Malice@Doll Review

In a world where humanity no longer exists, Dolls walk the streets ready to prostitute themselves and provide pleasure to those seeking to act out their sexual desires with these human-like beings who feel no pain or shame. For years they have waited for their human masters to return, little knowing that such a thing will never happen. The Dolls spend their years pondering existence and their future hopes.

Malice@Doll is one such machine - she has been suffering from a recurring dream in which she sees a young, blonde girl who disappears in a white light. One day as she walks through town about to greet her friends (much like every other day), Malice discovers that she is beginning to malfunction and decides to visit Joe Administrator. Joe oversees that everything in the vicinity is in proper working order and upon seeing Malice's tear he instructs her to pay a visit to Todd, the repairer. Joe warns Malice though that a rogue machine named Devo Leukocyte inhabits the upper corridors and that he has become homicidal. Braving the corridors she eventually reaches what she believes to be her destination. Within the large room lives a being of flesh and machinery, which does little to acknowledge Malice's presence. Upon asking it for its name and offering a kiss, the beast unleashes a wave of tentacles and proceeds to rape malice until her injuries worsen and she falls unconscious.

The next morning she awakens and discovers that her man-made body no longer exists. She is now made up of flesh and blood, her skin no longer exhibits a lifeless, plastic appearance and she feels emotion for the first time. Her eyes channel her soul and she now sets out to discover the meaning behind her transformation and try to help others who are in a "less desirable" situation than her.


Malice@Doll is a curious piece of work stemming from an original concept by Serial Experiments Lain, Bubblegum Crisis screenwriter, Chiaki Konaka. His primary interest in horror story telling and his fascination with Czech film-makers Jan Svankmajer and Jiri Trnka's stop-motion puppet animations had helped him to conjure up the story of Malice and her journey into knowing. Taking further inspiration from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and the writings of Philip K Dick, Chiaki presents a dark and thought provoking tale.

Director, Keitaro Motonaga with his full awareness that he has a small budget to play with brings to life the world of Malice by using a mixture of CGI and traditional hand drawn techniques, while most of the film is fully 3D rendered some of the more touching moments are dealt with in a way that the computer isn't able to deliver. The story and character designs and movements are geared around the limitation of the technology that he's been given to work with. Motonaga deliberately locks off his camera for every shot and provides dark, surreal and claustrophobic moments that play out non-sequentially in what is a beautiful horror piece of poetry and spiritual ideas.


The haunting nature of Malice@Doll's imagery is partially attributed to and also a success due to such CG limitations. Produced around the same time period as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Motonaga’s film suffered at the hands of Square’s box office failure which opened ahead of the delayed Malice leaving it quite literally in the dark, until it finally surfaced on video where it was again criminally overlooked. While technically not as impressive as Final Fantasy, Toy Story or any number of CGI animated features, it does have a look that compliments the content perfectly, and its twisted, juddering and quite often jarring effects stay in the viewer's mind for quite some time.

Malice@Doll is an adult production in every respect and perhaps the most obvious inclusion is that of its hentai leaning, though here it is less forced than more straight hentai productions. Demonic rape rears its ugly head but unlike a lot of hentai features that choose to depict it at its most graphic, this one adopts a careful approach and uses its sex scenes to justify pieces of the story without being as overly graphic, and to understand this means having to see the film and the way it juxtaposes the feelings of man and machine. The feature never titillates, it provides an outlook on redemption and philosophies of the human heart that often reach certain extremities, but given the world in which these Dolls live in can it be possible that they may find self healing through aggressive acts? After all, they cannot feel but then only when human can they understand and reach new heights of their being. Their purpose was always to provide pleasure but never receive any, once engulfed by flesh they begin to discover the differences between pleasure and pain. This is a point that I believe Chiaki is trying to make but it's open to interpretation, one that may or may not sway viewers.


Chiaki's script is what ultimately makes Malice@Doll succeed but it isn't without certain flaws. Both Chiaki and Motonaga give little in the way of explanation and describe the story as being one of self interpretation, where visuals tell more than dialogue. By the final resolution we can understand what has become of Malice and her friends but much of what goes on throughout the story is left for the viewer to work out. The appearance of the ghostly young girl and the surroundings are barely touched upon but provide an extra surreal treat for the viewer to ponder. Like previous efforts, Chiaki focuses on the female being and once again repeats his ideas by trying to make points raised in previous shows like Bubblegum Crisis 2040.

Chiaki perhaps has an overly fantasized mind when it comes to women in sci-fi/horror trappings and by this point some of his ideas feel a little tired but still manage to serve enough purpose in Malice@Doll to make it enjoyable. Whether or not he moves on and focuses on different subjects remains to be seen but I feel he's forever going to be searching for new ways to exploit them. Since this production he has been building his own dolls and selling them in Japan, products of an obsessive desire it would seem.


The DVD

Artsmagic presents Malice@Doll on a fine DVD for anime enthusiasts. Originally this was a three part OVA - "Hard Flesh", "Oral Infection" and "Perverted Organism". While these can be played separately from the scene selection screen you can also view them as one film.

Picture

Presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, Malice@Doll is given a fine transfer to DVD. Motonoga deliberately played around with the finalized look and gave it a lot of grain and darkened the colour palette. The film is often very dark and suitably so given the content.

Sound
There is a choice of either the original Japanese track or a newly dubbed English one, both presented in Dolby Stereo. Go with the Japanese track for this one, it offers far more emotional performances, whereas the English dub is a concoction of horrible American, country bumpkin voiceovers and lazy performances. The sound effects and music sound very impressive and the optional subtitles are of a high quality.


Extras

Bio/Filmographies
This includes info for character designer, Shinobu Nishioka, creature/conceptualist, Yasuhiro Moriki, director Keitaro Motonoga and creator Chiaki Konaka.

Character Models
11 pages featuring finished character designs.

Interview with the Creators
Running for 26 minutes this features voice actress Yukie Yamada (Malice), Keitaro Motonoga and Chiaki Konaka discussing Malice@Doll, from conception to finished piece. This is an interesting interview that gives a decent amount of insight into the production process but is marred only by a cameraman who can't keep still for more than a second. I hate to imagine what would happen if he was given his own film to direct. There are one or two occasions where dialogue is not translated.

Final Fantasies
Recorded in January 2003 as part of the Sci-Fi London premiere for the film, anime expert Jonathan Clements discusses the evolution of CGI in anime. Clements is a good host and provides some good background information. This is a nice introduction if you’re new to anime and even if you're not then you might well learn some new things. Look out for ex-"Bits" girls Aleks Krotoski and Emily Newton-Dunn in the audience.

Trailers
Three trailers here for CG animated features. First up is Malice@Doll, Alice and finally Blue Remains. There is also an option to view these with English subtitles.

Artwork
More of a promotion for Artsmagic releases, this is four pages that give intros and DVD artwork for Malice@Doll and Alice.


Overall

Malice@Doll is intriguing to say the least, bringing together several anime styles and themes of symbolism and depravity, as well as touching sentiments it offers something different for the casual anime fan, offering a nice balance between horror, drama and romance.

Film
7 out of 10
Video
8 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
7 out of 10
Overall

7

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 12:24:21

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