Why did this DVD give Judge Mitchell Hattaway the urge to run to the restroom?
Darkness lurks in the shadows, and no one is what they seem.
Madlax is a mercenary plying her trade in the war-torn country of Gazth-Sonika. Margaret Burton is a young orphan growing up in the peaceful nation of Nafrece. These seemingly unrelated lives are connected by the blood-stained pages of a picture book and by the Enfant criminal organization's attempts to obtain the book. Or something like that.
ADV's first volume of episodes from the Madlax anime series contains four installments. Here's a brief synopsis:
• "Gun Dance"
• "Red Moon"
• "Blue Moon"
The first episode of Madlax hits the ground running, almost literally. There's pretty much wall-to-wall action as Madlax attempts to hook up—in both senses—with a young rebel. The second episode totally switches gears with the introduction of Margaret. It's much quieter and more contemplative and moves at a much more deliberate pace. It's a little jarring at first, although I get the impression the creators are looking to juxtapose the lives of Madlax and Margaret before the plotlines actually become fully intertwined. There are hints about the connection between the two leads, the biggest being that strange book Margaret has. Sprinkled throughout these episodes are flashes of a young, fatherless girl wandering through a wasteland. If I've read things correctly, this young girl, whose name is Laetitia, is really the young Madlax. Laetitia makes mention of a book her father read to her, and I imagine this is the same book Margaret's father left her. What's in the book? That I don't know. I do, however, suspect that Vanessa, who's definitely mixed up in all the mysterious background dealings, knows Margaret has the book. Of course, I could be totally off base with all of this, but I do know some weird stuff is going on here, and I do know I like it.
ADV has performed a bang-up job on the technical side of this release. The transfer is dead-on, and both audio options perform nicely. There's a very good spread and a fair amount of bass activity in the original Japanese track; the soundstage in the 5.1 English mix is nice and wide, with good surround and bass action, although the voice acting is pretty much atrocious. Extras include clean opening and closing sequences, an unused opening sequence (there's not a world of difference between it and the one that appears in the show), some promo spots, production sketches, a preview for the second volume in the series, and something called "Conversations with SSS." This last feature, which uses re-dubbed clips from various episodes, is a series of exceedingly unfunny gag phone calls between Madlax's boss and several of the other characters. It runs about eight minutes, and by the end I was just praying to die.
I can't say I fully understand what's happening in Madlax, but it offers enough clues for me to be able to come up with a couple of ideas about where things are headed, and I'm intrigued enough to stick around to find out how it all comes together. Definitely recommended.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Clean Opening and Closing Animation
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