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Unbreakable Machine Doll: The Complete Series
Unbreakable Machine Doll takes place in an alternate reality of the early 20th century where scientists have crafted what is known as "Machinart" through a mixture of technology and magic. Machinart is essentially circuits made from spells that are placed into a non living object and bring them to life, giving them artificial intelligence and full cognitive function. The finished products are referred to as "Automatons", which were initially developed as a military weapon and spread throughout the world, with the humans that control them aptly titled "puppeteers."
Our main protagonist of the story is that of a young puppeteer named Raishin Akabane (played by Clifford Chapin) comes from Japan to study at the prestigious Walpurgis Royal Academy of Machinart, along with his automaton Yaya (voiced by Bryn Apprill.) Once every four years, the Academy holds a traditional "Evening Party", a competition where the top 100 puppeteers of Walpurgis Royal Academy use their automatons to fight in hopes of obtaining the title of "Wiseman."
While initially the series, at face value, is about Raishin trying to rise through the ranks at Walpurgis, fight through the top 100 students, and win the tournament; It's soon revealed that Raishin has entered the school and the competition in order to get revenge on the man simply known as "Magnus", a mysterious man who is considered the strongest puppeteer around, being able to control 6 automaton, when most can only control one. Raishin has vowed to take revenge on Magnus as he's tied to the deaths of Raishin's family. With the image of cradling his dead sister's body ingrained into his mind, Raishin will stop at nothing to quench his bloodlust.
While there is an overarching storyline throughout the 12 episodes, it's not exactly the focal point of the series at most times as it's only developed here and there throughout. Unbreakable Machine Doll is actually comprised of several broken up story arcs, much like A Certain Magical Index or another anime I recently reviewed, Tokyo Ravens. Each arc typically revolves around someone trying to stop Raishin from gaining access to the party and/or Raishin trying to help out a girl that will eventually be added to his "harem", so to speak.
- The show has excellent and well developed characters, something that took me by surprise, to be totally honest.
- A great dub. I'm a huge fan of both newcomers, Clifford Chapin and Bryn Apprill, they've both turned in stellar work in the past year or so and Unbreakable Machine Doll is no different.
- Unique concept with the automaton's.
- The way the 3 separate storylines and the main arc are weaved together is well done.
- The biggest problem about this series is its pacing and the rushed overarching storyline. The series starts off as a simple straight forward tournament style storyline with a revenge plot, but then suddenly breaks off into multiple different storylines that have nothing to do with the main story. It needed more time for that revenge plot to simmer. It had a perfectly good plot to work with, but instead the writers decided to go a different direction and bog the show down with unneeded storylines about stuff like harems and serial killers.
- Lack of an ending.
- Unneeded fan service.
Video and Audio:
Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the video quality of Unbreakable Machine Doll is excellent. The image is vibrant and clean, and the details are sharp. Studio Lerche, the team behind the Persona franchise and Assassination Classroom, has knocked it out of the park here. The color palette is vivid and striking, the character designs are well detailed, the fight scenes are beautifully animated. It's a very strong production.
The audio is delivered in typical FUNimation fashion with 2 different options. The first is a lossless TrueHD 5.1 English track and the second is the original TrueHD 5.1 Japanese mix. Your enjoyment of either will be based on what language you prefer. I myself sampled both tracks, watching the majority in the top notch English dub. There were no signs of any distortions or dropouts throughout the set.
- Episode 1 commentary with Christopher Bevins, Clifford Chapin, Bryn Apprill, and Kristin McCollum.
- Episode 12 commentary with Christopher Bevins, Lindsay Seidal, David Wald and Kristin Sutton.
- 10 page art booklet.
- Six Bonus shorts that deliver mostly more fan service, though there is one that gives a bit more background on some of the more grounded elements of the series.
- Promotional videos.
- Clean opening and closing themes.
- FUNimation trailers.
I'm no fan of "fan service" in anime, never have been, never will be, which is why I was a bit hesitant to go into Unbreakable Machine Doll. However, I was shocked as I watched the first few episodes and the show had excellent well rounded characters, a unique and solid overarching story. However the pacing is erratic with it's multitude of story lines that emerge and the copious amounts of needless fan service. At the end of the day, it's not a bad way to spend a few hours of your time and is at least worth a rental... Rent It.