Blu-ray Review: Mardock Scramble – The Third Exhaust

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The climatic conclusion to Rune Balot’s struggles has finally arrived, but what did we make of this Blu-ray release by KAZE Entertainment? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Mardock Scramble – The Third Exhaust.

Synopsis:

Rune Balot’s struggle to bring the man who killed her to justice continues amid the world of high-stakes gambling and glamour at the Eggnog Blue Casino. The odds are stacked heavily in the house’s favor, and even with the aid of Dr. Easter and Oeufcoque, a universal item capable of turning into anything and everything, Rune’s chances of winning are slim. But winning the golden chips containing Shell Septinos’ memories is only the next step on a long and treacherous road.

Run will still have to live long enough to bring those memories before the court, and even that isn’t the end of the journey. Rune’s search for answers to the questions that haunt comes to a shattering climax!

Our View:

Mardock Scramble – The Third Exhaust is the third and final part of the Mardock Scramble trilogy; a trilogy of films which sees Rune Balot attempting to prove that Shell is a corrupt man and killer of women while at the same time defending herself from the onslaught of attacks by hired hitman Boiled. It’s an interesting trilogy of films but when it comes to this final instalment I can’t help but feel underwhelmed with its rushed approach to ending the story and its heavy attention to BlackJack.

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You see the film is split into three segments; the Casino BlackJack Duel, which is obviously the highlight of this film as nearly half of the run time is devoted to it, the prosecution of shell and then ultimately the final gunfight between Balot and Boiled. Disappointingly despite these ‘segments’ being present there doesn’t seem to be any natural build-up or progression to the story, instead it just happens because it is convenient for the film. For instance this third film immediately starts where the second film ended, with no thought of re-capping events that led to this moment – basically you are expected to know what has happened and why; and when you do realise where you are you are then thrown into an over-complicated and insanely realistic game of BlackJack.

In hindsight if you haven’t been keeping up with the storyline, or even aware of how BlackJack is played, then the first 30 minutes of the film will be an overly complicated piece of artistic boredom. Artistic because the animation and detail to the BlackJack game is amazingly immersive; but boring because you might not fully understand what is transpiring and for what reason. On the plus side this first segment does set the tone of the film quite nicely; a tone of desperation for both Balot and Shell as they each try to outwit each other in varying different ways. Balot with her uniquely skilled partner Oeufcoque and Shell with his infamous amount of money and subordinates. Of course the reason for Balot and Dr.Easter to play BlackJack is so that Oeufcoque can extract shells memories from the 1 Million Yen chips scattered across the casino but in doing so Balot finds herself facing off against a notorious dealer; one that refuses to be beaten and takes things a little too personal with her until the game is brought to a decisive conclusion.

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It is at this point where the film swiftly moves away from the Casino Duel and opts to focus on the real task at hand; exploring the chips so that proof of Shells indecent acts can be brought to justice. Disappointingly not much emphasis has been placed on this segment of the film, even more so when you realise that Balot had to witness these indecent acts herself by viewing Shells memories, as shortly after Balot gets the evidence she needs to convict Shell we find that the trial has been completed and only one threat remains; Boiled. Even this final segment of the film is slightly disappointing, as it ironically sees Balot protecting Shell from Boiled, which ultimately results in a final gunfight; a gunfight which ends all too soon but in spectacular fashion with detail and fluid animation.

I guess this is one way to finish off a franchise, as not only does it manage to conclude the story but it also throws in some ‘explosive’ entertainment in the process; however I still feel that we missed out on a lot of content that should have been explored in further detail. For example I had completely forgot that Balot was part of a “Witness Proection” styled programme and that she was helping the investigation into Shell; that was until it was brought up in conversation at about the 40 minute mark. This is what I find most disappointing about Mardock Scramble; the reason for them being at the casino, or even investigating shell, is never repeated so all we assume is that Balot wants revenge on Shell for attempting to kill her; which is indeed true but that’s not entirely the real reason – she wants complete justice.

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Of course there are ‘deeper’ roots to the films story, such as the emotional trauma that both Shell and Balot have been through as well as the emotional bond between Balot and Oeufcoque. Both of these ‘emotional’ backgrounds are explored in greater detail; especially when it comes to Shell, but yet again unless you’ve been paying attention the information may just go over your head. While the films story left me feeling underwhelmed what I will say is that the animation style by GoHands does manage to bring out the best in this film; especially when viewed in High Definition.

Extras:

As we all know when it comes to Bonus Content on Kaze releases they can be rather ‘barebones’ however when it comes to this Blu-ray release of Mardock Scramble – The Third Exhaust I have nothing but positive comments as the disc is filled to the brim with content.

  • Theatrical Version
  • On the way to the Theatre
  • BlackJack Battle
  • Special Talk
  • Trailer
  • Promotional Video

To start with by default the Blu-ray disc is set to play the Directors Cut of the film, a film which features extended scenes and mature content, however if you wish to watch the original theatrical version then you shall find it in the bonus features section along with over an hours’ worth of bonus content.

In short over 1 hour and 30 minutes of bonus content is included; two of which are 30 minute long featurettes discussing the film, its franchise and its production via live guest panels, whereas the final featurette, which is also 30 minutes in length, is the BlackJack Battle. The BlackJack Battle is probably the most unusual extra feature I’ve seen on a Blu-ray as it sees people involved with the film playing BlackJack and making a tournament out of it; all the while explaining and illustrating the intense stress that Balot would have been under during her battle within the Dealer.

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As you’d expect all of these bonus features are presented in Japanese with English Subtitles; so a lot of reading will be needed, on the plus side it’s a variety of content that we would not usually see. To wrap-up the list of bonus content is a selection of Japanese Promotional trailers. Finally as with all Kaze releases there are two trailers for other anime releases, in this instance we have trailers for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion; both of which appear before the main menu.

Specs:

Media: BD 50
Region: B
Running Time: 1:09:19
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

The Mardock Scramble trilogy comes to its dramatic conclusion with The Third Exhaust, but despite all of the films uniqueness and high quality animation it left me feeling underwhelmed and wanting more. It’s safe to say that I expected more gun-fights but more importantly more narrative; narrative to explain what happened, why and where we go next .This is probably Mardock Scrambles biggest problem; it relies too much on the previous films in the franchise, as things said in a previous movie are not necessarily repeated in the next film. This isn’t exactly a bad thing if you’ve watched all three movies back-to-back but if you haven’t seen the other films for a while then sadly you’ll be missing out on a lot of the plot.

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The film does have some good points though; for instance the High Definition animation by Go Hands is stunning and it makes the film feel more engaging in certain areas of the film, especially during the Casino Duel and Emotional Flashback scenes. Further positives can be seen within the strong line-up of bonus content; a unique list of additional ‘behind the scenes’ styled material that we would usually never see, so if you are a fan of the Mardock Scramble then the inclusion of these will no doubt be a treat for you.

When it comes to the Audio options however the decision is left to you; both versions of the film (Directors Cut and Theatrical) feature an English Audio soundtrack, as well as the traditional Japanese with English Subtitles, and more importantly both are presented in 5.1 Surround Sound. In terms of ‘technical specs’ both audio options are on a level playing field so its down to personal preference on which one you’d enjoy watching the most; personally I prefer the Japanese Audio however the English Dub is one of Sentai Filmworks better English Dubs so its well worth checking out.

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Overall this Blu-ray release of Mardock Scramble – The Third Exhaust leaves me with mixed opinions; on one side with have a highly detailed released packed with a wealthy of additional contents, but on the other hand the film is a bit boring and leaves me wanting more. Make of it what you will but this film is designed for fans of the franchise and not for newcomers; but in terms of a stand-a-lone release its contents are pretty solid – it’s just the film that lets it down.

Score: review-stars-4

Mardock Scramble – The Third Exhaust will be available on DVD & Blu-ray from the 4th August 2014 within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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