What They Say:
Murdered by a sadistic slyer of women, Rune Balot finds herself reborn for one purpose: to bring her killer to justice. But even knowing the identity of her murderer, proving he’s the one responsible for her death won’t be easy, especially when the murderer himself has forgotten his crimes. With the help of Doctor Easter, the man who restored her life, and Oeufcoque, an intelligent, self-aware universal item capable of assuming the form and function of anyting from gun to a mouse to a lady’s glove, Rune will have to find the proof to convict a vicious killer without dying a second time. In a world of black market body parts, high-stakes gambling, and lurid violence, justice will be written in blood as vengeance hits the streets in Mardock Scramble!
The package for this is pretty cool; there’s a shiny dust cover (or whatever these are) over the BD case with different (and better) art. The inside slipcase is some weird promotional art for the movies that showcases the main character’s finer parts (because of course it does Sentai). I did just open it to see if it had a reversible cover (it doesn’t) and the middle thing that holds the disc almost flew completely off. It’s functional, but cheap.
The menu is silent and unmoving with options for theatrical, director’s cut, languages, scene select, and special features. Nothing outstanding here, but it works.
There are a few really cool extras on here, which include a panel of discussions with the creative forces behind Mardock Scramble. It’s a like just over an hour of content, which is the kind of stuff I really want to see on disc releases. One of them is a kind of silly blackjack thing, which is so Japan. But that’s ok.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Mardock Scramble’s first movie crushes me more than I thought it might have. It centers on the resurrection of Rune Balot after having been killed by a dude who kills people then wipes all memory of it. At the heart of it all is Balot’s terrible story of a life of sexual abuse, as well as the ignorance of any authority around her with an ability to do something.
She’s never felt she had this much freedom in anything. So when she comes back, she wants revenge on all she can get it from. She wants to take control of the abuse she’s suffered, even if she’s doing it by proxy, by killing all these awful people. (I’m not quite sure I understood what these people’s goals even were, but one had like a million eyes in his body and another had a million boobs all over theirs. This anime is weird.)
But this is a mystery anime. It’s first episode doesn’t want to reveal too much. But it does give a lot of information on Balot, who she is, and why she’s trying to change.
I watched the dub for the first film, and it wasn’t awful. I saw there were some casting changes between the second and third movie, likely because of the time in between releases (they were all released about a year apart). I switched to the Japanese for the second movie and I’m gonna stick with it instead. It’s just better…Matranga sounded a little weird as Easter, though Hilary Haag was doing a real good job as Balot. No one else really stood out, but I’d rather hear it straight.
Between the second and third movies, it’s much the same high level science fiction action mixed in with what I believe is a re-enactment of Casino Royale, but with blackjack instead of baccarat or Texas hold em. The simplicity of blackjack allows a rather straightforward metaphor between Balot and the final dealer she has. Blackjack is a game of quantifiable and much more easily memorize-able odds than Texas hold em (and god help me if I ever understand baccarat).
The dealer parallels with her own death with a story of his own, where his brother helped a hitchhiker and died as a result. He didn’t have to because there was a latch, going along with the recurring image of Balot’s death, grasping at the window and handle on the inside of the car. But she was eventually saved by Easter, the proverbial latch on the inside. Blackjack is all the same, in a way with significantly less death in most cases. The wins and losses can be applied to the psychological condition of the player or dealer as well as the larger probabilities of winning and losing based on taking another card or staying with what you have. This compared to helping the hitchhiker or not helping the hitchhiker, hitchhiking yourself when in trouble or finding an option out on your own.
The finale is a bit conflicted for me. It aims to have her get her revenge over her murderer, but turns the final scenes into a faceoff between Boiled and Oeufcoque. I thought this was about her? But it turns out of revenge between these two former buddies? It takes away from the narrative that’s been weaved for the purpose of giving her agency back over her life and her body. It’s frustrating.
Mardock Scramble gives me something I almost always want out of anime, and rarely get, which is high level science fiction. Most are fluff or robot stuff, which is fine a lot of the time, but I want stuff like Psycho Pass and Mardock Scramble every few years to sate my appetite. It’s been a few years since this was released, and it was around the time Psycho Pass was airing, but it’s been worth the time in between.
Mardock Scramble Path to the Premiere, Mardock Scramble Blackjack Showdown, Mardock Scramble Memorial Talk, Director’s Cut Promo, Narrated Promo, Japanese Trailers, Japanese Promo Spot
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Running Time: 199 minutes
Review Equipment: Xbox One LG 47LB5800 47” 1080p LED TV, LG NB3530A Sound Bar