Madox-01 (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, March 09, 2004
What They Say
Ace female test pilot Kusomoto Elle humiliates macho tank driver Lt. Kilgore in the first demonstration of the advanced personal battle tank, the MADOX. Kilgore vows revenge, and gets his chance when the army rather carelessly loses the prototype in Tokyo.
The MADOX is found by engineering student Sujimoto Kouji, who doesn't take the time to completely read the manual and ends up zooming around Tokyo trapped in a machine he doesn't quite know how to operate.
Guess who gets the job of stopping the now mobile missing MADOX? Poor Kouji. If he's late for his date, it's over between him and his girlfriend. His current attire redefines the term "over-dressed."
AnimEigo goes back to the beginning and releases their first title for their fifteenth anniversary. Madox is one of the best representations of a good chunk of 80's mecha anime.
With this being one of the earliest licensed shows we saw, it was a trip to the past to listen to the show once again in its original language of Japanese. The OVA sports a pretty basic stereo mix that does have some moments of minor directionality across the forward soundstage, but on average it's such a ?loud" show that there isn't much to discern from it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout it and we had no trouble with dropouts or distortions. We did sample both the English track and chunks of the commentary track and noted no issues there either.
Originally released to video back in 1987, the transfer for Madox comes across pretty well but isn't without its problems. There's some noticeable macroblocking going on at various points throughout the show, which is mostly noticeably in characters hair, such as Kouji's brown breaking up a bit or some of Ellie's hair. There's some obvious and expect line noise during some of the fast paced areas where there's a lot of detail as well, but that isn't terribly bad. The main area that's really noticeably bad is during a scene when the show has a red light flooding everything, which causes a lot of chroma noise to appear. This hits just about everything in the scene causing it to look pretty ugly, especially depending on the size of your monitor. The majority of the transfer looks decent considering the age and that there doesn't appear to be a recent remaster in Japan either.
Using an interesting illustration pace for the cover, one I hadn't seen before, it's got a shot of Kouji inside the Madox while his girlfriend rides along on the arm. The coloring used for it feels a bit strange, almost like a partially painted piece that didn't get the final detail needed to bring it to life, but at least it's not the same cover as used previously. The back cover has a few shots from the show and a summary that covers the bulk of the OVA. The discs features and very minimal production credits are laid out clearly here as well. This is fairly typical AnimEigo packaging, so there's some small quirks to it but it all works in the end. The traditional recipe card is included in this release, which has a number of amusing little notes, particularly the list of famous people who touched this project and went on to much bigger things.
Using some of the animation from the show, the main menu has a motion shot of the Madox unit and has the selections lined alongside it, but you make your selection based on the gears that are spinning. I don't recall too many menus that actually have active animation from the show itself being manipulated like this. The menu layout is pretty standard and nicely done with fast access times and an easy to navigate setup.
For the anniversary release, there's some good extras included in here. In addition to the trailers for the show, there's the original lengthy documentary that was made that goes into detail about a lot of SDF equipment and the concept of a piece of gear like the Madox. Robert Woodhead sits down for an interview as well and talks about the origins of the company, how Madox was picked up and how it's done over the years. A good number of questions and answers surface here, though several are of the usual convention variety, but it's interesting to get it all down in one place, even if he will never confirm nor deny the existence of the interview. The dub director for the show from Swirl Recording also get an interview, and goes over all sorts of aspects of dubbing and where Swirl is today, as well as comparisons to hentai dubbing. To top it off, there's a commentary track that goes over the length of the show, though it's less a talk about the show itself and more a commentary on the gags and action as it goes by.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After waiting far too long since getting their DVD machines rolling, AnimEigo has finally gone back to their first release and cranked out Madox on DVD. After coming out on both VHS and LD, it's finally hit the small shiny format and earned itself a dub at the same time. Madox is the kind of 80's mecha OVA show that really highlights one of the mainstays of the genre. The somewhat bumbling or na´ve older kid who happens upon a really cool piece of technology, only to be controlled by it. It falls into some of the general paranoia about technology controlling humanity, but it also allows the animators to let an oversized souped up piece of military gear to rampage through a city and cause all manner of destruction in its wake.
The central storyline to Madox comes in the form of a military test mecha that's being tested out. The unit which is just a bigger version of a human that pilots it, is high-tech and high powered, which we see playing out in the first few minutes of the show as the units designer, a young woman named Ellie, takes out a tank division with ease, not even getting scratched. The tank commander, Kilgore, is furious about how this all plays out and doesn't want such a unit to become the main force of the military. As one of his commanding officers says, he's a man born in the wrong time. What he wants is action and plenty of it. So when the Madox unit gets packed up and shipped to Tokyo, only to be lost after an accident, he's set to take it out once and for all.
The Madox unit, which is shifted down to a large cube when not in use, ends up in the hands a mechanic named Kouji after the traffic accident causes it to spill into the city. Kouji finds the instructions for it after he eventually gets it back to his apartment and starts to activate it. After all, what could happen? Before he knows it, it's practically come alive and forced him into the pilots seat. He's able to control much of what it does, but it has a number of automatic responses to external stimuli. So when Kilgore comes looking for the unit, it starts to fight back against him. Kouji doesn't understand what's going on and since he's a simple-minded young man, he's only interested in getting to the top floor of the NSR building where his soon to be former girlfriend wants to meet him before she goes studying abroad.
The bulk of Madox-01 is really a chase scene that runs about three fourths of the OVAs 50 minute runtime. Kouji goes from not being able to control the machine to mastering its movements so that he can eat a boxed lunch. Once Kilgore actually after him, he spends more time on the run than anything else, but everything he does helps him along in mastering the units abilities. There really isn't a lot of depth to this show and it's reflective of a lot of similar OVAs made at the time. The show is quite enjoyable as a romp, and with the Sonada-like character designs, but there's no real meat to it.
Interestingly, I found the show to be more enjoyable watching it on the small 4" screen on my Panasonic portable deck than on the 50" set in my living room. The smaller and almost cramped screen seems to change something in how I see it.
Madox-01 has taken its time to get out on DVD, but AnimEigo has done a decent job overall and provided some good anniversary extras with it. The show is one of those early landmark releases for US anime history and I'm glad that AnimEigo has kept the show licensed and available in one format or another during all of this time. While Madox-01 may not mean much to the majority of fandom these days, I'll always remember it as one of the very few number of titles that you could legally buy back when there wasn't even anything you could call an anime industry. For that alone, Madox-01 is a title that deserves a lot of recognition.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Documentary,Interview with Robert Woodhead,Interview with Swirl,Commentary Track
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AnimEigo
Running time: 50
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2