Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: TV 14
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Madlax
Madlax Vol. #2
By Chris Beveridge
August 16, 2005
Release Date: June 07, 2005
What They Say
The Gazth-Sonika Civil War – As the death toll mounts, so do questions about both the conflict’s purpose and its highly secretive facilitators. Even the ruling power’s Army Commander hired mercenary Madlax to carry out his own assassination in the hopes of putting an end to the madness. Meanwhile, the quest for answers continues. Before being murdered by his bizarrely entranced daughter, resistance operative Piederica Morey sent a young boy named Chris deep into Gazth-Sonika in order to find the truth – and turn the tide of the war.The Review!
The ties that are pulling Margaret and Madlax together are starting to tighten while the struggle within this convoluted country expands even more.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though just as active as some of their past series, the show gets a stereo mix here that does a good job of working through the material but you wish it was in a 5.1 format since it would just have that extra oomph to it. The mix is good though and utilizes the forward soundstage well as the bullets fly across and explosions range from one side to the other. Dialogue is also well placed when appropriate though it's not quite as noticeable. Overall, dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer for the show is overall very solid and does an excellent job of capturing the numerous dark and murky areas that the show typically runs around in. With a good chunk of it either being night scenes or ones in the darkened jungle areas, it maintains a very solid feel and avoids blocking or bleeding with what colors do shine through there. One or two scenes I want to say there's a very tiny touch of cross coloration but we're talking like a hairs length here or there that has little impact overall. The transfer in general seems to be free of just about all the normal problems that come up and is good looking from start to finish making it very easy to get into the show itself.Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the regular edition Japanese release, this cover keeps things focused on Madlax herself and one of her opponents while going with the stark white background but providing a bit of a fuzzy image there with the flower being blown up that's in her hand. The back cover provides four strips in a row where it alternates between the descriptions of the lead characters where the writer lost their thesaurus and small shots from the show. The discs features and production information fill out most of the rest of the cover as does the tightly packed by highly informative technical grid. The insert for this release replicates the front cover for its first page and opens up to a couple of panels that talk with the character designers and showcases some of their fun pencilwork.Menu:
The main menu is set up in what looks like a faux military style piece of metal that's been worn down and seen plenty of wear and tear. The navigation and series title is all done in orange paint while a small window shows clips from the show and a fuzzier version underneath the overall navigation shows other images floating by as it's all set to a brief instrumental clip. I like the design since it fits the theme well and it's fairly dark and doesn't just scream fanservice like it could have. Access times are nice and fast and it's easy to navigate around in. The disc also correctly read our players language presets properly and played accordingly.Extras:
This volume gets a decent selection of extras that go a bit beyond the basics. We get the tried and true standards with the clean opening and closing sequences and a session of design sketches done as a video gallery. There are even a handful of promotional spots from its run on Japanese TV. Continuing an extra from the first volume, there's another installment of the "Conversations with SSS" which is basically a bunch of scripted outtakes/alternate dialogue scenes. Your mileage may vary on what you find funny but there's a couple of good ones in there.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Madlax moves forward with another four episodes here and while our two main characters still haven't met or really come within any real distance of each other, the ties that are binding them are starting to get worked nicely here and you can see ways where things will start to really draw them closer together. The war within Gazth-Sonika is given more focus and overall the series is getting itself fleshed out a bit. I think it's still missing that critical mass to really excite however.
The two worlds these character live in are still very much apart. Madlax's world continues to bring her deep into the war zone as she's doing various assignments, such as tracking down an item that the mysterious cyber-crime group called Enfant is after and retrieving it. This is an amusing little story since it turns out that the item is a person and has some sort of relation to those fighting this war that wasn't known before. It's a mystery wrapped inside a couple of mysteries so it's not a clean cut filler episode but rather one that seems to set things out there to be explored and abused later on. This is fun overall since it's a nice little tight action piece and we get to have Madlax going up against the purple haired military vixen that's brought in to take her down.
Margaret's story is a bit more disconnected from things but it's par for the course with her. The way she lives her life is still very much like someone who sees things far differently and isn't focused on what occupies the bulk of everyone else's life. She goes through a few interesting things here such as actually being invited to a party by one of her classmates since another of them claims to be "worked up" over her. She doesn't understand what the term means but she agrees to go and meet him but mostly just so she can apologize for it. The way the events work out don't go well at first but it shows just how she's not used to what regular life is all about. If not for the help of her maid and Vanessa, Margaret may have had a real eye-opening evening there.
Margaret does start opening up a much more interesting door this time around though. Through a bit of rummaging in the house, she's found an old book that has some mysterious writing in it that's simply fascinated her and become something that she won't go anywhere without bringing it with her, though she does keep it hidden and less than obvious. Upon seeing this book, Elenore suggest the idea of seeking out a bibliodetective that will seek out the book and find out more about it. This brings in a new character named Eric Gillain, a fairly decent type who just happens to be good at finding books around the world. The downside for him is that the only place where the mysterious writing here has ever been seen is deep inside of Gazth-Sonika. So with the financing of the Burton Foundation behind him, he sets off on a job that eventually puts him in Madlax's hands and she starts to see some of the mystery around the text and becomes drawn to it as well.
As a series, Madlax continues to be an intriguing series but one that still confounds in a number of ways since so much is wrapped up in the war that's taking place. The motivations for the war are left to simple terms or wrapped in mysteries themselves as we learn early on that many don't believe the basic reasons often given. Being able to wrap your head around the series as a whole isn't easy at this point and it forces you to either just let it wash over you and enjoy the action and watch the fun while trying to pick up hints along the way or just be frustrated. I'm somewhat of both minds right now but since it's visually fun to watch and there is enough that's interesting it's easy to continue. In Summary:
A lot of changes go through this volume but it's fairly minor and the kinds of things that slowly alter the course of a show and lets it reveal itself more and more. The way that both Margaret and Madlax are slowly being twined together is amusing since you know it's going to happen but watching it play out just has me smiling about it. There's so much to learn about what's going on here and the writers are dangling such small bits of it in front of you that it can be frustrating but there's certainly enough to keep one watching and looking forward to more.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Design sketches,Original Japanese promotional trailers,Special segment with SSS,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.