Several of my readers may have come across Mardock Scramble and been dissuaded from watching it by reading descriptions of this show. In that case, retain your original resolution not to watch it, because it does contain scenes which are downright gruesome and characters representing the worst levels to which a human being can fall. At the same time, the evolution of Rune Balot from a prostitute leading a miserable existence to a woman capable of great compassion and virtue stands among the most beautiful anime has to offer.
The anime describes this transition from prostitute to heroine as the same as from slave to free. That these three OVAs focus on freedom as their main topic makes itself apparent in the three ending songs. (Yes, I loved this anime so much that I listened to the ending songs so that I might get every drop of it out.) The first OVA plays “Amazing Grace,” the second “Ave Maria for Balot,” and the third Megumi Hayashibara’s (Rune Balot’s voice actress, by the way) “Tsubasa,” which means “Wings” in English. These songs point to the three steps of salvation: 1) Christ finds us and saves us from hell; 2) we struggle for righteousness through the grace of God–especially sought through prayer; and 3) we fully realize the freedom found in abiding in God’s will. The very highest freedom exists in heaven, where we shall no longer be tempted by evil choices and only chose from several goods.
Yet, people often look at things like the commandments and religious obligations, which lead them to come to the opinion that religion represses freedom. But, let us examine these “strictures.” The commandments order us not to do evil. Constantly doing evil leads to vices forming on the soul. What is a vice except a form of slavery on the soul? Whether one looks at pride, envy, anger, greed, lust, gluttony, or sloth, it will become evident that these things limit a person. Pride blinds us to truth, envy prevents us from loving others, anger prevents rational thought and action, greed blinds us to what we really need, lust prevents us from seeing persons as persons, gluttony produces a body unfit for strenuous activity, and sloth prevents us from developing our talents. In essence, by God telling us to be good, He tells us to be free.
In the case of religious obligations like attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation, receiving the Eucharist at least once a year, or going to confession at least once a year during Easter if we have committed a mortal sin, these merely oblige us to do what we should decide to do on our own initiative if we were not so ignorant. Eating the Body of Christ and drinking the Blood of Christ is our very salvation. And can one complain about having to go to confession if one is in a state of mortal sin–a condition where a sudden death might deprive them of eternal life? Do not people who decline to go to confession out of fear or laziness rather than run into the arms of their merciful Father and steadfast Brother strike one as foolish? Certain people have enough leisure that they receive the Eucharist daily or the Sacrament of Reconciliation weekly or even daily–ever dwelling in the Mercy of God imparted in the sacraments. To wisely fulfill one’s obligations is not slavish but free.
To take the case of Rune Balot, she has obligations to Dr. Easter, who saves her from certain death through his medical technology, to help him testify against the man who used her as a concubine before attempting to burn her alive. She is given Oeufcoque, a golden, talking mouse who can change into practically any tool–from computerized gloves to a hand cannon, as a partner. Her acceptance of this duty leads to many violent confrontations, and she does have one major fall from grace. When she realizes the extent of her fault due to Oeufcoque suffering from his aversion to her evil deeds, she comes to herself and repents straightway. She had determined to love Oeufcoque earlier, but she had not taken into account her obligations to her new partner. Without meeting these obligations, she cannot be free.
Freedom is not without structure. The order to which freedom adheres derives from moral law. When we fit into this order, we bring our freedom to perfection. The struggle of overcoming ourselves and conforming to virtue leads to us gaining true freedom. And to what end ought we put our freedom? Love. Toward the end of the series, Balot tells Oeufcoque that she has known many men whom she wished would love her, but he is the first being she wished to love of her own initiative. As conformity to the moral law leads to us becoming more at home in the universe, we become the persons we were meant to be and our desires are met in ways we never dreamed possible. The ending of Mardock Scramble indicates that Balot, despite the pain of her recent experiences, has found happiness and rejoices in living–something which would never have happened had she not been providentially rescued from her wayward lifestyle.