Saturday, March 22, 2014

Anime Review No. 77-Mardock Scramble The First Compression

Mardock Scramble The First Compression 2010 Movie

Studio-GoHands, Director-Susumu Kudo, Writer: Tow Ubukata

Well, yeah it is very violent as I said weeks ago. This time, well its Mardock Scramble. Based on the novel by Tow Ubukata, who also wrote the screenplay, Mardock Scramble: The First Compression is the first in a trilogy of 3 short films, as this installment clocks in about 60 minutes.

Now, here’s the summary, so spoilers behold below. In the far off future, a young prostitute named Rune Balot is introduced and then ends dying after a run-in with a particularly nasty customer, in a rather nasty way to go, I must say. But she is rescued by a scientist Dr. Easter and reborn as a cyborg, preserve through the Mardock Scramble 09 system (heh title drop).She is asked to assist in the investigations behind Shell Septinos, who is involved in illegal activities and the guy responsible for her untimely death. She is teamed up with Oeufcoque, a biomechanical entity.They try to go to court so they can get Shell in jail, but unfortunately they hit a snag when her tragic past is brought up and the justice system isn’t too kind towards lowly Rune Balot, even if she was killed unneeded. Of course, the battle is far from won as it will be fought against some hired hands that Shell Septinos, all whom are in some way rather nasty and disturbing psychotics.

After some training with Dr. Easter, Rune is ready for a fight. Last 10 minutes or so involves Rune Balot with Oeufcoque fighting off the mooks piecemeal. Highlight of the movie itself-nice, slick and to the point. Though, She nearly loses it towards the end. Final showdown is against Shell Septinos' main henchman but ends on a cliffhanger and cuts to credits while....Amazing Grace is playing?! What?! Yeah, somehow I imagine a trilogy was expected as Movie 1 is more like a prologue.

Rune Balot is an interesting enigma. She is very detached from the world, yet builds a nice rapport with Oeufcoque. In addition, she led a truly sad, twisted and tragic life. Yet, when she is with Oeufcoque she is a witty and smart-alecky, and the banter between the two are a treat in this movie. Apart from those two, the other characters in this movie are stock at best,with barely any characterization past the surface. Then again, this serves as the introductory piece to this story.

To be frank, this is a bloody and dark, mature affair. In many ways, it seems to be a throwback to the bloody, grimdark late 80s/90s OVA era from which anime more or less sprung from in the states (CyberCity Oedo 808, Ghost in the Shell, Armitage III etc) in a sense. It is a bit vague on the sci-fi details but adequate enough for the proceedings. I’m sure that more details will come in the other 2 movies and the novel. This feels like something from 20 years prior but with better production values.

Now, while the movie might be short on plot or characters, it sure looks and sounds pretty. It is a lavish production and has high quality values. GoHands is an offshoot of former employees from Satelight and known for anime such as Princess Lover, K and most recently last fall’s Coppelion. There are nice use of colors and shadows to enforce a grimdark atmosphere. Music is an eclectic mix of rapid fire punchy music and slow, plodding music.

The dub: oh boy, here we go: Steven Foster, who directed and wrote the dub script for this movie. This is the first time I am talking about a Steven Foster dub and certainly not the last (though THAT series is for a review down the road to be sure). Not saying he's a bad ADR Director/Scriptwriter but he is rather inconsistent with his dub work, especially in comparison to the other directors/writers in the Sentai stable, what few they are. For every good/entertaining dub (Ghost Stories, Cromartie High, Pani Poni Dash, Horizon series, etc) he goes a hack job (HOTD, Medaka Box, Kill Me Baby, etc). Granted, this was dubbed back in 2011 when Steve Foster was very much the go-to guy for Sentai Filmworks dub work as opposed to now when it’s not clear whether or not he doing that stuff anymore.

Thankfully, this is definitely in the good category at the very least. Aside from a higher level of profanity that wasn't in the original Japanese, the writing is rather tact and the performances are very good as well. In particular, Hilary Haag as Rune Balot and Andy McAvin as Oeufcoque give noteworthy performances. The rest of the cast seems appropriate for the roles and do a serviceable job. If you have seen enough ADV dubs, there are some recognizable voices but that’s about it. In fact, it’s hard to really call this a ‘Sentai Filmworks’ dub (more nebulous if you press me) as most of the cast is made up of ADV veterans, but since it came out in 2011 that’s most likely a trend of early Sentai Filmworks dub work.

So, in all fairness I can’t really recommend this by itself. Granted its good as a prologue with decent action and atmosphere but thats about it. It is also very dark and violent so if you are squirmy against that, you're best off staying away then. I suppose if you are curious, either get the other two movies (final one is out in the States next week) or perhaps check out the novel, which I plan on doing so. I do own the second movie as well and plan on doing a review for that, slated for later in the year and a possible review for the third movie once I get it and sit down to watch it.

So, next? Well, I figure its time for a primer….a harem primer. But don’t worry, I am not covering some trashy/crap show in that genre. Nah, quite frankly a recent entry in the genre that is quite overlooked, at least by me.
Dude gets all the ladies xDD
‘Til next time, dear readers….

1 comment:

Overlord-G said...

It looks and sounds like a less refined Ghost in the Shell but since it's a trilogy it probably picks up in the second and third parts. Nicely done dood. The female character looks moderately attractive.