Weekly Digest 4/19/15 – Plastic Memories, Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki

Plastic Memories - 03-4 Plastic Memories - 03-8 Sidonia 2 - 02 -7 Sidonia 2 - 02 -18

And sometimes the three-episode rule is plenty.

Plastic Memories – 03

Plastic Memories - 03-1 Plastic Memories - 03-2 Plastic Memories - 03-3
Plastic Memories - 03-5 Plastic Memories - 03-6 Plastic Memories - 03-7
Plastic Memories - 03-9 Plastic Memories - 03-10 Plastic Memories - 03 -11

I’m afraid this is the end of the line for me with Plastic Memories, at least in terms of blogging it – I’ll watch another ep or two to see if it surprises me, but I’m increasingly convinced that what we see is what we get.

I could list all the problems with this series, but I think they’re pretty self-apparent so why go there?  It certainly counts as my biggest disappointment of what’s been a pretty decent first three weeks of Spring 2015, but I just don’t think you can effectively pull off what Plastic Memories is trying to do without a little big of dignity at least.  And as I said last week, being a show that tries to be funny a lot and rarely is funny is a huge obstacle to overcome.

This formula of 18 minutes of bad comedy followed by two minutes of maudlin melodrama is really the worst of both worlds, especially as the series doesn’t have the chops to pull off either comedy or melodrama.  By the time the “serious” part of this ep started I was so annoyed by the formulaic, stilted first half that there was no buy-in at all.  It’s not as though the drama in the B-part was especially well-written, but even if it had been I don’t think it would have made much difference.

Maybe I oversold the premise here, but I still think it’s a darn good one.  It could be that the clumsiness and awkwardness here is a function of Hayashi Naotaka and the Peter Principle.  As a scenario writer he has a terrific track record (Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes) but he doesn’t have much in terms of actually writing scripts on his resume.  Ideas are one thing, execution another altogether – and whether this is the reason or not, to be Plastic Memories is a series that’s simply not as good as the idea behind it.

Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 02

Sidonia 2 - 02 -1 Sidonia 2 - 02 -2 Sidonia 2 - 02 -3
Sidonia 2 - 02 -4 Sidonia 2 - 02 -5 Sidonia 2 - 02 -6
Sidonia 2 - 02 -8 Sidonia 2 - 02 -9 Sidonia 2 - 02 -10
Sidonia 2 - 02 -11 Sidonia 2 - 02 -12 Sidonia 2 - 02 -13
Sidonia 2 - 02 -14 Sidonia 2 - 02 -15 Sidonia 2 - 02 -16
Sidonia 2 - 02 -17 Sidonia 2 - 02 -19 Sidonia 2 - 02 -20
Sidonia 2 - 02 -21 Sidonia 2 - 02 -22 Sidonia 2 - 02 -23

Yeah, I see no way anything can possibly go wrong here.

My only complaint with Knights of Sidonia, really, is that they keep showing me those gorgeous eyecatches and reminding me how crappy everything but the space scenes looks in the actual series.  Apart from that all systems are go – the plot is coming together nicely, and it’s absolutely in the bullseye of classic anime science fiction.

I think one could be forgiven for seeing something of Neon Genesis Evangelion in the developments Sidonia is taking.  There’s always been something quite SEELE-like about those ghouls in their coffins and their endless meetings, and the similarity between Gauna and Angels – and of equal importance, the way they’re treated in the writing – has never been hard to see.  But it’s never been more obvious than it is now that “Tsumugi” has taken center stage.

If there’s a common theme I see running through the leadership of Sidonia, it’s arrogance.  The arrogance of the Immortals has now cost them their lives (thus rendering their name rather ironic), but it seems no one can hold a candle to Ochiai in terms of arrogance.  There are a lot of interesting questions one might ask about the current situation – for example, is Kobayashi aware that it’s Ochiai in Kunato’s body that she’s dealing with?  And as to Ochiai himself, it seems likely that he considers himself to be acting in the best interests of the colony in his own megalomaniacal way – but who can know for sure about a dude as crazy as he is?

Sidonia doesn’t generally do comedy too well (though compared to Plastic Memories it’s practically Monty Python), but there was something grotesquely amusing about the meeting between Tsumugi (KunatOchiai’s official name for her species is “Chimera”) and Nagate/Izana.  Up-close she’s something like a cross between a giant squid and the Schmoo, and one can’t help laugh at that in spite of the circumstances.  She’s an object deserving of pity, obviously – an intelligence that certainly didn’t act for its ludicrous circumstances – but Tsumugi’s existence screams impending disaster on every level.  Her obsession with Nagate is already creepy, and we got a little taste of just how much damage she can do merely by wagging her tail.

Basically, I’m expecting this season of Sidonia to devolve into a giant clusterfuck – but it’s the sort of thing that Nihei-sensei seems to write very well indeed.  There are too many things this series doesn’t do very well for me to ever consider it a classic, but what it gets right it does very well – and the sci-fi bona fides are very strong indeed.



  1. U

    You never pass up the chance to critique the art on a KoS post do you?
    I still think it's quite fitting for the depiction of a humanity that has gone in such a strange and artificial direction.

  2. G

    PLASTIC MEMORIES / It is far from being a bad anime but I do agree the comedy could be better or maybe less as the time is short for Isla. Also Michiru is overbearing. I wont even go into why the Griffas cant be saved!

    But I think EP 3 was much better especially understanding Isla better! It was suppose to be a very good anime but its average!I wiil watch though !

    Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki You gave this a good review but I wiil also say I think the visuals arent that bad! The Lab at Kunato Industries was so eerie and that wasny a space shot ! The Tsumugi press conference was nicely done do! But that is minor!

    I have read the manga so I dont think it will turn into mess if anything this is just warming up!

    Also with all the tech / sci-fi asexual reproduction / photo sythensis / the Honaka sisters just 5 years old With have cross species with Layala / Imortality ( not immune to bullets) so a Chimera doesnt surprise me!

    For myself I havent been this excited over a sci-fi anime in quite awhile! And it ranks higher tham most of the shows I watch!

  3. D

    The Hoshijiro chimera is a fantastic culmination to that plot thread. It was easy to predict she would retain an interest in Nagate. How he responds to it is the big mystery – we can see his sympathy for the original gauna-Hoshijiro clone is now being redirected to the chimera.

    The chimera herself is another character with some really interesting plot potential. Being partially human, it's not hard to imagine her becoming fed up with the ungrateful Sidonians and attacking. Then again, Ochiai is apparently already planning that, so I'm thinking maybe the chimera pulls a Frankenstein and subordinates Ochiai to build her fellow Chimera family members… Well, the possibilities are many.

  4. E

    The Sidonia episode reminded me of how much of a stock character Tanikaze was, his reactions are about as cliched as you can get. Tsumugi is interesting, further prolonging the Hoshijiro dilemma in any way is great in my book. I feel sad about how much better the space scenes look compared to the characters, those colors and direction make the action really interesting to watch.

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