Mardock Scramble Manga

Andrew Osmond shells out for the Mardock comic

Mardock Scramble Manga

In the West, we’re still inclined to think of anime as coming out of manga, as naturally as eggs from chickens – one line into a Mardock Scramble piece and we’re already talking about eggs again). In Mardock’s case, both the manga and anime are alternative versions of a novel by Tow Ubukata, published as a trilogy in Japan and collected into one volume by the publisher Haikasoru. It’s comparable to what happened with Battle Royale, a novel which spawned a live-action film and an even more lurid manga.

Drawn by the female artist Yoshitoki Oima, the first two Mardock Scramble manga books cover much of the same story as the first anime film (Mardock Scramble: The First Compression). Once again, troubled girl Rune Balot is blown up by her psycho boyfriend Shell, rebuilt by the jovial Doctor Easter and partnered with Oeufcoque, an A.I. looking like a cute mouse. But it’s quickly obvious this is a different take on the material from the anime.

The look is loose and sketchy; often the characters are framed against minimal backdrops or none at all. Interestingly, the opening pages of the first chapter are drawn in a much darker, shaded style, more in line with a hardboiled (sorry!) action manga. However, this look only resurfaces afterwards in individual panels, such as those with Shell’s henchman Boiled in action. Balot, supposedly 15, looks even younger than she did in the anime, without the bitter, defensive anger. Her pixie face is curtained by long black hair; her nose is barely a shadow.

Unlike the anime, there’s very little nudity, and Balot’s outfits are generally less provocative, even she’s seemingly wrapped up in bandages for combat (with shades of Rei in Evangelion). Doctor Easter is drawn with flowing locks and a cartoonily excitable demeanour. Oeufcoque is a squat beanbag of a rodent, with an oddly triangular forehead (not so cute) and a perpetually worried expression (so he’s cute nonetheless).

It’s a much “lighter” look than Mardock anime fans would expect, given the gruesome story. Not that the Oima softpedals. In the opening pages, Shell slashes Balot’s throat, making a “pfft” sound. The Bandersnatch chop-shop gang turns up later in all its anatomically-augmented glory. Admittedly the, ahem, buxom one shakes and bounces winsomely (“I’ll even let you touch it…”).

In the manga, we see the Bandersnatches take victims; there’s one genuinely upsetting scene that may have story consequences later on if Balot finds out about it. Even the whimsy has a dark edge, as when the homeless Balot hallucinates a huge eggshell on the pavement, and burrows into it away from the world.

The course of events diverges very quickly from the anime, with far more action. In the manga, Balot has no sooner realised her powers than she crashes out of Easter’s lab to confront Shell and his goons in person. (In the anime, she takes up Easter’s plan of taking Shell to court.) She also has an early big battle with the deadly Boiled, though this fight is very clumsily plotted, so that the action is often impossible to follow.

Mardock Scramble Manga

So far, the strength of the manga is in its empathising with Balot and Oeufcoque. The drawn style inevitably makes the violence less brutish, while the lighter moments are cuter. We see both Balot’s brother (in flashback) and the mousy Oeufcoque resolved to protect Balot. With Balot herself lacking in the steel that she has in the anime, it’s hard to resist calling her a moe figure. If the anime skidded between challenging ideas and exploitation, then so far the manga is somewhere on the dial between charming and sentimental, with extra blood and bangs. But of course, this is only the start of the story…

The second part of Mardock Scramble, the anime, is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

Microsoft Anime Month: Hidden Gems

Microsoft Anime Month: Hidden Gems

Are you looking for something to watch that might not have been recommended to you? We’ve put a list together compiling 5 anime that we consider hidden gems, and ones you should make time to watch! Better yet, you can find all of these, and more, in the Microsoft...

Microsoft Anime Month: Top Romance Anime You Might Not Have Seen

Microsoft Anime Month: Top Romance Anime You Might Not Have Seen

You might consider yourself a romance connoisseur, but there’s always room to add more shows to your list! Come with us as we put on our rose-tinted glasses and check out 5 romance anime that you might not have seen in the Microsoft Anime Month sale! citrus   citrus...

Microsoft Anime Month 2021

Microsoft Anime Month 2021

Looking for your next favourite series? Microsoft Anime Month has you covered! From January 29 until March 1 get ready to build up your digital collection of some of the biggest anime titles around, all at an incredible price thanks to Microsoft's Anime Month. From...

Dragon Ball Z Competition with ABYstyle

Dragon Ball Z Competition with ABYstyle

To celebrate the release of our Dragon Ball Z Season 3, we've teamed up once again with ABYstyle! Find out below how you can be in with a chance of winning DBZ Season 3, a Kame House cookie jar, a Frieza keychain, and a Frieza mug. You can enter the competition...

Top 5 Sci-Fi Anime You Might Not Have Seen

Top 5 Sci-Fi Anime You Might Not Have Seen

Venture into a new frontier with these top 5 Sci-Fi shows that you might not have seen! All of these are part of Zavvi's ongoing Manga Anime Month sale, where you can save 40% on these titles and more using code ANIME. DARLING in the FRANXX If you haven’t seen Darling...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This