Parasite Dolls

by Janet Crocker

Parasite Dolls welcomes us back to the world of Bubblegum Crisis and A.D. Police. This three-part OVA spans six years, each episode as an incident within the larger context of violence against Boomers, which are amazingly lifelike androids. The secret Branch section of A.D. Police, which investigates Boomer crimes, is now home to Basil "Buzz" Nikvest, who almost lost his job previous to Parasite Dolls, when he shot a little girl, mistaking her for a Boomer. His current partner, Kimball, however, is a Boomer himself. The rest of Branch's members consists of Angel, an undercover agent at Genom, the mega-corporation behind Boomers and their technology; Michaelson, the rookie girl who acts like a man; Myers, the hacker; and their boss, Takahashi, who has many secrets of his own.

The first episode opens with Buzz investigating a Boomer drug that may be driving the robots to acts of suicidal insanity. However, it turns out that the drug and the violence are not connected at all. The second episode occurs a year later, centering around The Hooker Boomer Crusher, who brutally kills Boomer prostitutes, apparently for no reason. Mainly through Michaelson's undercover work, Branch does find a reason and Eve, the Boomer who lies at the center of these acts of corporate retribution.

The third episode occurs five years after the second one, and Takahashi has gone missing. His absence seems to be linked with a growing anti-Boomer movement that is moving out of the underground and onto the streets. Branch has been ordered to confirm Takahashi's death, as it seems more likely that he is dead than alive in this world of futuristic tracking technology.

As Buzz looks for clues, he stumbles across Takahashi's greatest secret and witnesses a mad man destroying Genom City, the main site for Boomer production, in a domino effect of explosions, an undetectable set-up that Buzz had written about years before in a college paper on urban flaws. While Buzz is away, the rest of Branch is hunted down and killed, except one --Michaelson, who is protected by Kimball's steel body. The OVA ends with the message that Boomers are still achieving their original purpose: to protect humans. It's humans that pervert them for their own needs. Boomers are truly "parasite dolls": dependant on human beings, yet made in the image of humans. They can never become "real" humans, as any emotions or dreams that they possess are merely copies of human thoughts, never originals.

I'm a real fan of cyberpunk, in both live-action and animated forms, not to mention in novels. Having recently seen Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and the third volume of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, I found Parasite Dolls to be lacking a little in the philosophical department, but that did not detract from my enjoyment. In fact, it was nice to vocalize my own theories instead of being hand-fed psychobabble. The stories were believable enough to be cyberpunk novellas of their own, which is nice to see in anime.

As far as animation, Parasite Dolls embraces a retro feel, in that it easily fits alongside its predecessors, Bubblegum Crisis and A.D. Police, nearly twenty and over ten years old, respectively, yet this does not make the OVA feel like second-hand animation. In fact, the lack of the sharp, smooth graphics that populate most recent anime productions makes Parasite Dolls stand out as a masterpiece of story-telling, that you don't need shiny, detailed visuals to be successful.

The music blended in frequently, but the opening and closing songs reflect the polar sides of the future: a bright place of manic activity (the opening song) or a place of endless misery and darkness (the cheesy keyboard whines of the ending). Thus the dual vision of the future of humanity is realized within and outside of Parasite Dolls.

Extras include a music video of the opening song, the promo video shown at Anime Fair 2002, the original Japanese promo video, production sketches, ADV previews and DVD credits. There is nudity and graphic violence in this OVA, but not anymore than in a horror movie or C.S.I., as all serious victims are Boomers. Familiarity with the Bubblegum Crisis world does add to your experience, but it is not necessary. Just sit back and let the stories unwind in your brain.

About This Item

  • Parasite Dolls

  • Format:
    Bilingual DVD / 95 min. / 3 eps.
  • Production:
    ADV / AIC / Imagica
  • Rating:
    4/5

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