Air Doll

Air Doll (空気人形, Kūki Ningyō) is a 2009 Japanese drama film directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. It is based on the manga series Kuuki Ningyo by Yoshiie Gōda, which was serialized in the seinen manga magazine Big Comic Original,[2] and is about an inflatable doll that develops a consciousness and falls in love.[3] The movie debuted in the Un Certain Regard section at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival.[4][5] It opened in Japanese cinemas on 26 September 2009. Director Kore-eda said the film is about the loneliness of urban life and the question of what it means to be human.[6][7]

Air Doll
Promotional poster
Directed byHirokazu Kore-eda
Produced byHirokazu Kore-eda
Toshiro Uratani
Written byHirokazu Kore-eda (screenplay)
Yoshiie Gōda (original manga)
StarringBae Doona
Itsuji Itao
Music byWorld's End Girlfriend
CinematographyPin Bing Lee
Edited byHirokazu Kore-eda
Distributed byAsmik Ace Entertainment
Fortissimo Films
Ocean Films
Release date
  • 14 May 2009 (2009-05-14)
Running time
125 minutes
Box office$1,130,635[1]


Middle-aged Hideo lives alone with an inflatable sex doll he calls Nozomi. The doll is his closest companion; he dresses her, talks to her over dinner, takes her for walks in a wheelchair, and has sexual intercourse with her.

While Hideo is at work, Nozomi comes to life. She dresses in her maid's outfit and explores the world outside their apartment with wonder. Eventually she takes a job in a video store and becomes romantically involved with one of the employees, Junichi. When she accidentally cuts herself and deflates, Junichi repairs the tear with adhesive tape and re-inflates her.

One day, Hideo visits the store; she serves him, embarrassed, but he does not recognise her. Her boss presumes that Hideo is her boyfriend and that she is cheating on Junichi, coercing Nozomi into sex. At their home, Hideo discovers Nozomi is no longer a doll. He asks her to return to lifelessness, as he finds human relationships "annoying". Hurt, she runs away.

Nozomi goes to the factory where she was manufactured and meets her maker. He tells her that he believes all the dolls have hearts, as he can tell from their faces when they are returned what kind of treatment they received. When she asks what happens to used dolls, he says he throws them out with the garbage.

Nozomi tells Junichi she will do whatever he wants for him. He asks to let out her air and re-inflate her as he did in the video store. Afterwards, as he sleeps, she attempts to return the favour; finding no plug, she cuts him with scissors, and attempts to stem the blood flow with adhesive tape. Junichi dies and she leaves his body with the garbage. Heartbroken, she removes the tape sealing her own wound and allows herself to slowly deflate, to be collected with the garbage.



Air Doll received mixed reviews. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 46% based on 26 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10.[8]

Reaction to the film's debut screening at Cannes was mixed, with reviewers praising Bae Doona's performance but criticising the film for its length and a lack of substance. Screen International's Dan Fainaru described the film as having a "rather thin narrative core" and its director's approach as "too diffuse", but concluded that it could be "an enjoyable work" under the right conditions.[9] Writing for Variety, Dan Ellery said the film would have potential if cut to about 90 minutes but that "in its present form, pic may not get much farther than the fest netherworld."[10] In contrast, The Hollywood Reporter's Maggie Lee described it as "an achingly beautiful meditation on loneliness and longing in the city" and suggested its themes would particularly appeal to female audiences.[11]


The film was released on DVD in Japan on 26 March 2010, in standard and limited editions. Both editions include English subtitles.[12][13]


  1. ^ "Air Doll". Boxofficemojo. Retrieved March 04, 2012.
  2. ^ "Mainichi jp's news about the movie adaptation". 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2009-06-04.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Nobody Knows' Kore-eda Brings Air Doll to Cannes". Anime News Network. 2009-04-23. Archived from the original on 26 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  4. ^ "Kuki Ningyo (Air Doll)". Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  5. ^ Shackleton, Liz (2009-04-29). "Ocean Films takes French rights to Kore-eda's Air Doll". Screen International. Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  6. ^ ""Air Doll" floats over Un Certain Regard". Retrieved 2009-05-24.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Japan director says sex doll film has lessons for life". Bangkok Post. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  8. ^ Air Doll. Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ Fainaru, Dan (2009-05-15). "Air Doll (Kuki Ningyo)". Screen International. Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  10. ^ Ellery, Dan (2009-05-15). "Air Doll". Variety. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  11. ^ Lee, Maggie (2009-05-15). "Film Review: Air Doll". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  12. ^ "Air Doll (Regular Edition)". CDJapan. Archived from the original on 8 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  13. ^ "Air Doll (Limited Edition)". CDJapan. Retrieved 2010-01-28.

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