Unbreakable Machine Doll – 1
Well ladies and gentlemen, the anime has finally dawned upon us. And hoo boy, I can’t tell you how much fun it was to see the LN in all its animated glory. But before we go into the review proper, I have noted the anime site has been updated with the cast list. The most interesting thing is Cedric Granville, Shin, and Henriette are listed inside. Which means the anime will cover the events of volume 3 as well.
Also, this review MAY CONTAIN INADVERTENT SPOILERS. If you haven’t read all the way till the end of volume 1 at least, you might be spoiled. Tremendously.
As someone who’s read the novels already, there’s a certain lack of excitement when it comes to watching the anime. After all, I do know what’s already going to happen, and if the show should end on a cliffhanger I won’t feel the sense of urgency and the need to watch next week’s episode now to find out what’s going to happen.
Having said that though, there are other ways to derive excitement from watching a show I already know the plot (and twists) to, namely seeing the scenes in the LN come to life. Unbreakable Machine Doll is a novel that relies somewhat on visual gags instead of wordplay, most of which involve Yaya throttling Raishin after he makes some remark or takes an interest in another woman (or “vixens”, according to Yaya.) Seeing Yaya visually ‘snap’ has more of an effect then reading ‘there was a breaking sound as Yaya snapped’. Awkward as it is to see it written down, seeing the breaking on screen does it more justice than the book. Needless to say, I look forward to seeing Yaya’s hair stand on end like a medusa or her eyes turning black, or turning into a complete demon as she hunts for Raishin.
The episode itself was pretty solid, if unspectacular. The studio behind UMD is Lerche (Danganronpa, Majikoi, Carnival Phantasm). Sadly, the only work I’ve watched from them would be carnival phantasm, so I wasn’t sure how they’d handle this adaptation. Although I’d have liked them to go with ruroo’s illustration style from the LN, in the end it looks like they’re going for a style that’s neither LN nor manga. While everyone looks moe enough, the style has its own flaws; one of my gripes is that none of the characters have mouths unless they’re talking, which ends up pretty jarring at times. The other problem is that ruroo drew the characters with more angles than the anime does, which means everyone face ends up looking a little round and a little too moeblob for my liking. Thankfully this is only relegated to full on frontal face shots, and episode one does show the characters from different points of views as well as with emotion on their faces, so things like
do not happen so often.
Also, to get the (badly animated cgi) elephant out of the room, there was a jarring disconnect in the train scene right in the beginning, when they switched between 2D drawing and the 3D models. Those were so bad, if you freeze framed them the models look like they came straight out of a MMD video. Thankfully the cgi models were used sparingly and covered up with camera movements so that they wouldn’t leave too much of a lasting impression. Except Raishin climbing out of the train. That was so bad, I facepalmed. Come on Lerche, at least make an effort to make the 3D model match the 2D one… Thankfully though, Sigmund’s cgi dragon wasn’t as bad as I feared, and it didn’t take away anything during the fight scenes.
The other thing that was pretty needless and I could do without was the gratuitous scene where we’re introduced to Kimberly. For some reason the studio saw fit to increase her cup size by at least 2 sizes, thus we’re introduced to Kimberly by saying hello to these:
The voice cast of UMD is stellar, and when I say stellar, I mean it’s stellar as in fucking awesome. There’s a twinge of Akihisa in Shimono Hiro’s voice, but Raishin is pretty much the straight man instead of the bokke Akihisa is, and Shimono does the job well enough. Harada Hitomi as Yaya though is a bit of a swing and a miss, while her Yaya voice is cute and all, occasionally she goes a little too high and it crosses the line from cute to annoying. Charlotte’s VA Takamoto Megumi pretty much nails her character, so I have no complaints about how Charlotte is voiced. Unfortunately we don’t get to see Kimberly (Itou Shizuka) be all crafty and conniving just yet, so it’s too soon to judge her. But the star of the show is clearly Sigmund
Nakata Jouji does a fantastic job as Sigmund and I can only pray he gets more opportunities (He will, if they follow the book faithfully.)
I wouldn’t call this a direct adaptation, but the anime remains faithful enough to the source material. Most of the things which they chose not to follow the LN are minor quibbles, such as moving the girl and her younger sister iniside the same room as Raishin and Yaya instead of bumping into them outside, or moving the fight with Charl from an impromptu one to shifting it to the mock battleground. Also Raishin did not bump into Charl outside the girl’s dormitory. I vaguely remember there was a circle of students around them which the ambushers hid within. The only exception where I felt they should have followed the LN more was the prologue where Yaya expects to get her head patted. They should have done that, since it would emphasise the yandere-ness of Yaya more. At present she seems more like a clingy jealous girl than the yandere she truly is. Oh well, there are 3 volumes worth of yandere scenes to draw from, and I can’t wait to see stuff from volume 2.
In terms of pacing, the first episode covers from the prologue to chapter 2, skipping all the technical bits and Kimberly’s lectures. Considering that there are 3 volumes to divide between 12 episodes, I’d say the pacing feels right. They can do 3-4 for the 2nd episode, 5-6 for the 3rd and do a cliffhanger for the reveal of Cannibal Candy, the 6-epilogue for the 4th episode and maybe the start of the 2nd volume by having it end with Frey in his room.
Music wise, the opening sounds really nice, and the music from the PVs return when Tenzen makes his appearance. It’s a nice melancholy tune that seems like it’s going to be the go-to theme for any recollections used.
Art: 7/10. Charl’s eyes are brown, not blue. Get that right please.
Voice: 8/10. So far it seems like a good fit, and with Kana Hanazawa, Yukanna, Ogura Yui, Kayano Ai, Junichi Suwabe, Mamiko Noto still to come, I think my ears will be in for a treat.
Direction: 6/10. While decent, sadly the fight scenes lack a certain oomph to them. Instead of showing the plan formulate inside Raishin’s head, they could have used those extra frames to lengthen the battle. Still, it’s only the first episode, and not even the most important fight, so we’ll see how it goes from here.
Overall: 7/10. Solid, but nothing that jumps out, other than the horrible train cgi that thankfully we’ll never see again (I hope.) Character designs are fine enough, and thankfully Charlotte looks and sounds good. More tsun goodness please!