Madlax Complete Collection (Thinpak) -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: C-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 69.98
  • Running time: 650
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Madlax

Madlax Complete Collection (Thinpak)

By Bryce Coulter     November 29, 2007
Release Date: July 17, 2007

Madlax Complete Collection (Thinpak)
© ADV Films

What They Say
Madlax is an assassin, head and heels above the rest. Nothing can surpass her skill in the art of combat, except perhaps her skill in the art of deception. She will find you, she will charm you and then she will most certainly harm you. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t even matter if you know she’s coming. In the end, strong or wise, rich or hardened, friend or foe, Madlax will have you eating bullets out of the palm of her hand. Margaret Burton is an orphaned schoolgirl with issues far greater than mere homework. Haunted by bizarre and cloudy dreams, she must not only endure the horrifying images of her past, but she must also traverse the treacherous path of high school. Margaret is lost, lost in her way and lost in herself. Grasping for the truth, she flutters in and out of reality without ever letting her feet touch the ground. Her connection to Madlax is mysterious. It’s dark, it’s deadly, and of course, it’s classified.

The Review!
Good? Bad? She’s the girl with the gun.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show using the English dub. We also sampled the Japanese audio track to compare the two audio versions. The English cast does a decent job of keeping up with standard set by the original Japanese voice cast. In listening to both language tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is solid and does a decent job of capturing the numerous dark and murky areas in the show. There are numerous scenes throughout the series that are in darkened cities and jungle areas. Here the transfer maintains a very solid feel and avoids blocking or bleeding. Very minimal cross coloration appears, which really has little impact on the visual presentation overall. Clean and clear, this series is free of any mastering problems that typically appear in anime releases. The series is good looking from start to finish.

As with most ADV thinpacks, this collection has five thin DVD cases featuring the numerous cast members. The cardboard case features Madlax and Margaret on the front while the back shows Madlax and her arch nemesis, Limelda Jorgon, on the back. The spine of the case depicts Margaret and Madlax standing back to back, thus implicating some kind of a connection. Overall, the thinpack box is eye catching and fits the overall theme of the series. The flowers blended in on both sides of the chipboard case also fit the theme well. The box is colored with a quasi-yellow camouflage, which is pretty unique. The cover for each DVD case, different than the original release cases, does a good job of reflecting the episode content. Overall, it’s a nice presentation that looks better than the original single disc releases.

As always, ADV has stripped out many of the extras and menu features from the original releases. It gets somewhat annoying when trying to do reviews in that you have to give a low grade because it is bare bones. Anyhow, the main menu for each disc is set up in what looks like a worn out piece of camouflage with a still image clip from one of the episodes and that’s it. No bells or whistles here, just select the episode number and/or language. Oh, by the way, there is a decent sounding audio clip that loops while you are exploring the vast wealth of options. Access times are nice and fast. The disc also correctly read our player’s language presets properly and played accordingly.

As with all ADV thinpack collections… zip, zilch, none.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Many comparisons are made in the anime community about Madlax and how it holds up to it’s sister series, Noir that was also made by the Bee Train animation studio. There are many similarities, yet there are quite a few differences. Madlax is often accused of reusing Noir's style, such as the story premise, the two heroines' appearance, and the music. However, Madlax is a more monolithic and consequential than its predecessor. This has to do with the fact that there are many tightly held subplots that are intertwined and held together by the overarching plot.

The first half of the series alternates between the two leads, Madlax and Margaret Burton. Madlax is a mercenarie in the war-torn country of Gazth-Sonika while Margaret enjoys the tranquility of Nafrece, a country that resembles a modern-day France. Madlax is an assassin that is swift and deadly while Margaret Burton is a very timid, if not lost, teenager who often appears confused. At times, Margaret acts like a spoiled young child as money appears to be no object in her household. Another mystery is added to the fold, in that there are two children that sporadically appear at different times and often don’t make sense. However…

A picture book, given to Margaret by her late father attracts the attention of an international crime syndicate called Enfant. Margaret’s persistent curiosity about the book leads her to discover that the book’s origin lies in Gazth-Sonika. Carrossea Doon, Enfant's top operative, tracks Margaret down while deliberately misleading his superiors in the wrong direction, towards Madlax. Carrossea obviously has a personal interest in Margaret and her mysterious book. Madlax has been a thorn in Enfant’s side for quite some time. In fact, Limelda Jorg, a top sniper for the Gazth-Sonika army is out to kill Madlax. The brief encounters between Limelda and Madlax make for some intense combat action in the jungles of Gazth-Sonika.

Meanwhile, Vanessa Rene, Margaret's former tutor, discovers that her employer, Bookwald Industries, covertly supports the civil war in Gazth-Sonika by supplying both sides with weapons. Here is where the main plot and subplots begin to intertwine. Vanessa’s investigation leads her to Gazth-Sonika. And, it just so happens that Madlax is assigned to be her bodyguard. Together, Madlax and Vanessa uncover data that proves that Enfant orchestrated the entire conflict. Interestingly enough, Margaret decides to travel to Gazth-Sonika to help Vanessa and is accompanied by both her maidservant Elenore Baker and Carrossea Doon.

Eventually, Madlax and Margaret encounter each other. One way or another, it had to happen. Together Madlax, Margaret, and the gang search for Quanzitta Marison, a Gazth-Sonikan mystic who is supposed to know about the content of the picture book, Enfant's involvement with it, and Enfant itself. She informs them that Enfant plans to plunge the entire world into a total war, starting with Gazth-Sonika.

We soon discover that Friday Monday, Enfant's leader, possesses supernatural powers that are directly connected to two of three ancient books. One of those books, the third book, belongs to Margaret. This is the point where Madlax’s plot begins to drastically differ from that found in Noir. And, much to this reviewer’s surprise, it fits well and begins to reveal some of the weirdness that lies in Margaret, Carrossea Doon, the mysteriously appearing children that were menyioned earlier, and the superhuman abilities found in Madlax. Believe me, the mystic stuff works well here.

I will leave the “rest of the story” for you to discover. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. Tense, dramatic, sad, and triumphant are some feelings that we felt as the series came to a close. Not as refined as Noir, but definitely a great story that begs for a second viewing. Of course, these type of show demand second viewings in that the plot complexity sometimes causes the viewer to miss out on some key details. Madlax and other anime of this type are great fun in that the second viewing always brings out the details that you missed while revealing a new insight into the story. Madlax is a prime example of why many anime fans feel that anime/manga surpass its American counterparts.

Madlax is a very slow brewing cauldron of whoop-ass that will round-house kick you like Chuck Norris if you give it’s well deserved viewing. This is a show for anime fans that like action, but enjoy the joy of the thrill of the hunt where the prize awaits you at the end. Definitely recommended!

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, XBOX 360 DVD player, XBOX 360 HDMI Cable with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.


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