Yuri Anime: Madlax

June 29th, 2004

madlaxAs promised, today I’m discussing the rather promising new Bee Train anime, Madlax. Now, bear in mind that a) Bee Train doesn’t have really overt screaming Yuri scenes; b)Bee Train also doesn’t bother tying up all the loose ends in their plots, so alot of what’s going on will never be resolved and; c) that this is a seriously biased overview from a person who has watched way too much anime recently… ;-)

“Madlax” is the name of a young woman, bodyguard and assassin by profession, tragic heroine by role. She lives and works in Gazth-Sonika, a war-torn banana republic in an undisclosed part of the world. It is established early on that, while she is very competent at her job, you probably wouldn’t want to invite her to dinner, since, like Jessica Fletcher, someone is likely to die when she’s around.

Meanwhile, in beautiful, vaguely European, Nafreces, where everyone is affluent and happy, rich girl Margaret Burton is introduced and established to be eternally spacey – perhaps as a result of a trauma she experienced as a small child…perhaps as a result of hallucinogenics in the drinking water, perhaps as a silly plot complication – the one thing we can be sure of is that we will probably never find out.

Protecting Margaret is Eleanor, a hyper-competent and unremittingly weird maid/bodyguard, who is by far and away, the most fascinating character to date. She is involved with…

Vanessa Renee, Margaret’s next-door neighbor who was like an older sister to a young Margaret, but is now no more than a vague memory to the spacey one.

When Vanessa invites herself, quite literally, into Margaret’s life, Eleanor finds her amusing and after a while, it becomes clear to those of us who watch anime with “Yuri goggles” that Vanessa and Eleanor are more than just having dinner with each other. The repartee’ becomes, at times, almost risque’ between them, while Margaret is totally oblivious.

We do learn that there is *alot* more to both Eleanor and Vanessa as they save Margaret from being ravished by a tiresome boy-type character. Most maids aren’t *that* good at hand-to-hand combat. And few of them are likely to be that vicious, either.

Meanwhile, back in the plot, Margaret locates a weird book which has mystic writing, which will in some way involve the token man (who works as an agent for *every* organization in the story), a tribal hot chick whose knowledge will probably not further the plot much, but will create more bath scenes and allow for yet *another* character to be looking for Margaret. (Now that I think about it, the youngish girl who is part of the tribal deal is probably going to involved with Margaret one way or another…)

This all may or may not have something to do with the illegal activities of the company Vanessa works for (and I’m betting Margaret owns, or something…) and a mafia-like organization, Enfan, that has a leader with the silliest and least fear-inspiring name ever…Friday Monday. I kid you not. He sounds like a bad guy from Pokemon, for pity’s sake.

Vanessa has gotten herself transferred to Gazth-Sonika, where Madlax has the nigh on impossible job of protecting her from herself and random assassination attempts. Vanessa’s yuri rating kicks up a notch or two when she invites Madlax to share a bed with her and in screencaps for the episode from last week, she embraces Madlax in a decidedly huggy way. Now all the Eleanor/Vanessa fans are crying, “Poor Eleanor!” Not that I think that Eleanor would mind, much. Madlax has also decided that Vanessa is a Princess and she, Madlax, is her Prince, and we, the audience, all looked for the spinning roses.

Lastly, there is Rimelda, another hyper-competent female sharpshooter, who works for the military and has a total obsession with Madlax, as well as Hisakawa Aya’s sexy “grown-up” voice. Yay!

So, the story is only at halfway and there are many, many plot elements to be sorted out – what the mystic book and Enfan have in common, what it all has to do with Margaret’s disappearance as a child, whether Vanessa goes home to Eleanor, and many, many other things that will never be resolved.

In the yuri goggles, Madlax/Rimelda, Vanessa/Madlax, Vanessa/Eleanor all look pretty yummy and will doubtless provide much fodder for horrible fanfiction and fan art. I can’t wait and I’m sure you feel the same way. :-)

Is Madlax worth watching? Depends – if you like tight stories, then avoid it like the plague. But as always with Bee Train work, the music is compelling, the action is fun (once we moved past the battle dress in the first episode,) and the yuri is pretty strong. Lots of chicks with guns. Lots of chicks in general.

Ratings:

Plot – hahahaha
Characters – 8, for Eleanor alone
Art – 7. It waffles from being excellent to being “eh”
Yuri – 8, maybe 9
Music – 9

Overall – 8

It’s a fun watch so far. Not “Read or Dream” quality, but darn fun.

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