Rune Balot is weeping and trying to save both herself and a severely injured Oeufcoque from Shell's assassin Boiled. Luckily for her, Doctor Easter finally shows up in the Humpty Dumpty – a special militarized vehicle made for protecting those in Welfare cases if their lives are threatened. From there they go to Paradise, where the Scramble 09 technology (and Boiled's rebirth) was developed. All of the secrets of the past of Mardock City (and possibly its future) are revealed in this riveting second part of the Mardock Scramble series, upping the stakes and making Balot choose between justice for herself or peace within Paradise instead.
The first Mardock Scramble movie had some…well, a lot of problems, but there was something genuinely fascinating at its core that I really enjoyed. The relationship between teenage prostitute turned mute cyborg assassin Balot and her inter-dimensional transforming intelligent golden mouse Oeufcoque had this wonderful contrasting symmetry. Their dialogue revealed more about their characters through their contrasting viewpoints. Sure, the movie also had a man who grafted a vagina onto the palm of his hand, but it was ultimately centred on their relationship and that’s what made me come back to the sequel movie. Second Combustion has homosexual dolphins, Norio Wakamoto being eaten by flying
sharks, and a completely baffling shift to gambling as though the author got really into Kaiji while he was writing it.
Mardock Scramble has always had a bit of a problem with symbolism. Its shtick of characters being named after eggs is probably supposed to tie into rebirth, but it’s so shoddily implemented. It’s as though Ubukata read the first page of ‘Symbolism for Dummies’ but got totally the wrong idea from it, like he read a book on how to chop down a tree with an axe but then stuck the axe up his backside and started to gnaw at the tree trunk. The contrast between how blatant the naming convention comes across is completely at odds with the effort it then goes into making it relevant. In the end it all comes across as incredibly silly.
Or maybe it’s supposed to be silly, what with the first half of the movie being spent largely on Balot swimming nude with a homosexual dolphin while jumping through a sort of cyberspace. What the hell this was supposed to represent was completely lost on my mind, not having taken the requisite amount of hallucinogenic drugs beforehand. If it was meant to be a big fat joke though, it goes against the tone of the movie. Norio Wakamoto being eaten by flying sharks was possibly supposed to be hilarious, but everyone looked so stone faced about the event that I just felt confused. Plus why was Norio was relevant too the story in the first place?
What really kills that first half of the movie is that Oeufcoque is nowhere to be seen. He spends a solid half hour in a vat looking like something I threw up after a kebab. Without him, there’s no direction. Perhaps intentional, given that Balot is effectively aimless without her golden mouse, but considering how capable Mardock Scramble had proven itself to be with regular old symbolism, the idea that it could pull off this level of meta-narrative is hard to swallow. That said, once Oeufcoque dresses back up in that adorable little set of dungarees and starts talking to Balot, I finally saw a glimpse of what kept me watching this franchise in the first place.
And then they went to a casino, and suddenly it becomes an entirely different story. The gambling segment doesn’t tie into Balot’s relationship with Oeufcoque, nor does it do anything to develop her character and put her further on the path to redemption and rebuilding. It’s all supposed to be a battle of wits with other gamblers. My guess is halfway through writing this book, Ubukata got obsessed with gambling tricks and had to include that in everything he was writing at the time.
It’s not even a well-written gambling story. A large part of the appeal in stuff like One Outs or Kaiji is being able to follow the events and understand their strategies. When Tokuchi Toua pretends he’s going to throw a certain kind of breaking ball, you can understand he’s done this to give the batter he’s facing something to latch onto which means he ignores all other signs. Stuff like that, you can follow the reasoning and the strategy. With the roulette table segment that takes up a solid 15-20 minutes of this movie, the entire strategy boils down to “can I correctly calculate how the dealer has thrown the ball into the roulette wheel”. There’s some mind games going on, but the movie does a miserable job of conveying what these mind games are. Combine this with how irrelevant the entire piece is to the overall story, and it feels like a massive waste of time.
From my point of view, the second movie of Mardock Scramble attempts to give more depth to the first movie as well as go into further details as far as the characters are concerned.
This story consists mainly of two parts, in my opinion, one part focuses on what happens after the battle Boiled, where Balot encounters herself at some type of scientific/medical experimentation center and the other part focuses on a mission that takes place in a casino.
I really enjoyed the story, it was intriguing and exciting, however, I believe that it is rather confusing as I still don't understand why Shell would want
to kill Balot and what those memories she found were or if she even found them, or why she doesn't talk about them. Also, it's hard to understand how the end up succeeding in their mission at the casino. Maybe this is normal though, as this is just the second movie. It was also more slow paced and calm in comparison to the first movie (excluding the fighting scenes which are gruesome). Furthermore, it had a mysterious aura, especially when the characters visit the casino.
The art was outstanding, just as in the first movie. The backgrounds are very inspiring and the characters interesting. I don't really understand why Balot has to be naked in so many scenes but I suppose it's fine. I also really liked how the casino was portrayed, so much so that I almost wished I was there because it was so luxurious.
I found that the sound was fitting to the movie and I enjoyed the ending.
In this movie we are introduced to some more characters, most of them seem to be unrelated to the main plot though. I consider this to be positive as we get closer to the characters by getting to know their surroundings and not only focusing on the plot. We see what influences them, what they feel identify themselves with. There is also development in Balot's, Oeufcoque's
and Dr.Easter's relationship. Moreover, we meet another intelligent animal and a cyborg whom Balot interacts with. Finally there is the ruler spinner at the casino who is a very interesting character in my opinion, even though she doesn't play any important role.
To sum up, I really enjoyed the movie. I didn't get to feel any of those dramatic, heart aching moments but it inspired me a lot, wishing I could take a glimpse in that futuristic, mysterious world.