“Isn’t She a Doll?” – Dolls (manga) – 6/10 Pumpkin Pies

Yet for better or worse we love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them. ~Junichiro Tanizaki

Mangaka: Yumiko Kawahara

Genre: Drama/Fantasy/Psychological/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (4 Volumes/4 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed in the US.

Art: This has some lovely art, with lots of details and frills. It’s very shoujo in appearance, with lots of toning and shading.

Summary: Dolls are living plant life forms that look like beautiful women which can be purchased at a special shop for the right price. But be careful what you wish for. Set in an upside-down world combining a murky mix of science fiction, reality and moral ambiguity, Yumiko Kawahara’s short stories examine the ineffable disparities that exist between the lover and the loved one. (Viz)

Review: Dolls choose who they belong to, and while the owners are charged incredibly large fees, they find themselves drawn- and sometimes repulsed- by the plants that behave as if they are alive. There are a number of different scenarios that occur, from discovering what happens when a Doll ages, to attempting to find a replacement for a dead child, to a Doll becoming the last will of a yakuza boss.

What this tries to do is get inside the minds of those people who are affected by them, the scenarios that occur when the Dolls are brought into their lives. However, most of the time the stories are completely unmemorable. They are too short to really get into any psychological fears or darkness, not only in number of pages but all the stories are stand-alone. There were a few that seemed to just start doing some wonderful things but were cut short due to time.

That’s not to say they were bad, just boring. A few of these did manage to stand above the crowd, though, such as that of the girl who told fortunes, and the man who was thought to be turning into a tree. Unfortunately, it was only when the story mainly focused on human characters and had the Dolls as a plot device that they were intriguing. Most of the ones that focused on the Dolls themselves fell short of being anything above average.

Overall, while this does present an interesting scenario, Petshop of Horrors did the psychological aspect far better.

Recommended: 12+. There’s virtually no language, no nudity, and no violence that I can recall. This does deal with some darker themes, such as the loss of loved ones.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Petshop of Horrors (manga)
Rozen Maiden (manga)


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