I’m a hopeless romantic. I don’t mean that I’m constantly falling in love with different people (I believe we have another word for such people), but I love the idea of love. The concept that one person thinks the world of another person, loses sleep over them, even is willing to die for them… it’s so intriguing that I find myself thinking and writing about love a lot. This is probably why I have an entire playlist of sad love songs… but back to the point. Human love is a reflection of the love that God has for us: as we’re made in His image, we share some of His characteristics, love being chief among them. While we have the capacity to express love, we’re often confused as to how to show it, a problem faced by the two main characters of Plastic Memories, Tsukasa and Isla. They both struggle with learning how to express love to one another, but the time and effort they put into understanding what love is and how to both express and respond to one another brings them together. Their journey has made them into one of my favorite anime couples, and for good reason. There are a lot of lessons that can be gleaned from Tsukasa and Isla’s story, especially in relation to Christian love, so let’s jump right into it!
In the world of Plastic Memories, human technology has developed sentient androids known as Giftia, which are pretty much indistinguishable from normal humans. They eat, sleep, and breathe just as we do, and they are widely accepted into human culture. Not the most popular type of future to explore in a sci-fi story, but one that opens up a lot of story possibilities. The main limitation of Giftia is that they have a set operating lifespan (81,920 hours), after which their operating system will be so overloaded that it will begin to splinter, destroying their personality and leaving them as a shell ruled only by instinct. In essence, they basically think themselves to death, similar to the AI in the Halo universe.
Tsukasa and Isla work for the Terminal Service; a group that reclaims Giftia before they reach their operational lifespan and resets them so that they can be used again. This weighs on Isla, who, as a Giftia herself, knows that eventually it will be her turn to lose her memories. Due to this she’s really closed off, and she doesn’t really connect with anyone.
Enter Tsukasa, our bumbling, optimistic hero who somehow manages to sweep Isla off her feet and-
No. That’s not how it happened. While “love at first sight” is a fairly common anime trope, neither Isla nor Tsukasa is entirely sure of their feelings for each other when they begin working. Tsukasa just wants to understand why Isla is closed off, and Isla think it strange that Tsukasa would put in the effort to get to know her when she didn’t exactly market herself as an open individual. It takes a while for Tsukasa to realize that he loves Isla, and it takes even longer for him to express that love in a way that gets through to her.
In essence, the pursuit is what makes the love real. Tsukasa could just come out and say that he loves Isla from the beginning, but the time spent attempting to show that love over and over are what really brings it home to Isla, and prompts her reaction.
And that’s what makes the Christian religion so unique. It’s not a constant struggle to find favor with God or to make ourselves worthy of eternal life: instead the Christian faith is a love story. Just as Tsukasa had to actively pursue Isla in order for her to know of his love, Christ shows how much He loves us in His pursuit of our hearts. He never fails to let us know how much we are loved: when life is going well, knowing Him brings us “joy inexpressible” (1 Peter 1:8); when hard times come, He “comforts us in all our afflictions” (2 Cor 1:4). His love is all-encompassing and powerful, far beyond our human love. But to an unsaved heart, his love isn’t as bright as it is blinding, and like Isla we can’t understand His love.
Our sinful nature makes us indifferent towards His love at best, and we are reluctant to even try to understand him. Giving ourselves to an unknown entity is frightening, especially when we’re promised something as extravagant as unconditional love. But His “perfect love casts out fear,” and as we come to know Him, “we love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:18,19). Christ’s love for us awakens the ability for us to reciprocate that love towards Him, just as Tsukasa’s displays of love awakened love in Isla’s heart.
Where Tsukasa’s love mirrors Christ’s love, Isla’s reaction to that love mirrors the believer’s reaction: the sin that isolated us seems to be nothing to Him. It’s confusing, yet comforting. And like Isla, we wonder how we can ever repay the love that is given to us. And yet, we don’t have to. Christ’s love was given to us as a gift, not because of what we’ve done or can do, but simply because He loves us. All He wants from us is to reciprocate that love, and in doing so we find our satisfaction and fulfillment. His love completes us, and in loving Him we find the peace that we need.
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