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Much like both "AD Police" series, the central theme of Parasite Dolls is "what is it that makes a human being"?
Review by Matthew Anderson
3 Part OVA
Company: ADV Films
Running Time: 95 minutes (3 episodes)
Rated: R (Violence, nudity, sex, language and adult situations)
In the year 2035, the city of Tokyo is still recovering from a major earthquake in 2034. The Genom Cooperation is aiding in the reconstruction by providing bio-mechanical robots called Boomers. Unfortunately, with progress comes new problems. Boomer crimes are on an increase. To combat this problem, the Genom Corporation forms the ADvanced Police. Equipped with the latest in weapons and vehicles, this elite team fights a never ending battle against boomers.
Yet, there are times where the heavy handed tactics of the AD Police don't work, and you need someone with a little more finesse. That's where "Branch" comes in. Led by Inspector Takahashi, this small team deals with everything from investigating illegal boomer modifications to finding the murderer of sex-boomers.
What starts of as routine drug smuggling investigation for Lieutenant Basil "Buzz" Nikvest quickly turns sour as he gets caught up in the cross fire of an anti-boomer group and corruption in the police department. Now, if he can't figure out what is really going on, his team may not live to see the morning.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: A great looking transfer. The colors are well done, there are almost no pixels, no wrinkles, or edge enhancement. The video is still a little light in some places, but this is due to the source material, not the transfer.
AUDIO: There is very little difference between the Japanese and English 5.1 audio tracks. The sounds, music, and dialogue are well mixed.
EDITS: Every thing is untouched. Not a singe frame has been edited.
EXTRAS: You have a music video featuring the opening theme "Get on the Beat", the exclusive promo shown at Anime Fair 2002, the original Japanese promotional trailer, and production sketches.
STORY: Well known for off the wall plots, and stories about the human condition, writer Chiaki Konaka along with Kazuto Nakazawa (who also acts as co director), gives us another dark tale of man and his relation to machines. More than just an exercise in the "future cop" genre, this series covers the gambit of emotions; love, betrayal, hate, and acceptance. "Parasite Dolls" is also very nihilistic. There are no happy endings to be found here.
ACTING: You won't go wrong with the acting on this DVD. Both the Japanese and English casts give top notch performances. Kazuhiko Inoue is perfect as the stoic and unflappable Basil "Buzz" Nikvest. His deep voice combined with his restrained delivery will have you believing he is a man who has grown pretty cool about life and death. As Michelson, Akemi Okamura's rougher voice makes for a great bad ass chick, and the always amazing Kikuko Inoue uses her sexy voice for the equally sexy Angel.
On the English side, you have the superb work by Mike Vance as Buzz. Like Kazuhiko Inoue, he plays Buzz as a man so far over the edge, he doesn't care where he goes. Monica Rial turns in another outstanding performance as tough cop Michaleson. Just as good, if not better than her work in Mezzo, her rougher, stronger voice fits the character perfectly.
Stand out performance goes to Stephanie Nadolny for the role of Eve. A far cry from the squeaky "Gohan" in "Dragonball Z", her deep voice is sexy, elegant, and just as beautiful as the character she portrays. I am amazed a how much range she has.
FAN SERVICE: There are quite a few nude and panty scenes, and some of them are pretty hot. There are a few subtle references to "BGC: Tokyo 2040", as well as "Little Read Riding Hood" and "Virus Buster Serge".
Ever since I was exposed to the "Bubblegum Crisis" OVA, I have been a big fan. OVA, Tokyo 2040, Bubblegum Crash, it's all good stuff. Strange thing is, I find myself liking the side stories even more than the "source" material. Perhaps it's because they have to cram so much story in a short run time, they put more effort into the writing. It could be that we can better identify with the characters because they are not running around in super powered battle suits. Personally, I think it's because "Bubblegum Crisis" is an action series, while "AD Police" and "Parasite Dolls" are more science fiction than shoot 'em up.
Parasite Dolls takes place in the time period between the "AD Police" TV series and "Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040". Tokyo or "Genom City" is still building the "Genom Tower", while the AD Police maintains the peace. However, working in the shadows of the AD Police is Branch, whose missions runs the gambit from stopping the flow of illegal boomer drugs to infiltrating Genom corporate offices. Lieutenant Buzz Nikvest is a man with some serious emotional issues to work out. With him are trigger happy chopper pilot Michaleson, sexy undercover officer Angel, the humanoid boomer Kimball, and Myers, a techno-geek and expert hacker. Considered a nuance by the Police Department, Branch always find themselves on the wrong side of both physical and political arenas.
Part one introduces us to the members of Branch, and the political issues surrounding it's foundation. It seems that there are some questions about Buzz's mental health, and that Branch was created by Inspector Takahashi to keep his friend on the AD Police. They don't seem to have a clearly defined mission, investigating boomer crimes instead of helping with "clean up". Right at the moment, they are investigating some sort of drug that is causing boomers to go rogue. Like an episode of "Miami Vice", Buzz and his partner Kimball always seem a day late and a dollar short trying to catch the dealers.
The second story (which takes place a year later) deals with the dubious question of boomer prostitution. Similar to "The Ripper" episode in the "AD Police" OVA, someone or something is taking out sex-boomers. At the same time, a high end "call girl" boomer named Eve is having strange dreams, and seeing a little girl in a red hood. Michaleson goes undercover as a hooker ("Miami Vice" again) to find this serial boomer killer. When she runs across Eve, Michaleson has to not only stop the boomer crusher, but deal with her feelings for Buzz.
Flash forward three years. Branch is still investigating crimes involving humanoid boomers, and the AD Police still doesn't like them. It's an election year, and everyone is looking at presidential hopeful Sorime to sweep up the nomination. He also has a hard stance against boomers, which appeals to many of his constituents. When Inspector Takahashi disappears, Buzz and his team start trying to trace their boss down and bite off more than they can chew. The future of Genom City, Branch, the election, and Buzz's sanity are all hanging in the balance.
Much like both "AD Police" series, the central theme of Parasite Dolls is "what is it that makes a human being"? Is it their soul, their mind, or their body. Is a woman really a woman if she is a robot? If a boomer goes insane, is it because of a malfunction, or because their emotions have gotten the better of them? Would the world be a better place with out these mechanical "slaves", or would we descend into a world of madness and disorder with out their labor? These and many other questions is what makes "Parasite Dolls" so interesting.
The writers and director do a great job at keeping things going at a pretty steady clip. There is plenty of action, both of the gunplay and bedroom kind. The action sequences are just like the series, raw, dark, but sexy at the same time. Episode three has plenty of gut wrenching moments, as the members of Branch are hunted down by a mysterious foe. It's like "Miami Vice" or "To Live In Die In LA", updated for the 21st century.
The animation for the most part is pretty good. There are some fantastic looking, stylish shots throughout its 90 minute run time, but there are plenty that are just average. While no where near as horrible as the "AD Police" TV series, it can be a little jarring going from highly detailed to not so good.
As much as I enjoy the Japanese cast, I found the English cast to be superior. Mike Vance and Monica Rial do really well carrying most of the movie. Their voices fit the characters perfectly, and they play well off each other.
I was really shocked to learn that Stephanie Nadolny was playing the very sexy Eve. Her sultry yet gentle voice was nothing I had ever heard spring from her lips before. I always knew she had talent (her version of the closing theme in "Kiddy Grade" is fantastic), but this far exceeded my expatations.
Another voice I didn't recognize was FUNimation director, writer, and voice actor Mike McFarland. Well known for playing Master Roshii in "Dragonball Z", he brings his great comedic timing to the very smart-ass Bill Myers. While his lines are few and far between, the one liners are priceless.
There are a couple of issues with the writing. As far as I can tell, there isn't any kind of concurrent plot thread. None of the situations have any relation to each other, so when the anti-boomer faction suddenly appears in episode three, we are left wondering where did they come from? Since the story takes place over a 4 year time span, wouldn't there be some kind of inkling about this large group of subversives? Surely, if Branch can stop boomer drug traffickers, finding a terrorist group would be pretty easy.
My other problem is that there is very little character development. Again if the series was supposed to occur over a four year time span, wouldn't you think the characters would change, evolve? By the end, everyone is exactly the same; their clothes, their personalities, their relationships. If the title cards hadn't told me that time had passed, I never would have noticed.
Time issues aside, "Parasite Dolls" is a wonderful addition to the "Bubblegum Crisis" cannon. Full of interesting ideas, tight pacing, and great acting, you too will "Get On The Beat" with this kick ass anime!
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