Spending my available free time mostly (still) playing The Witcher games trilogy the first one is good, the second one regressed quite a bit and I’ll see in the future what the finale goes) and reading some manga and light novels, my anime watching time understandable decreased. Only now, I have finished watching an anime title, titled Unbreakable Machine Doll, which I picked sorely because I’ve seen it aired in Animax Asia.
A 2013 title, this anime will not be able to dethrone the current ‘Anime of the Year 2013 title holder, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru. At least, this anime is still better than Strike the Blood though. If you want to know how much better, you should continue the rest of the review below. This review is also one of those that do not have any screenshots at all, I’m just lazy to take any.
There is one important change that will be made to anime reviews here, starting today onwards. The anime’s director performance will also be reviewed in the story section, instead of being grouped with the animation evaluations. Should make things easy for me onwards.
In a fictional 19th century European setting, our main male protagonist and his automata doll (a.k.a. the main female protagonist) enrolls in a special school in England (presumably) where students are taught how to use those said dolls for various purposes. The main male protagonist does not come to the school for learning anything though, instead he was there for revenge against the strongest student of the said school that has murdered his whole family.
The first thing I noticed when watching this anime is the terrifyingly fast pacing in the first episode. So many events and expositions were crammed into a single episode; the first episode can give the first season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series a run for its money. More interestingly, this anime can actually gets away with that fast pacing, unlike the aforementioned first season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and others, like the second season of Nodame Cantabile. The director (who had also directed a fair number of hentai titles) really has done well in this regard.
At first, I think the fast pacing will continue in the subsequent episodes, which would be bad for this anime, but fortunately it doesn’t. The pacing gradually slowed down to a rate I find acceptable for the multi-arc plots that this anime has. This continues until the end of the anime of course. The pacing does sometimes dropped below acceptable rate in the final arc, but I think I will gloss over that one for once.
The storyline in this anime is good, especially the first arc. With only 13 episodes, there are only two story arcs in this anime after the whirlwind introductory first episode. This means this anime has less chances to screw up story-wise, and this is very helpful at keeping this anime from descending to Strike the Blood’s level.
What does not help this anime’s cause is the weak main characters, specifically the two main protagonists. If compared to a similarly themed Rozen Maiden series that has a somewhat decent main male protagonist and far more interesting dolls, the difference is stark. In this anime, the doll has a one-dimensional character, a weakness that really drags her characterization down. Meanwhile, for a character that is hell-bent on revenge, he is surprisingly indecisive and has some problems when it comes to decision making, a problem that manifested itself more often in the final arc, less so in the first one.
Therefore, this anime can be said to be more story-driven instead of being reliant of characters’ strength, because there are no outstanding character(s) here. For example, character developments for the two main protagonists is practically nil. The main male protagonist’s state at the end of the anime is basically the same seen in the very first scene of the first episode. The main female protagonist fare barely better. In fact, the silver-haired big-breasted character who owned a lot of dogs that is prominent in the first arc has more character developments than them.
The presentation aspects in this anime is good. As mentioned above, this anime actually gets away with the fast pacing in the first episode and successfully transitioned into more reasonable pace in latter episodes. The flow of the storyline is also good, whether within the arcs themselves or between arcs. A definite advantage over Strike the Blood for sure. In this anime that features extensive CGI animations, the director did not take advantage of the technology to use any over-the-top unconventional camera works and scene compositions, unlike what I have seen in this year’s 3D-only God Eater that is better at utilizing it. In this anime full of action scenes, the quality of choreography is mixed bag; some scenes has good action sequences, others doesn’t.
This anime ends with the main premise still unfinished, and I suspect there are still plenty of plots still waiting to be presented. But even after 2 years, there are still no news for a second season, and I suspected again that this anime will not get one. I do not think this anime deserved one either.
Character designs in this CGI-dominated world is actually very good, the only exception would be the main male protagonist. This anime is a promising proof that character designs will not suffer even when the industry transitions away from traditional 2D animation. A positive aspect for this anime.
Unlike the animations and character designs, voice acting in this anime is solid but conservative. This at least prevents the major mistake seen in Strike the Blood, but consequently there are no outstanding voice acting gigs in here.
This is an aspect of this anime where nothing really go well. The OST and the ED theme is forgettable; the former being that way is really a drawback for this anime. Only the OP theme is better, but only then only average in quality by my standards.
As implied by what I have said above, this anime is primarily done via CGI, with little bits of 2D traditional animation sequences, but a lot of static backgrounds not unlike Princess Lover! Character animations needs a lot of work though; CGI character animations in this anime is smooth but too lackadaisical in movement speed. Integration between those CGI and 2D animations, when available, is not seamless though.
7 out of 10. One of the pioneers of anime titles that used mostly CGI as the method of animation. This is not exactly a bad thing, especially if animation studios can fix the zombie-like character movements. Although I vastly prefer computer-generated 2D animations techniques that couple of anime titles reviewed here have used.