Malice, a sex robot living in an abandoned human city, is assaulted and violated by an mysterious creature. Upon awakening, Malice finds out that she has become human and can pass on her humanity to her fellow machines. However, her gift soon becomes a curse when her fellow robots rage out of control after being exposed to the pleasures of life.
Anime that uses CG effects are usually not all that interesting to me unless the animation is so mind-blowing and amazing that I can’t turn away from it. While Malice@Doll does not quite reach that lofty standard, it still features some fairly spectacular art and is accompanied by an interesting and compelling storyline.
The setting of Malice@Doll is in a city devoid of any biological life and populated only by intelligent and self aware machines. These machines and robots (for lack of a better term), go about their daily tasks as they were programmed for despite the fact that most of these tasks are
now unnecessary. Some though don't even have that, which is where the main protagonist Malice comes in. She is a sex doll, and with no human customers, Malice and her fellow dolls pass eternity while their mechanical bodies slowly deteriorate. One day, while searching for the repairer robot she encounters a strange apparition of a girl and is led to a strange device and after being attacked she wakes up to find that she is now a flesh and blood human being. She soon discovers she is able to make the other robots and machines into flesh and blood with a kiss. Soon it the machine world begins to crumble as the machines programming becomes their desires and threatens them all.
It is a surprisingly deep and thoughtful story. The world while looking quite futuristic and strange still felt oddly familiar. The pacing is steady and there is a good amount of action and suspense. I was left guessing how it was going to turn out until the very end. The end itself is a bit obscure and leaves itself up to the viewer to interrupt but I felt it was appropriate. Though everything is not really adequately explained either which makes forming your own conclusions about the ending a bit difficult.
The cast of characters is fairly small with the most important being Malice herself and her fellow dolls. Though in the beginning she is an emotionless robot she is a very interesting character. There is a sadness and despair about her and her other doll robots but it is something they are unable to truly express. Malice limps around seemingly barely able to keep moving because of the degradation of her mechanical body. Many of the other dolls are in even worse shape and it’s a bit heartbreaking even if you know they are just machines, and only sex toys at that. The fact that she is a sex doll is also important to her and the other characters and how they develop in the story. Malice constantly tells other machines she will give them a kiss, because that’s all she can do. If that doesn’t pull at your heart a little bit then you probably just don’t have one.
As I mentioned earlier, Malice@Doll is completely animated with CG effects. Sometimes it is quite spectacular. Malice in her human form is quite lifelike and some of the settings and action are visually stunning. The doll Doris is probably the most amazing looking character in the program though. That can’t be said for everything though, as I felt some character designs were awful and while many of the settings are great looking others look pretty bad. The inconsistency drives down its overall score. The voice acting is good, particularly from Malice. There isn’t a lot of music to comment on, with only background music and a pretty good song at the end.
Overall Malice@Doll is a solid show that I would recommend to fans of apocalyptic and horror/psychological storylines, as well as those who enjoy CG anime. Though I did have problems with some of the inadequacies in the plot and the inconsistent animation quality, I think this show is worth your time.
Malice@Doll is a strange CG movie that takes place in the world of Dolls that were made for prostitution. This was a rather interesting show that brought up a lot of questions about what it meant to be human and what might happen if one loses their identity. It was created by the same person that did Serial Experiments Lain and Ghost Town.
Malice seems a bit more thought out then the rest of the characters, except maybe Joe who seems to be almost a voice of wisdom to the dolls, a father figure. I don’t really understand the relationship between the two but from
what it looked like, it seemed that Malice and Joe were very close although you don’t normally see him around the other sex bolls. I wish I could have seen a bit more of the other characters because they really seemed one dimensional throughout the whole show.
The storyline is really slow for most of it and hard to figure out. It took me a very long time to get a feel of what the story was even trying to say let alone what was going on. They never really tell anyone the history about the area or what actually did happen to the humans, pretty much leaving it open to speculation. Because you never actually see the top world in a sense, you are left to imagine your own answer for why human’s aren’t there. My thought was that the human’s wiped themselves out but others might think that they died off from an illness, they were using sex dolls for their means and never repopulated, or other such things. The show to me really is open to your own ideas and what you get from this show is pretty much all you get.
The only thing I couldn’t get was the ending with how it happened but I won’t spoil it for you.
During this time, CG was just starting out and nothing looked real at all. Characters were all looking plastic and shiny and yet, this show pretty much works pretty well for that. It’s a bit like Reboot if you ever saw that. The characters are odd looking, some looking humanoid and others looking like strange mixtures of man and machine. The animation part is rather stiff and movements are a bit… well, robotic. It works well with the idea of the show but even when they become something more natural, they still are stiff and robotic making it hard to tell if they even changed. The colors are rather dark and steam punk-ish making it sometimes hard to see what is going on.
The voice acting is pretty well done for the most part. The English dub is a bit off though as most sound rather static even when turned humanish. Some points that should have had really dramatic scenes with loud voices sounded more tin like. The Japanese was a little better and had the better feel for the characters personality including Malice.
Having lost their human masters since long ago, the entire cast of Malice@Doll is comprised of androids that no longer have any reason for being but still choose to carry out their original duties with loyalty. Amongst these characters we find Malice, a specific kind of robotic creature made solely to provide sexual satisfaction to human customers who used to exist. When an abnormality grants her the gift (or curse) of humanity, everything changes as she allows not only herself but also the other "dolls" to be reborn as sentient, emotional beings who quickly start to explore the pros and cons of being human.
OVA suffers from the defects of poor backdrop and several excessive scenes. With the premise in mind, a rather explicit sexual tone is to be expected but it happens with unreasonable frequency and sometimes even with questionable relevance. The viewer is also expected to develop an emotional attachment to the struggles of the protagonist which simply won't happen as we never really get to know who she is before the roller-coaster begins. Are there any virtues to the story? It's debatable, but I'd say the answer is yes. Amongst the scenes of violence and BDSM-themes sexuality, lots of interesting questions are raised. The most prominent one would probably be "what does it mean to be human?” something quite common in anime. If there was anything I absolutely loved with Malice@Doll however it was probably how humanity and not technology is viewed as a corruptive force and the fact that it never assumes sentience is better than artificiality.
Character designs look appropriately non-human and our robotic protagonists walk around deserted landscapes in deliberately poor movement. Upon its release more than 10 years ago the animation must have been somewhat impressive, but as is the case with most CG it has aged terribly. It's still more or less watchable and there are even certain scenes that managed to maintain some strange sort of beauty, but overall the visual quality is passable at most. Nobody can deny, however, that some of the metamorphoses depicted are incredibly unnerving.
Voice acting is relatively fine assuming you choose the Japanese audio track and the soundtrack is mainly comprised of eerie noises and simplistic but appropriate scores. It accompanies the overall morbid atmosphere quite well without ever getting distracting or obnoxious.
Being human is not necessarily a condition preferable to being a machine. This was, as far as my own subjective interpretation goes, one of the main themes and it's almost fascinating based on its rarity alone; I don't think I've ever encountered such a statement in any work of fiction that comes to mind. It would have worked even better, however, if we actually cared more about the characters which we, thanks to poor writing, never really do. Their struggles generate minor amounts of sympathy but in the end they don't really do much with their recently acquired humanity other than explore the realms of pleasure and pain. Furthermore, their personalities are incredibly simplistic which is to be expected when they were made for one single purpose. I just expected more of a change when they acquired emotions, even if the main theme I mentioned above is interesting enough for me to provide a mediocre score.
Don't let the low ratings fool you; Malice@Doll is not a terrible anime and nor is it filled to the brim with gore and perversion even though several bits are very explicit. It gives birth to a fascinating discussion topic you probably haven't considered before and features enough morbid material to be memorable. The last thing might not be a proper assessment of its quality but all in all I found this hidden OVA both interesting but also poorly scripted. I expected more from a man like Konaka Chiaki but I got a lot more than the ratings of other users indicated I would.