Parasite Dolls

UK distributor: ADV Films

BBFC Certificate: 15

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):

Running Time: 95 minutes (approx.)

Audio Options: English 5.1; Japanese 5.1

Subtitles: English

Reviewer:  Tom (Webmaster)


When I started getting to anime in the late '90s there was little of it available in the UK.  The majority of anime was geared towards an adult and was usually either a) violent b) confusing as hell c) contained huge amounts of nudity or d) all of the above.  This was a time before teen anime such as Naruto was available and the market was aimed at 16-25 year olds.  A sub-genre known as cyberpunk was very popular as this time as this style was sexy sci-fi with a good dose of action.  Parasite Dolls is a modern cyberpunk anime which is a spin-off from the cyberpunk classic Bubblegum Crisis.  I was looking forward to watching Parasite Dolls as it has been a long time since I have seen a cyberpunk anime. 

Set in the fictitious Genom City, the plot revolves around a special branch of the A.D Police called Branch (inventive) which specialises in solving crimes committed by 'Boomers' (androids resembling humans).  Boomers have recently be going mad however, and killing humans for no apparent reason.  On top of this a huge conspiracy theory between officials and the standard evil company looks set to destroy Genom City, and the members of Branch have to overcome the usual personal problems in order to solve the case.  The usual thin line between man and machine crops up yet again. 

The amount of clichés left them surprised...

OK, so the plot might be clichéd and yes, you will have seen it before but that does not mean you should ignore Parasite Dolls.  The script is well-written, the animation superb and contains excellent action.  The script does contain some surprises - particularly the final episode - and is never boring despite the clichés that do crop up.  The animation is one of the main attractions of Parasite Dolls, containing some outstanding lighting effects that really bring Genom City alive despite being set at night.  Several action scenes also do justice to the Bubblegum Crisis franchise, including a stunning car chase and stand-offs which are not over-the-top nor unbelievable.  In that sense Parasite Dolls has been updated as it does not contain the ostentatious thrills of Bubblegum Crisis, but instead a more sophisticated thriller. 

...the car chase made up for it though

So it is clichéd and yet also sophisticated?  Well despite containing all those clichés Parasite Dolls is an improvement over its predecessors - the action-packed Bubblegum Crisis and the ghastly A.D Police.  The script does produce some genuine surprises and manages to add some mystery to the characters but the different standpoints given by each character on 'Boomer' morality is tiresome.  The moral questions raised by androids have been raised time and again and the viewer hardly needs to hear them yet again. 

Parasite Dolls is a stylish, enjoyable updated version of the cyberpunk genre which produces a mixed end result.  It is certainly above average and I found it very enjoyable, but there is nothing new or original here at all - you have seen it all before.  It fails to reinvent cyberpunk or add anything to the sci-fi genre, but then again it does not take anything away from them either. 


Extras include a music video of the retro theme 'Get On The Beat', original Japanese promos (including the video shown at Anime Fair 2002), character profiles, excellent production sketches and trailers for other ADV trailers. 



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