Unbreakable Machine-Doll ReviewAmy Hazel
The flames had long since engulfed the buildings and blood covered every surface not yet scorched or turned to ash. As he rushed from room to room, stepping over countless bodies of those he had once considered family, his eyes finally came to rest on a young girl laid upon a broken surface as though a sacrifice. He would forever remember the image of the masked man who brought his life to ruin that day and would seek his vengeance no matter what the cost. It was not long after that event that a chance encounter with the greatest automaton maker the world has ever known would not only save the young man's life but also give him the tools necessary to fulfill his wish.
Step into an alternate world where the progress of science, magic and innovation has spun its gears in a different direction. In the early 20th century, technology and sorcery have come together to create something called Machinart where circuits are fused with power and spells to give life to inanimate objects. The primary objective of these automatons being military operations; and those that control them are known as puppeteers. "The Eve's Heart" of each automaton or puppet is not only its control center and life blood, but also dictates its elemental force or battle type. It's puppeteer then uses magic and commands to control the puppet effectively and they then work as a unified team on the battlefield. Puppeteers may control one automaton or many simultaneously; while the automatons themselves may take on a wide variety of forms to include mechanical, beast, mythical or doll.
It is with this backdrop in mind that the anime Unbreakable Machine-Doll or Machine-Doll wa Kizutsukanai takes place. Raishin Akabane has one goal in mind as he travels from Japan to the United Kingdom to enlist at the Walpurgis Royal Academy of Machinart: revenge. With one of the greatest crafted automaton dolls at his side, he plans to take part in the esteemed "Night Party" tournament held once every four years that dictates who the next Wise Man will be. The tournament itself is a series of nightly automaton battles of the best and brightest the academy has to offer; and while becoming the Wise Man is certain amidst Raishin's goals, finding the one who murdered his family still remains his ultimate agenda.
Unfortunately, Raishin's entrance exams place him 1,235 out of 1,236, earning him the nickname "Second Last"; but where he lacks in book smarts he easily makes up for on the battlefield with his near genius tactician skills and of course, Yaya, his automaton. From this point on, the 12 episode series carries through to the end without filler, moving the story along via three main story arc events packed to the brim with action, intrigue, humor and more wonder than you probably thought you signed up for.
While it may seem like the tournament and the revenge part of the story as described so far would take center-stage, they more or less remain a constant reminder in the background while other plot events take the main focus more often than not. As the handful of main characters are introduced throughout the first few episodes, we see a mystery involving automatons found throughout campus with their "Eve's Heart" torn out and then are moved to story arcs more focused on some of the side characters that Raishin and Yaya have become involved with. The story is wrought with so many elements and is truly entertaining, however it also feels as though it tries to fit too much within too short of a time span and often barely grazes a topic before having to move on to the next one. There is typical school life, the tournament, friendships, rivalries, revenge, automatons being treated as more than just tools, banned dolls created of both living and mechanical parts, alchemy, politics, experimentation, and various other mysteries (trying not to spoil anything!); and while it is enthralling to watch and enjoy, afterwards it makes you wonder and question all the things that were never truly explained in detail.
While the story certainly can sound like a lot to handle, the characters of this anime really bring a spark of humor and unique-ness to it that help even everything out. The story can get serious at times but it never lasts too long before someone makes some sort of perverted comment (usually towards Raishin, even though he rarely deserves it) or some other comic relief occurs. Although it is not the main focus (and Raishin is not really into it at all), this is a bit of a harem anime. Yaya, of course, is Raishin's automaton and she is extremely protective of him so no other girls can be near him and she enjoys telling everyone that she is his wife! She can be a bit much to handle but their relationship works and they make an incredible team in battle. Then there is the tough Tyrant Rex, Charlotte and her dragon automaton, Sigmund, who rank very high in the academy and end up involved around Raishin and Yaya whether they want to or not. Frey is probably the clumsiest assassin ever to attempt to take a life and is always accompanied by her automaton wolf, Rabbi; and then there is her brother Loki, another top ranked student who controls an exceptionally difficult to master automaton called Cherubim (he is also angered by far more than three things, don't let him fool you). While the character development is not the most in depth ever to be found in a 12 episode series, it also isn't the worst. By the end, there are a lot of questions still to be had but you also feel like you grasp many of the characters decently as well. They are strong, fun and likeable characters right from the start (for the most part); of course that doesn't mean that some other characters and their automatons aren't still shrouded in mystery
In other aspects, the art and music of the anime really come together beautifully as well. The opening and ending themes are spectacular and truly encompass the steampunk and Japanese aesthetic. The art style also captures the era and feeling perfectly both in and out of battle. A few strangely rendered CG scenes here and there but it was never enough to detract for more than a few seconds and overall really melded everything together wonderfully.
Despite its flaws, this was an anime that really drew me in from start to finish and entertained me through and through. Steampunk, magic, fantasy, alchemy, action, fighting, revenge, humor and a bit of romance and seriousness to help balance it all out it has a little bit of everything! Do be warned that the end of the season comes to no true resolution, but considering it is originally based off of a light novel series that should come as no surprise! There are currently 15 volumes out as of September 2015 and the anime covers only the first 3 volumes (if we go by title comparison); so there is plenty more story to be found just simply not in anime form. In the end, Unbreakable Machine-Doll gives a lot and promises even more. They even say there is a machine doll that doesn't need a master. Could that even be possible?
"Remember this: creating humans is magic's greatest taboo."
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
Just a happy-go-lucky girl working in the gaming industry and spending nearly all her spare time writing, recording music, working on cosplay, watching anime and horror movies, and trying not to obsess over getting that 100% completion rating on every game she touches.
About the Author: Amy Hazel
Bio | Email | Twitter | Facebook