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Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust UK Anime DVD Review

7 min read

Mardock Scramble Third ExhaustA movie that spends half of the movie in a blackjack game…and yet still manages to be incredibly entertaining, action packed and confusing…all at the same time.

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:
Set in a 5.1 in both English and Japanese, this has similar quality to the previous Mardock movie, perhaps bettered because of the detail regarding the background noise and one of the best tracks in English in terms of the dub in general I have heard in years from Sentai originally. No issues regarding dialogue or background, and no issues regarding syncing out of place in the Japanese track with the lip flaps or with the subtitles.

An aspect ratio of 16:9 – 1.78:1, it actually has an automatic setting of full screen whilst in the extras you have a theatrical version which does a wide screen effect (but is about 3 minutes shorter from the main version) – having a good TV/monitor display with no issues with quality and resolution – a movie like this where there is a lot going on, the animation is spot on, clear cut and able to see multiple things as the plot continues on. Colours clear, no picture issues when pausing, and no slowdown at any point – a good release.

Menu loads up with images from film with a technological moving menu as clips in the background are played – selections in the middle of Play, Chapters (1-6), Japanese with Subtitles, English and Bonus – when selecting a sub menu as well the screen vanishes as the technology ‘rewrites’ itself into the new menu, making it very unique and well suitable for the Mardock Scramble mythos. Selection is smooth from both the main menu and the sub menus with no issues found.

No extras apart from watching the movie in cinematic form as mentioned in the video section.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It was nearly 3 years ago when I reviewed the 2nd Mardock Scramble movie, but surprisingly when watching this, it literally felt like the story was continuing – similar to the Berserk movies. The main difference though is the basis is on a novel, and whilst it is clear they had to cut a lot out to make it to just over an hour, it does feel like an interesting, albeit maybe not that satisfying a conclusion considering what half the movie was. That said, it is definitely something to look at, though you need to watch the first two movies beforehand…

The first half of the movie (literally) is based in Shell’s casino – with Rune now ‘advancing’ to basically try and rob the casino blind. Combined with getting the memory chips to see what Shell’s history is, Rune, Doctor Easter and Oefcoque, the movie is half set at the blackjack table, with Oefcoque and Rune developing strategies as the dealer tries to stack the deck against them, with the good doctor and Bell Wing, the dealer Rune became friends with in the last movie, slowly guiding and cheering them on. This leads to Shell watching them and getting angry, but before bloodshed comes out, they bring out an assassin to the game, Ashley Harvest – except he is playing more of a dealer assassin, seems to be able to manipulate the game to draws throughout, causing concern for everyone, with Harvest himself actually being more interested in the beautiful Rune and what she is planning to do to counter him, seeing her as an intriguing person.

With Boiled being hired to finish the job to killed Rune on one side, Harvest actually is easily the most likeable of the cast outside of Rune and Oefcoque – the two are enemies, yet the nature of the card game and how Rune has to try and counter his ungodly skills is actually a true battle of wits. There is plenty of speech and thought processes between Rune and Oefcoque whilst Harvest slowly deciphers what is going on, as Rune begins to try and plan 3 steps ahead to Harvest’s 2.

It leads to Rune going more on her instinct, feeling the cards and the energy around her instead of playing it safe whilst Ashley tries to read her – talking about his past and how Rune could have easily become like him, yet manages to go one step beyond adversity. It does lead to a big win for the young lady, with some intriguing conversation as she takes a hasty exit before Shell can do any damage. It is strange that half of the movie where last time there was so much action and confusion, is dedicated to a card game (insert Yu-Gi-Oh joke here) yet it does tell so much about how Rune has evolved as a character – her own thoughts and feelings are what make her win the game, her charm and intelligence made the enemy almost will their way to her, the fact that despite her past and her own thoughts, she has indeed become a complete human being.

The second half of the movie is a combination of Rune finishing what she wanted to do, and a final battle with Boiled which has been a confrontation literally coming down to the wire. This takes up most of the finale as Boiled is chasing him, but what makes the movie stand out is seeing what Shell’s memories are. This was basically what Rune was after and seeing his back-story is actually quite horrific and almost makes you feel pity for him even after what a terror he has been to our protagonists. A lot of it is touched on by Rune as she has some history which is also not very pleasant to her mind though Shell is a bit more…murderous…in his revenge ideas. This is where you need to have seen the original movies more and there is a lot cut from the literature as well which unfortunately is pretty well condensed in this movie – again, you wonder if half the movie as good as it was spent on the blackjack table was a good idea…

The talk about the company (October) and how Shell is left to rot after things change and his memories turn combined with the gritty and dark animation style does showcase how this character despite his nature, whilst not redeemed can at least have a motive and can understand why he is so messed up. Boiled and his company do basically betray him as Rune ‘saves’ him as we get a final battle set to some classical music. It is extremely well animated and action packed, with a lot of clever tricks, which sadly ends way too soon.

Which is really the problem with the movie – it is too short. Only an hour long and concludes way too fast – half of it trying to get the solution to the problem, and the other half effectively solving the problem, it does feel sadly rushed. There is some good discussion both at the blackjack table, and between Rune/Oefcoque when discussing Shell’s mental state, combined with a great final battle between Boiled and Rune. But you just know there was much more that should and could have been told. The blackjack scene you feel may have overrun with some unnecessary conversation and whilst the dynamic and evolvement of Rune is great, you felt it could have been cut a bit to add more to the revelations of the finale. Plus you have to watch the first two movies otherwise this will pretty much make no sense. There isn’t as much interaction between Rune/Oefcoque which was one of the strengths of the 2nd movie, even Boiled’ obsession with getting Oefcoque back is really downplayed until the finale – the only time some real grit of the story was the flashbacks to both Shell and Rune’s pasts, especially with what triggered Shell’s murderous rampage and how it all began. Warning: it is rather disturbing.

That said, I am glad I saw these movies. Together, it makes a great set – I would have loved it though if it was a 12 episode series compared to 3 short movies. A bit more with the development and character and the chance to explore them would have gone a long way. As it is, it is an incredibly gorgeous and well acted (both in English and Japanese) movie set that is definitely worth a watch…but only if you have all 3.

In Summary:
Mardock Scramble The Third Exhaust finishes the film series in decisive fashion and does manage to tie all its loose ends together in a great animated spectacle. The problem was it could have easily added just a bit more to become a masterpiece – as it is, it still feels like one, but a very rushed masterpiece. Definitely a fitting finale to the series, just remember to watch the first two movies first…

Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles

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

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK/KAZE
Release Date: TBC
MSRP: £12.99
Running Time: 66 minutes
Video Encoding: Region 2
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1

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

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