HomeAnimeFantasista Doll

Fantasista Doll

-

Fantasista Doll 1

To be honest, I had little idea of what to expect from Fantasista Doll when I started up the DVD a couple of weeks ago. While it was clear that at least North American anime publisher Sentai Filmworks didn’t have high expectations for the series given its DVD-exclusive release and lack of English dubbing, I was still expecting something conceptually similar to Rozen Maiden (A personal favourite media franchise) but with a more all-ages friendly plot given its bright and cheery design. In a way that is exactly what was delivered, albeit with some similarities to a “card game” anime such as Digimon Tamers. Despite having a concept that could have made Fantasista Doll stand out as a decent all-ages friendly watch (Ignoring the M classification rating in Australia), the viewing experience was ruined by a lackluster storyline and a few other nagging elements that made it more of a chore than a pleasure to watch.

Fantasista Doll follows Uzume Ono, an indecisive middle-school girl who finds a mysterious device planted in her school bag one morning on the train. After completing a registration process reminiscent of a detailed online registration form, she finds herself as the Master of five Fantasista Dolls which she can summon and enhance using special cards. In a sort of ‘Collect em’ All’ fashion, it is possible for Masters to duel each other and potentially claim the losers cards. This comes central to the storyline when Uzume becomes the exclusive target of a group known as Mutual Dream Assurance Group which will grant the wish of any other Fantasista Doll master who can defeat Uzume and steal her dolls.

Fantasista Doll 2

The core concept behind Fantasista Doll is decent enough, and Uzume and each of her five dolls – Sasara, Katia, Shimeji, Akari and Madeleine receive at least some level of development without a particular emphasis on any one character. However that pretty much sums up the only good aspects of its storyline. Each episode can either be classified as a “fight” episode where Uzume (and occasionally her friends) find themselves up against another poorly developed enemy from the Mutual Dream Assurance Group or a “dispute” episode where the relationship between Uzume and one of her dolls breaks down in some way – often because of a personality clash. Through these events, she slowly uncovers some of the secrets behind the dolls and the reason why she is being targeted almost exclusively. It is really the dolls who drag the story along to its conclusion, with Uzume’s indecisive and hesitant personality often impacting how she performs in the heat of the moment and in my opinion limited her appeal as the main heroine.

Unfortunately the production team seemed to be hesitant about making a particular character seem too “evil” or “antagonistic”, and no matter how bad a character seems at the beginning of an episode / set of episodes, you can be almost certain that they have changed their colours by the end with as happy an ending as possible. Also not helping is the series’ length. With its bright and colourful visuals and relatively simple approach to storytelling, Fantasista Doll could have actually been a decent anime series for the younger market, similar to what Shugo Chara was many years ago during its long anime run. But its short run-time of just 12 episodes left the storyline feeling rushed with more questions than answers provided about the Fantasista Dolls and its universe in general.

still_46046

As you should already be able to tell from the sample screenshots in this review alone, animation studio Hoods Entertainment took a very bright and colourful approach to designing the characters and world of Fantasista Doll. The quality is solid across the board, and I could have envisioned the visuals looking even better on the blu-ray format. Uzume’s dolls were well designed, each with an outfit and colour choice that emphasized the respective characters personality. With so many other doll designs added to the mix however, the quality with pretty hit-and-miss, with some looking fantastic and some looking drab. When merged with the card battle system which allows Uzume or any other Master to summon unique (and pretty much cutesy) traps on the battlefield, battle sequences were both well-animated and pleasurable to watch. The repetitive summoning animation and a few similar animation snippets still left room for improvement, and a longer length for some battles would have also been welcome. The remainder of the series’ animation was basic and no frills, just what you would expect from a standard slice-of-life series.

Fantasista Doll features a single opening and single ending sequence, both of which are of decent quality – with the opening in particular managing to find itself stuck in my head for several days after listening to it. What was a bit awkward however was a bonus 15 second animated segment tacked onto the start of every episode which sees Uzume introducing herself and the basic storyline in a much happier and upbeat tone than she has for most of the series. It is expected that if I am half way through the series, I know the gist of what is going on. Would have rather had that extra couple of minutes spent on building the storyline which already suffered from a lack of episodes and time.

As mentioned above, North American publisher Sentai Filmworks opted to release Fantasista Doll as-is, without any English dub. While the Japanese dub is of a respectable quality, it would have limited the series’ appeal to younger audiences who may not listen to Japanese dubbed anime yet.

still_46047

While Sentai Filmworks have released a few Japanese-dubbed anime series with a wealth of fantastic extra content including Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth and Kurenai, Fantasista Doll only had the bare minimum of extra goodies. This transferred over to the Australian release I am reviewing, which included only clean opening and ending sequences. A compilation of trailers for other Madman Entertainment products were also included on-disc.

Fantasista Doll is a light-hearted and approachable anime series with an all-ages appeal and fairly high production value in terms of visuals. Unfortunately what lets down the overall experience is a below-average storyline that really needed more depth and time to be better developed. If you really want an anime series surrounding battling dolls and their masters…. I would instead recommend Sentai Filmworks’ / Madman Entertainment’s anime releases in the Rozen Maiden franchise.

Sam
Sam
Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fifteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.

1 COMMENT

  1. I couldnt have agreed more with your rating this anime was a complete and total time waster. I dont honestly know why watched it but it just never got better, strongly recommend anybody considering this too look the other way; this is an anime that cant decide what it wants to be or what demographic it wishes to cater to.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Advertisment

Recent Posts