Madlax Vol. 3. - The In-Between
ADV Films // Unrated // $29.98 // August 9, 2005
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 25, 2005
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
The Show:


Madlax is a show that just keeps on getting better and better
as it goes along.  This third volume is the best yet, as a little
bit more is revealed about the Gazth-Sonika civil war, and Margaret's friend
Vanessa gets herself into a lot of trouble with Enfant.  This solid
show promises to become one of the year's best anime releases.

Madlax is a mercenary, a gun for hire, who is reputed to be the best
there is.  This assassin doesn't look like a hired killer though,
she's a delicate looking young lady.  Looks can be deceiving thought
as she is quite competent and deadly.  She shoots her victims with
her eyes shut, but with pin point accuracy.   Caught up in the
middle of the Gazth-Sonika civil war where the Galza resistance is fighting
the government, Madlax has more than enough work.

This is also the story of Margaret Burton, an odd young girl. 
She lives in Nafrece, alone with her maid Elenore, and it's rumored that
she's very wealthy.  Margaret marches to the tune of a different drummer. 
She will spend a long time staring at shoes in a store's window display,
or leave school early because she's afraid that it will rain, even though
there isn't a cloud in the sky.  When she looks at the world, it's
almost like she's seeing something different from what everybody else sees. 
In addition to her maid, Margaret spends a lot of time with her adult friend
Vanessa, a woman who works at a large corporation.

These two people haven't met, and seem to be about as different as two
people can be.  Yet their stories are related, though exactly how
isn't revealed yet.

As this volume starts, Vanessa has managed to arrange for Margaret,
Elenore, and herself to have a weekend at her company's exclusive hotel
retreat.  They have a relaxing time until Vanessa overhears something. 
An executive from her company and a member of Enfant, the local underground,
are discussing how the company and the mob have been conspiring to prolong
the Gazth-Sonika civil war in order to sell weapons to both sides.

After hearing this, Vanessa is determined to prove the link and go public
with the information.  Looking up an old friend who is a computer
whiz with a home-made supercomputer, Vanessa convinces him to break into
her company's mainframe and steal some data proving that they, and Enfant,
have been involved in the civil war.

Unfortunately, before he can download to data to his computer, he's
shut out, and has to dump the information into a random computer on the
web.  A computer that just happens to be in Gazth-Sonika.  Left
with no other choice, Vanessa travels to the war torn country to find the
valuable data, but Enfant isn't going to let her just publish their dirty
laundry and have sent a team of killers after her.  Luckily Vanessa's
hired Madlax to protect her.

This show has gotten more interesting as it's gone along.  The
plot, while not overly convoluted or hard to follow, has a lot going on. 
The connection between Margaret and Madlax has become more clear, but what
this connection is and why it's important is still a mystery.

One thing that really gives this show some character is Madlax's casual
confidence at how good she is at her job.  She doesn't come off as
arrogant, just very capable.  At one point Madlax warns Vanessa that
Enfant will go to extreme lengths to make sure the data is never published:.

Vanessa:  What would happen if I employed you and went public with
this data?

Madlax:  Lots of people would die.  But not you, I'd kill
them to protect you.

Of course Enfant has someone on their side who is just as good as Madlax,
and she's on her tail now, adding another dimension of intrigue to the
show.

As I've said before, the thing that sets Madlax above your average anime
is the unique way the story is laid out.  On the surface, it is a
regular story about two women, but if you scratch down just a bit, there
are mysterious machinations occurring in this series that draw the viewer
in.  This seems to be a tightly plotted show, and I'm sure that small
events in these opening shows will have a great impact latter on. 
I'm very interesting in seeing how this all works out.


The DVD:





Audio:

ADV provides the original stereo Japanese track to this DVD as well
as a 5.1 English dub.  I alternated tracks between shows, and both
of the audio tracks sounded very good.  The English dub was a little
more full and robust, but the Japanese track reproduced the sound well. 
The voices seemed to fit the characters a little better in the original
language, but that's just my opinion.  The only problem I had with
the dub was that the music level was a little high in places, making it
hard to hear the dialog.  There were no audio defects.

Video:

The anamorphically enhanced widescreen image is very good.  The
lines were very crisp, and the colors were reproduced well.  The color
reproduction is important, since They used a wide palate, with both the
jungle scenes and the urban settings having distinct looks created by the
colors that were employed.  Digital defects were practically nonexistent. 
A great looking DVD.

Extras:

This disc has a good number of bonus features.  In addition to
the standard clean opening and closing, there are Japanese promo spots
and a two-minute reel of design sketches.  My favorite bonus feature
though was Conversations With SSS, a nearly 10-minute reel of outtakes
where the English voice actors come up with some pretty humorous lines
for the scenes they are dubbing.  I loved the scene with the computer
geek in a chat room.  Some funny stuff.

Final Thoughts:

I've really enjoyed this show's mix of action, suspense, and multi-layered
plot.  The program continues to unfold at a nice pace, making some
things clearer, but still retaining most of its mystery. A fun show that
has been getting better as it goes along.  Highly Recommended.

 



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