Archive for April 15th, 2012

Malice@Doll (2000)

In the future, mankind has wiped itself out. The only things left are sex dolls which served to exist their human masters. They roam the streets every day looking for non existent clients who they once served. Ther world in which they live is crumbling all around them and so are the dolls themselves. One such doll is Malice who is in need of repair. After being attacked by a tentacled creature, she wakes up to find that she is now a human being. Her robot friends are unable to recognize her and many of them are quick to reject her. Malice seeks to transfer the happiness that she’s feeling by giving all the other dolls a kiss so that they may experience the same thing as her. But the other dolls’ transformations doesn’t go quite so well as Malice, some turning into hideous creations. Can Malice really find true happiness in her new form?

This is a very strange surreal CG experimental anime feature. What at the time when it first came out in 2000 probably looked great now looks badly dated and the storyline is confusing. Against other CG movies such as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within you can see that this one is not so good visually but then again FF did have a substantial bigger budget than this movie. The plot isn’t straightforward at all and I think what transpires in this movie is left to the interpretation of the viewer. I’m just guessing that it’s supposed to be all about what is the meaning and purpose of being alive and also death. I was expecting some kind of a sci-fi aspect to this story but that premise was quickly kicked out and it was more ecchi than anything else……….and even that was quite tame. The dolls themselves look great but they look like they’ve been lifted out of an old computer game. I think the director lost a big opportunity to give us a good interesting story and what we got instead was this poor effort which made me scratch my head. It’s slow and plodding. It lacks any excitement and there’s nothing to hook you in. You get bored quickly watching it. The CG anime doesn’t even look attractive at all and the background doesn’t help as it’s constantly dark and gloomy.

I can’t really recommend this at all as the incoherent storyline makes it pretty hard going.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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Barefoot Gen 2 (1986)

Three years after the Hiroshima bombing, Gen and his adopted brother, Ryuta are still trying to survive along with Gen’s mother. She’s got a job at a factory but it’s barely enough for them. Food and medicine are hard to come by and very expensive. People are starving. Gen gets into a quarrel with an orphan girl who’s been badly burnt by radiation and the next day she reappears in the window of his school. He finds out that she’s a part of a group of orphan kids that’s squatting in various buildings led by a strong young lad called Masa. The only way they can survive and make money is by being watchouts for the yakuza or shine shoes on the streets. Gen and Ryuta make friends with them. A fierce typhoon hits the city, leaving the orphans’ home flooded and beyond repair. Gen who knows of an abandoned house nearby helps them build a new home. However Gen has more pressing concerns closer to home with his mother who’s steadily becoming more ill with each passing week. He notices that she’s become lighter and during a visit to the doctor his worst fears come true. She’s ill with radiation poisoning and has only 4 months to live. Gen can’t accept this and thinks he can buy a new brand of medicine that’s just come out on the black market called Penicillin but it’s expensive. The orphans along with Gen and Ryuta plan on stealing copper to pay for the medicine from a shipyard but will they get caught?

The 1st Barefoot Gen movie was a powerful anti-war movie that showed the horrifying immediate aftermath of what happened after the bomb was dropped as seen through the eyes of a little boy who had lost most of his family. The 2nd Barefoot Gen movie focuses on the long-term problems that affected the residents of Hiroshima and Gen’s adventures with his orphan friends. Some people can argue that a sequel didn’t need to have been made in the first place and that the director had gotten his point across in the first movie. Japan was still trying to find it’s feet with it’s economy weakened and basic supplies were difficult to get hold of for a lot of people. But the worst problem of all was the lingering shadow of radiation poisoning. It’s symptoms not showing in some people for many years and for the residents in Hiroshima they were basically under a sentence of death just waiting for the first signs to signal that they would be the next to die. This movie doesn’t pack the emotional punch as the first though we do get to see a couple of scenes which shocks us such as when Gen is fishing in a river and unexpectedly discovers the river bed is full of human skulls and also when we see US soldiers digging up a huge mass grave and unceremoniously dumping thousands of skeletons inside it. The tone and atmosphere is so different from the first movie. The intention of the first was to portray hell on earth and to show the viewer what exactly happened in Hiroshima. This movie is more about showing people trying their best to survive under harsh conditions. We get to see their attitudes to those that have been scarred and burnt by the bomb. Gen has also changed from the character we saw before. He’s more mature of sorts though still retaining a part of his playful nature. The new characters introduced are likeable. The animation seems to have improved vastly from the first movie, it looks a lot better, detailed and crisp.

I liked this sequel. Whilst it doesn’t hit the emotions of the first movie it was better than what I expected so I definitely recommend it. It is still heartbreaking at times but thankfully there’s a glimmer of hope at the end.

I can’t find a trailer for this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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