Anime Meta-Review


Parasite Dolls


By Date




Title Info

screen capture
  • seen: 1-3 of 3
  • type: OAV
  • grade: watchable
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title may offend the sensitive.
  • form: sub
  • dur: 28
  • made: 2004
  • Review created: Tue Dec 20 23:00:36 EST 2005
  • mod: none

It wouldn't be such a dark future if they'd turn the lights on...

Another miscellaneous title off the rent by mail, never heard of it and the name seemed destined to resolve to something dodgy and desperate for attention. Still, a title couldn't ask for a more baseline position from which to show whatever strengths it can muster.


Boomers. For the people of the dark future we are visiting the name suggests androids at the boundaries of being indistinguishable from humanity. Which means that every individual has to ask themselves exactly how human they are, and what thoughts are going through the possibly electronic minds that surround them. And since boomers are incredibly complex creations, with near human behaviors, the possibility of erratic behavior, or of downright malfunction, is always possible. Not a good thing when they are strong, tough and feel neither pain nor remorse.

But the value of these obedient slaves is far too great for any doubts or unproven risks to stop their production. Instead it falls to the A.D. Police (rather insultingly called the "normal" police in this series) to basically pacify any of the "improbable", but actually relatively frequent, events that do occur. Of course their version of pacify tends to involve blowing an obviously rogue boomer into small boomer pieces. Thus "the branch", a small group of specialist agents, was formed to handle the cases that are more complex. They're skilled, capable and definitely going to need all that skill and a whole lot of luck to survive the situations they're going to run into.


Of course for the people in this not nearly as dark present the word "boomers" makes it immediately clear that we're experiencing another offshoot of Bubblegum Crisis. The first offshoot was AD Police which involved the rather helpless cops dramatically failing to defeat the rogue boomers the original heroines dealt with so easily. It was all about violence, madness and the gory death of both boomers and huge numbers of cops. This one is all about investigations leading to madness, gory death and incidental sex scenes. So it's basically the more mature, slightly smarter, brother of AD Police.

It would also probably be a very safe thing to make fun of. The whole franchise doesn't retain a lot of respect among anime fans any more. Indeed the whole cyber-punk thing seems a little bit dated now. There doesn't seem to be any great danger of androids being an issue in the near future now that we know a bit more about how damned hard robotics and AI is. In addition the terror of rogue metallic monsters has been done, and redone, enough that it doesn't hold the same interest. When one boomer gets the side of his face shot off I think just about everyone is going to be reminded that they saw something a lot like that in the Terminator years ago. In other words the central foundation of the plot is more than a little stale.

However, that being said, I'm going to admit that it is not actually that bad. It's certainly better than A.D. Police... but that's really not saying much. The reason is that the investigative angle gives the stories a bit more progression and tension. The team actually have to take some action in order to work out what's going on, which means that when they do work it out and the showdown occurs there's a bit more meaning to it. The team also has a lot more personality, partly because they have specialist roles (one's a hacker, one's an undercover expert etc.) and even more so because they last a lot longer than the average A.D. Police member. Although sadly the conclusion is sufficiently "permanent" that there's not too much danger of a sequel. And the familiar limits of how much can be achieved in three episodes certainly come into play, there's definite limits on how much character depth can be generated so it depends on certain familiar archetypes.

On the downside the writing is a little bit flakey. It's written, I assume intentionally, as if by someone with an attention deficit disorder. It jumps all over the place and sometimes the connections don't make a lot of sense. Much of the investigation work is truncated too, requiring some improbable connections to be made. The reason is because this fast cutting from scene to scene makes it feel more modern and hard edge even if it does deal some damage to the narrative flow. Quite a lot of the sex and violence in the show is like this too, spliced into the story more to provide a distraction and an adult feel than through any actual connection to what is occurring.

It's also fair to say that the central premise, the concept of "parasite dolls", or rogue boomers, doesn't actually have much to do with the story we see. In practice just about every crime the team investigates ends up having humans as the perpetrators. This is probably because, when it comes down to it, humans go insane in more interesting ways than machines. That's fine, but it does mean the boomers are almost entirely sidelined in a show that is theoretically about their effects on a dark future. Indeed one of the team is a boomer and he ends up leaving a very positive impression for being reliable, protective and even caring.

However, to repeat, it's not unwatchable. This is partly because it is relatively short (they sell it as a movie but it's actually three disconnected episodes) so the erratic writing isn't too much of an issue. In addition some of the stories do have a certain energy and tension to them, as do the characters, and the violence does give a credible sense of threat... and one or two somewhat impressive action scenes. I don't think I'd necessarily recommend it, and definitely keep it away from young kids, but I've watched much worse. If you actually like the whole cyber-punk thing, insane humans, over-crowded cities full of dark and dangerous alleys containing the possibility of sudden violence, robotic or otherwise, then perhaps this might be worth a try.


There's clearly some degree of money in the production, but the three episodes are not very consistent in style... perhaps they were made at different points in time? For example the first episode is fairly traditional looking anime, barring some computer work, along with the familiar limits of motion that can be achieved with this mode. The shows opening, and the third episode, involves a lot of light and shadow effects presented in a quite arty fashion. This increases the intensity, and makes the flaws in the motion less obvious, but can also be a bit frustrating at times (due to so much being hidden) in addition to being highly variable in how effective it is. It's certainly interesting animation though, and sufficient to support the show. Some nice technical design, although nothing revolutionary (and the "cat" was very silly), the voices are good and the dancey / trancey music in the background actually ends up working really well to give a modern mood to the production. Incidentally the picture is from the third episode in case you couldn't guess.


The rise of the machines seems inevitable... well, at least it did in the 90's, which gives rise to new types of crime, perversion and hate. We follow a small group of elite cops who handle those situations the normal cops can't (because there's no obvious rogue boomer to shoot at). It taps very strongly into the cyber-punk genre, has moments of strength but and equally erratic presentation. All in all it's not bad, interesting rather that amazing animation. It's not too bad really.... but I'd still rent rather than buy if given the option.

Other Reviews

  • There's a negative review from Jason Carter at Anime Jump! A lack of consistency in story telling and presentation, along with wasted strengths is the primary accusation and I can't disagree with him. There are moments of strength but my reaction to the whole is sort of mixed.. although the lack of character depth is not too surprising for such a short series (1/5).
  • And then we zip to the other side of the spectrum with this review from the Anime Review. Notice though that all three reviews are in broad agreement with the strengths and weaknesses of the show, some good ideas, some mixed execution and as much character depth as you can expect in such a short series. This review supports the view that how much you enjoy the genre, and its style, will play a large part in how much you enjoy this title (4/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:23 WST 2009