A 3 episode computer generated anime written by Chiaki Konaka a sex robot named Malice living in an abandoned human city, where she is assaulted and violated by an mysterious creature. Upon awakening, Malice finds out that she has become human and can pass it on to other robots.
In an indeterminate underground realm, robot prostitute Malice goes in search of repairs. Instead, she is ravished by a tentacled beast, and wakes to discover that her previous doll form has been replaced with a living, breathing, feeling body. Initially shunned by her former associates, she soon converts her fellow prostitutes into a similar life-state by kissing them, though the transformation process often leaves them hideously malformed. When even the cynical Doris asks her for a kiss, Malice worries about the aftereffects of the transformation, and goes in search of some way of undoing the spell. In the repair shop, she is told that this is all a dream-a doll dreaming of being human, or a human dreaming of being a doll? Whatever the answer, Malice's spirit escapes from bondage, leaving her former colleagues behind.
Malice Doll cleverly makes virtues out of its many vices. Whereas many late-20th-century anime augmented their cel work with computer graphics, MD improves its digital animation with the addition of old-fashioned cels, neatly papering over the cracks between the polished yet static images of the dolls-supposedly in a studied jerkiness inspired by the puppet animations of Jan Svankmajer. Chiaki Konaka's script cunningly calls for a virtually expressionless cast, and the animators conceal the shortcomings of their work in copious shadows and montages seemingly inspired by the work of French filmmaker Chris Marker.
Depending on one's point of view, MD is either a fairy-tale allegory of the end of childhood, or a misogynist fantasy of redemption through rape-Pinocchio for perverts. Its heroine is an unfeeling sex-toy, seeking "repair" as oil trickles down her shapely legs; she is haunted by the image of an angelic child and molested by an icthyphallic menace. She wakes after her ordeal to discover that it has made her warmer, more sensitive, and sassy-she is now clad in revealing bad-girl garb, and targeted by a succession of other lustful monsters.
This is not the first time that Konaka has dealt with fetishes and gender issues-MD shares several tropes with the writer's earlier work on Bubblegum Crisis and Armitage III, along with rich pickings for psychiatrists, who will be intrigued to observe the depiction of life itself as a sexual disease.
Missing its original release date, MD was crucially delayed just a moment too long. By the time its first episode reached video stores in 2001, Japan was already swept up in hype over the flashier (and immensely more costly) Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and MD sank without a trace. That was an unfortunate fate, as MD's artful exploitation of its own limitations makes it an interesting object lesson in low-budget filmmaking. It was eventually released as a single feature, with a misleading "2003" copyright date that only really referred to the date of the feature-length compilation and concealed the fact that, in the fast-moving world of computer animation, Malice Doll was already two years behind the times. Note: the "at" symbol in the title is merely a typographical adornment; it was never intended to be pronounced. NV
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