Mardock Scramble: The First Compression Review

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Mardock Scramble: The First Compression -Complete Edition-

Studio: GoHands
Publisher: Madman
Release Date: 21/03/2012
Price: $29.95 Available Here


Mardock Scramble: The First Compression is a Japanese animated feature film that serves as the first in what will be a trilogy of movies. The second movie in this trilogy, Mardock Scramble: The Second Compression has already been released in Japan. The movies are based on a Japanese novel series of the same name, and they follow the original story and premise closely.

The complete edition of Mardock Scramble: The First Compression has now been released on DVD, and it not only includes the original Theatrical version of the movie but also the Director’s Cut version.


Mardock Scramble: The First Compression takes place in a distant future where technology and science has allowed for some great innovations in robotics, artificial intelligence, and medicine. Even with such great developments, criminals have exploited these innovations to conduct heinous crimes. The movie portrays a rather interesting world with some interesting laws and regulations.

The movie takes place in a fictional city called Mardock City, and focuses on the life of Rune Ballot, a 15 year old girl with a difficult life to say the least. Rune comes from a truly broken home, with her older brother locked in prison and her drug addicted and abusive parents barely alive in the hospital. Her relationship with her family is also far from being normal as she was a victim of constant incestuous sexual abuse from a very early age. With such a poor upbringing and the fact that she couldn’t go to school, she had no choice but to engage in illegal prostitution services as a minor to survive in the real world. Needless to say, her life only got worse and it hit its lowest point when she was taken in by a powerful and wealthy businessman and gambler, Shell Septinous.

Early on in the movie you learn that Rune trusted Shell to take care of her both financially and emotionally. She however finds herself betrayed within the first few minutes of the movie as Shell, after engaging in sexual intercourse with Rune, attempts to murder her by locking her up in his car, which fills up with poisonous gas and then explodes. Shell is revealed to be serial killer who takes in a prostitute only to murder her, after which he erases his own memory and moves on to his next victim. Rune was supposed to be just another victim, but luckily for her someone was watching the horrific events transpire and make the save, an independent scientist who goes by the name of Dr. Easter.

While she was effectively killed in the explosion, Dr. Easter was able to somehow reconstruct her as a cyborg being under a unique protocol. Her role now is to work with Dr. Easter in a legal case against Shell, in hopes to bring him to justice for his heinous crimes. However, court proceedings are complicated because Shell has no memories of his past and Rune must dig deep into her dark past and share it with the world. Things also get even more complicated outside the court room as she takes on some truly disgusting and depraved adversaries.

While the movie runs for just a little over an hour, it still manages to tell a very strong and compelling story. We really get to see some significant character development, in particular we get a good insight into the horrible anguish and emotional pain that Rune has to deal with and how she now has to adapt to life as a resurrected cyborg. Her new body grants her some physical enhancements, and she even befriends this rather peculiar A.I technology that can morph into any object of her desire. They have a very interesting relationship and dynamic, and their interactions are perhaps one of the sweeter and uplifting moments of the movie.

Mardock Scramble is not for the weak of heart, and in particular the Director’s Cut version contains some very graphic and disturbing sexual content. This content is vastly toned down, but still implied, in the Theatrical version of the movie but even so still retains a lot of the gore, nudity, and strong sexual themes. You need to be able to stomach this sort of thing and in particular the scenes that depict the sexual abuse and torture that Rune Ballot had to endure. The movie and its characters portray a very depraved and sadistic side of humanity, and as such, results in a very powerful and adult storytelling.

Mardock Scramble tells a very moving story that will surely have a significant impact on you. If you can look past some of the dark and twisted themes, you’ll find yourself fascinated by how a young girl, with such an awful past, now has a second chance at life and must now fight to set things right for herself. One thing worth noting is that the movie ends on an abrupt cliff hanger, but it’s nothing to be upset about as there are two more movies that will move the story forward to a proper conclusion.

Visuals and Audio:

Mardock Scramble is a beautifully drawn and animated feature film with some amazing set pieces and cool special effects. If anything, its aesthetic and style is most similar to the legendary and iconic Ghost in the Shell anime, as it’s very dark with a slick futuristic vibe. It’s a brilliant production with a stellar art direction and superb character designs.

The soundtrack is powerful too, complementing the dark and yet emotionally tragic nature of the story and has a beautiful credits theme song. The English dub has been masterfully done and one of the better ones I have listened to.


In terms of extras, there really isn’t much here apart from the usual trailers. As I mentioned at the start, you get two versions of the movie which is a pretty generous enough for a home release of an anime movie. The Director’s Cut adds several new scenes which are really intense and graphic in nature, which is why it’s good to have the original Theatrical version of the movie that is significantly toned down and thus easier to watch for viewers who cannot stomach intense and explicit adult content.


Mardock Scramble: The First Compression is a truly deep and adult example of Japanese storytelling. It packs a heavy emotional punch and the characters are really compelling. It’s beautifully produced animated movie backed by a surprisingly excellent English dub. The subject matter is dark and twisted, but they are necessary elements in telling a truly powerful story and portraying a very complicated characterisation. It will make you depressed and show you some horrific things, but it will leave a mark and have an emotional impact that only the greatest of anime can have.


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