Plastic is not a typically biodegradable compound – unlike materials like wood, most bacteria don’t chew em up and spit them out as useful organic compounds. And photo-degradation breaks it down slowly, and into little bits. And while this is bad news for wild-life and the environment, it does make one wonder: if your memories were plastic, doesn’t that mean they could, in some way, last “forever”?
This episode opens with a silent scene of Tsukasa and Isla watching the sun come up. Plastic Memories has been a loud show in the past, sometimes annoyingly so, so moments like these carry all the more weight. It’s not somber, exactly, but peaceful. It made me hold my breath, as if a sigh would break the fragile peace that’s settled over the two.
In the last episode, Tsukasa and Isla resolved to live everyday as if it were an ordinary one, to allow themselves the luxury of normalcy even if it’s a trick. In this regard, the continued ~~anime~~ romcom shenanigans were highly appropriate – they were a marker of more normal days. This continues here, when Isla and Tsukasa treat today like they’re just moving out, and so engage in cleaning the apartment, followed by screwing around in the shower (not like that!)
Seeing the transition from solemn reflection to joy and energy, I’m reminded of the opening to one of my favorite songs: “You! Me! Dancing!” by Los Campesinos – soft guitar thrums, slowly, slowly building up to a raucous symphony of happy sound and fury.
It’s appropriate that Isla ties her identity, in part, to a plastic ID card hanging around her neck. She was born a member of the Terminal Service, and she hopes to stay that way. And even when Kazuki takes the card away, and kicks them out, she knows, and everyone in the service knows, she’s not just a Giftia despite Kazuki’s words. She’s their coworker, and friend.
There’s a scene in the amusement park that really gets to me. In it, Tsukasa looks down,and realizes that dusk is almost upon them. It’s a very old method of telling time, looking at shadows; during Ramadan, the Muslim tradition is to compare a white thread and black thread at dusk, and if one cannot discern between the two, it is time to end that day’s fast. Funny that in a world as advanced as Tsukasa and Isla’s, it is the lengthening of his shadow that informs him that his last day with Isla is almost up.
He cracks a little under the pressure, but he stays strong and tries to enjoy the rest of the evening with Isla. She can see the hurt, too, but she knows she’d only hurt him more if she said anything about it. They continue on with their night.
The closing of the park.
Alright, I’ll just come clean. I was tearing up while Isla and Tsukasa sat in the Ferris wheel, quietly trading what they love about each other. The background hum of the motors in the wheel provided the only sound in the cabin apart from the whispers of those two. This episode is truly masterful in its (lack of of) use of soundtrack.
Douga Kobo does an excellent job in allowing Tsukasa his grief, not varnishing it by making it pretty. The sorrow he feels is painful, and ugly, and his face reflects it well.
The word “grace” is something that has been on my mind lately. It’s been there since the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a North Carolina state senator and a senior pastor, that died on June 17th in a terrorist attack on the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church where he and 8 others were gunned down by a white supremacist. During that funeral, President Barack Obama presented the eulogy for Mr. Pinckney, and at one point, he talked about grace.
Now, obviously, he meant the Christian “grace”, of God’s unyielding and free favor and salvation given to those who have sinned. It’s not the same grace I’m using here, but it is still a form of “grace.” Beautiful, serene, and worthy of admiration.
I know it is ironic to say this, considering Isla’s clumsy character and clunky demeanor, but in the way she faced her last day, I can only call it “graceful.” I hope that when I die, if it is a death I can see coming, I will be able to meet it with the same strength and gracefulness that Isla demonstrated. I hope that my family and friends will treat me the same as always, and stay brave with me to the end, in the same way that Isla, Tsukasa and their co-workers and friends did. I wish this dearly, and if there is a God out there, then may He grant me that favor.
To all those reading this: I hope you, too, will be reunited with the ones you cherish.