Unbreakable Machine-Doll | Review: Ep. 1

Helpless Automaton

Unbreakable Machine-Girl tells a story about Automatons, mechanical beings with amazing powers that are built and controlled by Puppeteers for battle and other things. It’s not really that new of a concept, but it’s simple and vague enough that you might just get some fresh things out of it. Unfortunately, Unbreakable Machine-Doll does not seem to want to offer you anything fresh.

vlc 2013-10-09 15-07-35-33The episode kicks off with a surprisingly well-directed but far too familiar action sequence set on a train. We get to meet Yaya, the titular machine-doll and her Puppeteer, Raishin. Yaya is sexually obsessed with her creator who wants none of it (see: Anime) and that’s pretty much where both of their personalities end as far as they are explored in this first episode. Raishin is looking to get revenge at a Puppeteer at the Royal Academy who killed his family, and as such he’s enlisted himself as a student.

We’re also introduced to Charlotte, a Puppeteer loner who views everyone else as rivals and therefore refuses to make any friends and her Automation, Sigmund, who is a dragon voiced by the amazing Jouji Nakata. As with Raishin and Yaya, they’re barely explored further than this, but at least we get to see some slight development in Charlotte as the episode moves on.

vlc 2013-10-09 15-06-26-35While the characters and plot is not much to cheer for at the moment, the action was surprisingly well-directed for the most part. Not that there’s much to say on it, the two action sequences in the first episode were very different from each other and cool to look at, but the lack of any interest in the characters caused a otherwise exciting sequence to fall flat towards the end, because it was hard to care about any outcome.

The show also desperately wants to be funny and manages to never once cause even a chuckle. Tired jokes and gags are forced into every scene and there’s just no life or energy to lift up the sub-par writing to any enjoyable level. As a comedy, Unbreakable Machine-Doll is one of the worst shows of the year, so I’m glad that’s not the main goal of the show. It’s a shame too, since good humor could have saved the rest of the show.

vlc 2013-10-09 15-22-05-35Visually, the show is a bit of a mess. While the character designs are nice and pretty to look at, the actual art-style in the show never seems to get a chance to shine.

The animation feels rushed and they cut as many corners as possible by reusing assets such as backgrounds all the time, sometimes even right next to each other. It doesn’t help that the colors felt a off for the most part and that the writing actually contradicts the things we’re seeing at times.

There’s a scene where characters specifically point out that Raishin’s hair is so black that they point out that he has to be from the Orient, except that his hair is very clearly a dark shade of brown, if anything, Yaya is far closer to having black hair than he is.

vlc 2013-10-09 15-22-56-36The CG is also pretty appalling. While it doesn’t stand out and look as out of place as in Tokyo Ravens, the CG in Unbreakable Machine-Girl is cheap and ugly for both the action sequences where it uses it to a heavy extent.

It’s clear that this show is fairly cheap, but a good director would have known how to work around that and not present the ugly and stiff CG models as front and center as they’ve been put here.

The first episode of Unbreakable Machine-Girl was a disappointing train-wreck. Bad visuals mixed with tired and outright bad writing does not make a good show.

Unmemorable, unsatisfying and unrewarding. Anything but unbreakable.

Episode Rating: 2/5 – A Trainwreck.

Series Available on Funimation
Funimation has Licensed the series for US Distribution
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