Humanity in Mardock Scramble

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ghostlightning: Allow me to introduce Joe Animated, who wrote this post. He has more kids than I do, but I have more blog posts than he has. We both have to start somewhere, so please welcome him and his first blog post here on WRL.

Mardock Scramble: The First Compression is the initial release in a three part movie series. Set in a futuristic world,  the protagonist, is given a second chance by an “ambulance chasing” scientist and his partner, and intelligent synthetic life-form. As like Blade Runner, a path of discovery into humanity and human nature is walked. It’s this that makes Mardock Scramble more than just a pretty science fiction story.

The main character is Rune Balot, a teenage prostitute. Balot is a troubled, frightened teenager. She has experienced some horrific events in her life, starting with her rape by her father while in her early teens, followed by the attempted murder of her father by her older brother. With these vlcsnap-2012-01-01-18h14m22s54_btraumatizing events in hand, she is left to the streets, ending up as a prostitute at a brothel. As if her life has not reach rock bottom already, she meets her endgame in Shell, a deranged psychopath bent on killing her and turning her ashes into a diamond for a new ring on his finger. In this murder  attempt she is left for dead dead, and subsequently rescued, and her second chance at life begins.
It is with these rescuers that she begins her struggle to find meaning in her life. As a part of her body’s physical reconstruction, she is remade as a cyborg, with the ability to interface with the technology around her. This new body grants her a physical strength she has never known. But this alone is not enough to help her heal completely. It’s her conversations with the synthetic life-form Oeufcoque that her emotional healing begins.

Oeufcoque is a truly unique creature. Created by a space science program as a synthetic lifeform, he has the ability to transform into any item imaginable. He can quickly change with the users vlcsnap-2012-01-01-18h12m17s86_bthoughts, becoming an indispensable tool. Oeufcoque’s character mirrors that of the Replicants in Blade Runner. The Replicants are not supposed to be free or equal to man. But their creators gave  them the ability to reason, and the beginnings of a conscienceness. Because of this, the Replicants grew beyond their programming, bringing them closer to being human. Given the intelligence and emotion of a sentient being, but only granted the rights of a machine, he tries to find his place in the world. In the commonality of their struggles, Balot and Oeufcoque find that they share a similarity in being used by the society they live in.

But unlike Blade Runner, Balot and Oeufocoque are looking for what makes them human, but what defines their value in society. For some time now Balot’s worth was defined by what actions would do for money. After encountering a hidden camera in bathroom stall, she’s forced to think in those terms again. She’s irritated, frustrated, embarrassed. In her not so past life, she would know exactly how much money to make to appear on camera. This reminder, and the self exploration, only helps to push her growth along.

But just as she confronts her past and makes strides to move beyond it, it comes back to take her away. A gang of assassins hired by Shell comes to kill her. The members of the assassination team represent the aspects of her that her client’s fantasized after. This attempt on her life serves as a test of her resolve to change, in a way in which there is no going back. She must either fight her demons, or succumb, and the process, lose her life.

With her new found resolve and Oeufcoque, she dismantles the assassins one by one. Oeufcoque vlcsnap-2012-01-02-11h37m43s108_b lends his strength as she methodically eliminates each threat. But this strength leads her down the dark path of revenge and hate, and with consequences. As she defeats her last demon, she transition from justice to revenge, destroying the bond between her and Oeufcoque, mortally wounding him in the process.

For the designers of Oeufcoque built in safeguards to prevent the senseless murder of humans. With Oeufcoque injured and hardly functioning, the last assassin, hired by Shell, begins to attack. As much as this assassin is after Balot, he want to take control of Oeufcoque. But when the time comes for her to help Oeufcoque, she can’t. They try to struggle together, but to no avail. At this point, the movie ends inconclusively, leaving us without a conclusion.
Does she survive? What happens to Oeufcoque? Mardock Scramble: First Compression, brings us the first part of a compelling story, that when complete, will rival the best stories science fiction has to offer. I for one am anxious to see this story to it’s conclusion.

About JoeAnimated

-Growing Older, but never growing up. Father, engineer, and all around nerd. Grew up watching the great american cartoons of the 80's, now a casual watcher of Japanese Anime.
This entry was posted in analysis, comparative, today's special guest writer and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Humanity in Mardock Scramble

  1. botbot says:

    If both characters are looking for what it is that makes them human, how is this different from say, that in Ghost in the Shell in its various forms?

    • JoeAnimated says:

      Both stories are are looking for answers in their quests, but are searching for different things. Balot is looking for value in herself. More value than the “value” in the events that have lead to this point in her life. Its been some time since I watched GitS, but if memory serves, the dialogue is around what is the essence of humanity. What is the soul? What is that next evolutionary step for humanity beyond physical form. You have the major, which by the end is completely synthetic, and the tachikoma. Now the tachikoma’s are where we can find some similarities to Oeufcoque. Both are intelligent machines, that as the story progresses, we see that they are more than machines. The tachikoma’s use their collective mind to form a group intelligence capable of individual action and self sacrifice.

      In comparing GitS, you’ve got me thinking about Time of Eve. All three have a similar thread that explores what makes us human, or what makes something sentient. Maybe a good idea for a post some time.

  2. Martin says:

    Welcome to the blog, Joe. Thanks for starting it off with writing about a recent favourite of mine. :)

    Part of the reason why I enjoyed this film so much is because it reminds me of the cyberpunk classics – the first time I watched it I was in a cinema with a group of fellow anime/general SF fans who were roughly the same age, so we all got that 80s-90s nostalgia feeling from it. My initial impression was “it’s the kind of movie they stopped making ten or fifteen years ago.”

    The search for humanity is an interesting angle – Oeufcoque is supposedly not human in the first place, but still has some human ‘feelings’, which does I think confuse him sometimes. Balot on the other hand is trying to get her sense of self back after everything that’s happened to her, but the way the two of them help one another on their respective soul-searching is what makes this story so rewarding. Suffice to say, the later parts of the story build on the ideas you set out here; they’re not as action-orientated but possibly even more fascinating (there’s a lengthy portion of the story set in a casino that some viewers will love and others will be bored by…your mileage may vary and all that. I look forward to reading your opinion on it).

    I found the films to be so far very faithful to the original novel too; I’m not sure what the bookstores and Amazon service are like where you live, but the full trilogy was published by Viz in their Haikasoru line. If you’re able to get hold of a copy, I recommend it.

    • JoeAnimated says:

      I agree, this does have that 80/90′s feel that reminded me so much of Blade Runner. You’re correct, Oeufcoque is not human, but his programming has given him sentience on par with being human, which as an engineer I find fascinating. In reading the novels, your perspective on this segment of the story, and the story as a whole, is ahead of mine. Unfortunately, I’ve only watch this first movie, but am anxious to dig into the rest. I will definitely search out the novel, especially if the movie is faithful to the story. And, thanks for your faith that you think I’ll be around long enough to write about the next two :).

  3. Kyokai says:

    Good to see you dabble in aniblogging. Really liked the way how Mardock Scramble plays at discovering oneself and overcoming own short comings. The first movie really left me hanging with that giant cliffhanger. Definitely looking forward to the next two parts.

    • JoeAnimated says:

      Thank you, oh Queen of Metanorn :). I’m looking forward writing more and engaging with the community.

      The next two movies should be a great watch, and I’m looking forward to it as well.

  4. Shinmarizu says:

    This sort of anime that highlights the internal and interpersonal struggles that people go through always hit a soft spot in my heart. Better find this and watch it.
    Needless to say, they don’t make anime like they used to.

    Good to meet you, and hope to see more!

  5. Hana says:

    Well, Mardock Scramble just got bumped up higher on my to watch list. And I hardly ever watch Sci-Fi – so well done you, on more than one account! :P (You also make me want to rewatch Bladerunner, hmm…)

    And re:

    He has more kids than I do, but I have more blog posts than he has…

    - don’t let that mechatard boss you around!

  6. JoeAnimated says:

    Anytime you want to watch either, I’ll be happy to watch them with you. Mardock is rated mature, with some visuals that you may find squeamish.

    re: Yeah, He’s a slave driver, but I think I can have some fun with this. :)

  7. I’ve mostly ignored this series until now, but you’ve definitely grabbed my interest. As a card carrying fan of G.I.T.S. S.A.C., I love to see human issues and technology intermingle. And I love dark stories. Your input was much appreciated.

    It’s also nice to see another anidad, aniblogging.

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