The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust

Title: Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: GoHands
Format: Movie; 69 minutes.
Date: 29 Sep 2012

Synopsis: Rune Balot, Doctor Easter and Œufcoque successfully infiltrate the casino owned by October Corp in order to capture Shell’s hidden memories in order to bring him to justice. As the three inch closer to their goal, a formidable ally of Shell confronts them and jeopardizes their mission. As Rune Balot confronts her fears and finally closes her case, a series of unexpected events puts her life in danger again as Œufcoque is forced to settle the score against his old partner Boiled.

The Highlights
Tension: Equal amounts, both at the blackjack table and the final gunfight.
Narrative: Deliciously twisted revelations that connect all the dots.
Climax: Satisfactory, although the buildup to the ending is predictable.

Cyberpunk is a genre that I personally favored since I started watching anime as a kid. All good cyberpunk series must have at least two things: awesome action sequences and an intriguing plot. What captures my attention in Mardock Scramble: The First Compression is the presence of these two elements, and I have been interested to see how the story unfolds since then. Following The Second Combustion, the show comes to an end in The Third Exhaust, a finale that I hoped would be a climactic visual feast and, yes, that’s exactly what I got.

Mardock Scramble is a production by GoHands, an animation studio that is making its name through its unique visual approach. The heavy use of solid hues and shades is aesthetically unconventional and original, and the show’s visuals alone are enough to keep things intriguing. Story, however, has not been one of the studio’s strongest points: K is bland and forgettable while Coppelion is, in more ways than one, a nuclear disaster. Mardock Scramble, thankfully, is a well thought-out story that is reflective and absorbing. The only drawback of the plot is the predictable development: despite some plot twists towards the end, the outcome seems to be inevitable from the onset.

Character development is where The Third Exhaust shines the most. While the first movie explores the protagonist Rune Balot’s new lease in life and the second is about her strategy to capture her killer, Shell, this movie focuses on her facing her fears over a game of high-stakes blackjack. Through twists of fate, she meets people and learns each of their dark histories (including Shell’s) and relates them to her own experience. Through the interactions, her character blooms and not only does she overcome her demons, she also finds some meaning to her life. Unlike the previous two movies, the focal point is all on Rune Balot and it is executed splendidly.

As a whole, Mardock Scramble is quite the roller coaster ride: its varying pacing ranges from slow as the plot thickens, to fast when guns start blazing. As a cyberpunk show, it may not be as philosophically deep, visually sleek or high-profiled as the others in the genre. Even so, on its own merit  it is one of GoHands‘s best works (maybe even its best so far). The studio has yet to whip out its masterpiece but if it continues to hone its artistic approach and spend more effort in writing, that time may come one day.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: AC

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