Mardock Anime Film Trilogy Is Worth Your Time

The Ghost in the Shell movie and TV show are some of the most well-known examples of cyberpunk anime. The Mardock Scramble film trilogy is perhaps even more breathtaking and experimental than that franchise. These cyberpunk anime movies are based on a series of novels.

Mardock Scramble portrays a desperate young woman who is transformed into a cyborg after a harrowing altercation, and it combines strong characterization, a deliberate, intimate pace, and artistic excellence. A decade has passed since the release of the final installment of the series, making it more appropriate than ever to reflect on this overlooked but beautiful revenge trilogy.

The Mardock Scramble?

Tow Ubukata began writing Mardock Scramble as a series of novels in 2003. A manga and anime movie trilogy were later adapted from the book, with more novels following. The story revolves around Rune Balot, a former lady of the night in Mardock City who became a victim of gambling addict Shell Septinos. After being left for dead following an explosion caused by Shell, Rune is taken in by Dr. Easter. Having transformed her into a cyborg similar to himself, Rune gives her a new assistant called Ufcoque, an artificial intelligence that typically appears as a mouse. Having advanced far beyond mere humanity, Rune is attempting to avoid Shell’s machinations long enough to testify against him.

It was originally planned for Gonzo to produce an OVA adaptation of the novel series, but this was eventually canceled. Aniplex, which had produced franchises such as Full Metal Alchemist and isekai anime like Sword Art Online, announced a movie trilogy in 2010. Each of these movies is approximately 70 minutes in length and is written by Ubukata himself. In my opinion, this length is indicative of how interesting the movies are and why they are worth the time of any cyberpunk enthusiast.

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A Cyberpunk Art Extravaganza – The Mardock Trilogy

Each Mardock film is barely over an hour long, which is one of their unique characteristics. All three films (The First Compression, The Second Combustion, and The Third Exhaust) are interrelated and cannot be considered stand-alone films. Viewers will be able to watch all of them together in order to get a full understanding of the story, but re-watching will not be as simple as plowing through the previous episodes.

Every scene in the Mardock trilogy feels uneasy, intentional, and introspective, which is part of its artistry. As a result, the characters and plot are developed in subtle, sometimes almost unnoticeable ways. It is imperative that scenes be carefully observed, lest vital information that will pay off in the future be ignored. The emphasis on character and subtle development elevates what could easily become a generic revenge film dressed up as Ghost in the Shell.

In my opinion, Mardock Scramble is just as revolutionary in the art department as Ghost in the Shell was before it. Scenes and characters are framed by the film’s uncanny use of lighting, giving everything a claustrophobic neo-noir feel. Despite the miasma of colors and quietness at times, the trilogy provides an experience unlike any other in the cyberpunk genre. Although the series is not currently available on streaming services such as Crunchyroll, you can purchase Blu-rays of each episode on Amazon.

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