Review: Parasite Dolls (2004)

What’s the opposite of nostalgia? Parasite Dolls is like stepping back in time — but in a bad way. Making the whole thing just that little bit more inexplicalbe is the quality of the team. When you have three creators who have director, screenwriting and character design credits on Patlabor TV, Lain and Samurai Champloo, you expect better. There is an overwhelming urge to keep them back after class and sternly inform them you expected better.

Parasite Dolls is set in the A.D. Police / Bubblegum Crisis universe, a futuristic world with robots called boomers. It appears that there are only two stories in this naked city: boomers who have a penchant for going rogue and killing humans, and humans who suffer massive inferiority complexes and go round killing boomers.

Character design here is very similar to that of Bubblegum Crisis 2040 and Armitage III. In fact Armitage III is the closest reference with its brow-furrowing sexuality (I mean a female cop who looks twelve and dresses like a child prostitute?).

Parasite Dolls comprises three episodes focussed around attacks on female boomers working in the sex industry. That’s right, lots of semi-naked females and silhouetted sex. Oh yeah, and it’s okay to kill them — because they’re robots. In fact the last episode ups the ante from eye-rolling gratuitous titillation to downright offensiveness.

The characters are pretty stock: Buzz the gravelly hero; Kimbell the emotionless boomer officer who may go bad; Myer the excitable, nerdy computer hacker; and Michaelson the cynical female offsider. Everything looks nice in a shadowy, moody kind of way and the action is kinda cool. But you really find yourself not caring a whole lot.

Like Leonardo di Caprio at the end of Titanic, there’s not a lot to cling onto. I found myself absently pondering whether Michaelson had been modelled on Marlene Dietrich, and how cool that would be if she was. I also found myself fascinated by the unnecessary attempt tie the three episodes together with an ‘X years Later’ banner between each episode, even though each case is obviously self-contained, nobody ages, and nobody undergoes any character growth or change.

If you want to see what anime was predominantly like in the eighties, or more accurately what was being released in the West, Parasite Dolls is a pretty slick, updated representation of the futuristic police / cyborg thriller. However, if you’re not interested in anime anthropology then I’d take my trowel and paint brush and go play in another sandpit.

6 wise-ass remarks out of 10.
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