Malice@Doll (2000) – By Duane L. Martin

CGI was becoming quite a big thing in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and with newer and more powerful hardware and software to play with, animators had more and more freedom to make some really amazing things. Malice@Doll was created in 2000, just a year before the release of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which is considered to be one of the most amazing CGI films of all time. While Malice@Doll comes no where near reaching the technical sophistication of Final Fantasy, it nevertheless shows that raw talent combined with CGI can create some amazing things.

Malice@Doll takes us into a nightmarish world where humanity has wiped itself out and now only the robots survive. Malice, a pleasure bot, wanders the streets every single day looking for humans to give pleasure to, but it’s an empty existence because there’s no one left alive. She knows there’s no one out there, but she performs her function just as she always has, because that’s what she was designed to do. Unfortunately, being a robot, she’s prone to the failures of mechanical devices, and has started leaking fluid from her eye, in a way that very much resembles the way a human would shed tears. In order to get herself repaired, she seeks out the robot known as Joe Admin. Joe is the robot that’s in charge of the pleasure bots, and is the one who sees after their maintenance and whatever other needs they have. He’s also their friend and obviously cares deeply about all of them. He sends Malice to find the robot known as Todd Repairer so that Todd can take care of whatever mechanical problems she’s having.

Malice heads off in search of the repair bot, and along the way she comes across a giant sphere that looks like a twisted and bizarre version of a sun/moon symbol. She’s never seen it before, and asks it if it’s Todd Repairer. It doesn’t answer. She asks again, and eventually, tentacles burst forth from it and penetrate her body, lifting her up in the air as yet another one springs forth and begins to rape her. It’s at this point where Malice is transformed into a real human girl. The scene fades out and then fades back in again with her laying in the fetal position alone in a room in her new human form.

Malice doesn’t understand what’s happened to her. She still thinks she’s a pleasure bot, but no one recognizes her or understands what’s happened to her. For her, this new body seems like a malfunction, but eventually she comes to realize that it’s a gift, and it’s a gift that she can give to others with a kiss. Unfortunately, the dreams she offers to others often turn into nightmares as the bots she kisses turn into nightmarish, living flesh versions of their former selves.

The story becomes rather confusing at this point. Eventually she goes back to the sphere and the whole thing turned out to be a dream. The sphere pulls her into itself and then reforms its broken pieces into a whole once more. After that she was granted a new dream where everyone was back to normal and she was turned into some sort of a fairy that was able to fly around and sing. The whole thing was very bizarre and to be honest, it didn’t really make a whole lot of sense. In fact, when all is said and done, you’ll probably be left with more questions than answers.

The imagery in this film is dark and some of it is just flat out beautiful. Much of it really seems like some sort of a nightmare, and both visually and conceptually it’s just a flat out beautiful film. The limitations of the hardware and software they used to create the film become apparent though as you will no doubt notice that the frame rates are not what they should be at times. A lot of the movements are not overly fluid, although they’re not exactly slideshow looking either, and yet there are some scenes that are beautifully fluid. I don’t really know why that is because there could have been several causes for this, but it’s not anything that affects the overall quality of the film to any major degree.

The voice acting in the film on both the Japanese and English versions are really well played and there are optional English subtitles, so it really just comes down to which version you prefer, English or Japanese. Both are equally good in my opinion, and the English dub follows the Japanese version and the subtitles almost exactly. This may not seem like a big issue, but you’d be amazed at how many Asian films out there have subtitles and/or dubs that just don’t even come remotely close to giving you the feel of the original dialogue. This movie did both very well, and the people who made it should be commended for that.

Malice@Doll is more of an art film than anything else. I don’t mean art as in animation, but rather in the way that it involves concepts and situations that are bizarre and otherworldly and that make you think and wonder about it all as you watch. Art films often make little overall sense, but they’re interesting, and they take you to places that other films don’t. This film is done in the hentai style of animation, and although there is some of the tentacle sex that fans of hentai animation have grown quite accustomed to by now, there’s really nothing all that graphic actually shown in the film. There’s no nudity at all and the sexual penetrations are hidden. There’s only a couple of these tentacle type scenes anyway, as the film’s main focus doesn’t revolve around sex as a central focus. This film is more about the dreams. nightmares, hopes and aspirations of a lonely pleasure bot than it is about sex. You’ll be confused by a lot of it, but the imagery will make you want to come back for more.

There are a lot of great extras on the disc including a documentary on CGI animation, a section about the character models, an interview with the director Keitaro Motonaga and the writer Chiaki J. Konaka, trailers and biographies. ArtsmagicDVD has done a great job with this release, and if you’re a fan of animation and you like bizarre stories that will leave you thinking long after the movie’s over, then you’ll want to pick up a copy of this film.

If you’d like to pick up this disc, or check out some of ArtsmagicDVD’s other releases you can check out their website at http://www.artsmagicdvd.com.