I’M FREE! FREEEEEEEEE!
Machine Doll had a rather cold open this week, no credits, no music, just a title card. This can often happen towards the end of season or a finale. So much is happening, that the creators don’t want to disrupt the flow of the gripping climax of the story, or they merely have SO much information and action going on, that they can’t spare the seconds to a full theme.
So it’s a complete mystery why they did it here.
Machine Doll was nonsense this week. And we topped that nonsense with wasting our time, just as the final “fuck you” for wasting your time even bothering to WATCH this show.
Some anime can get away with this kind of “stalling” finale. Some. Very few. Because the big gamble is that your plot has thus far been SO interesting that, while there is resolution of the crisis of the moment, your overall plot is so gripping that people will clamor for a continuation.
Machine Doll is so unworthy of this description, though, that it only feels like they just didn’t know HOW to end the series (season) on a good note.
Not only did we pick up this week, following that gripping battle with Sin up with….dialogue! And no movement. Just some boasting. Fantabulous! And that’s followed by the title card bump and….Shoko…faaaaaaantastic….
She may still be my favorite character in this series that can’t even learn how to be a train wreck, but her absolutely awful handling has been nothing if not a perfect example of everything wrong with this show.
But gladly, we were able to lift our head from the filth, if but for a moment. Shoko is reminiscing on meeting Raishin. While it’s obvious she cares for him in a mentor type role (as twisted as her own feelings might be), but as she “worries” about Raishin, her thoughts go back to a promise he made her. If he fails, Shoko gets to use his body to make a new Doll. This is the heartless streak Shoko has needed. It’s a twisted sort of affection, the possibility she will slice up someone she has a genuine affection for to make a new super-Doll like Yaya. The fact that this is the memory she tends to focus her “motherly” worries on (which we finally saw the memory’s full completion this week), was a very good moment, and a rare shining moment of how one of many such hanging threads can be used to bait viewers into a Season 2.
Meanwhile the fight with Sin isn’t going well. Sin can overpower a fully empowered Sigmund, and while Yaya is almost certainly stronger than him, he is able to evade every punch thrown at him. So after allowing an opening, Yaya catches Sin’s arm mid-punch, and proceeds to beat the living tar out of him. Taking so much damage exposes his puppeteer, which even though Sin is rather self sufficient, he still DOES need energy from a master. It was a pretty good resolution to this fight, simple enough that even its lack of mechanical explanation made sense. Doll’s need energy from puppeteers, and certain dolls, like Frey’s dogs, can trace that, in this case with scent.
I hope you enjoyed this competent segment of the episode, because we’re just shy of 10 minutes in. The next 15 won’t be so kind to you.
But Sin and Cedric are down, not out. And after wailing on the already-injured Raishin, so Yaya ascends into a white-haired super Yaya. Why? To protect Raishin of course. What makes this fight different from the other 11 times Raishin has had his ass beaten? Excellent question!
Oh, you thought there was an answer? You poor, stupid fool. This episode isn’t about small answers that lead to more questions. It’s about cheap action elements and purported cliffhangers.
To top off this stupidty, Elf Speeder is revealed to not be a shotacon bait noble boy, but a girl! I’m sure you can see how important this was.
There is a reuinion of the Blue (Belew?) sisters…which of course focuses on them comparing breast size. Because sure. Why not. That’s how sister’s express their relief that each other is fine.
Magnus is revealed as Raishin’s brother. Because sure why not. He’s revealed to have been experimenting with Banned Dolls to create his own version of the Machine Doll. He doesn’t own up to Kimberly’s theory, but this show hasn’t been clever enough to make some of its theories red herrings, so this certainly isn’t either. Though, potential subtlety, Shoko merely stated that as Yaya grows closer to Raishin, she’ll become better, and fulfill certain plans. Was her hulking out a step towards Machine Doll? By evolving her heart? Maybe. Hard to tell. Which is good, too bad it’s the only moment of such subtlety.
And the final eight minutes of this gripping finale?
MOAR BEDS! MOAR BANDAGES! MOAR BEYOND STUPIDITY!
This was an attempt at humor. It failed, right from the get go. The doctor of the infirmary is hitting on Henriette, who, while identical to Charlotte, he can’t put the pieces together. Only deterred from molesting her right there by learning who her sister is.
There was one good moment. Charlotte’s incessant whining about how small her chest is, and pointing at Frey and calling her, “that pair of breasts”, the quiet Frey merely responds “Big isn’t better…my arms get soooooo tired from washing them!” It was a very cute, sarcastic quip so unlike her character it managed to be hilarious.
Was that joke worth the five minutes we have to sit through of pervy-harem bullshit? NOPE.
Thankfully, the second break comes in the form of Cherubim’s enormous sword landing in Raishin’s hospital bed. Sadly it does not end in his decapitation, but we’ll take any savior from this grating clucking of so many hens. I still like the Loki/Raishin relationship. It is an amusing friendship of two guys who can’t admit they kind of respect each other -around- each other. In that sense it’s something of a genuine friendship. Here? Loki expresses nothing but the truth, “You fucking moron, stop acting like a harem protagonist, this suffering is all your fault.” Luckily for them, Kimberly comes to offer pardons and Henriette a job so she won’t have to leave campus, ensuring our cast of worthless, clucking harem hens can continue to grow.
Yaya attempts to be deep, lamenting that “everyone is really nice, huh?” Her words, of course, speak to the fact they will all be enemies soon in Walpurgisnacht.
Too bad we haven’t seen a SINGLE hard decision that wasn’t laid out as “the only moral choice.” If I believed for a second that this series was building to a REAL dramatic confrontation between all the friends, I might actually stick around to watch season 2.
See you guys at the series recap.