Malice@Doll (2000)
By: CJ on July 13, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Artsmagic (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Japanese DD 2.0 English Subtitles. 80 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Keitarou Motonaga
Screenplay: Chiaki Konaka
Tagline: 'I am doll and I will give you a kiss…'
Country: Japan
Malice@Doll is curious offering from Artsmagic, which is a strange hybrid of anime and CGI, but it is actually a rather enjoyable little film.

The story itself is a straightforward, if offbeat, affair. Set in future time when humans have long gone, the setting is a place where all that's left is machinery, technical equipment and robots. A number of these are robots that once served as mechanical prostitutes to the human men, and call themselves 'dolls'. One such doll is Malice, who one day discovers that she is malfunctioning and is sent to be repaired by 'Joe', who is apparently in charge of this desolate world. On her way to the repair shop, and as she travels the cavernous ruins of what was once a great city, Malice encounters a bizarre tentacled creature, which proceeds to sexually assault her. Following this encounter, Malice finds that she has been miraculously transformed into a human being of flesh and blood, not only that, but she can pass on this gift by giving a simple kiss. However, this kiss results in some pretty mind-boggling transformations whereby the recipients do indeed become flesh and blood beings, if not quite human in appearance. But there is unrest in the camp, and 'Joe' is not happy with what is happening…

It's a strange film, for sure, but strangely compelling. The anime and CGI mix quite well resulting in a fairly visually impressive piece of work. The film is also quite fetishistic in nature, and you have to wonder sometimes where these animators get their ideas from! It's not a bad film by any means, but the it does tend to meander rather slowly and, as a viewer, I couldn't quite figure out where the director Keitaro Motonaga and writer Chiaki J Konaka wanted to take things, as the story seemed to be a bit muddled and poorly executed at times. On the whole though, it's an interesting piece of Japanese entertainment and worth checking out if you're feeling a little adventurous.
Video
The film is presented in 4:3 fullscreen, which looks to be the correct ratio, especially as the UK release was a cropped transfer to create a 16x9 presentation, so it's nice to see it here in its correct OAR. The image is clean and sharp and free of any print damage. The colours are deep and vivid with blacks remaining solid throughout. The only problem I could see, which is a minor complaint, is that occasionally the contrast levels seemed a little off. However, this could possibly be the fault of the source elements. Overall, though, it's a very pleasing presentation.
Audio
The disc comes with two audio choices – DD 2.0 English or DD 2.0 Japanese with subtitles (which are clear and easy to read). Both tracks are clear and free from hiss or 'pops', but the Japanese one has the edge in that it is more dynamic. There's nothing here to raise complaint with in the audio department.
Extra Features
Artsmagic once again prove their commitment to their releases by providing some decent supplementary features. On this disc you'll find interviews with the director, Keitarou Motonaga, and the writer, Chiaki J Konaka. Both provide interesting insights into the making of the film. This is followed by a featurette entitled 'Final Fantasies – A History of CGI Animation'. This is basically a filmed lecture on the use of animation and CGI in movies, but is entertaining and educational nonetheless, and traces the origins of modern animation right back from its beginning in 'cell animation'. Well worth a watch. Also provided is a gallery of 'character models', some trailers and biographies and filmographies of those involved in the production of Malice@Doll.

Overall it's a very nice package from the folks at Artsmagic, and shows that they really do have a deep interest in the films that they release.
The Verdict
A curious and strange film that certainly won't appeal to everyone. I rather liked it though, but I'm not quite sure why. The Artsmagic DVD is very nice and I doubt the film will look any better than it does here. Do I recommend it? Well, it very much depends on your taste in entertainment – if the wild and wonderful world of Japanese cinema is your thing, then it's definitely worth a watch. And even if you just have a passing interest in Manga and Anime, then you'll also want to check it out. But I don't think it's really a film with mass appeal, and it is quite a bizarre viewing experience, so you'll have to judge for yourself whether you want to see this or not. I rather enjoyed it, in a strange kind of way, so I guess you can take that as a recommendation, if you will.
Movie Score
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