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Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Mardock Scramble Third ExhaustCan gambling be exciting without fanservice?

What They Say:
Rune Balot’s struggle to bring the man who killed her to justice continues amid the world of high-stakes gambling and glamour at the Eggnog Blue Casino. The odds are stacked heavily in the house’s favor, and even with the aid of Dr. Easter and Oeufcoque, a universal item capable of turning into anything and everything, Rune’s chances of winning are slim. But winning the golden chips containing Shell Septinos’ memories is only the next step on a long and treacherous road.

Run will still have to live long enough to bring those memories before the court, and even that isn’t the end of the journey. Rune’s search for answers to the questions that haunt comes to a shattering climax!

The Review:
Audio:
Mardock Scramble makes out well with its audio presentation by getting both of its language tracks, Japanese and English, in a 5.1 mix using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show has some solid moments to it where it gets to work its magic, but a lot of the best uses come with the dialogue in terms of placement and depth. The show goes big at times and the payoff is certainly there, but it’s also the accents of the music that helps to make it a solid, fully realized work. There’s a good warmth to a lot of the dialogue and from the performances at times that lets it carry through well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in theaters in 2012, the transfer for this features is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The presentation is quite good here, especially in comparison to the first feature, as this one doesn’t take place in quite as many dark and murky places. The feature here is quite good looking as there’s a lot of lush colors and the high definition presentation really drives home the visual quality of it in a big way. There isn’t a lot of action to be had here but the higher action areas really look great with the animation and combined with the lush colors really brings it out in a great way.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that while dark and a touch murky, has a very good look about it as it gives us an intense Rune in the foreground with her weapon while we get touches of elegance in the background. The back cover is decent with the right side where we get Shell in a close-up that provides its own flair of intensity. The summary is well handled and it makes it clear that both cuts of the film are here. The remainder is given over to the usual production credits and a clean and accurate technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design here is quite appealing even if it is just a static piece without any music playing. The static image this time around is appealing in its own way as we get Rune laying along the hood of a red sports car as it overlooks the bay and the city but also with just enough natural green locale to make it feel very relaxed and calming and not all about the industrial futuristic aspect. The navigation menu along the bottom is straightforward as it has a selection of which cut of the film you want to watch and all the other usual selections that you’d expect. The menu doubles as the pop-up menu and blends in fairly well with the show itself.

Extras:
The release has some really strong extras for fans here that definitely allows you to dig into the movie more with the people that made it. In fact, the extras combined run longer than the movie and that’s without a commentary track. The release brings out three thirty minute extras where they’re done as an ensemble of the production side doing a talk at the premiere of the film, another one that delves into the show in a similar way and finally one with was done after everything was said and done and is a bit more personal with the production side of it. Each of the pieces gives us a lot of time with the toplining crew of the feature and while there is some of the usual fluff, it’s not the kind that leaves you grimacing and wishing they’d ask a real question. But it also doesn’t delve too awful deep, but enough so that you feel like you get something out of spending time with it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this installment of Mardock Scramble, the Tow Ubukata project that has taken about ten years to come together to his satisfaction is now complete. With the three features released once a year in Japan, it took a bit longer here – especially since the second feature came out in 2012 – and that means there’s a big gap between the releases for North American fans. And that does kind of hit it in a bad way here when you get into this feature because while I remember threads of the previous two features and the general interest in it, especially the second film which spend some of its time being all philosophical, this one starts in a way that doesn’t help to establish the continuity so you can dive right into it.

Honestly, I suspect that if you sit down and watch all three features, you’ll have a good experience in seeing how it all ties together. If you’re like me and just continue on into this one after the gap, you’ll wonder why you’re watching the first thirty minutes where it’s all about the gambling between Rune and the current cardshark that’s been sent to her blackjack table to stop her from winning so much of the casino’s money. With the technological help she’s getting, which is tied to her outfit, it’s definitely interesting to watch unfold since there is some strategy involved in it all and a greater understanding of what luck is and how it can be used and manipulated to achieve the goal you want. With Rune and her opponent, the two of them go back and forth until Rune essentially learns what she needs to in order to trust herself more than anything else, which helps to free her to pursue her larger goal.

That really does dominate the first half, and as appealing as it is visually with the design of it and the pacing once you get into it, it’s a tough sell to get things going with. Thankfully, while I’m not an action junkie, the film does start moving towards resolution as Rune sets into motion the way to help Shell, since his memories were twisted and erased, and she has the idea that if they can restore them, it’ll help him stop being the kind of guy he’s become and that’ll eliminate the problems. But while that sets the theme of it nicely, the bulk of the remainder that’s noteworthy essentially has Rune going up against Boiled as the two fight it out with their abilities across an interesting bit of city landscape. Both have their pros and cons, and it’s beautifully animated, but it’s also quite superficial after all that’s been done. Rune does get to use what she’s learned over the course of the film trilogy, which is a lot considering how we first met her, but also the bit with the luck at the beginning here comes into play as well.

Having watched and read a number of Tow Ubukata series over the years, his style and structure is one that is definitely not always the standard. Which has its pros and cons. With Mardock Scramble, we get an intriguing world filled with so many fascinating visuals – especially in the second installment – that I can’t help but to feel empty coming out of the third one since it falls to the standard shootout and not much more than that when you get down to it. The casino act at the beginning certainly has its merits, and I can definitely appreciate the whole taking time to get to what you want to do and savoring it, but it lacked the proper foundation for it as an installment rather than when viewed as a full work of three installments at once. Which I have to admit, may be more than I can handle because of the moody atmosphere of it all.

In Summary:
I was pretty keen on Mardock Scramble when it was first announced but I struggled with some of how the first installment was presented. That was smoothed over a bit more in the second one, albeit with it going in a seemingly other direction with a lot of curiosities brought into it, but the third piece just doesn’t feel like it clicks in a good way for me. With the time between installments, the lack of enough truly connective threads that are engaging and a very slow bit of progress here before we get to where we need to with this particular installment, Mardock Scramble comes across as a strange experiment that doesn’t quite fail but doesn’t succeed either. It’s definitely a visual treat to be sure though and something that depending on how much time you want to invest in it, you can really sink your teeth into what it may truly be about rather than what it seems to be on a superficial level.

Features:
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 25th, 2014
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 69 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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