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Mardock Scramble: The First Compression Director’s Cut Anime Blu-ray Review

5 min read

What They Say:
To stop the unstoppable you need the irresistible. To kill the unkillable, you need someone for whom death no longer has a meaning. And to catch the perfect serial killer, you need the one person who knows his methods the best… his last victim!

Murdered and reborn, no longer human, the female cyborg Balot exists for only one reason: to track down the man who killed her and bring him to justice. But can even the ultimate hybrid between ghost and machine take down a monster who wipes his own memory… especially when his partner already has her in his sights? The future will be painted blood red as vengeance hit the streets!

Audio:
There is lot to experience with the audio quality of this release. The Theatrical Cut comes with the original Japanese audio track in DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz) and an English dub, also in DTS HD-MA 5.1. The Director’s Cut only comes with the Japanese DTS HD-MA 5.1 track. The audio quality is solid and employs a dynamic surround sound experience. This is especially so in the action sequences. The action sequences accompanying the later portion of the movie really accentuate the intensity and suspense in the movie’s final moments.

Ironically, the choice of “Amazing Grace,” as the music accompanying the closing credits stands as contrast to the final moments of the movie.

Video:
The video quality is solid as it is free of most common video defects typically found in anime releases. However, it does not by any means distinguish itself as a high definition video. The disc is dual-layered BD50, the encode AVC at 1080/24p. You will find some visible grain in the darker scenes. The grain is passable as it is not really noticeable unless you really look for it. Overall, the video quality is relatively vibrant.

Packaging:
The packaging for this collection employs the use of the typical Blu-ray packaging found with most Blu-ray discs. The front cover features Rune Balot in her outfit of choice as an assassin holding her gun. She is looking back over her shoulder as if there appears to be a hint of regret in her facial expression. The background is set in dark hues of blue and purple, accentuated by highlights of light blue. The choice of colors matches the tone of the series as it is a dark and twisted tale. On the back panel, you will find a couple of screen captures, technical specs, and a summary of the movie.

Menu:
Produced by Kazé, the menus for this release are compatible across various regions. As with most Blu-ray discs, the disc loads in the Blu-ray player’s memory. Once loaded the disc will prompt you to choose the language you wish to view. Selecting English will present an option for you to view the original Japanese track with English subtitles or to watch it in the English dub. This is a pre-setup option. However, you can’t access any of the other languages from your directly from your remote. You can switch between English and Japanese with subtitles from the pop-up menu.

Once the main menu appears, you have the option of being able to select the two different viewing options available which are Mardock Scramble: The First Compression – a Theatrical Cut (1:05:26) and a Director’s Cut (1:09:36).

Extras:
There are not any extras accompanying the movie. The extras consist of nothing more than trailers and promo videos.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).

Mardock Scramble, released in late 2010, is the first of a planned trilogy. Created by Tow Ubukata, the story focuses on a young prostitute, Rune Ballot, who is brought back to life after a brutal encounter with a rich and powerful gangster by the name of Shell Septinous. Coming to her aid, Dr. Easter brings Rune back to life as a cyborg.

Oeufcoque Penteano is an artificial intelligence, taking on the form of a simple field mouse, that accompanies Rune to help her adapt to her new life. As Rune begins to embrace her new abilities, she learns that her life has been spared by a new law that allows the police to bring crime victims back to life. The Scramble 09 law allowed Dr. Easter to perform the procedure with the hope that Rune can help bring Shell to justice. Knowing that Shell and his henchmen will come for Rune, Dr. Easter and Oeufcoque begin training her with assassin-like techniques that she will need to defend herself.

While the premise of this movie sounds intriguing that is just about all this reviewer really found being positive. It has a Ghost in the Shell feel to it. However, the graphic nature depicted in the director’s cut left a disgusting impression. Understandably, there is a time and place for violence and some sensuality in a story. Perhaps I made the wrong decision to view the director’s cut of the movie from the get-go. Nevertheless, I found the sexual violence to be very offending and it thus made it very difficult to follow the simple plot. Without going into further detail, the depressive sexual personifications or fetishes for many of Shell’s henchmen was way over the top.
The real strength of this movie, lies within the interactions between Oeufcoque and Rune. Rune’s primal nature and emotion filled thinking is balanced out by Eufcoque’s logical and often sympathetic nature. The nurturing relationship is completely solidified by the end of the movie. This is quite evident when Rune and Eufcoque are encounter Shell’s hitman. The best action sequence of the movie culminates in a cliffhanger that will require you to view the second movie to see how the fight comes out. Ending the movie on a cliffhanger is an interesting twist, but using the hymn Amazing Grace is a poor choice as this movie is anything but graceful.

In Summary:
The promise of a cyberpunk action movie is what I thought this movie would be like. It looks and feels like a cyberpunk movie, but the violence and hentai-like imagery within the director’s cut tainted my open minded approach to viewing the movie. Viewing this movie in its cinematic presentation dumbs down the imagery, but it is too distracting. Not for the faint at heart, or younger viewers, this violent and graphic movie has mediocre characters and a weak plot. Definitely not recommended.

Features:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Subtitles

Content: D
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: NA

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 13th, 2012
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment
Samsung UN46B6000VF 120Hz LED HDTV, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA 2.1 Channel Soundbar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer, and Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p

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