Anime Reporter sets its sights on Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust, the final instalment of the Mardock Scramble trilogy based on Tow Ubukuta’s novel series of the same name.
Mardock Scramble tells the story of Rune Ballot, a young prostitute who falls into rough company in the form of Shell Septinous, a hotshot gambler with more than a few issues. Ballot is left to die in an explosion by Shell after she witnesses the depths of his insanity, only to be brought back from the brink of
death as a cyborg. Then, accompanied by her saviour, Dr. Easter, and a computer programme which occasionally appears in the form of a golden mouse. Then, in true Robocop, ultra-violent fashion, the chase is on for Ballot to bring her would-be murderer to justice.
The third instalment of the series sees Ballot’s hunt come to a close as she hones in on Shell at his family’s casino. The scene is tense at the beginning of the film as Ballot and the doctor play Blackjack in order to access Shell’s memories, which they can use as evidence against him. They have to play blackjack to do this in order to access the million dollar chips which contain computer chips which will give them access to the Septinous’ computer files. This means little however, when you’re forced to watch almost half an hour of blackjack in a film that lasts seventy minutes. This is played up as a high-tension, strategic scene, but since the battle of wits takes place between a computer and an apparent card-dealing genius, there really is little to watch. It also doesn’t help that the protagonist is an inexpressive cyborg who doesn’t even open her mouth to speak.
What follows is a mish-mash of hurried exposition, some gratuitous nudity and some extremely gratuitous violence. Ballot unleashes some very Equilibrium style shooting, dispatching of generic thugs with ease and speed. She has a couple of bigger threats to overcome, one of which is her own traumatic past, while another takes the form of a silver-haired, gun wielding psychotic.
This film is disturbing and uncomfortable in its content. It is not easy to watch, nor is there any real entertainment value or humour in it. The subject matter is very dark, with references to perversion and sexual assault throughout. The animation, while detailed, with rather beautiful attention to lighting, feels cold and detached and somehow heightens the viewers’ feeling of discomfort. Unlike its predecessors, which are both rated 18, this film has a 15 age-rating, but it’s worth mentioning that this film best suits a mature audience.
Unlike many other anime films, or action films, this movie truly exists as the final chapter of a series, rather than as a standalone piece. Viewers who haven’t seen the previous instalments will be left behind as there’s very little in the way of exposition for the events of the past two films and characters are given virtually no introduction at all. The supporting characters offer little in the way of development, while Ballot naturally steals the spotlight as the most interesting character of the film.
Ultimately, Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust is a gritty, uncomfortable send off to a violent tale of justice and recovery from horrific injury. The content will certainly not be to everyone’s taste, but for fans of the first two, it may be worth seeing the grand conclusion.
Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust is due to be released on DVD and Bluray from Manga Entertainment UK on August 4th 2014. For more information, check out the Manga UK Twitter page, the Manga UK Facebook page and don’t forget to follow Anime Reporter on Facebook and Twitter.
Suitable Series Finale: 8
61% – “Tough Going”– The Third Exhaust may bring the series to a definite end and suitably perform as the third act in a revenge tale but it’s undeniably a heavy viewing experience, despite its short runtime of 70 minutes.