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Air Doll (2009)

Kûki ningyô (original title)
2:08 | Trailer
A life-size blow-up doll develops a soul and falls in love with a video store clerk.



(manga), (screenplay)
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
... Nozomi
Arata Iura ... Junichi (as Arata)
Itsuji Itao ... Hideo
... Air Doll Maker
Junko Fuji ... Widow (as Sumiko Fuji)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sei Andô
Tasuku Emoto ... Peep-tom Student
Mari Hoshino ... Apple Woman
Ryô Iwamatsu ... Owner of Video Rental Shop
Tomomi Maruyama ... Moe's father
Miu Naraki ... Moe
Masaya Takahashi ... Ex-substitute Teacher
Susumu Terajima ... Policeman
... Receptionist


A life-size blow-up doll develops a soul and falls in love with a video store clerk.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 September 2009 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Air Doll  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the movie store where Nozomi (Doona Bae) works, The Matrix (1999) directed by The Wachowskis can be seen among other DVDs. Doona Bae has worked with The Wachowskis three times since: Cloud Atlas (2012), Sense8 (2015 - ?), and Jupiter Ascending (2015). See more »


Nozomi: I don't mind if I'm a substitute for someone else.
Junichi: You're not a substitute for anyone.
Nozomi: I'll do anything for you... That's what I was born for...
See more »


References The Island (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Meditations, reflections, magical realism, lyricism. {Hirokazu Koreeda}
9 February 2011 | by See all my reviews

In the early 70's I used to wander in and out of sex shops in Soho London. One of the high-ticket objects that always caught my eye was the rubber blow-up dolls labelled "sailors help". I always tried to imagine a lonely sailor having sex with this travesty of an imaginary woman. What particularly puzzled me was:- "how is the doll more satisfying than masturbation with the hand?". I concluded that all its contrivance was superfluous, and that those that used the doll, must need to create a highly complex artificial world. Koreeda's movie,

  • which I viewed exactly forty years since I last looked at a "sailor's help", features certain technological advances - the skin tones are more life-like and the latex is less rubbery, the hair and make-up is more convincing - apart from these minor alterations its the same old dumb doll.

Koreeda, whose poetic imagination is different to mine, wondered about many magical and profound possibilities, when he encountered his first sex doll. I can only analyze these from a Western point of view. A Chef is portrayed interacting with his doll. Apart from the sexual act, in which we are introduced to the snap in, snap out, washable vagina, we are made privy to his affection and warm intimacy with his inanimate doll. All his emotional needs are fulfilled in his totemization of his latex goddess. What gives the doll life is the "blow job" he regularly gives the doll, in the inflation process. This introduction is well acted and convincing.

Then, the fairy tale begins, as the doll is, in the Ancient Egyptian manner, transformed with "pneuma" into a living being. How is she different? Well for one her breasts change from the usual silicone bag shape {the ubiquitous Hollywood look} to a natural form of great beauty - this "live" doll is a magnificent apparition of womanly grace and archetypal form - she's not big, brash and in your face, but, instead she has a bird-like elegance, that lovers of the nude, will find breathtaking {at least I did}. The fairy tale now progresses into a portrait of what this beautiful woman , who is still a doll, but is also a gorgeous woman, will experience in a world of intense emotional discipline. The Tokyo setting is appealing and the music has a wind up clock, musical box feel, {imagine a twirling ballerina accompanied by the Nutcracker Suite on top of a musical box}. This is very effective and calls ones attention to the mechanical in the doll.The director Koreeda ponders about the realities of urban Tokyo life with its density and its order. The life of the libidinous search for sexual gratification is controlled by the harmless sublimation of sexual energy into the doll {with its washable vagina} reminiscent of the condom, - especially the female condom, the femidom.

The "living doll" has many adventures dressed {in fashionable Tokyo style}, or amazingly in the nude, as the slow, but, beautiful movie lets you see her evolution into a fully-fledged womanhood. Here we come to the genius of this movie, which is the erotocization of "air". It all makes logical sense that the air doll is turned on by air. Her tumescence and detumescence is a pneumatic event , while humans have blood running through their veins, the doll has air. These sexual scenes portraying her sexuality, illustrating the strength of her intake and the weakness of her air loss. It is so resonant of so much that is human, that, it is nothing short of dazzling.

The Japanese samurai tradition {see Paul Schrader's Mishima} is confirmed in the fetish of the belly-button, {solar plexus}, and the seppuku ending, with the doll trying to reach her lovers life, through the vestige of his umbilical cord.

I am not sure whether I have done this lyrical, poetic inspiration justice, but it certainly is a touching paean to human frailty and the "doll" is an awesome vision to behold. She gives a moving performance in a difficult role to pull off convincingly. The director must be congratulated {with his cinematographer} for an intelligent excavation of the difference between feeling and lack of feeling. This movie will appeal to both genders as it navigates uncharted waters in the field of the human psyche. An exhilarating experience that lives on way after the curtain closes.

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