HackaDoll

HackaDoll

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The origins of HackaDoll comes from an app that delivers a customised feed of news for every user. The user answers some simple questions when launching the app for the first time, and then the app will filter the current news that caters to the user’s personal interests — BL, cosplay, anime, manga, games, light novels, seiyuu and more. With daily use, the app automatically analyses and learns which news articles the user reads and recommends further content to personalise their feed.

Japan continues to figure out ways to make everything cute and news curation apps should be no exception. In the HackaDoll anime, apps are brought to life as cute girls that try to do their job and have fun along the way. However, what could have been a very interesting anime short has been blunted and subdued, being whittled down into an almost substance-less series at times, which isn’t a positive thing considering the show has only just started.

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In this anime there are three main Hackadolls (slowly accompanied by a few others) that are considered inferior to previous ones, seen as junk since they don’t really compare to the previous HackaDolls. As a result, they’re physically sent to Earth to work towards being the best HackaDolls they can be, which means these dolls and all their animatronic cuteness have to work hard. To begin with, the trio get synced up to a young woman who has just installed the HackaDoll app on her phone and, much to her surprise, they come leaping out to help her – but things don’t usually go as planned. This becomes the basis for each episode, with the HackaDolls trying to fulfil the objectives of app users (and failing spectacularly with varying amounts of humour and shenanigans). Each episode contains the usual montages, sacrifices and accomplishments. It’s cute, silly and utterly random when you get down to it.

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Of course, the personalities of the HackaDolls is what drives the episodical hijinks. There is a lazy one (HackaDoll #3), an outgoing one (HackaDoll #1) and a somewhat competent one (HackaDoll #2). We also soon get to know the excitable HackaDoll #4 and the ever-despairing HackaDoll #0. Seeing them go through ways to bring personalised information to their users works surprisingly well, but they’re not exactly competent when sourcing it and usually end up making more of a mess than the initial scenario.

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I really didn’t know what to make of this series to begin with as it seemed like just another way to fetishise something that didn’t need it. That said, there are some good points. The crazy energy, optimism and slapstick comedy does somehow work. It would be better if it could slow down and enjoy its eight-minute run time rather than being so frantic, but it has some pretty good animation quality (but could have done with a little less fanservice, though) and has an overall strong approach to how it wants to present itself.

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The plot is repetitive, as you would expect, and there’s absolutely nothing new here or even anything related to their app origins. It’s easy to be dismissive of it for that, yet it also somehow has that silly quirkiness that keeps me watching. It’s one of those quick and amusing animes that takes no brainpower to watch when you’ve got a spare ten minutes.

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HackaDoll is not a show that will take the world by storm, but it is ideal for a Ultra Super Anime Time block where it can work its short run time to just be silly and fun. It’s not like I expect something world-changing from a show based on a new curation app after all.