Madlax Vol. #3 -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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 Bryan Morton     July 24, 2006
Release Date: July 17, 2006

Madlax Vol. #3
© ADV Films UK

What They Say
From the creative minds behind Noir, a compelling saga of two lives and the dark circumstances surrounding their mysterious connection.

Bookwald Industries - As the largest company in the world, Bookwald has investments and interests spread far and wide in dizzying capacity. And with such breadth of scope comes great power and influence. Bookwald, wary of its deep roots in the war-torn Gazth-Sonika, has gone to great lengths to not only ensure survival, but perhaps something more devious as well. Only the company's directors and secret operative Carrossea Doon seem to know the true nature of their intentions. But even that is mere speculation.

Vanessa Rene - This business-savvy brunette is perhaps a bit too smart for her own good. Her intuitive suspicions have all too often been both correct and dangerous. Most recently, she has uncovered reasons to believe that her own place of employment, Bookwald Industries, is meddling in some adverse affairs. She has discovered links to the war in Gazth-Sonika in addition to the highly covert intelligence organisation know as Enfant. This time, she may have dug too deep. Madlax may be her only hope.

Episodes Comprise
9 - Scent
10 - Dive
11 - Object
12 - Close

The Review!
Vanessa takes the limelight for this volume of Madlax, as she investigates her company's ties to Gazth-Sonika's civil war and draws the unwelcomes attention of Enfant...

Two audio tracks are provided - English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0. I listened primarily to the Japanese track for this review. The soundtrack is clean and clear, with good use made of the front soundstage to capture the feel of the action sequences and give a good sense of direction to both effects and dialogue. Madlax also has some great music by Yuki Kajiura that gets used quite extensively throughout the show, and in general this also comes across extremely well, although it does come close to drowning out the rest of the audio at times. There were no apparent problems with the audio encoding.

Madlax is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Being a comparatively recent show from a studio that has always worked hard on the appearance of their shows, it really does look the part, with both jungle scenes and more austere city settings being presented with good levels of detail. The transfer is sharp and problem-free.

The release comes in a clear keepcase with double-sided cover. The front features Madlax in the foreground, lovingly cradling her sniper rifle, with Limelda in the background. The rear cover has the disc's promotional blurb, a set of screenshots and a technical information panel. The reverse of the cover features two more "Staff Talk" segments, this time featuring soundtrack composer Yuki Kajiura and Madlax's Japanese VA, Sanae Kobayashi.

"Simple" is the best way to describe the menus here. As is usual for ADV releases, each episode is selectable directly from the main menu, while submenus are provided for language setup and extras. There's also an option on the main screen for a preview clip for volume 2. A black-and-white clip of the OP sequence plays in a small window to liven things up a bit, while a piece of the show's background music plays throughout. There are no transition animations, so the menus are quick and easy to use.

A fairly standard set of extras is provided with this release " clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, 2 Japanese TV spots advertising the DVD release, a 4-minute slideshow of colour design artwork, and another 10 minutes of Conversations with SSS, which I have to admit don't tweak my sense of humour as well as they do for others.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
One of Madlax's associates, Luciano, has decided to turn his back on the mercenary life - he's pulled a job that, if successful, will allow him to leave Gazth-Sonika and settle down to the sort of life he wishes he'd had before now. Madlax isn't convinced, believing that once killing's in the blood, a quiet life is no longer an option, but he's determined to try anyway. Meanwhile, Vanessa's treating Margaret and Elenore to a weekend away, having used her contacts to secure a weekend at an exclusive hotel. When their car breaks down on the way, a helpful stranger stops by to help them out - Luciano himself. His final job has brought him to Nafrece on an assassination mission, and his target, Carrossea Doon, is staying at the same hotel as Margaret and the others.

Carrossea's been seen a few times before, usually involved in some sort of scheming, but this is the first time his position in things has been made clear. He's a senior Bookwald executive " one of Vanessa's bosses " although his connections with just about everyone involved in the Gazth-Sonika conflict and the way he seems to be playing the various sides against each other for his own ends mean he's definitely one to watch. The first episode itself doesn't do much other than provide some background information on him and let him find out where he can get his hands on Secondari, but the events here form the basis for the rest of the disc's story and are worth paying attention to, particularly what Vanessa overhears about Bookwald's connections with the Gazth-Sonika war.

Episode 10 sees Vanessa make use of a friend's hacking talent and personal super-computer to try and dig up some information on what Bookwald is up to. Hacking stories are a pet hate of mine as they usually have a completely unrealistic portrayal of what computers are capable of, and this episode is no exception. It serves a purpose in giving Vanessa a reason to go to Gazth-Sonika, but beyond that there's not much to recommend it, especially if you know enough about computers to know the hacking scenes are at best unlikely.

In episode 11, Vanessa arrives in Gazth-Sonika to continue her investigations into Bookwald's shady dealings there, unaware that her superiors are already aware that she's looking into things she shouldn't be. According to Bagdis, the information she's looking for should be stored on a computer in the city of Daman, and the race is on to track it down before Enfant can find it. While she's able to track down the computer's owner quickly enough, he's not particularly co-operative. Meanwhile, Vanessa is under observation herself, but fortunately she's hired a bodyguard to deal with just such problems - Madlax, who's beginning to wonder if the recent jobs she's had involving Nafrece and Enfant are somehow related.

And so Vanessa becomes the first real link between Madlax and Margaret, as Madlax's bodyguard job looks set to become a long-term posting " a possibility Madlax seems to relish. Madlax is amazed that someone with Vanessa's background seems to have gone up against Enfant without really understanding what they're capable of - and Vanessa's equally amazed that someone who looks like Madlax can be such a cold-hearted killer. I have to say they do make an interesting pair, as they're almost polar opposites to each other, and I'm not sure Vanessa's comfortable with the idea of being the "junior" partner in the pairing " with Enfant on their tails, it's Madlax's skills and experience that will keep them alive, not Vanessa's business smarts.

The second half of the disc covers quite a bit of ground, aside from Vanessa's investigations, as Limelda renews her rivalry with Madlax (and for all that Madlax refers to her as "the scary person", it's looking a decidedly one-sided rivalry to me so far) while Carrossea continues his scheming before tracking down Margaret and Secondari. There's enough going on here that boredom is never an issue, and while there's not much in the way of action sequences it's all nicely paced as well.

In amongst all this there are occasional appearances by Laetitia and Poupée, whose role in the story and place in reality are both far from clear. These two are one part of the story that Madlax seems to be making no effort to explain, which does maintain the sense of mystery that surrounds them (are they real or not? What's "the other side" Laetitia refers to?), but it's also just a little frustrating to be near the halfway point of the series with barely a hint as to who or what they are.

In Summary:
Madlax continues to pick up pace as the various groups involved continue their scheming, although there's still a lot that could use a little explaining. With so many characters now in play it's not possible to give them all decent amounts of airtime, but there's no shortage of goings on and very little opportunity for the attention to wander, especially during the second half of the disc. This is a series that is definitely getting better as it goes on, and I'm looking forward to the next volume.

Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Production Info,Clean Opening and Closing Animations,Design Sketches,Japanese TV Spots,Conversations with SSS

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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