Volume 3 of Madlax is both wonderful…and frustrating. Wonderful, because all the connections start coming together, leading you forward towards who knows what. It’s also frustrating for the exact same reasons – you keep feeling like everything is going *somewhere* but you’re just not getting quite enough info to piece it all together.
For me, the volume is very satisfying, as it focuses primarily on the character of Vanessa Rene, whose efforts to find out exactly what’s going on bring her into contact with Madlax, and with Enfan, thus knitting together the three great variables in the story: Who is Madlax, and how did she get those mad assassinatin’ skillz; what on earth is Enfan’s relationship to the civil war in Gazth-Sonika; what does Margaret have to do with any of this?
None of these questions is answered, of course – but Vanessa actually articulates the first two – and the third is implicit in the storyline. Bee Train isn’t giving anything away in this anime, we’re going to have to work for our payoff here. When I watched this part the first time around, I was skeptical that we would get *any* payoff, but now I know we will, and I’m content to let the story play itself out.
In writing the above, I just realized that watching Madlax is a bit like watching a play by Chekhov – you have to let the characters repeat their particular bete noir over and over until the threads all ravel and it begins to make sense. You can’t rush it, or guess what will happened/has happened. You just have to wait.
On the yuri side, I love this volume for what it doesn’t say. There’s still the weird vibe between Vanessa and Eleanor, which makes me think that they slept together, but don’t have a “relationship” per se. Eleanor would be hard work – her focus is so single-minded, that to make her notice her existence, Vanessa would have to do something irrevocable and awful. Vanessa ain’t no dummmy – she lets whatever is between them stay as whatever Eleanor makes it.
When she meets Madlax, its obvious that Vanessa is resonating to something within her – there’s an obvious desire to connect with this mysterious girl, and maybe protect (or perhaps treasure) her a little. There’s a very, very slight yuri feel there, but I think that’s because they are strangers and Vanessa doesn’t yet know who/what Madlax is or how to approach her. I don’t have any difficulty in believing that Vanessa would sleep with Madlax, if she thought that would be a good idea for them both. We know, with 20/20 hindsight, what the thing she feels in Madlax is, but as she doesn’t know herself – and never does learn – it leaves an interesting edginess between them.
As for Madlax, she clearly sees the relationship between her and Vanessa as a mirror image of Vanessa’s interpretaton: she’s the prince protecting Vanessa, the princess. We’ve already seen that Madlax isn’t afraid of sex and, once again, I think Madlax could well sleep with Vanessa, if she felt that it was the thing to do.
Will they, do they? I don’t think so. But that edge between them is fascinating and titilating.
And there’s Rimelda. This volume could be entitled “The birth of an obsession” and I think it’s a beautiful thing. ^_^ I’m not usually fond of obsessive relationships, but again, I know what’s coming and this one works for me.
Art – 5. It’s very inconsistent, with that BT tendency to have really bad people on top of really lovely backgrounds
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Music – 8
Yuri – 6, with loads of possibility
Overall – 8.
Madlax is a story that remains intriguing and fun, as long as you don’t need it to “make sense.”