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Madlax Vol. 3. - The In-Between
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.