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Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion UK Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Mardock Scramble The Second Combustion
Mardock Scramble The Second Combustion
One of these films that begs you to wait for the sequel…and even if you haven’t seen the original like I did it still manages to hook you in…even if you didn’t have a clue what was happening half the time.

What They Say :
Balot and a severely injured Oeufcoque seem to be at the mercy of an obsessed Boiled. Dr. Easter comes to the rescue and the group escapes to Paradise where many secrets of Mardock lie and where Balot will need to come to a decision herself about what she will and can do.

Set in English and Japanese 5.1 language, if there is a 5.1 Japanese track in Dolby Surround I will take that, and as expected the sound system in all set ups (Jap, Eng, theatrical, regular) is amazing. It is one of those movies that in DVD format alone is amazing to watch (shame I didn’t get the Blu-Ray test) – the sound is excellent and no issues at all with connections to subtitles, and with the speaker system, I had to turn it down from the default settings. Video wise, again no complaints, a very beautiful movie to watch with no slowdown either from watching or from pause, combined with a very powerful cyberpunk atmospheric visual style, it is near perfect as far as quality goes both visually and verbally.

Menu ‘loads up’ into the main screen, which is a computer like screen with flashes and visuals from the movie in the background, looking very technical with some of the sound effects and foley from the movie heard in the background – set very similar to a Blu-Ray menu, you have chapter selection (scenes from the movie), play, Japanese, English and subtitles selectable from the main menu directly and the bonus features which fade in from the main menu. It is very creative and very easy to navigate, but doesn’t show us any different things when you do switch menus with the same main menu.

The first big extra is the theatrical release of the movie – it is almost the same movie in fairness, just a little bit shorter, and the only main difference is that the nudity in the movie is completely cover free (the DVD release it is censored) – so a bit confused why they released two versions of the movie just with the nudity when the rating is already an 18 anyway but…

The main non-movie extra is a section called ‘On The Way To Movie Theatres’ which is a 20+ minute piece on how the movie developed at various summits. It doesn’t go through the making process, it’s rather private viewings with fans, journalists and such as the movie is being completed (it startsat a summit with a trailer about the Paradise and Casino scenes, then about the people dubbing it, then another summit on the voices arrives, music arrangement, and then just before the movie premiere, with the final summit a conference on release day) so it’s a rather rushed circumstances of the creation, but still enjoyable especially when they talk about some of the actors they get for some of the roles.

We get a 2 minute promotional video almost like a music video/trailer for it, and a preview for the third movie as well, which will certainly get fans excited – especially for newly acquired fans who reviewed it and looking for the first movie…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This is a strange review for me, because I never actually saw the original movie (The First Compression) so I had to do a bit of research about it as originally I never even knew this was a 2nd movie in a series. Learning there is a third one on the way and despite my confusion about it at first, it still managed to hook me so much with just how beautiful it looked, the atmosphere and the scenarios of Paradise and the Casino, that I found as someone who didn’t see the first movie…to actually make me want to see the first movie.

As far as I know, the beginning follows through after the first movie, which is basically a fight between our lead protagonist, former prostitute Rune Balot, up against the main antagonist, a man named Boiled. Both are inherited with cybernetic limbs in a definite cyberpunk like atmosphere similar to Ghost In The Shell. Boiled is trying to recover something called Oeufcoque (which is a partner/weapon of Balot’s, who was originally Boiled’s partner, which seems to be more focused in the first movie) but she escapes with Doctor Easter, who takes her to a safe haven…literally. She goes to Easter’s safeguarded area, named Paradise, where certain experiments are made, but it also somewhere to repair Oeufcoque. Whilst there, she encounters the unusual inhabitants of Paradise, but makes friends with a young man named Tweedledee, and an intriguing but confusing relationship with a dolphin as they can all speak through their minds. The story is well told here to help people like myself what the technology of the Mardock world is for who hadn’t seen the first movie, and whilst confusing initially, you are sucked into the animation and story quite quickly.

Boiled inevitably comes to find her, as he has been hired by a man named Shell to kill her – as the technological wonders are interrupted by ‘God’ and their other hired hand who delights in pain and cuts off Tweedledee’s arms enjoys being sent to heaven by Paradise’s ‘angels’. The religious imagery and comparisons is really off the charts but it is so strange and beautiful to watch at the same time, you can’t help but be both confused and amazed by it. Boiled catches up to our heroine who escapes with Oeufcoque and Easter as they escape, and we get to see Oeufcoque in his new form, an adorable and posh speaking mouse. Oeufcoque is able to link with Balot who has cybernetic energies and parts herself with him to be able to use to infiltrate Shell’s casino, where they intend to manage to win a lot of money to be able to access the VIP areas where Shell will be, ready to take revenge on him.

The movie is very short, really split into two parts – the Paradise segment and the Casino Segment. Both segments are really great to view if the imagery is a little strange (sharks as angels?) – the cyberpunk feels and violence in it really are shocking and it is intriguing to get into, even if like myself, you haven’t seen the first movie. There are elements both here and near the end of the movie you get a bit into Boiled’s past – the fact he is named the Iron Man as he was experimented on to a point where he doesn’t sleep – he just focuses on his target and has discarded all emotions. The only thing he seems to care for is reclaiming Oeufcoque back – I assume this is more an edge in something that happens in the first movie and hopefully will catch up in time before the third movie comes out. However because the movie is so short, this is a rare moment so you literally have these two halves as Easter and Balot infiltrate the casino.

The casino segment however is fascinating. You get some of the interactions between Oeufcoque and Balot, her talk with the roulette dealer is very non-action but actual deep conversation, quite intelligent and draws you in. I’m sure if you are fan of the earlier action segments then this may not be your cup of tea, but the way everything is animated, the way Balot and Oeufcoque work together is so fascinated, especially on the poker table figuring out everyone is in cahoots and yet still able to beat them is actually much more interesting and entertaining than it ever had the right to be. I love the interaction, I love Balot being a duck out of water having to listen to a plan especially after a brutal battle where we can see she is lonely and insecure, yet unintentionally is brutal to Oeufcoque…so when a segment like this happens, you can see the trust they have – suggesting that Oeufcoque and Boiled’s relationship wasn’t all cups of tea…

It sadly is quite a short review because of its length – the issue is Balot escapes (twice) from Boiled and then for the second half prepares to seek revenge with Shell at his casino, as he getting increasingly more paranoid (the film ended with Balot staring on a screen almost right into his soul as he leaves) as the final movie closes in to see what the conclusion with this standoff will be. I will confess I was confused at the start of the film, but to the film’s credit it did get me into it and also I began to figure out the story, and because of that I do want to see both the first and the third films. Balot and Boiled’s characters are fleshed out a bit, and the scenes in Paradise are definitely strange but you get involved (as strange as the Tweeledee/dolphin scenes were, it did help Balot out a lot, and the scene where they swim is amazing to watch) – I get the feeling this wasn’t as action driven as the trailers suggested, which maybe what the other two films are more focused on, but it’s a good story filler, and certainly recommend it to fans of the first film in terms of continuing the story. The animation and sound is superb (it ends with a version of Ave Maria, furthering the religious imagery from Paradise) and seeing that Oeufcoque is a little mouse I never expected, so with the plot being set up, it’s time for the third movie to finish the job.

And am looking forward to it.

It’s hard for me to give an accurate grade as I haven’t seen the first film but judging from the research, it definitely fits the void as a next part of a trilogy. It’s a lot less action based and more story driven, and whilst the casino scenes may seem strange, they definitely add to the climax and it is told intelligently and beautifully. It’s length means that character development is basic but decent, and it is a two part structure with interplay in the middle, so that you can set up ready for the next part. With great animation, sound and a cliffhanger ready, you want more and you have to wait. Recommended.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: March 25th, 2013
Running Time: 65 minutes
Price: £15

Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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