Sunday, January 8, 2012

Movie Review: Mardock Scramble The First Compression

A few weeks ago I saw a few people post on twitter that the first Mardock Scramble movie, based on a novel which is actually avaliable in English, was streaming on hulu and I was intrigued. I thought I had seen one review of the movie that said it was terrible but I definitely remembered seeing a lot of positive reviews for it so I wanted to check it out to see if there was any reason one person would have such a wildly different opinion.

Mardock Scramble: The First Compression

Summary: Rune Barlot was a teenaged prostitute but after a run in with the wrong man is now a cyborg and is in constant doubt with what she should know do in life. She didn’t have much purpose in life before but she’ll need to find one soon or be killed off for real.

The Good: There seem to be a few more science-fiction anime getting produced now than there were a few years ago (although this movie is from 2010) and I like this trend, also because it’s nice to see “happy” sci-fi as a contrast to all the dystopian sci-fi that’s all the range in the US now. Also happy to see more sci-fi that deals with robots (or cyborgs in this case)

The Bad: Two things about this movie really annoyed me, how Rune was mopey and quiet for the entire movie (I understand the movie is part of the trilogy but it should still have enough character development to stand on it’s own) and how it used “rape as back story” for Rune. With a few tweaks the story could have worked just as well without that event* and it was also disturbing how the movie in general, not just the characters in it, seemed to blame the rape on Rune, saying that as a 12 year old she lead her father on, and always get nervous when it seems like a story is supporting that mindset.

The Audio: Hulu only had the English dub streaming which, while okay, I wouldn't go out of my way to suggest. Å’ufcoque (the mouse, since they had a male voice I'm referring to them as "he") was probably supposed to sound a little flat since he's are an artificial intelligence of sorts but his voice in particular started grating on me after a while. None of the music particularly stood out to me, probably because I was too absorbed by the visuals.

The Visuals: Even watching a standard definition stream on hulu it was clear that this movie had a very good budget and the early scenes in particular are gorgeous to look at. The backgrounds are nicely done, the characters stay on model and all the fight scenes look very nice. Every shot was wonderfully detailed and I’m sure the movie looks even more extraordinary in high-def.

I actually have a little postcard advertisement for this movie on the wall of my dorm room, got it with a package from TRSI, but I was so annoyed by this movie that I'll be taking it down once and I get back and I certainly won't be checking out the second movie if it (likely) gets licensed in the US. And I do now think that I didn't imagine seeing a bad review for this movie after all, I certainly can't have been the only person to have been as frustrated by it. 

*slight spoilers, the story could have gone like this instead: her parents could have always been neglectful/abusive which gave her very low self-worth and lead her to prostitution, both to try and find worth and to make money and this could have also lead her brother to get involved in gang violence and shoot someone and therefore land in jail. With that the story would have the very same outcome, Rune would have had the same motivations and it wouldn’t have the victim-blaming mindset, brilliant!

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