Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust
「マルドゥック・スクランブル 第3部 排気」 (Marudukku Sukuranburu Dai 3 Bu Haiki)
“Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust”
With this, we bid a fond farewell to the Mardock Scramble trilogy. It wasn’t quite Ghost in the Shell, but I loved it nonetheless. Yes, it might gave been drawn out at times and might have felt pretentious to some, but the fact remains that there things done well here, and this third installment does much to demonstrate those aspects—starting with its continuation of the casino/blackjack moments from the second movie.
Indeed, the whole “casino arc” portion of Mardock Scramble ends up being one of the most important bits of the entire trilogy, and it’s in no small part due to the symbolic nature of the whole exchange. Because essentially, the casino ends up being a representation of life in the Mardock universe: unfair, full of skewered odds, empty of justice, and trampler of hope. Looking back, it was something we got in both the first and second movies (in regards to the circumstances that got Balot where she is in the first place and Bell Wing’s manipulation of the roulette wheel), and well, let’s just say the third movie just adds the final nail in the coffin so to speak. Not only do we get even more dealer manipulation this time around, the “even money” bets are anything but even, and we even got Ashley Harvest emphasizing how the casino is essentially a place where you can legally steal from others. And all in all, it’s something that just demonstrates how if you want to survive in the Mardock world, you’re going to need one of three things: relevant knowledge, help from someone else, or just plain old luck.
With that said, it’s clear which ones of the three Rune Balot possesses, and it’s notable because despite the terrible hand she’s been dealt up until now by life, the hand’s arguably anything but terrible now considering what she’s gained since the first movie. On the other hand though, what this does is make her life tougher than before as a result, because in her attempt to solve her own case, she ends up having the trample on the hopes of Ashley Harvest and Bell Wing—of which at least one is now unemployed due to her victories at the casino. And it’s important because it highlights how a victory might not always be sweet and how winning sometimes means you’ll be trampling on someone else—someone else who may have been dealt a bad hand in life too. Combine that with her decision to go even money despite her guaranteed victory with trip sevens though, and what we end up getting some quality development in regards to Balot, who shows that she’s clearly a stronger, more independent person than she was before.
With this strength, Balot finally manages to find the motivation behind Shell’s actions, and I gotta say, I was surprised at how reasonable it ended up being. After all, it makes perfect sense that someone who’s lost their memories could continue to act on a residual impulse left over subconsciously—especially when it comes from such trauma as the one he and his victims ended up going through. And what this effectively does is end up making Shell someone I actually sympathized with a little bit, which was pretty big considering how much of a mystery he’s been throughout the trilogy so far. Balot having to (and agreeing to) subsequently protect him from Boiled just culminates some pretty good development overall, and it goes without saying that the fight scenes between the former and current users of Oeufcoque also delivered on expectations too.
And ultimately, what we get with the Mardock Scramble trilogy is a solid story with mature topics few series would even think about touching. In addition, we also get a novel world that stimulates the imagination—assisted in part by GoHands’ superb animation—and a memorable heroine who ends up developing quite well through the course of the series. Yes, it some things could’ve developed better. Yes, some things could’ve been paced better. But that doesn’t change the fact the series ended up quite enjoyable in my book, and hopefully it did for those of you reading this as well.
ED: 「つばさ」 (Tsubasa) by 林原 めぐみ (Hayashibara Megumi)