DVD/Blu-ray Review: Mardock Scramble: The First Compression – Director’s Cut
First in a trilogy of anime films based on the series of novels by celebrated Japanese science fiction light novel, manga and anime creator Tow Ubukata!
Mardock Scramble: The First Compression – Director’s Cut is a science fiction noir experience that can be rather upsetting to some viewers. The characters featured are as dark and unsettling as the setting, and when the ones you love fail to care about your welfare, it is not surprising when, like the main character, Rune Balot, you crave the company of others, even complete strangers if it means you can get closer to them and feel the warmth of that humanity. Her existence is not a good one, even for someone as young as her, but she learns fast, making out with any man who lavishes attention on her. What she doesn’t realise is that it is the wrong kind of attention that leads her down a path of self-destruction. It is a shame no one gets to find out why she feels this way, but it is easy to see how unhappy a life she leads after her mother lost interest in looking after her.
This is part one of a three part OVA anime series and it doesn’t pull its punches when it shows the result when one girl is wronged, and actually has a chance to get herself from the brink of emotional hell, taking on the ones who wronged her. When Balot is murdered, the government need to know who the killer or killers are, and decide to bring her back from death and make her into a cyber killing machine. Balot has been trying to escape from her pimp, Shell for a long time since he lured her into his seedy world of men, power and danger.
Based on a novel by Tow Ubukata, some may remember his other works, Le Chevalier d’Eon, and Fafner-Dead Aggressor. Cyberpunk seems to be creeping into anime series just as much as fairy tales are taking the US by storm, but then again, Japan has been absolutely mad on the whole mecha idea of rampaging androids and aircraft that can change into a humanoid form capable of terrible things. The difference is, with Mardock Scramble, there is a great deal of emotion in it that changes it from being about her as a changed human going on the hunt for criminals.
The setting is in a dystopian future where those with the most money rule other people’s lives, and everyone’s life is theirs for a price. It also goes into great detail on the subject of child abuse and child prostitution and this anime may not be to everyone’s taste for that reason.
Everything about where Rune lives is larger than life. The huge skyscrapers loom over the cityscape, bright lights, and futuristic setting make her seem small. Even though the story is purely adult and shocking at times, one cannot help but be enthusiastic about the whole animation as it is crisp, clear and very detailed. It is one where the animators are trying to show off their expertise to the fullest.
This is an anime for adults; there is no question of that as it shows the viewer the darkest heart of society and what the young people go through if they are born on the wrong side of the tracks. For some viewers the sight of child abuse and hurt might cause alarm, but the anime is realistic and doesn’t let the viewer mistake what they see for fantasy in that way.
Label: Manga Entertainment
Release date: 16th April 2012
Running time: 69 mins
Director: Susumu Kudo
Language: Japanese/English (Dubbed)
Sandie has a keen interest in Anime, Manga and all things Japanese. Her interests other than reviewing are Japanese Language, dress and culture, liking Harajuku Girls, Gothic Lolita, folding some neat Origami, drawing her own Manga characters, writing her own Manga stories and everything in between.