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Anime Madlax


Dagger
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I wish I had spent less time complaining about this show's pathetically unspectacular first episode. That way it wouldn't have taken me so long to discover that the series as a whole is turning out to be pretty darn good. At the moment I've watched five episodes; so far eight total have been fansubbed.

In terms of artwork and music, Madlax is a typical Bee Train (.hack//SIGN, Avenger, Noir) anime. I'm personally not a big fan of Bee Train's character designs--they strike me as being unsophisticated and weirdly shaded, with some freakishly thin noses--or Koishi Mashimo's direction. He has a peculiar fondness for minute eye movements and painfully slow panning. However, neither of these techniques is as ridiculously prevalent in Madlax as they were in, say, Avenger. It also sort of helps that Madlax actually seems to have a story.

Contrary to appearances, this isn't really an action anime. Focusing too much on the title character's superhuman exploits will probably drive you batty anyway. For me, the anime's rich, music-driven atmosphere and many mysteries are much more interesting than the occasional exchange of gunfire.

A few scenes are genuinely beautiful, and the lovely backgrounds make up for the tired character designs. I suspect that I won't like Madlax too much if it continues being so frustratingly cryptic, but hopefully everything will start to make sense towards the end.

~Dagger~
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You called the music "typical" but didn't mention it again. I think the music (by Yuki Kajira, who also scored Noir) is excellent; the OP and ED are not outstanding but fit the show pretty well. I don't know .hack and I thought Avenger got a distinctly subpar effort from Ali Project.
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Avenger seemed to generate a lot of positive interest early (only to disappoint many viewers), but this show seems to have generated a fair amount of negativity for various reasons (too much like Noir(!?), etc.). I enjoyed Noir immensely and would have been happy to take a "pilgrimage to the past," but Madlax has done plenty to distinguish itself from other Bee Train works and from anything else on offer this spring.

As a tentative link between Margaret and Madlax is forged in episode 8, the show now has two interesting lead characters and a wide arena for their story to play out. I can't find any information on how many episodes the series is going to run but I will bet on 12 or 13.
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I don't know what to say about the music, heh. It's certain high-quality, and fits well with pretty much every scene. The lush sound and techno beats frequently reminds me of .hack... which isn't all that bad, I guess, just sort of distracting until I stop thinking about it. Some of the recurring themes are really great. At the same time, I can't help thinking that the whole choral thing is rather overused.

At first I felt that Madlax's personality was a bit incongruous. But I guess it's nice to see a kick-*** female character who isn't shallow and ditzy (or, alternatively, cold-hearted and overly professional). She actually reminds me of Triela from Gunslinger Girl--despite the difference in their ages--and Kino from Kino no Tabi. I'm hoping that she'll end up [spoiler]taking down Enfan.[/spoiler]

~Dagger~
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Guest gendou ikari
The first half of the episode had me thinking this might be the first show with a Yuki Kajiura soundtrack that wasn't completely overpowering everything else. Then in the second half, it was business as usual. It isn't quite as strong as her previous work, but they obviously invested money in her music, and they want to showcase it. Which isn't bad, since it's usually very good.

Good production values on the show, animation and art is all very good, as is the music (see above). I like Madlax's character design, and find it suitably appealing. Hey, who doesn't like a contract killer/assassin/agent who does her business wearing a cocktail dress?

If I had a bone to pick with this first episode, it would be with the names. Madlax? Not to mention the names of the countries and the various generals, which were so forgettable (and weird), I can't even recall any of them.

As a first episode, this is a pretty good one. There's still a lot of mystery: What's the deal with Madlax? Who's SSS? What's going on in this setting? But you also get a firm idea of what the show's going to be like. Lots of over-the-top action with an attractive female lead.

Now, as long as the question marks don't turn out to be as silly as the show's name and some of the other names, we'll be in business.

Well there ya go. (And if anyone wondered where I have been, I have been nowhere.Just got a little bored. Yknow, posting long posts all the time... But I'm back. Just like brak)
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  • 4 weeks later...
I find that I enjoy Madlax more if I watch it really late at night, when I'm exhausted and feel inclined to process things slowly. It's a good show, with a nice, substantial storyline, but the dialogue is at best obtuse, and things tend to unfold [i]very[/i] deliberately. The relationships between the characters interest me more than their actual personalities. That's one of the main reasons why I like episode 13, which has some lovely scenes with [spoiler]Vanessa and Madlax, not to mention Margaret and Carossar. I didn't expect him to have such a significant role, or to become anything more than your typical devious bad guy.[/spoiler]

~Dagger~
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[quote name='Dagger IX1']...The relationships between the characters interest me more than their actual personalities...[/quote]Nicely put.

Bee Train relies on its "pilgrimages to the past" for a lot of narrative drive, so it makes sense to leave characters slightly unformed. The characters are revealed through their reactions, and it's more interesting not to already know how they will react to everything.

And Bee Train doesn't invest too much in market-tested likability. It's true that the shows are leisurely in their pacing, but many shows from other studios stall out while the characters pull their patented cutesy moves.

On the other hand, when Madlax said she was 17 it was an odd moment, because there is little about her except her appearance which speaks to her being any specific age.

Madlax is an ensemble work rather than a "star vehicle" - much more so than Noir. It will be impossible to remember the series in terms of only a few characters. Madlax also manages to fill out a large stage that Noir was really only able to suggest.

Madlax' scene with the general and one with Vanessa in episode 12 were fabulous - suggestive without being oppressive. They get right to a mood and leave it at that.
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  • 3 months later...
It's over--and licensed, to boot!

Despite the fact that parts of Madlax absolutely infuriated me, it ended up being one of the anime I eagerly looked forward to every week. To my own surprise, I loved the final episode and now can't wait to get this show on DVD. The script struck me as being strangely inconsistent; some of the earlier episodes were brilliantly written, whereas a whole string in the mid-teens consisted of little more than monotonous (and, frankly, meaningless) name-calling.

"Margaret Burton..." "Madlax..." "Margaret Burton..." "Madlax..." "Ojou-sama!"

*shudders* Fortunately, things started to pick up toward the very end. Although I had a number of problems with the way that [spoiler]Vanessa and Eleanor were knocked off,[/spoiler] their cameos in the final episode were touching, appropriate and gratifyingly short. [spoiler]Carossaur's death scene was startlingly well done, but by the time Eleanor was shot I had gotten rather fed up with the sudden barrage of character deaths.[/spoiler]

I'm definitely anticipating Koichi Mashimo's next project, Meine Liebe.

~Dagger~
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  • 6 months later...
[quote name='Lennex3][COLOR=DarkRed][FONT=Times New Roman]The new anime Madlax is finally out, anyone seen it? If so how do you like it? :animesmil[/FONT'] [/COLOR][/quote]
Next time, check the Directory sticky before starting a new series-specific thread.

As it happens, I managed to win myself an autographed Madlax artbox (signed by Luci Christian, who plays Margaret in the English dub). So that made me pretty darn happy. And the show itself looks wonderful on DVD. As I had been hoping--and, to a certain degree, expecting--the dub is really excellent. In certain ways it's more engaging than the Japanese version. The on-disc extras are also good; the unused OP sequence is especially amusing (probably more so for people who have already seen a good chunk of the series than those who haven't).

I'd say the first volume is a solid buy. Although I wonder how first-time viewers will respond to the evening gown phenomenon. :animeswea

~Dagger~
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