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Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 14, 2012 by  



A gritty, dark and violent film adaptation of Tow Ubukata’s light novels.  “Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” is the second film of the trilogy and will no doubt entertain those who have been craving darker, violent anime with an edge.

Images courtesy of © 2012 Sentai Holdings. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion

DURATION: 81 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

RATED: TV MA VSD

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2013

Directed by Susumu Kudo

Screenplay by Tow Ubukata

Music by Conisch

Original Creator: Tow Ubukata

Character Design by Jun Nakai, Shingo Suzuki

Art Direction by Masanobu Nomura

Chief Animation Director: Jun Nakai, Shingo Suzuki

Mechanical Design by Hiroshi Okubo

CGI Director: Tetsuro Kodama

Director of Photography: Toru Fukushi

Anime Production: GoHands

Featuring the voices of:

Megumi Hayashibara/Hilary Haag as Rune Balot

Norito Yashima/Andy McAvin as Œufcoque Penteano

Hiroki Touchi/David Matranga as Dr. Easter

Kazuya Nakai/Kalob Martinez as Shell Septinos

Tsutomu Isobe/David Wald as Dimsdale Boiled

Norio Wakamoto/Chris Ayres as Medium the Fingernail

Akiko Katsuta/Luci Christian as Octavia

Daisuke Namikawa/Mark X. Laskowski as Tweedledum

Kinryuu Arimoto/Carl Masterson as Professor Faceman

Takaya Hashi/Brett Weaver as Ashley Harvest

Toshiko Fujita/Susan Koozin as Bellwing

Yumiko Kobayashi/Corey Hartzog as Tweedledee

Rescued by Doctor Easter from a deadly assault on their headquarters by Dimsdale Boiled, Rune Balot finds temporary shelter in “Paradise,” a high-tech laboratory where the Scramble 09 protocol originated. While the severely injured Oeufcoque regenerates in a healing vat, Rune struggles to find the answers within herself that will let her equally injured psyche find some measure of peace. But as the search for clues to the location of Shell’s hidden memories continues, Boiled finds them again, and Rune and the Doctor decide it’s time to carry the war to the enemy.

In 2003, Japanese sci-fi light novel, manga and anime creator, Tow Ubukata (“Le Chevalier D’Eon”, “Heroic Age”, “Chaos Legion”, “Sokyu no Fafner”) created the light novel “Mardock Scramble”.

For Ubukata’s “Mardock Scramble”, originally the series was planned as an OVA series release but  instead, would first receive a manga adaptation and then later was released as an anime film trilogy courtesy of GoHands Studio and produced by Aniplex.

With the first film “Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” released on DVD back in September 2011 and followed by a Director’s Cut version released on Blu-ray in March, the second film of the trilogy titled “Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” will be released on Blu-ray on New Year’s Day 2013.

“Mardock Scramble” is directed by Susumu Kudo (“Mizuiro Jidai”, “Hoop Days”, “Captain Tsubasa J”) and features creator Tow Ubukata as the screenwriter of the anime films.  Character designs are by Jun Nakai (“Tokyo Majin”, “Samurai 7”) and Shingo Suzuki (“Shanghai Dragon”, “Witchblade”, “Baccano!”) with music by Conisch (“Linebarrels of Iron”, “ToHeart2” and art direction by Masanobu Nomura (“Obvliion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror”,  “Patlabor WXIII”, “Blue Exorcist”, “Gad Guard”, “Gurren Lagann”).

“Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” on Blu-ray will feature both the regular version of the film, but also a Director’s Cut.

Before I get into the second film, I need to start off with what was “Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” all about.

“Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” is a series that takes place in the futuristic city known as Mardock City and focuses on a girl named Rune Ballot who was taken by a renown gambler named Shell Septinous, notorious for using girls for slavery.

One day, Shell has his bodyguard Dimsdale Boiled take Rune out in the middle of nowhere and murders her in a poisonous gas explosion and also in the process, has Shell’s memory was erased, so he can’t be arrested.

But not far from where Rune is killed is Dr. Easter.  Easter is able to save Rune’s life but to keep her alive, he rebuilds her as a killer cyborg and together he and along with a robotic mouse named Oefcoque help Rune with the latest in cyborg technology to try and search for Shell Septinous, the man who killed her and the man who also happens to be Dr. Easter’s enemy.

But when Shell and Dimsdale find out that Rune is still alive, they will do anything to stop her from testifying against him.

For the second film, “Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion”, begins with a shootout between Rune and Dimsdale Boiled who will do all he can to kill Rune.

But she is rescued by Dr. Easter in the nick of time and he takes her to Paradise, where she is introduced to the Scramble 09 Technology.  And the secrets of Mardock City is revealed.

Meanwhile, Shell who can’t remember anything because his memory is erased, can’t understand why he desperately wants to kill Rune so badly and orders Dimsdale Boiled to kill her now!

This leads to Dimsdale Boiled and another assassin to infiltrate Paradise to kill Rune and some of Dimsdale Boiled’s history is revealed and why he hates Paradise so much.

But as Rune wants to get her revenge and get Shell tried for his crimes, she along with the help of Dr. Easter and Oefcoque, go to a casino where Shell his memories in casino chips.  But to obtain the chips, they must find a way to win at gambling without creating any suspicion.

VIDEO:

“Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” is presented in 1080p High Definition and as mentioned of the original film, one thing that the film has is grittiness.  A good use of blues and greens and also blacks to set the landscape of a dingy city. In fact, there was a good amount of grain purposely added to the animation to add to the grittiness.

But for the second film, what is noticeable is the use of colors primarily in Paradise where pastel to blue and green colors are used effectively to create a dreamlike world.

The character designs are cool as you have the main character Rune looking the most purest character in the whole film while everyone else look disgusting or evil.   Also, this is a bloody anime series with a lot of violence but not as excessive as the first film as most of the action does take place at the beginning and towards the latter half of the film.

AUDIO:

As for the audio, “Mardock Scramble :The Second Combustion” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Both vocal tracks are well done, especially well acted.  The Japanese soundtrack benefits from using seiyuu legend Megumi Hayashibara (“Ranma 1/2”, “Slayers”, “Love Hina”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, “All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku”) but while the Japanese soundtrack was well-acted, the English dub soundtrack makes up also in grittiness with its use of profanity. So, for a Westerner, the dialogue seemed much more appropriate for this anime series and so I preferred the English dub over the Japanese soundtrack.

And there is a good amount of violence and gun shots galore, so this is not a dialogue driven front and center channel type of anime series. There is a good amount of audio coming from the surround channels but it’s not as immersive as I would have liked.  I was hoping to hear a lot of LFE and directional sound effects but for the most part, the anime series sounds very good in HD.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” does not come with any special features but Sentai Filmworks trailers.

“Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” continues where the last film “The First Compression” left off.

I mentioned in my review of the first film of how I felt it was one of the grittiest, darkest, violent anime film I have seen in a long while.  And while there is quite a bit of violence and blood in the second film, the violence is not as pronounced as the focus is on Rune trying to achieve justice by getting the evidence required to get a conviction on Shell.

If anything, this second volume is more about revelations and Rune learning about Paradise and also more about why Dimsdale Boiled is so upset about Paradise and wants to destroy it.  But you can see this film as more calm as it features her trying to find evidence of the atrocities committed by Shell and that leads the group in going to a casino in order to find these specialized memory chips.

And I have to say that its an interesting visceral type of anime series with how the city is portrayed as dirty, gritty, rundown in the painted backgrounds but also a colorful unique take on Paradise and some experimentation on the look and feel of various locations.

While some may be upset that  “Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” doesn’t carry over a lot of the action and the violence of the first film.  But it still does feature a lot of violence but the second film  tries to focus on the storyline and its plot that centers around Rune trying to obtain evidence and Dimsdale Boiled trying to infiltrate Paradise.

Definitely not for the timid, “Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” is a violent, bloody anime that shows body parts, nudity and all.  So, you don’t watch this anime with children around!

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good, colorful and looks great in HD although I wish there were special features included. The film does come with the Director’s Cut and the original theatrical version of the film.

But overall, the film shows good promise but a the same time, I feel the story would have flowed much better if it was a 12-episode TV or OVA series rather than a film trilogy.  Sometimes I feel there is much more story to tell and that each film is trying to fit within its hour length.  But with the second film being good and more calm compared to the first film, no doubt is the second film setting up viewers for something much more explosive and deadly for the final third film.

A gritty, dark and violent film adaptation of Tow Ubukata’s light novels.  “Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion” is the second film of the trilogy and will no doubt entertain those who have been craving darker, violent anime with an edge.

 






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