Mardock Scramble: The First Compression (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 20, 2011 by  

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

DVD TITLE: Mardock Scramble


DURATION: 60 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, Audio: English 5.1/Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks/Aniplex


RELEASE DATE: September 27, 2011

Directed by Susumu Kudo

Screenplay by Tow Ubukata

Music by Conisch

Original Creator: Tow Ubukata

Art Direction by Masanobu Nomura

Animation Director: Jun Nakai, Shingo Suzuki

CGI Director: Tetsuro Kodama

Director of Photography: Toru Fukushi

Anime Production: GoHands

Featuring the following voice talent:

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

Kenta Miyake/Andrew Love as Mincemeat the Wink

Masahiko Tanaka/Chris Ayres as Welldone the Pussyhand

Mika Kanai/Luci Christian as Rare the Hair

Norio Wakamoto/Chris Ayres as Medium the Fingernail

Tomohiro Waki/Rob Mungle as Fresh (Flesh) the Pike

To stop the unstoppable you need the irresistible. To kill the unkillable, you need someone for whom death no longer has a meaning. And to catch the perfect serial killer, you need the one person who knows his methods the best… his last victim!

Murdered and reborn, no longer human, the female cyborg Balot exists for only one reason: to track down the man who killed her and bring him to justice. But can even the ultimate hybrid between ghost and machine take down a monster who wipes his own memory… especially when his partner already has her in his sights? The future will be painted blood red as vengeance hit the streets!

In 2003, Japanese sci-fi light novel, manga and anime creator, Tow Ubukata created the light novel “Mardock Scramble”.

Known for creating hits such as “Le Chevalier D’Eon”, “Sokyu no Fafner” and the series composition for “Heroic Age”, he is also known for creating the novel “Chaos Legion” which would go on to become a video game.

For Ubukata’s “Mardock Scramble”, originally the series was planned for an OVA series release but  would later receive a manga adaptation and was released as an anime film trilogy courtesy of GoHands Studio and produced by Aniplex.  And now the first film “Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” would be released on DVD in Sept. 2011 courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“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!”).

“Mardock Scramble” is a series that takes place in 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 her out in the middle of nowhere and murders her in a poisonous gas explosion and also in the process, Shell’s memory was erased, so he can’t be arrested.  But not far away is Dr. Easter who saves her life, rebuilds her as a killer cyborg and together he and a robotic mouse named Oefcoque help Rune with the latest in cyborg technology to defeat the man who killed her and the man who 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.



“Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and is presented in English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1.

First, let’s talk about the picture quality.  It is said that there plans for a Blu-ray release of this film in 2012 and ideally, if you want the best representation of this film, you would go HD but for now, it’s only available on DVD and one thing that “Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” has going for it is its 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.

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 and at times seeing body parts and blood being seen quite a bit.

As for the audio, both vocal tracks are well done but I felt that the English dub was made to cater to the grittiness with profanity and all.  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 due to the action sequences but if this film is being planned for Blu-ray, it would be great to listen to a lossless soundtrack of this film.

Subtitles are in English.


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

“Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” is possibly one of the grittiest, darkest, violent anime film I have seen in a long while.

Typically, a lot of anime films are based on anime television series and if they are violent, they are typically set in the feudal era of Japan.  But that is not the case with this film, “Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” is an intriguing film because its main protagonist is a dead woman.  Granted, a resurrected woman turned cyborg but this is not your usual cheerful character, in fact, this lead character Rune Ballot has not had the best life.

Sexually abused by her father and later becoming a whore for one of the most notorious gamblers in Mardock City, these characters are typically the type who are usually killed in the film.  So, Tow Ubukata puts that twist in the film of “what if?”.  What if the woman killed can suddenly come back and bring her killer to justice?

And that’s just part of the story.  Add in a talking mouse who can transform into a gun and the most grotesque characters to be seen in an anime film, you have a tale of revenge and justice.

Needless to say, the first film in the trilogy has its share of twists and it’s a continuing story that continues its dark, violent edge and doesn’t stray far from it.

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 and having this character who probably looks the purest of them all, and then you have these characters that are just evil and vile looking things that are trying to kill her.

Definitely not for the timid, this is a violent, bloody anime that shows body parts, nudity and all.  And I know that for certain anime fans, this film is a longtime coming and many have wanted a more bloody and violent anime series. While, this is not an OVA series, it is a film, so one can at least know there are two films left in the trilogy and that Sentai Filmworks is dedicated to bringing these films over to the U.S.

As for the DVD, there are no special features but Sentai Filmworks trailers and for those wanting better PQ, “Mardock Scramble: The First Compression” is being planned for a Blu-ray release next year.

But overall, a film with this visceral style and violent tale is not as common these days in terms of Blu-ray or DVD releases.  To tell you the truth, I think it’s been awhile since I have seen an anime series set in a modern city where there was so much blood and body parts.

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


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