this may resurface before then, but as of now no further mention of it has been made. Only time will tell how this narrative will play out, and black market retrievers or not there will probably be plenty of tears shed by the end of the series.

A Christian Perspective:

So I don’t have one definitive point to make with this episode. There were a few little things that popped out to me, though, so I will just discuss those.

At first, the way that Tsukasa’s co-workers tried to cheer him up reminded me of Job’s friends. While Job’s friends may have meant well, they ended up being a terrible source of console, serving to only further exasperate Job. While Tsukasa’s co-workers may not go that far, they certainly don’t help much. Yasutaka’s solution is to first simply mess with Tsukasa by fooling with his face and hair before moving on to flipping through a dirty magazine in front of him. Of course, none of this works, and how is any of that supposed to help Tsukasa’s situation, anyway? Then there is Zack, whose attitude has never trended towards the sympathetic in the first place. It’s not much different this time around.

Of course, the comparison to Job’s friends falls part when Michiru actually reaches out to Tsukasa in order to understand him and offer some genuine help. She even goes so far as to meet with Isla and try to get her to admit her love for Tsukasa. It’s pretty evident that she likes Tsukasa, yet she puts her own interests to the back burner for the sake of helping others, which sort of reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:4.

Finally, I can’t forget to discuss Tsukasa’s steadfast resolve. Although he has been rejected, and although he knows that his best case scenario is about a month of time with Isla before she is ultimately retrieved and her memories destroyed. Nevertheless, he presses on towards his goal. This is a good allegory for how we should be in the Christian life. Sometimes it’s not convenient, sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes there is no end to the struggles in sight, yet we know we have to press on, because the goal (being with Christ) is worth more than the struggles or bad things that may come with continuing our pursuit.

So, there you have it, a few “mini-lessons” from this episode. Did you pull anything else out of it?

Content Guide:

Spiritual Cotent: None

Language: 1 “d***it”, 1 “cr*p”, 2 “d*mn”, 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Kazuki is shown sitting at a bar with both a glass and bottle of alcohol in front of her
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: From 00:52 – 00:59 Yasutaka opens a dirty magazine in front of a dazed Tsukasa and flips through it—women are shown in their underwear and mostly (if not all) topless, with at least one showing her buttcrack and pretty much all of them showing their breasts just slightly covered by things that aren’t clothing; around 1:20 you can see the magazine lying open on Tsukasa’s desk from a distance; Eru is shown in cleavage-revealing bunny girl outfit, and she is also drooling and acting creepy over the thought of Isla in pajamas; Isla is shown walking out of the bath with a towel wrapped around her—you can also see her underwear in a basket next to the door

Violence: A flashback shows Michiru’s father getting shot

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Plastic Memories, Episode 8: The Fireworks I’ve Never Seen

Review:

After dealing with a client who not only agrees to have a new OS installed in her Giftia but also reveals that she has done this before, Tsukasa begins to wonder if there is anyway to recover a Giftia’s memories after it has been retrieved or reformatted. The answer, of course, is a resounding “no”, and as if to hammer the point home Tsukasa and Isla are teamed up with a Giftia from another Terminal Service group who turns out to be a reformatted unit. It is revealed that this Giftia and Eru had been friends, and while Eru is initially excited to see her old friend again, that excitement quickly turns to disappointment once she realizes that none of the memories of this Giftia’s previous personality remain. Thankfully, the episode isn’t all doom-and-gloom, as Eru and Andie (the Giftia that was formerly Eru’s friend) begin to build a new relationship, culminating in a trip to a carnival which Tsukasa and Isla also attend. By the end of the episode, fans should be cheering, as we finally get something for which we’ve been waiting.

As usual, this episode manages to build on what is already established while still making it difficult to predict where the events will lead. While Tsukasa’s situation may be hopeless, he has shown that he is not willing to simply sit by and watch the situation turn out for the worst, so it is completely feasible that the plot may move in the direction of him trying to find a way to preserve Isla’s memory. On the other hand, the story may continue to move in the direction of an ultimate separation. The writers do a wonderful job of providing us with enough information to keep us guessing, but not enough to accurately predict the outcome of the events. Tsukasa’s hopeful and persistent personality is also a light in the dark undertone of the series, and is something that Christian viewers should admire. Despite the circumstances, he continues to move forward (just see the end of this episode) and seek a solution. His love for Isla is real, and it is evidenced again and again.

Plastic Memories also does a good job of maintaining its overall point and tension without feeling the need to beat the viewer over the head with it. We’re not allowed to forget the fact that Isla’s days are drawing to a close while she and Tsukasa are developing feelings for one another, yet we’re also not driven to the point of depression over the subject. This storyline, despite its sad beginnings, ends up with some and, frankly, humorous events, even while still exploring the more serious issues that have been raised. It is remarkable how the dramatic and comedic tones of the show blend together so well, instead of feeling awkward.

If there is one downside to this episode, it is Eru. Now, granted, she becomes a legitimate part of the plot as the episode progresses, and is shown to be more than just a perverse source of comedy, but her initial encounter with Andie involves Eru very enthusiastically groping Andie. It is also revealed that this was par for the course when Andie was Olivia (Andie’s personality before she was retrieved and recycled into Andie). There is also some confusion as to what, exactly, Eru and Andie’s relationship is supposed to be. For the most part it seems to be presented as friendship, but some moments could suggest something more. It is easy enough to ignore these types of things, but the girl-on-girl groping may be a turnoff for some viewers. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long, and is not a major part of the episode’s content.

Groping aside, “The Fireworks I’ve Never Seen” is another strong entry in Plastic Memories’ story that presents more questions for its viewers to ponder while also progressing the themes and plot elements previously established. How everything will ultimately resolve is undoubtedly a thought in every viewer’s mind, which simply means we need to keep coming back for the next several weeks.

A Christian Perspective:

2 Corinthians 6:2 – For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Hebrews 3:13 – But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

“Hey, Tsukasacchi. Right now’s all the time we have for making memories. Now… This very moment.” – Eru

What do the two verses of Scripture and Eru’s quote have in common? That’s right, they all speak to the importance of time. In her conversation with Tsukasa, Eru expresses the fact that we only have the present moment in which to make memories. The underlying idea, in this writer’s opinion, is that we aren’t guaranteed anything else. Anyone who has ever suffered the sudden loss of a loved one should be able to understand this aspect. Perhaps you had just finished spending time together, and then half an hour later they were gone. The point is, we need to make the most of the moments that we are alive, because we never know if they will be our last. I doubt most people ever expect their last day on Earth to actually be their last. Sure, the elderly and the terminally ill may have a better idea of how much time they have left, but even they can’t predict it exactly, and young, relatively healthy people like myself truly have no idea when our last day will be. As such, we must make the effort to make our moments count.

So, how does this tie into the two verses of Scripture? Well, it’s probably pretty obvious. The 2 Corinthians verse states that “now is the day of salvation”. Another translation states that “today is the day of salvation”. Much like Eru’s quote above, it carries the idea that we don’t know how much time we have left, and so putting off the decision to follow Christ until “tomorrow” or “later” is foolish, because we aren’t guaranteed either of those things. If we receive the call to follow Christ and decide to put it off, only to die moments after leaving church (or wherever the call was received) then it is too late. What we know as “now” is the only existence we are guaranteed, because we are currently living in “now”. The verse from Hebrews seems to also emphasis this verse, as it says to encourage each other daily, as long as it is called “Today”. It doesn’t say to encourage each other “tomorrow”, but “today”, which, to me, seems to emphasize the immediacy of the command. Again, we must encourage each other as we have the opportunity, because we may not get another.

All of this is to drive home the point that we should be aware of our own mortality and the value of our interactions. We may never get the chance to mend a broken relationship once we part ways with that person, so we should mend it right then and there. We may never get another chance to tell the person we’re speaking with about Christ, so we should do it right there (I say this as a hypocrite, because though I recognize it in this moment it certainly is not something I have regularly practiced). We may never get another chance to place our faith in Christ, so we should do so when the opportunity is presented. In all things, we should make the most of the opportunities given us.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “cr*p”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Eru shows cleavage, and she also grabs another woman’s breasts

Violence: Andie knocks Eru to the ground

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Plastic Memories, Episode 7: How to Properly Ask Her Out

Review:

The feels are strong with this one! After finding out about Isla’s minimal remaining lifespan, Tsukasa finally works up the nerve to ask her out on a date. If the question of whether or not he was romantically interested in Isla was at all ambiguous up until this point, it no longer is. Once again, Tsukasa approaches his male co-workers for advice, which works out much better than it did the last time, but his attempts still aren’t without difficulty, partially because Isla is herself trying to do nice things for Tsukasa, which ultimately tend to lead to more problems. Ultimately he succeeds, and it is nice to see an anime where the romance execution is done without a lot of foot-dragging tediousness. By the end of the episode’s first half, Tsukasa has successfully asked Isla out.

There is, of course, more to this episode than just Tsukasa trying to ask Isla out; in fact, they’re date doesn’t even compromise the majority of the episode’s run time. Granted, the bulk of the content is motivated by Tsukasa’s feelings; we see him apply himself diligently to his job—and even going so far as to barely eat—in anticipation of his upcoming date. Isla gets comparatively less screen time, but there is still effort given to show her complete ineptitude towards romantic matters along with her feelings towards how she has previously treated Tsukasa. Add into this a bit more of Michiru’s tsundere personality coming out (which pretty much seals the idea that she has a thing for Tsukasa), and you have an episode that is funny and sweet at the same time.

What really brings it all home, though, is the fact that the viewer is fully aware that Isla’s time is limited. This isn’t an anime where we get to watch everything go well, only to have a bombshell dropped on us later. The bombshell has already been dropped, and despite the warm and sappy feelings that this episode brings, we cannot escape the knowledge that has already been given to us. Isla’s time is ticking away, and no amount of fluffy romantic scenes can change that. As such, all of the happy moments inevitably carry with them a bittersweet taste. Still, this is much like real life—we may know that a loved one is dying, which may put a damper on the time we spend with them, but we still make the most of that time and enjoy it as much as possible, knowing that our time is limited. Plastic Memories may not be masterful enough to fully draw the viewer into an experience of that particular emotion, but it does enough to make us keep the facts in the back of our minds.

How will Isla and Tsukasa’s relationship play out (limited lifespan notwithstanding)? Only time will tell. What the show’s balance of romance, comedy, drama, and whatever else will be can only be learned as time goes by, but it is almost guaranteed to be an emotional rollercoaster as character bonds continue to deepen along with the viewers’ relation to the characters. Until then, let’s enjoy the fact that Tsukasa has finally gotten somewhere with Isla, and that Isla is starting to open herself up to pleasant memories.

A Christian Perspective:

So this is something I think I have only done once before, but I’m going to throw out more of a discussion question as opposed to a teaching moment here.

As we know from the series, Giftias are not humans. While they bear a resemblance to human beings—and may ultimately be all but human—they are still ultimately machines, and this is certainly exemplified by Isla’s low batteries in the post-credits scene. Despite that, it does look as though people fall in love with Giftias—the first episode seemed to show a man fleeing with his lover Giftia, and we are currently exploring Tsukasa’s love for Isla. The question here is whether such a thing would be an abomination to God. If someone did succeed in making a real-life equivalent to Giftias, would it be a form of sexual immorality (or just a sin in general) to fall in love with what amounts to a machine?

So, that’s the thought for the day. Feel free to sound off with your responses in the comments below.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 2 “g**z”, 2 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Yasutaka shows up with a bottle of wine

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Eru cleavage

Violence: Kazuki slams Tsukasa against a wall; Michiru pushes Eru and holds her down

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Plastic Memories, Episode 6: Welcome Home the Both of Us

Review:

Despite last week’s attempt to create something of a nail-biter ending, most viewers probably figured out that Isla wasn’t going to die. This fact is confirmed pretty much right off the bat this time around (thus, not really much of a spoiler). More insight into Isla’s past relationship with Kazuki is given, with a very brief look at its happy beginning all the way to its sad end, which seems to be at least somewhat related to Kazuki’s injury from Michiru’s father. Surprisingly, despite some tender moments in the beginning, a good portion of this episode is devoted to comedy. Thanks to a misinterpretation of Isla’s comments, Eru goes on a quest to stalk Tsukasa and find out as much about him as possible. This ultimately leads to some truly hilarious moments, before things settle down again.

Once Eru’s antics are over, the tone of the episode switches to something a little more serious, with Isla taking some time out to meet with only Michiru. It is here that we find out what ultimately happened with Souta after Marcia’s “death”, and it is quite possibly the saddest part of the episode. It really sheds some light onto Tsukasa’s character (especially when coupled with the statement that he’ll probably never forget, and he probably doesn’t want to). All of this helps to show that Plastic Memories can weave comedy and drama together fairly well, without one seeming to overpower or cheapen the other. Even a more comedic episode like this one manages to have its sweet and endearing moments (Isla patting Tsukasa’s head, Tsukasa crying with Souta, Isla waiting eagerly for Tsukasa to come home, and especially Isla’s smile near the end.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable episode. It managed to bring a mostly lighthearted serving to the table without cheapening what happened to Marcia in the last episode. It deals with some of the ongoing concepts without seeking to completely depress the viewer. And it offers glimmers of hope and love that this sappy reviewer is hoping to see come to fruition. Whether Plastic Memories will ultimately be a tearjerker or a weird romantic comedy in the end is yet to be seen, but one would probably make for a better story while another would be more personally pleasing. Only time will tell. For now, we get to count down the days along with Tsukasa….

A Christian Perspective:

1 Corinthians 13:8 – Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Okay, so only the first sentence of this verse actually applies to this week’s perspective. Basically, it’s a simple application. Throughout this episode, we see how a certain degree of love is working in Isla and Tsukasa’s relationship. From small hints like Isla rubbing Tsukasa’s head to Tsukasa declaring that he wants to be with Isla to the end, despite finding out about her small remainder of time, there are examples that some kind of love exists between the two. Whether this is (or will become) romantic love is yet to be seen, but to be honest I kind of hope it is. I can’t help it, I like seeing romances.

Now, this does bring up an interesting question: did Kazuki not love Isla? I think she genuinely did, but we don’t know the full story as to why she broke off her partnership with Isla. Whether it was from concern for Isla (not wanting her to get hurt) or from selfishness (Kazuki herself not wanting to be hurt by something happening to Isla) is not clear to me yet. Regardless of Kazuki’s reasoning, though, we are seeing Paul’s statement come true in Isla’s relationship with Tsukasa. As we are shown at the end of the episode, she is starting to become happy again, and is bearing more resemblance to the happy girl shown in some of today’s flashbacks.

Let’s be honest: what Tsukasa is doing isn’t easy. He’s allowing himself to go deeper into something that will only end in despair, yet his love for Isla is too strong to do anything else. Let us keep that in mind, as well, when we are faced with tough situations where the loving option may be the costly option.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: Kazuki is shown drinking and getting drunk; Isla and another girl are shown with men and alcohol; two men are shown at a bar, drinking alcohol

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Eru shows cleavage throughout the episode; Tsukasa’s bare chest is shown in the shower, and Eru and Isla are also shown in the shower (but the most you see is the top of one of Eru’s breasts)

Violence: Flashbacks shows a Giftia choking a child; Marcia is hit with the blast from Tsukasa’s gun; Sherry throws a pen through a pair of binoculars; Kazuki puts Tsukasa in a body hold

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Isla pulls the old, “Do you want dinner, a bath, or me” joke

Review: Plastic Memories, Episode 5: The Promise I Wanted To Keep

Review:

For the first time in the show’s history, we actually have something akin to a two-part storyline. If your memory needs a bit of refreshing, the previous episode ended with one of those black market retrievers showing up at Souta’s door and inquiring about Marcia. Rather than just have this as an unfortunate ending to her story, or as some kind of background plot, this actually carries into the main plot of this episode, with Marcia ultimately being abducted (this really isn’t a spoiler… it happens roughly in the first minute of the show). As a result, Terminal Service 1’s crew mobilizes in an effort to find the lost Giftia. Along the way back stories are revealed, old acquaintances are introduced, and hearts are broken.

This is the first episode of Plastic Memories to get really dark and violent. Granted, its violence is still quite tame in comparison to many other shows, but there are a few scenes that definitely shake things up. For the first time, we actually get to see what Wanderers are capable of, rather than just hearing about it, and we see why they are such a concern for the Terminal Service crew. The episode also takes time to delve into the story of Michiru and her father a little more, with a little bit of Kazuki’s story thrown into the mix. That is probably one of Plastic Memories’ strongest attributes: the secondary characters actually feel like fleshed out personalities, and not just creations meant to fill out the roster. The events of this episode impact many characters, not just the designated “main” characters.

The only flaw in this episode is the unexplained appearance of Souta in the midst of a blockaded area. Despite the fact that he is absent for basically the entire search prior to entering the blockaded area, Souta somehow knew where to go or presumably followed the Terminal Service car to the location. We’re never told how. He just randomly appears. Okay, sure, this is a dramatic point, not to mention a shocking one, as no one expected him to show up, but the problem is in reconciling it with the logistics of the episode, and as of now it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps the next episode will shed some light on this.

At the end of the day, this was a satisfying episode of Plastic Memories, barring Souta’s mysterious appearance (and the cliffhanger ending… but no one likes cliffhanger endings). Character stories and character relationships were explored, story elements introduced in the previous episode were expanded upon, and there was just enough drama and action present to keep things tense. Plastic Memories has a lot going for it, and has gotten off to a pretty decent start, so hopefully it can maintain this steam for the duration of the season.

A Christian Perspective:

Honestly, I had a really hard time thinking of anything for this episode. Usually I can come up with something after thinking about the episode for a few minutes, and on a good day something will pop out at me while watching the episode. Even after a few days, nothing particularly profound jumped out at me, so all I have is this: the problem with humans playing God.

Now, it could be said that the whole series encapsulates this idea, and that would probably be right, but while the series up until this point has shown more of an emotional issue (people having to part with their beloved androids who might as well be humans), this episode presents the idea of real, physical harm: namely, what happens when a Giftia becomes a Wanderer. The show makes sure to clarify that Wanderers are rare cases, but that doesn’t change the fact that they can come about, and from the two cases shown we see that they have ridiculous strength. Man tried to play God by creating a form of artificial life that very closely resembles man. Man’s creation could, if left unchecked, wipe man off the face of the Earth. While the idea of androids is certainly cool (what sci-fi geek doesn’t entertain the idea from time to time?), we have to ask ourselves if, as Christians, it is really an idea we should support. I suppose it comes down to how “real” the end goal would be, but I think we can agree that the result presented in Plastic Memories is humans fiddling too much with something they know too little about.

Let me just say that this isn’t necessarily to take a stance against the idea of artificial limbs. Some might say that if these people lose a body part (or were born without it), then that’s God’s will and man shouldn’t interfere. Others might say that perhaps it was God’s will that these things be invented so that these people could have what they otherwise wouldn’t. I do not know who is right in this argument, but I want to make it clear that this was not the particular discussion in question for this Perspective.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: A Giftia is tazed off-screen; a Giftia is shown being shot multiple times in a flashback—another flashback shows this same Giftia attack a man and a woman, and then shows him again being shot; a Giftia attacks Isla

Blood/Gore: The above-mentioned flashback seems to show a woman with blood on the ground near her leg; a man is shown with a bruised eye and blood on his face

Review: Plastic Memories, Episode 4: I Just Don’t Know How To Smile

Review:

This week’s episode brings us back into the swing of Graftia retrievals after last week’s detour into buddy bonding territory. Tsukasa and Isla are required to take on the retrieval of a Graftia who has become her owner’s caretaker since the death of the owner’s parents. While the expectation is that this job will be difficult, the reality of the situation is that the boy (Souta) is quite ready to be rid of his Graftia… for all the wrong reasons. He is convinced that everything she has ever told him was a lie, since she said she would never leave him, but now she is. This sets Tsukasa and Isla on a quest to convince Souta to believe in his memories.

While the focus of the episode is largely on the Souta/Marcia (Souta’s graftia) issue, there are moments that shed light into other character relationships; or, rather, that open the door for those issues to be exposed. For example, we find out a little about Michiru’s upbringing as it relates to the current situation, and we also see the dissolution of Isla’s former work partnership. We are also introduced to the concept of a criminal entity early on in the episode (something for a potential antagonist role, no doubt) along with some internal problems that are hanging over Terminal Service 1.

With all of that said, the episode is still pretty straightforward: Tsukasa and Isla encounter a problem, formulate a plan to tackle said problem, and find unexpected help along the way. At the end, everyone is happy… except, this is where things deviate, because after the problem seems to be wrapped up, we are introduced with a potential problem, and what’s worse is that it is a cliffhanger. What makes this episode so good isn’t just the fact that it has the right balance of comedy, emotional content, and backstory, but also the fact that it sets the stage for future content—whether an episode’s worth or a season’s—and then integrates that content in a way that fits into the story without completely overriding everything else right away.

Plastic Memories may be taking its time to really get rolling, but something tells me that when it takes off, it’s going to hit hard. This remains one of my top shows for this season, and I highly recommend that you check it out, especially with the plot elements that were introduced in this episode.

A Christian Perspective:

John 8:44 – You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Unlike most of my perspectives, which apply the Scriptures directly to something that happened in the show, this one actually contrasts what happened in the episode. You see, Marcia was clearly telling Souta the truth about his parents, yet Souta refused to believe her because Marcia herself is being taken away since her lifespan is about to end. This speaks to the necessity of discernment, as Souta was allowing his emotions to cloud his judgment, and could not see the truth in front of his face (there is also something to be said about lying and the way the episode ends, but I don’t want to spoil that).

Contrarily, many people will also believe lies because those lies are what they want to hear. Regardless of whether we are believing lies or refusing to believe the truth, we need to practice discernment so that we accept the truth (no matter how hurtful) and refuse the lies (no matter how tempting) so that we can lead wise lives.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “g**z”, 1 “cr*p”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Isla is hugged by a woman, and her face goes right into the woman’s chest—the woman’s top also shows cleavage in this scene

Violence: Michiru throws Tsukasa into a wall

Blood/Gore: None

Review: My Teen Romantic Comedy Too!, Episode 3: Quietly, Yukinoshita Yukino Makes A Decision

Review:

The darker, dramatic tone that began with last week’s episode continues into this one, as Hikigaya’s typical approach to handling situations begins to wear on Yukino, as evidenced by her staunch rejection of Hikigaya’s proposal for handling a new job that has been brought to the Service Club. It turns out that a fellow student has been nominated to run for Student Council President as some sort of prank, and since she’s the only candidate her election is basically assured. The problem is, she doesn’t want to be the SC president, so she turns to the Service Club to help her out. Hikigaya immediately jumps to a plan that appears to be headed in the usual direction: take the brunt of the bad stuff onto himself so that the client can get out of her problem without having her social life negatively impacted. Yukino harshly rejects his plan, moving to instead suggest a direction of her own.

In all reality, the set up for this kind of plot was done at the end of season one, with Shizuka (the Service Club adviser) lamenting that Hikigaya always hurts himself to help others. It makes sense that these feelings would eventually boil over and start affecting his friends, as well; however, starting on that path almost immediately at the beginning of the second season is a bit jarring. As far as this writer can recall, the first season ended on a relatively positive note—which is understandable, especially if a second season wasn’t initially planned. The disconnect is in having a relatively content group of individuals suddenly fall into contention over Hikigaya using the same motives he has always used. Using the first portion of the season to build up the tension before having it finally boil over would have seemed like a more balanced approach.

None of this is to say that the show is bad; on the contrary, it is actually enjoyable to watch a high school anime that isn’t a constant barrage of flowers and sunshine, with a male protagonist who isn’t typical of a romantic comedy (although, calling this a romantic comedy almost seems like lying at this point, as both the romance and the comedy currently seem to be absent). In any case, the current events make one want to see how this conflict is resolved, as Hikigaya cannot possibly continue on the same path anymore—at least, not without severely damaging or even losing the friendships he has finally made. Perhaps that’s what needs to happen, though. Maybe he has to lose it all to realize how much it means to him, since his usual cynical attitude may not place much value on friendship. That’s just a theory, of course. How this will play out is still too far off for anyone to tell, so one can only hope for a satisfying conclusion.

A Christian Perspective:

Proverbs 26:11 – As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.

Sorry guys, no positive perspective this week. I think it’s fairly obvious where I’m going with this, but I’ll go there anyway. As we have seen, Hikigaya’s methods for solving problems (basically, putting himself on the line for the sake of sparing others any personal embarrassment) are starting to hurt those closest to him, and they are starting to get vocal about it, and yet Hikigaya continues to use this approach. While this plot point is still in its infancy, it stands to reason that if he doesn’t change his ways, then he may lose his friends—not because they dislike him, but because being around him would become too painful. Grant you this is all speculation, but it is a likely scenario based on what we’re given.

The verse above makes it clear that to persist in your folly is foolish, and at this point it is pretty clear that Hikigaya’s methods are foolish. He takes the brunt of anger, embarrassment, etc. onto himself, which of course sets the stage for contention between himself and others. It’s true that he doesn’t seem to have too much trouble with his fellow classmates, although it is also obvious that he doesn’t exactly have a friendly relationship with them. Ultimately, though, it is never wise to continue making enemies for yourself, and that is precisely what Hikigaya’s methods have the potential of doing. Instead of being wise and looking at other methods, though, he is obstinate and insists on using the same tactics over and over again. Whether this is simply because they work, because he doesn’t care what people think of him, or because of some other variable that we do not yet know of, I cannot say. As Christians, though, let us practice wisdom and actually consider our methods of doing things, especially when they are clearly hurting those closest to us.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “Oh my G–”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Hikigaya stares at a girl’s chest

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None