Madlax Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 19, 2005
Release Date: August 16, 2005


Madlax Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
"Girls with guns" is such a rich vein of material, it never gets tired – especially when its from the masterminds behind Noir! A cold blooded gun-for-hire teams up with an unassuming high school student to unlock the dark secret that unites them!

The Review!
More areas start to become more tied together as the revelations slowly build up and we get a couple of really enticing action sequences as well.

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 Japanese release, this release has a nice pairing up of characters as Madlax and Limelda go at it with pistols out and feathers floating around them. The cover isn't quite as stark white as it was before but the shading works nicely with as does the split to keep the two apart. 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 has an attractive piece of artwork of the three girls in their bathing suits while Luciane sits in sniper mode for its first page and opens up to a couple of panels that talk with Yuki Kajiura about her musical involvement as well as the Japanese voice actress for Madlax.

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)
Getting up to just about the halfway mark in the series, Madlax proves to be more and more interesting as it goes along but it is sticking very much by its guns so to speak in terms of the style and atmosphere it wants to use. While the series opened with a horrible episode, it's built up nicely after that and has maintained the kind of pacing and flow throughout. This is something that a lot of people enjoy but just as many can't stand.

With their being two sides of things going on here, it's nice that they can pretty much ignore one side for an episode or two and focus on the other which allows each of them to grow naturally without forcing the storyline to vie for time against the other within each episode. This volume initially starts off seeming like it'll be a Madlax episode as an associate of hers named Luciane is leaving Gazth-Sonika for a job but it instead brings him out into Nafrece where he comes across Vanessa, Elenore and Margaret as they're out to an exclusive corporate resort that Vanessa swinged some time with by fudging the papers. Luciane helps the girls out when their car breaks down on the way but this just serves to get them acquainted a bit before parting ways.

The resort episode is amusing in its own way since it's a way to play up the fanservice level a fair bit but the focus of it is really just about plot and bringing some new things to light. Carrossea's there meeting with one of his associates and talking about plans for the war there in terms of weapons and other items which Vanessa ends up overhearing even though she shouldn't. This only serves to pique her curiosity more than before. Around all of this there's a sniping story going on as well but it's very relaxed and has Margaret playing an interesting role in dealing with Luciane. The episode was almost a major disappointment though. When the girls hit the pool, Elenore was there in her standard maid outfit which Margaret complained about. Revealing that she really did want to swim, she stripped down to reveal a very small and tight bathing suit she was wearing underneath. If Elenore did not provide fanservice, this episode would have been far less enjoyable.

Vanessa's storyline continues on nicely from here and she becomes a much more important character as this volume continues. With her curiosity piqued about the company she works for being tied to things in Gazth-Sonika and now supposedly selling weapons on the black market, she goes to her friend Charlie at the company and the two try to investigate things. With Enfant being their main foe since they're dealing with Gazth-Sonika, we enter an episode where really amusing computer technobabble and search options are in place. This is the kind of material that you have to just take with a big grain of salt as they attempt to steal critical files from the company but end up disposing them on some random laptop in the heart of Gazth-Sonika before disconnecting all the connections to the larger world. So now, Vanessa must go there to find this laptop before it's reconnected and Enfant can get the data.

It works nice as a plot but the technical side just makes you want to giggle at times.

One of the best parts of this volume is the continuing chase of sorts that's going on between Limelda and Madlax. With Madlax taking on the job of guarding Vanessa, she's able to learn quickly that Limelda is hunting her down since their last encounter and the two end up meeting in the middle of the night in the city and engage in a very fun gun fight. The layout and feel of this part of the show was one of the exciting highlights and allowed both women to really showcase their talents, especially since Limelda's been on the short side of the stick lately. It's also fun to watch this city at night since with its numerous colors it almost looks like a war-torn version of Vegas running.

In Summary:
With each episode it's much easier to separate the show from anything else that feels similar as the plot is slowly coming into light and the characters are defining themselves more and more. These episodes up the ante nicely by bringing in more relevant bits of information about the Gazth-Sonika world, the way Enfant is made up and some of the more secretive plans by those working in that war-torn country. The series feels right on track for this point in its run and as it starts moving into the second half I'm now actually looking forward to more of it. Madlax is growing on me rather nicely which is a real surprise considering how much the show initially turned me off when I saw the first episode.

Features
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

Review Equipment
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.

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