The original AD Police OAV series examined the line between man and machine. It asked the question; if humans augment their bodies with artificial improvements, at what point are they no longer human? The second AD Police-based OAV series, Parasite Dolls, asks the opposite question; if we continue to imbue our robots with more realistic human traits, at what point do they stop being mere robots?
Like the first series, Parasite Dolls consists of three episodes, though unlike the first, it has no particular connection to the Bubblegum Crisis series from which it was born, other than taking place in the same city. Instead, we’re introduced to a whole new cast, headed by AD Police ‘Branch’ officer, Buzz Nikvest. He’s joined by a female weapons expert, Reiko; a computer hacker, Myers; and Kimball, the friendly boomer.
At its most basic level, all the crimes investigated by Branch in this series involve humans exploiting boomers. The first episode, ‘A Faint Voice,’ involves boomers going mad, a possible drug connection, and a group of humans who use the exploits of boomers to derive vicarious pleasure using some Strange Days-type technology.
The second episode, ‘Dreamer,’ is about a high-end boomer prostitute named Eve, who is famous for making men’s dreams come true. It’s odd that a boomer prostitute should be so expensive and sought after, you’d think that the real thing would be more desirable. But then again, a robot can be made to a level of perfection that no biological entity ever could. Perhaps that’s the ‘dream’ that Eve offers, a truly ‘perfect’ woman. As Eve goes about her business, there’s a serial killer on the prowl, one that targets boomer prostitutes.
The final episode, ‘Knights of a Round Table,’ is about a right-wing politician named Sorime. He’s found a lot of political capital in attacking boomers. Essentially, he argues that they are a corrupting force in society, pulling people away from natural, human relationships, and into deviant human-robot ones. It’s the same argument you always hear from conservative-minded people when a minority group starts gaining traction; and during the transitional decades between the beginning and end of a civil rights movement, it’s a very effective one.
Parasite Dolls, like its predecessor, is an insightful exploration of a complex sci fi concept. There’s an internal conflict in society; they’ve created these perfect objects of desire, and yet there’s a revulsion to loving an object, something fake. People want something, but hate themselves for wanting it. It’s sort of like those politicians who spend their careers fighting against gay marriage, only to be caught in a rest stop bathroom with another man.
While the themes in the series are very well developed, the characters aren’t. We don’t really learn anything about them. They feeling like people that you see once a year; you recognize them and know their basic character traits, but you don’t know how they got that way, or what they’re like in any other context.
The animation is surprisingly good. It’s very fluid and features realistic character designs, giving it a Ghost in the Shell kind of look. The credits and titles were all in English to begin with (it’s sort of a Bubblegum Crisis tradition), so unlike other ADV Films DVDs, this one is presented totally unaltered, with a separate credit role at the end for the English staff.