Because I’m home for the holiday, I thought I’d try something new today – reviewing something as I watch it. So, I am watching Madlax, Volume 7 as I write.
The first thing that struck me was the cover of this DVD. If you haven’t yet gotten the connection between Madlax and Margaret, then you’re clearly running behind. This picture ought to make the point quite clearly.
It’s very hard to talk about this volume without massive spoilers, but I’m going to try to be vague and speculative about some key things. My apologies if I blow anything huge for you.
Right from the opening seconds there’s a great tension in this volume that doesn’t really dissipate until the end, where it’s supposed to. How amazing is that?
In the first episode, we finally see Madlax as she truly is – a phantasm. There’s a brilliant moment when a machine gun is shot at her and we can see the bullets ricochet against the rock behind her. Clearly, the shots passed right through her forehead. But there’s no reaction from her and no sign of the bullets. The shadow Madlax taking all the hits while the absurd dress-wearing Madlax shoots the enemy, was quite brilliant.
Then Rimelda arrives. She’s changed, one can see that immediately. There’s something like acceptance, and a little relief in her expression. She and Madlax have a moment that changes everything between them.
Meanwhile, we get to see just how much Eleanor truly loves Margaret, and what Margaret really is to her.
Episode 24 makes a really good case for there being many different ways that love can manifest. In day-to-day things, (what my wife and I refer to as “playing house”) and in remembering a person after they are gone.
We lose yet another friend and again, it’s a GREAT scene. In a war story, losing someone isn’t bizarre and can be used well. In anime, a main character remaining dead is almost unheard of. It makes the death more meaningful (in the sense of driving the story) when you know that they won’t pop back in a giant reset that renders everything pointless. The losses we suffer here are handled well and are definitely not pointless.
Where Episode 24 is about an apparent reality, 25 is about the magic that has driven the series from the beginning – some of which has only been hinted at. It’s a magic with no roots in our world, so we have to take everything we’re given at face value, which I like quite a bit.
Things we thought were resolved pop back up, still present. People we thought gone come back, but not for the reasons we might think. And Margaret is not saved, as it appeared last episode.
We get to see Friday Monday’s point of view on the events of twelve years ago, which adds the few last pieces to the puzzle – except why Friday Monday is such a crazy nerdbanger. That remains unexplained. Also I question the concept of the “Essence”, since it seems to always make people turn murderously violent against the person they love the most. It seems an obviously flaw to the FM’s insistence that that is the REAL truth, when it’s the same exact reaction in everyone who encounters the words. It’s like saying that datura is *really* an antacid, and the fact that people who take it die is sort of a side effect of the true disease within them. Except, as we see that FM is completely crazy, we can also see how, to him, this obviously evil magic spell is “The Truth (TM)”. Nonetheless, we do see the truth, finally, of what happened to Margaret, and who Madlax is.
When the calvary thunders down the hill – to kick ass music, mind you – it was so wonderful, if just to SHUT Friday Monday UP. Geez, his laugh is enough to make *me* shoot him.
Episode 26 – Final.
What can I really say about this episode that won’t be one great big spoiler? Let’s just say this – the story actually ends. And, to the best of the writers’ abilities, it makes sense. There are still tons of questions, but they are more about the hows than the whys or whats.
Watching Margaret making her decision this time, it all made more sense. Of course, if I tell you why, I’ll ruin the whole thing, so you’ll just have to watch it and get back to me.
And I guess there’s something to the bad guy who doesn’t die, because this way you can just keep killing the freak again and again…
Oh, and how happy was I when Margaret tells Friday Monday exactly what I pointed out in my review of Volume 6 – that there was no need to bring out the violence and hatred in people’s hearts, because we’re quite well aware that it exists, thanks awfully.
I still maintain that Madlax is the best writing that Bee Train has done. It has the mystery of the .hack series, without the endless meaningless chatter that goes nowhere, the Yuri and violence of Noir, the despair and love of Avenger and a story that resolves, unlike all of them. ^_^
Art – 8
Story – 8
Character – 9
Music – 8
Yuri – 3
Service – 3 (random breasts, pretty much)
Overall – 8
And what a great epilogue. I love that epilogue. Luv, luv. This series ends with an unexpected bang. Perfect for fanfic. (Which yes, I have written. It’s up on “Worldshaking” Fanfic. Enjoy!)