Madlax Vol. #7 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Madlax

Madlax Vol. #7

By Chris Beveridge     April 13, 2006
Release Date: March 28, 2006


Madlax Vol. #7
© ADV Films


What They Say
The Essence: When the three books come together, the doorway is opened. It is a doorway that leads to reality. There, Madlax and Margaret Burton can not only discover their collective past, but they can also experience something much more powerful: the essence. It is what Friday Monday has fought so long and hard to reveal. It is more than a simple glimpse into the human psyche; it is the unrestrained embodiment of human nature. It is the will of mankind acting without question. It is what we are. It is the truth.

The Truth: Enfant has manipulated it. Madlax and Margaret Burton have been obsessed with searching for it. Carrossea Doon and Vanessa Rene have died trying to find it. Quanzitta and Nakhl are sworn to protect it. And Friday Monday has big plans for it. The truth is a dangerous thing. It has torn people apart, it has murdered, it has brought war and devastation. Yet, everyone feels compelled to embrace it. Everyone yearns to establish an intimate relationship with the very force that drives them away. Will they find it? Or, will they create it?

The Review!
Much of what's been hinted at and implied about the origins of everything finally become revealed as the show works through this new metaphysical component.

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:
The final cover of the series is one of the best ones yet if not the best. Since it's covering the last episodes, it's very appropriately themed as everyone has come together in their new slinky outfits and has the trio in an interesting layout and look. It's very soft looking in general due to the colors used but it has a strong focal point and plenty of good looking detail and design. 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 continues to use other artwork from the Japanese release, this time of Margaret and Elenore, while opening up to a few more staff interviews. .

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 but are essentially the same as the previous volume. 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. Another continuing and interesting extra is the new installment of the "Conversations with SSS" which is basically a bunch of scripted outtakes/alternate dialogue scenes. The new pieces for this volume include two versions of the music video for "I'm here". We get the regular version fully subtitled as well as a karaoke version. The video clip for this session is for Elenore and we also get a round of DVD commercials from the Japanese release as well as a alternate preview for the last episode.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The end run of Madlax builds upon the revelations of the previous volume where so much about what the real meanings and relationships of the lead characters. A lot of what came about from those revelations weren't entirely clear but implied quite easily how the dynamic of the relationships would change but it also started to put a lot of the earlier flashbacks in the series take on new meanings. With the three episodes here, everything becomes quite clear and the shows move to something more than simple girls with guns premise becomes final and quite striking.

So much has changed since everyone arrived in Gazth-Sonika that now with Margaret in Friday Monday's hands everything is finally coming together as the strings that they all share are being pulled. The drawing in of the cast has led to some bad results as we saw in the previous volume and it continues on this one as Madlax makes her way towards the place where Margaret is. Elenore is set to save Margaret once the path is cleared and the downtime she gets to spend before taking things to task is well used as it goes towards explaining more of her reasons for staying with Margaret and her motivations. It's nothing terribly surprising but it solidifies things nicely and gives the character the last bit of a fleshing out that's really needed for her. When viewing her tale in retrospect, you can see how much more of a key character she is.

Everything does eventually settle around Margaret as she's under Friday's control now and his attempts to use her and the three books to gain power becomes the new focus. But even that's deceptive in a way since he needs to use the power that she has by taking her past, which becomes explored in full detail and with complete understanding now. Margaret's more than just a key to this opening of a new era that Friday wants to have happen, an era where he'll be able to change the reality to suit his own desires. To be able to do it, he has to have Margaret go through the understanding of what she did in the past, how it shaped her and others from there, and to be able to defeat the end result of it. The needs for Margaret are essentially the same but the path she's taken has not led her to the same conclusions that Friday has which is where the wild card in everything comes down to.

Madlax with its last six episodes or so really allows the show to rise above what it would be classified as otherwise. The series has had plenty of problems from fans from the start simply due to its similarities on the surface to Noir and it certainly didn't help that it started off with one of the worst episodes of any show that probably aired during the same season. Once it got past that opening problem and into the guts of the show, the storyline started to prove itself to be more intricate and tighter plotted than its predecessor. The two do share their similarities of course and the influences are there but Madlax played less in an episodic fashion and was angling more towards a mystery that was very layered. From the books themselves, the background of Madlax, the entire Gathz-Sonika war and so much more, everything is well connected.

In Summary:
During one previous review, I looked at the show as if the two leads were satellites orbiting each other on wide paths but that they were building speed towards each other and would eventually collide. That proved to be more true than I realized as the last volume plays out and does what I thought it wouldn't be able to do; conclude with a satisfying ending. The strong ending is done with a lot of great characterization, great looking animation, plenty of action and a strong suite of music to it. I had been really uninterested in Madlax when I had seen the first episode some time before the show was out but after getting past that and now seeing it to its conclusion, this is a really solid piece of work that kept me very entertained throughout its run and only got more interesting and engaging as it progressed. The weak start to the show can be hard to get through but it has one of the better endings out there. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Design sketches,Japanese TV DVD Commercials,
Alternate Episode 26 Preview,I'm Here Music Video,I'm Here Karaoke Version,Elenore Memorial Video,Conversations 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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