It’s hard to believe that I’ve seen this film three times now. I was very fortunate to watch the first and second films back in 2011 at both Scotland Loves Anime and We Love Anime. So around two years later, I return to watch Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion and my thoughts remain the same: while the second film is weaker compared to the first, there are a lot of interesting things that happen that should gain your attention.
The film begins at the exact point were the first film left off: Balot with a injured Oeufcoque (who has transformed into a gun) are cornered by Boiled, who shows no signs of defeat. However, just as all hope is lost, Dr.Easter arrives in time to save both Balot and Oeufcoque on the flying aircraft ‘Humpty Dumpty’. Awakening after that tense gunfight, Balot finds out that she is in Paradise, a facility for the terminally ill and a current safe haven for our main characters. It is there that we learn more about our characters and how they are going to find Shell’s memory chips.
The Second Combustion is divided into two halves; the first takes place mostly in Paradise which is the main highlight of the movie. The look and history of Paradise is very fascinating, although some of it can be hard to believe (the flying sharks for example). The explanations by one of the three main creators of Paradise, ‘God’, moves the first half along quite nicely, and Paradise is also very beautiful, with probably the best visuals you will see in the trilogy so far.
After a short breather, the second half takes place in a casino. Of course, there is a reason why they go to the casino, which is smartly done, but this is where Mardock Scramble starts to lose some of its steam. It doesn’t help that the main casino games are introduced (Roulette, Poker, slot machines) and I would go so far as to call it ‘padding’ – but if you look at it another way, the discussion on gambling tactics and statistics can be interesting, even if the plot takes a backseat. It all leads to another cliffhanger but even though it’s not as tense as in the first movie, it leaves you interested enough to want to know what will happen next in the final part of the Mardock Scramble movies.
Some may be disappointed that the action scenes are very few and those that there are, are never really exciting. The majority of the film is taken up with the characters talking, which might leave some viewers bored (even I have to admit that.) Again GoHands do a great job animating this film. Unlike the previous film that mostly had that dark, cold, cyberpunk feel, this one is full of colour.
Extras on the DVD include ‘On the way to movie theatres’ which is a 20 minute look at the promotion of the film’s first screenings, including the cast announcements, and interviews with the main seiyuu cast of the film. The other extras include a promotional video and a preview video for The Third Exhaust.
Even with its shortcomings, The Second Combustion is still a good film that sets everything up for the final part of the trilogy.