Anime Reporter brings you the word on Mardock Scramble, the Complete Collection. Some readers may recall that a review of the third Mardock Scramble film was published on Anime Reporter here. This time I’m looking at all three films as a single unit, so expect a different take on the series.
The three films, (The First Compression, The Second Combustion and The Third Exhaust), which in total add up to just under three and a half hours, are available in this collection in their theatrical versions as well as the uncensored director’s cuts. The fact that there are uncensored director’s cuts of these films should probably already tell you what I’m about to; these films contain a lot of graphic violence, nudity and subject matter that is unsuitable for minors or easily disturbed viewers.
This trilogy, based on the series of novel by Tow Ubukata, tells the story of a teenage girl, Rune Balot, taken into a highly abusive relationship by a sadist known as Shell. When Rune breaks Shell’s rules, he leaves her in his car, which he promptly blows up. Luckily, a fiery death isn’t all that’s in store for young Balot. Brought back with many cybernetic enhancements and the ability to communicate with technology, Balot is given the tools and the skills to serve up justice to her would-be murderer and all of the people protecting him. The only real question is whether she really wants to take him down.
Using a lot of fantastic sci-fi elements, this series feels a bit like a surreal version of Robocop, (you know the one I mean, not the new one, the one that led to the creation of the term “ultraviolence”). There are plenty of sci-fi features well beyond cool new guns and cyborgs, with a certain mercurial golden mouse stealing the show in all kinds of ways.
Vengeance, trauma, instability and the scars left behind by abuse are all recurring themes across this trilogy. There are also some very strong themes of redemption and compassion, though it really does need to be stressed that child abuse is a common subject in these films and the violence really can become very graphic in nature, so please think carefully before watching this trilogy.
It actually feels a little inaccurate to even refer to this as a trilogy. The three films together really function much more as one story than they do at all as three films. It would be perhaps more accurate to call them three parts of the same film, and they’re definitely much stronger as a whole than the sum of their parts. If you have the stomach for it.
Powerful, moving, haunting and innovative storytelling for the mature viewer.
Mardock Scramble, the Complete Collection is currently available in the UK and Ireland on DVD and Blu-ray from the fine folks at Manga Entertainment.