This is more of a 7.5 or a weak 8. Good cyberpunk anime. If you like Akira, A.D Police Files, Battle Angel, Ghost in the Shell or those type anime, you won't be disappointed. Animation is good and it starts slow, but picks up good. Decent violence and gore. Fits in well with anime from the 90's and has high rewatchability due to only having 3 episodes. Cheap to buy online and I recommend it if you like other animes I compared it too.
Parasite Dolls is set in the universe of the anime series Bubblegum Crisis(BGC), which is a futuristic world that involves battles between man and machine. The OVA also happens to join the ranks of the previous spin offs of the series: A.D. Police: Serve and Protect, and A.D. Police: Files 1-3. I'll start by pointing out as mediocre as it is, this is definitely the best of the BGC spin offs, because to me both incarnations of the A.D. Police were very close to utter trash and this is coming from a fan of the franchise. Parasite Dolls has quite a bit going for it, but it does have a few issues keeping it from being a must see title.
Parasite Dolls has its moments in the visuals department. The very beginning suffers from lackluster animation, character designs, and backgrounds. It definitely starts out with the look of a low budget OVA. Eventually, the series picks up with the visuals in the later episodes. The artwork becomes a little more pleasing to look at with pretty backgrounds and the well use of lighting and camera angles. The action scenes are limited because the anime attempts to push the story through its characters. However, the action scenes really aren't impressive in the least bit. They completely lack imagination which happens to be the trend with all of these spin offs. The animation doesn't suffer from stills, or an over abundance of reused cells; but there was one moment where it was definitely inconsistent. One of the side characters named Angel, whom had the appearance of an African American female with white hair, all of the sudden was Caucasian with white hair. This type of inconsistency is just in your face and is very hard not to notice.
The soundtrack is alright at best and it delivers a cyber punk feel. The opening song called "Get on the Beat" is a techno track with an electronic beat. The background music which is almost of the same type has a nice sound as well. I especially enjoyed it in a scene where it was dimmed down to the point where only the bass can be heard. I really didn't have a problem with the English cast or the Seiyuu. They were both fine to me and seemed to fit well with the character types.
The series is definitely meant for those whom are familiar with the BGC mythos, because the organizations such as A.D. Police and Genome have already been covered in detail. There is a certain story point covered here such as the purpose of Boomers. Therefore, someone whom is unfamiliar with the franchise will still know what's going on, but there will be questions that aren't fully answered or answered at all.
The series is broken into three separate stories. I definitely give the series credit on the stories despite how derivative the series may be overall. It does ask the same age old question: Who is the real monster, man or machine? There happens to be dual plots taking place with one concerning the Boomers developing emotions, along with the sick perverted minds of man. The writing is pretty strong developing both through some disturbing content. However, I felt the actual ending didn't exactly wrap everything up on a strong note.
Character development is very shaky from where I see it. The main characters Buzz and one of his subordinates a female named Reiko Michaelson are given a bit of depth; but there were situations injected that really didn't go anywhere, and it came off as meaningless filler. The interactions between these two could have been jettisoned altogether and focused on an additional character whose actions played a part into the ending. This would have given the series a more satisfying conclusion. In all honesty, most of the boomers were developed better.
One more thing that bothered me is the exact same thing that bothered me with the other spin offs. Other than dealing with androids or cyborgs. The series doesn't have a real futuristic feel. The original BGC trumps this as well in regards to the futuristic atmosphere. The weapons, landscapes, vehicles, technology all seems too modern. This is some of the reason why Ghost in the Shell and even Armitage have little competition in the sci-fi and cyberpunk department; and if anime studios continue churning out stuff like this. They may never be toppled.
All things considered, Parasite Dolls is slightly average at best and that's pushing it. The series does contain soft sex scenes, nudity, and disturbing images, however the meaningless comedy that ruins a series image is completely non existent which is a good thing. I mainly recommend this to fans of BGC and die hard cyber punks. If you enjoyed either one of the A.D. Police spin offs. Then give this a shot.
Highs: Dark setting, mature themes
Lows: Action is not impressive nor very imaginable, not for everyoneread more
The story in Parasite Dolls is tepidly interesting, but it's also very derivative. It borrows many aspects from other cyberpunk films, such as Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell. This would be fine, but it also doesn't do any of the things it borrows quite as well as the originals did. What we're left with is a disjointed story that seems more like an excuse for some forced drama and action instead of a coherent and interesting tale.
The characters do manage to be somewhat interesting, and are introduced rather well in the first episode, giving the viewer a good sense of their personality, and their relation to each other. However, the show also fails to build upon them, and in the second and third episodes they fall into the background while the show continues to bring it's convoluted plot to the forefront.
The story is accompanied by a cheesy sounding, but still somewhat entertaining soundtrack that doesn't amaze, but gets the job done well enough. The voice acting (in the English Dub) similarly, doesn't amaze, but is also not horrible or grating to listen to. Overall, the audio is pretty standard, and doesn't seem very good or very bad.
The most positive thing I can say about this OVA is that it was fairly impressive in terms of the animation. Everything moved very fluidly, and the characters all had unique, yet not outlandish, designs. However, the art styles also seem a bit mixed. In the first two episodes, the art seemed pretty consistent. However, in the third episode, there's a slight change in art style, and it gets overloaded with subtle CG effects. Because of that, it doesn't look quite as good as the first two episodes, and it complicates what would have otherwise been purely a traditionally animated OVA.
Overall, Parasite Dolls is a cyberpunk anime that tries too hard to emulate aspects of other popular cyberpunk films. It tries to carve out it's own niche, and attempts to create some interesting characters, but with each new episode it slowly loses it's appeal, and ultimately never capitalizes on it's initial potential. By the end, all that's left is a husk of a show. One that I enjoyed, but still wonder about how much better it could have been.