Recent Viewing: Mardock Scramble Vol 1 & 2

I recently watched the first 2 Mardock Scramble DVDs, there is a third one coming out at some point but volume 2 came out kind of recently so I felt the need to let you know about the first 2 and if it is worth your time. The third and final volume is slated to come out this fall.  First off, Mardock Scramble is a little graphic so if that’s not your cup of tea, don’t watch the trailers.

Mardock Scramble was released in the fall of 2010 from Sentai Filmworks. Again, I promise I am not biased against other distributor it just so happened the last few titles I ordered were all from them. Anyways, it was animated by a studio called GoHands, which I have never heard of. After looking into them a bit I discovered that they were founded in 2008, so they are a recently formed studio. I will for sure be looking into more of their work.

Mardock Scramble is a darker series, with several scenes that can get a bit graphic to people that are sensitive to that. The first disk didn’t have any special features, but after the initial release I believe there was a directors cut added. The second disk has a directors cut as an extra.

The story is set in a darker setting with very interesting settings. Visually the film reminds me a bit of the film Red Line where in scenes the shadows are black. There are also nice contrasting color glows from lights since the film was digitally colored. From a visual standpoint, I tend to like darker series with the high contrasting glows.

The first film starts off with a montage of very interesting camera effects. A handheld camera feel with some motion lines that one could do in post create a tense situation which is exactly what they should be going for given the situation in which our main female character is in danger. We also have several shots with distorted camera lenses which create very interesting compositions and could be a metaphor of the lies of the character, have to find out in the final installment.

Another use of some CGI features are the futuristic ad spaces. Whether they are floating or rotating around a parking garage post of instance, such items would be easily interchangeable in a program like C4D or After Effects. Appearance-wise they appear as almost any other anime’s holographic ad spaces.

The environments are pretty detailed and really help sell the gritty world they are in. There are even such details in scenes where the characters are in a car and you can see the sound waves from the radio displayed on the radio face, similar to an equalizer.

On the topic of cars, the cars are of course done in CGI and are very good looking. It is awesome to compare them to the cars from the first season of Initial D and see how far they have come in about ten years. The car chase scene is one of my favorite scenes in of the first installment.

In the second installment, they maintain a lot of the same art direction. They use film treatments and distorted camera views to build up past events of the series and character flashbacks. At the start of the installment we have a resolution to the ending of the first disk. After that we are taken to an area with some very lavish backgrounds. I think it is easy to overlook the gains in background painting in the new age of anime. With all of the incorporation of 3D and compositing techniques it is easy to overlook a well painted background.

There are effects of the character doing math and breaking down advanced formulas etc. There are some nice lighting effects and lens flares as well. It is a longer scene that is fun to watch and to think of how they created such effects.

The last half of the show revolves around a bit of a casino/gambling plot which has some very interesting screen cuts and effects. I can tell that the creators were inspired by the film 21 with Kevin Spacey and even the casino scene in the Hangover

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