Tokyo, 2034: sophisticated robots called Boomers (and on first sight almost indistinguishable from us, humans) are among us. They are meant to assist us in the shores we despise, but more an more things go wrong and take a nasty turn. In 3 linked short stories we see a world where humanity is as much a thing of machines, as of “biological” units. Parasite Dolls is Blade Runner meets Strange Days in animation. Especially the capturing of emotions from the Boomers for pity sexual “human” games seemed like a very interesting idea, although this was not worked out in much detail. The rest of the ideas behind the film weren’t very original, but the three stories were plotted very well and the characters were nicely developed. The score helped bringing a very real “emotional” feel to the film. The animations aren’t spectacular compared to what you see in Ghost is the Shell for example, but they are adequate.
I will say that there are some really artful and stylistic moments, particularly in the last 15 minutes (dominos falling, certain death sequences, neat placement of characters), but Naoyuki Onda’s character designs (which are hideous and simplistic in the “Kite” vein) make this a mostly painful viewing experience. Even the lowest budget video games and straight-to-video anime boast better computer effects than this did – the ubiquitous heads-up-display and thermal imaging graphics are so crappy for a 21st century production. Maybe anime has gone down this road too many times before. Cyberpunk has become so banal that visiting this Blade Runner/BGC universe is just a rehash of the same stale concepts: what does it mean to be alive vs. synthetic? There wasn’t really anything fresh or groundbreaking.
This OVA, revolves around the specially created branch of the AD police (the Branch), which handles special boomer cases. The head of this task force is Buzz. His team consists of the hacker, the boomer (Kimball), the undercover female operative (Michaelson) and the female freelancer (with some underground connections at Genom). The first story is about an illegal boomer drug and its connection with some boomer killings. The second story takes place a year after the first, and is related to boomer prostitute killings. The last takes place 5 years after the first story and is related to the disappearance of Buzz’s boss, Takahashi.
There are some interesting premises in the story, but nothing original. If you have seen any of the anime I have mentioned before, then you have seen most of this : The human/machine conflict; Can boomers feel?; World domination,etc. Ghost in the Shell does a much better job of handling the subject and character development. This feels more like Cliff notes. There is a scene that stands out in my mind, mostly because it reminds me of a Miike scene. Early in the third story, Takahashi is having a conversation with Sorime (an up and coming politician). Sorime is having sex with a boomer on top of his desk, at the same time he is talking with Takahashi. When climax is reached, Sorime reaches for a gun and shoots the boomer in the head. It is by far the most intense scene of the whole movie. Other than that, this movie is something that has been seen and done before. Maybe if it came out in 1990, it would have been more worthwhile. Now it is just a casual rental.