Malice@Doll (August 8/04)
Malice@Doll is an incredibly bizarre story of a robotic prostitute that's transformed into a human after an encounter with a tentacled creature. It's the sort of setup that one expects out of an anime flick, and while the movie contains virtually every staple of the genre, the whole thing never quite comes together.
Part of the problem is that we're never given any kind of context for this strange world that Malice (the aforementioned inanimate hooker) inhabits; there's no doubt it's the future, but that's about the extent of it. The movie seems to take place entirely inside some kind of weird brothel, run entirely by robots and other assorted non-human characters. To call the film's style spare would be an understatement; director Keitaro Motonaga uses jerky computer animation to less-than-great effect, throwing fairly realistic-looking figures into completely abstract backgrounds.
That the film manages to confound on virtually every level has a lot to do with Chiaki Konaka's script, which emphasizes philosphical discussions over character development. As a result, we get a lot of conversations in which Malice wonders what it means to be real - which is all well and good to a certain point, and then it just becomes pretentious. Likewise, Malice's transformation is never explained - nor her newfound ability to change other robots into beasts and monsters. The enigmatic ending poses more questions than it answers, though (to be fair) it's not as though much else in the film made sense.
In the end, it's clear that ones tolerance for Malice@Doll is entirely dependent on ones passion for anime (as in, if you've never seen one before, this certainly isn't the place to start).