From Sentai Filmworks, the anime publisher behind series such as Amagami SS, Angel Beats! and To Love Ru comes the first film in the anime trilogy based on Tow Ubukata’s science fiction novels, Mardock Scramble: The First Compression.
Mardock Scramble follows the journey of a young girl named Rune Ballot, who after being taken in by a man named Shell Septinous and given a new identity has her life taken from her. Shell has a secret, he takes in young girls and after some time kills them and uses their remains to create a blue gem ring that he wears all the time. To make matters worse after he commits these crimes his memory is wiped so he doesn’t even remember meeting the girls he now carries with him, including Rune.
Shell doesn’t get his “Rune Ring” however as a detective and scientist, Dr. Easter and a robotic mouse named Oeufcoque, who can shape shift into a variety of tools and weapons, have been tailing Shell and rescue Rune using forbidden technology thanks to a law that allows them to save the life or someone if they wish to live. Brought back from the brink, Rune is now a cyborg and is asked by Dr. Easter and Oeufcoque to testify against Shell and help the two put him away for good.
After a bit of convincing Rune agrees to help them but a simple testimony won’t be all that it will take to get Shell, Rune will have to survive long enough to make it to court and Shell has Dimsdale Boiled, Oeufcoque’s former partner and a man with a talent for making sure people don’t live long enough to testify. The first film develops the relationship between Rune and Oeufcoque as Rune struggles to understand their relationship while the two come face to face with a dangerous group of assassins hired by Boiled.
The story is an entertaining one and the film does benefit from Tow Ubukata handling the screenplay as it does stay true to the book fairly well. Rune develops as a character in a short amount of time and it is interesting to see her and Oeufcoque as they grow closer to one another, though Oeufcoque tries to keep Rune, who has trouble understanding what love is after all she has been through, at a distance.
Visually the series has a really nice look to it, the artworks fits the futuristic feel and the characters all look a lot like what you would expect after reading the book. The assassins definitely fit the grotesque designs that Ubukata describes in the book, which is an accomplishment in itself. The series does come with the bonus of having both English and Japanese voice over options and while the Japanese cast is the better of the two the English cast is still a good option for those that don’t like to read much.
The single DVD comes in a standard DVD case that features a nicely done image of Rune on the cover as well as the DVD. There really aren’t any on-disc features to speak of, so those expecting anything will likely be let down by that.
All-in-all Mardock Scramble is a tense and dramatic story that science fiction anime fans will enjoy, the characters have a fair amount of development in the short film, only 60 minutes, with the only thing that will get on your nerves being the ending, which is going to leave you wanting more. If you enjoy reading the book is the best option to experience the full story, however if you don’t want to read nearly 700 pages of novel then Mardock Scramble: The First Compression is the next best thing, as the manga is a bit disappointing.
Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Runtime: 60 minutes
Number of Discs: 1 DVD
Languages: English, Japanese with English subtitles
Age Rating: TVMA
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
(A review copy of Mardock Scramble: The First Compression on DVD was provided by Sentai Filmworks.)