Case Number 05478: Small Claims Court

MY DEAR MARIE

ADV Films // 1996 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // October 28th, 2004

The Charge

Perfect women aren't born every day. You have to build them!

The Case

Hiroshi Karigari is a lonely guy. He is desperately in love with Marie, but she only wants a casual friendship. She gets the same kind of attention from Tanaka as well, who is much more forward about his love. Tired of stalking her and admiring her from such a distance, Hiroshi does what any young, nerdy science genius would do -- he decides to make his own version of Marie. He assumes that his robotic version will love him unconditionally, but doesn't consider that she could be hard to control. The results are, as expected, full of fan service and comedic moments, but also have some intelligence and pathos as well. This three episode OVA follows the adventures of Hiroshi and his creation.

* "The Birth of Marie"
In this first episode, the new Marie is created. Troubles begin immediately, though, since she doesn't understand why she shouldn't wander around outside. These problems are compounded when the new Marie runs into the real Marie.
Grade: A

* "The Appearance of Hibiki Kennou"
Hibiki, a tough girl who works as a mercenary, falls in love with Hiroshi. When she learns that Marie is a robot, it places all three of them in a compromised position.
Grade: B

* "Dreaming Android"
When the real Marie tells the new Marie about her dreams, the robotic girl wants to experience dreams as well. She has an interesting night of dreams after Hiroshi programs dreaming software for her.
Grade: A-

There is quite a bit to like about My Dear Marie. It's a great deal more subtle and sensitive than most entries in this genre, and there's some depth underneath all the physical comedy and fan service. As in Frankenstein, the most obvious comparison point to the series, Hiroshi isn't really satisfied once he creates his electronic woman. As expected, he isn't really prepared for the type of relationship that he yearns for, and he doesn't handle the change in his life very well. In his strict expectations of her behavior, I don't think that he would have done a very good job with the real Marie. This becomes even more evident when he avoids physical relationships with the other characters. If he's really the horny nerd that he seems to be at the beginning, I am surprised his relationship with the robotic Marie never gets physical. After all, if that's not the main reason to create an anatomically correct robotic woman for yourself, I'm not sure what is. Is it really companionship that Hiroshi craves? The second episode reveals that he was once a brave and kind person, but all of that seems to have disappeared over time, perhaps because of his unhealthy obsession with Marie. The series leaves a lot of these questions unanswered, which I think is a good idea in this case.

The real Marie is a fascinating character as well. In many anime series, simply being the object of Hiroshi's affection would have been the extent of her role. Here, though, she proves to be a much stronger character. She seems to be aware of both Hiroshi and Tanaka's love for her, but she continues to befriend them both even though they are only interested in her romantic attention. When the robotic Marie comes on the scene, the real Marie is the only one that treats her with any respect. The friendship between the two of them is interesting, especially in the dream episode, and it starts to move in some very interesting directions. Perhaps the affection that they feel for each other is a response to the failure of Hiroshi and Tanaka to treat either of them like anything more than objects. The fact that one of them is simply an object only makes that decision more ironic.

For all the good things about the series, there are also a few serious problems. The first is that there isn't enough continuity between the three episodes. The first episode covers Marie's creation and entry into society, which fits well into her journey into the dream world of the third episode. They are both interested in exploring the differences between robots and humans. The second is a problem, though. An episode that focuses on a minor character like Hibiki can work quite well in a long series, because it enriches the pasts of and relationships of the main characters. In a three episode series, though, this focus takes far too much attention away from the main plot. If only the three episodes had been structured more tightly, this could have been one of the most delightful series I have ever seen. As it stands, though, the three episodes feel too disjointed.

Although I normally don't do this, I want to talk a little bit about the accuracy of the English translation. While I understand that changes need to be made in order to make the dialogue fit with the mouth movement of the characters, I think that the meaning should be maintained as much as possible. Here are several examples of the literal translation of the subtitles placed next to the dub version:

Sub: "There's going to be some error. Especially in this part."
Dub: "I can't afford to introduce any mistakes on this final stage."

Sub: "Why don't you officially join our tennis club?"
Dub: "With some practice, you'll become amazing someday."

Sub: "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, Ms. Marie."
Dub: "Welcome to my home -- I built it just for you."

Sub: "Even though you're a robot, being feminine makes you weak!"
Dub: "I guess in the end, a girl robot is still just a girl."

Sub: "I guess I need to wake my brother up, even though it's summer vacation."
Dub: "I guess since it's the first day of summer vacation, Hiroshi will want to sleep in."

In addition to these, the dub has a number of lines when the Japanese track is simply silent. It takes everything that is subtle and clever about the series and stomps all over it with stupid lines that try to be funny, and obvious statements intended to help stupid viewers. Being as they are intelligent viewers, I strongly recommend the original language track to the readers of this site over the dubbed track. They are both stereo tracks, and are of equal quality. The dialogue is clean and the soundtrack is mixed nicely.

The animation is quite good, though it now looks a little dated. Since it is a bit older, the colors don't look as rich as they could. The animation team has taken a few shortcuts, leading to some fairly static moments. On the other hand, the backgrounds are rich and detailed, as are the characters. It's clearly high-quality animation that has been done on a budget, and there's nothing wrong with that. The video transfer is solid, with no real noticeable flaws.

The only extras on the disc are a few previews from ADV.

My recommendations for this disc are a bit tricky. Many anime fans will find My Dear Marie to be absolutely delightful, and will want to add it to their collections. Others, though, may find the juggling between cute and raunchy problematic enough to skip a second viewing. Fans of the series, though, have no reason to stay away from this edition.

Since Hiroshi and Tanaka treat the two Maries so poorly, this judge has graciously offered to grant both Maries asylum in his house. Court adjourned.

Review content copyright © 2004 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 84

Perp Profile
Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0300194/combined