Madlax, Volume 1

June 6th, 2005

I’m not sure if Madlax is better than I remembered it to be, but it is definitely damn good. In this series, I think Bee Train might well have hit their peak – animation, story, music, etc, all work together to make a really enjoyable whole.

I reviewed the early part of the series about a year ago in June 2004, so I won’t repeat the basic plot stuff since, obviously, that has not changed. ;-)

So let’s talk packaging. Like Noir, the packaging is minimal. No posters, no pencil boards, just a disk and some liner notes. The notes are interesting, but not Azumanga Daioh-level stellar. 4 episodes on the disk. I know it’s standard, but you know my rant – it shouldn’t be. 6 episodes on a disk *should* be standard, or why have we switched at all from VHS?

The music has a definitely similarity to that of Noir, without being a complete copycat. I did notice, this time around, that “The Book” (or individual pages from The Book) has a plinky, irrirtating theme, much as The Watch did. The book also comes with a pretentious quasi-militaristic, vaguely Teutonic male choir, which means that even if you’re only half paying attention, you’ll look up when it comes on-screen. :-)

I’m always fascinated by the phenomenon of watching an anime I enjoyed with that 20/20 hindsight that comes from knowing what will happen. It frees one to notice many more details – in this case I was able to appreciate just how really flaky Margaret is. lol

For the yuri fan, there is instant rapport between Elenore and Vanessa, who seem to be sharing some kind of obvious secret as they trade snarky comments. And Rimelda gives off gaydar vibes like crazy…but maybe that’s just me.

The whole war thing actually makes more sense this time around – I think we get alot of Madlax’s point of view in the beginning just to establish that pretty much everyone knows this war is meaningless – except for the guys fighting it. Hey, *that* sounds familiar…. I also like Madlax’s sensuality in the middle of everything. The first time watching it seemed frivolous – this time it feels somehow necessary.

The biggest downside to this series hasn’t really yet been established: Bee Train has a nasty tendency to severely overuse repeated footage, like some kind of animated nervous tic. In the case of Volume 1, we have yet to really see the repeated scenes, but we will, we will…established by Episode 4, they just keep coming back again and again and again, until we want to scream. Or maybe that’s just me.

Other than that – the violence is appropriate, people bleed (an issue I had with Noir) from their wounds and the only serious handwave is Madlax’s mad assasinatin’ skillz. Which is *the* handwave, really, so we’ll let it go. She can fight in a cocktail dress if she wants, so there.

Ratings:

Art – 8 (I think BT really hits a high here. It’s the best they’ve done so far.)
Characters – 8 (Intriguing rather than interesting)
Story – 7
Yuri – 4 with a hint of more to come
Music – 9

Overall – a strong 8. If you liked Noir, you’ll probably like Madlax. Get it at the Yuricon Shop and support yuri!

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