Yuri Anime: Madlax, Volume 5

March 16th, 2006

Madlax 5 is absolutely, positively worth the wait.

I know that most anime fans have the attention spans of a gnat, so I wanted to say that quickly, before you stopped reading – or if you, perchance, have stopped watching Madlax because you saw Noir and think that it’s the same thing. It is the same thing – but better. Think of Noir as practice.

This volume is entitled “Convergence” and for once, the title actually fits. In this volume all the playing pieces gather together on one board.

Madlax and Vanessa have been framed so that the entire country believes that they have murdered a member of the royal family – which they have not. Rimelda (the official translation is Limelda, but I prefer the R to the L, so I’m sticking with my version, even though it is wrong) has been assigned Madlax as a target, but when she confronts Madlax and Vanessa, they give her the data they stole from Enfant.

This entire volume is the death and rebirth of Rimelda and it utterly, totally, completely rocks.

Rimelda dies as an elite sniper of the Royalist army and is reborn as an insane, obsessed killer. Think about that sentence for a while…eventually you’ll realize that there is, of course, no difference at all. Rimelda hasn’t *quite* gotten there by the end of the volume, but she’s on her way.

Vanessa learns to shoot so she can take care of herself, which ups her cool factor a few notches. When Margaret and Eleanor (another name for which I refuse to use the official version) show up, she’s not unhappy at all to have them join her.

They all *converge* upon Quanzitta’s village, where Naharu (a third name I use my own version of) wonders why she can’t get Madlax out of her head. Carlossea Doon shows up too, but he’s such a non-entity in this series, even if he is one of the main three characters. (I’m being generous here… his name is pronounced Carlossur Dawn. But because I don’t care about him, I’ll use his official spelling. Which the dub actors pronounce “Dune.” argh)

So we’re all together and the three mystical books are gathered. Finally Quanzitta has something to do other than take baths.The plot is pulling together and they are all getting closer, as Laetitia points out. The tension runs high, and the end, while not far away, is not really at all in sight. Something else, I like – when it’s carried off decently. Plotwise, this is the beginning of the end.

But the strength of this volume is in Hisakawa Aya’s portrayal of Rimelda, as she loses her life, her dreams, her status and her mind and replaces them all with an obsession. She falls in love with her idea of Madlax – and that supremely unhealthy love is only strengthened by every encounter with her prey. Rimelda nails their relationship after an aborted hand to hand fight with Madlax – if only Vanessa hadn’t interfered, they could have continued the dance.

I love Rimelda and Madlax together, so I was a little peeved at Vanessa too. And in myYyuri goggles, now that Eleanor is there, she and Vanessa can play family with Margaret, leaving the fightin’ chicks to each other. ^_^

My first thought – and one that resounded over and over as I watched this volume – Rimelda is Chloe, but done *right.* Not just because she has the same voice actress – but because they are the same lost little girl characters who are living a lie. Only where Chloe always seemed like a refugee from a different story in Noir, Rimelda is a crucial part of Gazth-Sonika. In many ways, she is more part of the world than Madlax herself – both as a character and as part of the larger mystical plot.

The song “I’m here,” which plays before every scene in which Madlax gets all bad-ass, becomes, in this volume an actual, active part of the plot. The final use of it in the volume – it is as much part of the story as the action going on around it. If you haven’t read the lyrics, do. It’s absolutely the story talking to the audience. I was left quite breathless by it. Good song, too.

The liner notes are, as always, worth the read. There’s a wacky little note about Rimelda written by Hisakawa Aya, which is very funny as it censures Rimmy about sleeping with Doon, but never even mentions falling in love with Madlax.  And I don’t know why I missed these, but the extras on the DVD include “Conversations with SSS,” which are completely insane dubbed scenes that are totally stupid, go on too long and are really funny. I’ll have to go back and watch the back volumes now. ^_^

Ratings:
Art – 7 (good, until it gets wonky)
Story – 9
Characters – 8
Music – 9
Yuri – 7
Service – 2

Overall – 9

This was *such* a good watch. I was really into it. I’ve heard from alot of people that they couldn’t get into Madlax, or they felt it was just a Noir clone. I love Noir, but of the two, I really have to say that Madlax is the far superior story. As I said in the beginning, this volume is absolutely worth the wait.

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3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    …Sorry, I can’t resist.

    “Madlax and Vanessa have been framed so that the entire country believes that they are murderers.”

    Isn’t Madlax a widely known super-assassin? So isn’t she already a (mass) murderer?

    I know you really mean that the entire country believes they are murderes *of someone they didn’t murder*, but I couldn’t resist.

    And on a serious note: there was a time that I as an anime fan would sit through 15+ episodes of mediocre, slow-paced boredom for a good payoff at the end. Those days are long gone.

  2. “Madlax and Vanessa have been framed so that the entire country believes that they have murdered a member of the royal family – which they have not.”

    Better?

  3. Adam says:

    Yeesh. You’re such a sucker for the psychotic ones… Whilst Rimelda/Madlax could be an interesting pairing, I can’t help but think it’d be a deeply unhealthy one.

    I’m right with you on the name mangling, though. How ADV managed to get “Doon” from something which sounds like “Dawn” (or possibly “Don”, since “Don Carossur” sounds vaguely cod-mafioso), or how they managed to put a “k” into “Nahal”, I suspect we’ll never know.

    The “Conversations with SSS” slots have some good moments (and a bunch of flat ones) – their portrayals of Vanessa and Eleanor in particular are wonderful.

    “Please leave a message after the bukka– er, the beep.”

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