Sunday, September 14, 2014

Anime Review No. 86 (Mardock Scramble II)

Mardock Scramble The Second Combustion

2011 Movie

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

Well last spring I took a look at the first part of the Mardock Scramble. It was a mildly entertaining and a rather good prologue to a dark and bleak cyberpunk action story, a neat homage to the OVAs of the similar genre  from the late 80s and 90s. Anyway, onto the feature!

Part II picks up right where we left off with the first movie, based on my watching the director’s cut version which is available on the disc along with the theatrical cut. Apparently Rune Balot gets in a gunfight with Boiled which is quite thrilling-quick, fast paced and filled with tension and suspense. Luckily she gets rescued by Doctor Easter just in the nick of time and beat a hasty retreat.

Balot end up in a safe hideout briefly, called ‘Paradise’. She meet others like her as well as some other doctors. For instance there is Tweedledee and Tweedledum, a cyborg and dolphin who are homosexual partners. It is a time to recoup and rest, Oeufcoque is rebuilding himself back again after the gunfight with Boiled. This is also where the movie series moves away from the grim and dark atmosphere of the first part into a more tranquil and contemplative mood. Balot has a talk with GOD, though he’s a doctor with just a head.  

Meanwhile, Shell and his lackey Boiled are engaging in damage control. Medium survived with some new enhancements and still quite insane. Boiled is on their trail and gaining fast and then with the help of their allies at ‘Paradise’ Balot and Easter made another hasty retreat.

Once they get Ouefcoque back they plan out their next strategy: Infiltrate a casino owned by Shell in order to receive the records linked to their case. Also so they can win big at the casino as well. In the course of making slam dunk winnings Balot meets a particular casino dealer Bell Wing who gives her some advice and chit-chat, some really good stuff. The second installment ends with an interesting flashback to when Boiled first met Oeufcoque as well as some nice setup for the third and final installment. Nice harp music plays over the credits with another rendition of Amazing Grace plays and there we go.

Like the first installment, it still has some quite stunning production values, though the color palette has shifted away from grimdark and bleak to a more white and shiny brights. Granted it is a bloody affair in the first half, replaced with a nice polished and sophisticated direction and editing. The second half in the casino is just an impressive sight to behold visually. Anything else good about Part II can be copy/paste from my review of Part I. At least it would with the exception of the dub.

The English Dub, produced in late 2012 I imagine since it got its release on New Years 2013. It is just as good as the first installment. Granted the director and writer shifted between installments from Steven Foster to Janice Williams. As I mentioned in my Girls und Panzer review, Janice Williams is regularly Sentai Filmworks’s Media Coordinator for their releases. Though on occasion she’ll step into the directing chair for Sentai dubs, notably taking over the Clannad dub halfway through and doing a few others (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, tsuritama, some yaoi OVAs, etc.). In terms of the directors Sentai employs, Janice Williams falls a bit in the middle in terms of consistency in comparison to the other main directors Sentai has had like Foster, C. Ayres and KC Jones. Or to put it in simpler terms, she’s an OK director, not bad/inconsistent (like Foster) but not good/consistent (like Ayres or Jones). She does alright here with Part II’s dub, mostly by getting Hilary Haag, David Matranga and Andy McAvin back and doing as good a job as they did for Part I. In addition, there’s some good performances by David Wald as Boiled along with a good turn here and there by seldom used voice talent like Carl Masterson and Susan Koozin.

I will reserve judgement on Mardock Scramble when I look at Part III in November. Part II is a nice middle act feature with an interesting shift in mood and tone, going from a grimdark bloody cyberpunk story into a somewhat typical revenge story. Hopefully Part III will do something big and fantastic for a climax, only time will tell.

Next time, I take a look into the debut feature for one of my favorite anime directors…..

Til next time dear readers

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