Madlax Episode 1


"Gun Dance - Dance"

The first half of the episode had me thinking this might be the first show with a Yuki Kajiura soundtrack that wasn't completely overpowering everything else (see .hack and Noir). Then in the second half, it was business as usual. It isn't quite as strong as her previous work, but they obviously invested money in her music, and they want to showcase it. Which isn't bad, since it's usually very good.

Good production values on the show, animation and art is all very good, as is the music (see above). I like Madlax's character design, and find it suitably appealing. Hey, who doesn't like a contract killer/assassin/agent who does her business wearing a cocktail dress?

If I had a bone to pick with this first episode, it would be with the names. Madlax? Not to mention the names of the countries and the various generals, which were so forgettable (and weird), I can't even recall any of them.

As a first episode, this is a pretty good one. There's still a lot of mystery: What's the deal with Madlax? Who's SSS? What's going on in this setting? But you also get a firm idea of what the show's going to be like. Lots of over-the-top action with an attractive female lead.

Now, as long as the question marks don't turn out to be as silly as the show's name and some of the other names, we'll be in business.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 01:36 AM | Comments (0)

Madlax Episode 2


"Crimson Moon - Crimson"

If there's one thing I respect about J.C. Staff, it's that it actually manages to put out anime series that feel different.

On the other hand, Bee Train (working the magic behind Madlax, Noir, and .hack//SIGN) manages to make sure that you know it's a Bee Train show. Whether it's because they seek out licenses and properties that fit into this mold of show they like creating, is beyond my knowledge, but, let's be honest: this show seems almost disgustingly like Noir. (Margaret is voiced by the same actress as Kirika from Noir, and the two character designs are almost identical.)

Bee Train should just dedicate themselves to making music videos for Yuki Kajiura. (I consider Noir and .hack//SIGN to be the Romeo Must Die of anime).

And just when you think it's completely weird that an emponymously named show would not feature its titular character in the second episode, Madlax appears for one line at the very end of the episode.

Anyways, in this episode, we're introduced to the other female lead, Margaret. She's a daughter of a noble family, a schoolgirl. She has a mysterious past (involved in some "accident"), and obviously some trouble befell her noble family in the past. There's also some other things happening, with some mysterious (crazy) guy, paying far too much money for some artifact, but nothing's really explained (what, you want answers?).

Way to keep my interest.

Rating: D

Posted by Kei at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

Madlax Episode 3


"Blue Moon - Moon"

In this episode, Kirika and Mireille are hired for a job, thinking that it will bring them closer to finding out the conspiracy behind Soldats. It's kind of tough to watch this show, because of the incessant flashbacks to Mireille's childhood (really, I think it's like three times this episode it shows up). On top of that, nothing about the story is really revealed, so I'm still wondering when it's going to pick up. On the plus side, Yuki Kajiura's music is as blaring and obvious as ever, and continues to be the best part of the show (except in those few moments when the action comes up).

Er, oops, this is a Madlax review.

Two minor things that really continue to grate on me in Madlax are the terrible child's voice and the unbelievably stupid names for every proper noun that pops up in the course of an episode.

THE KINGDOM OF GAZTH-SONIKA, ruled by CAWTHRA THE FOURTH, assisted by his public affairs officer GWECK MARABEL.

Anyways. The plot of this episode doesn't do much but have some needlessly (who would actually have themselves killed to create an excuse for military action) convoluted political scheme. I guess it sort of fleshes out Madlax's character, but let's face it, when your name is Madlax, who really cares about your character?

At least Noir had action to go with its cutscenes.

Rating: C

Posted by Kei at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

Madlax Episode 4


"Temptation - Ask"

It struck me, four episodes into this show, that I don't really know (or maybe it's that I just don't care) what's going on in Madlax. I don't really know any of the characters, either. I haven't really identified with any of them, and I don't really feel like I'm involved in the story at all.

This episode is another abstract, scattered sort of episode, where Madlax only appears for a few moments, and is connected to the events for some weird reason that really isn't explained. Also, just to figure out what's going on in this episode (the story beyond the random things you seem to be seeing on the screen), requires far more critical thinking than I think anyone wants to spend. So, basically, the story's just this obscure, slow-moving thing that doesn't really involve any characters we care about.

I really wish I knew what this show was about, or had even the slightest inkling about where it's going. I figure Margaret and Madlax have to get together and have adventures eventually, but they're nowhere near that. Maybe next episode, Madlax will actually be a main character in...

Rating: D

Posted by Kei at 08:32 AM | Comments (1)

Madlax Episode 5


"Non-Existent - None"

It probably doesn't help that I haven't watched an episode of Madlax for about two and half months, but I was definitely confused by the plot of this episode. While I think some of it is my fault, I think that Madlax is still in this meandering, slow-plot-revelation mode that most Bee Train shows seem to go through (.hack//SIGN, Noir, etc.). I still have no idea how the two heroines' stories mix together (as they've barely shared any time together--episodes, for that matter).

I think Madlax is an interesting character though. She's sufficiently different compared to your usual anime contract killer and her background is obscured enough that I'm still curious to see where it's all going. I feel like I've been watching a lot of introductory episodes, but haven't gotten much exposition.

So, while I couldn't really recommend this series to someone to watch (mainly because as a whole, the first five episodes haven't told me much about the show's plot or premise in much detail), it does have an intangible watchability. I think it has the potential to be a good show, but I'm going to wait and see.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

Madlax Episode 6


"Will - Leave"

Madlax is so much like Noir it makes my head hurt. It also makes me want to fall asleep, which is one of the more unfortunate parts of its imitation.

The last episode was about Madlax, so this one's about Margaret. It follows the Madlax formula, with a good amount of flashbacks, mysterious, portentous imagery, and a whole lot of stuff not happening. There's an amusing scene where Margaret's maid, Elinor, gets involved in a fight with one of Margaret's classmates.

Other than that, there's little to no plot or character advancement, and I'm really struggling to maintain interest in this show until, inevitably, the answers start to come out.

Rating: C-

Posted by Kei at 01:40 AM | Comments (2)