Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 2 - Europe
- Released By: ADV Films UK
- MSRP: Â£19.99
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Madlax
Madlax Vol. #6
By Bryan Morton
May 21, 2007
Release Date: January 15, 2007
Madlax Vol. #6
What They Say
© ADV Films UK
The Gift - Only those with the gift are able to read the Holy Words of Saruon. They are the pathway to the door of truth - the only means by which the reality of the event twelve years ago can be revealed. But, without the gift the Holy Words can cause grave danger and teeter the delicate balance of creation and circumstance. The gift is freedom, but only for a chosen few. It will allow Margaret and Madlax to finally discover who they are and where they belong. Only, Madlax does not possess the gift. She is something different.
Different - Madlax can sense it. Madlax can feel the essence and touch the realm beyond reality. But, not completely. It is this confusing and frustrating state which has driven Madlax to discover her true existence. She has learned of her powerful yet cloudy connection to Margaret Burton. Drawn together, they have both searched along separate paths to arrive not only at the same destination but also at the same moment in time. It is a moment twelve years ago. It is a moment that will bring them closer together - and tear them further apart.
21 - Cruel Confession
22 - Violent Feelings
23 - Lost HeartsThe Review!
Just when you think Madlax is going to throw you a bone and start explaining what's really been going on, it turns around and leaves you even more confused. Just what is real and what isn't here? What is the true power of the Elies books? What is Friday Monday really after? With the body count beginning to rise, there may not be many people left to learn the answers...Audio:
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.Video:
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 settings being presented with good levels of detail. There's some noticeable colour-banding visible on this disc, which can be quite distracting when it occurs, but for the most part the transfer is problem-free. Packaging:
Busier than the usual cover this time around, with Madlax, Vanessa, Margaret and Elenore featuring in the foreground, with Laetitia in the background, clutching her rag doll. The rear cover has the usual promotional blurb, screenshots and disc information, while the reverse of the cover has another two Staff Talk segments.Menu:
"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 7. 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.Extras:
Another good selection of extras on this release. Along with the usual clean opening & closing animations and "Conversations with SSS" segment, there's another TV trailer for the show, an extended version of the next-episode preview for episode 22, a slideshow of design sketches from the series, and some musical treats: the first, a promotional video for the song "Shards of my Eyes" by FictionJunction YUUKA, as used in the series " this comes in both vocal and karaoke versions, with the karaoke version coming with convenient Romaji subtitles so you can sing along. There's also a "memorial video" for Vanessa, featuring the song "Bank on Me" by Yuki Kajiura, again lifted from the series. All songs are set to a series of relevant clips from the series.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Under Quanzitta's guidance, Margaret brings the three Elies books together and begins the ritual to open the Door to the other side. Elenore, unwilling to accept that Margaret's better served by Carrossea in this journey than by her, tries to interrupt the ceremony, but by the time she reaches Quanzitta, the incantation has been completed and Margaret and Carrossea have already passed to another place, leaving Elenore and the others to simply sit and await their return. The opening of the Gate has an effect on Madlax - already suffering from fever as a result of the wounds inflicted on her by Limelda, she turns delirious, calling for Margaret not to go through with the ritual. On the other side of the Gate, Carrossea begins searching for the key to his missing past, but faced with the Gate that could reveal the truth, Madlax's words reach Margaret, who begins to have second thoughts about the path she's found herself on.
One episode in to the volume and the main cast begins to dwindle as Margaret and Carrossea's search for the truth begins to claim casualties. When Margaret, Carrossea and Quanzitta began the ritual, I was all geared up for finally finding out what had happened 12 years ago " the facts behind Margaret's past, the secrets behind who Laetitia and PoupeÃ© were and their significance to the story, and more besides. There's certainly a lot of that information given out, but it's one of those circumstances where the more you're told, the less you feel you know " the revelations leave you asking as many new questions as they answered, and the story turns off in another, unexpected direction that works towards answering them.
It all comes back to the man with the daftest name in anime, Friday Monday. He intends to once again unleash the chaos he first unleashed 12 years previously - to his mind he's somehow saving the human race by doing this, but I doubt too many others would see it that way, especially given the suffering that Gazth-Sonika's been put through thanks to his manoeuvring. The Elies books provide the power he needs to put his plans into action; Margaret is they key that will allow him to access that power; Madlax is the foil that can stop him in his tracks; and as this disc progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Madlax is no normal human. Fate is at work here - it seems to have special plans for Madlax and her role in events, and it's not going to let any human intervention stand in the way of those plans. The result is a woman who's almost superhuman, to the point where it stretches the old "suspension of disbelief" a little. There was a scene with a similar problem way back in episode 1 that almost put me off the series, the first time I saw it, but with the way Madlax and the story have been developed since then, it's less of a stretch now to just go with a flow and accept that there is something very unusual about her.
All of this is quite heavy going " there's a lot to see and take in, and while events can be followed quite easily the pacing is frenetic & doesn't leave you with much time to think about what's happening. That does mean the three episodes here seem to be over almost as soon as they begin, but sometimes it's nice to get a short breather to give you time to let everything sink in. There is some fun thrown in to lighten things up a bit " one particular scene of Elenore being let loose with the heavy weaponry was particularly enjoyable (but then I am an Elenore fan) " but for the most part this disc is one revelation after another, one conflict after another, with none of the characters ever really being safe, perhaps with the exception of Madlax herself.In summary:
After being quite slow-paced during the earlier volumes, Madlax is really ramping up to its climax now, and these episodes provide plenty of action and revelations " so much so that you barely get the chance to take it all in. It's completely riveting and thoroughly enjoyable throughout, and the story is left nicely poised for the final volume. It took a while for the series to grow on me, but I'm now completely hooked " Madlax continues to entertain and surprise, and comes highly recommended.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,"Shards of my Eyes" Music Video & Karaoke Version,Clean Opening & Closing Animations,Design Sketches,Vanessa Memorial Video,Episode 22 Extended Preview,Japanese TV Spot,Conversations with SSS
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.