Civil war has wracked the tropical nation of Gazth-Sonika. Into the fray comes the mercenary assassin Madlax, a beautiful blonde woman who is apparently heavily trained in firearms, but may be seen in combat wearing impractical field equipment, like evening gowns, while decimating entire units of professional soldiers.
Elsewhere, amnesiac Margaret Burton ponders her role in life, and she is eventually to cross paths with Madlax as well.
A femme fatale and an enigmatic high-schooler ... where have we seen this before?
Mashimo Kouichi and Bee Train should know better.
Writing a review for a show like Madlax is doubly frustrating, because I feel like I've already written this review, even before the computer crash that ate the first draft.
The big difference is that unlike Noir, Madlax fails to capitalize on its biggest assets, instead delivering a lackluster drama that is sluggishly paced and schizophrenic. Even after one episode, I cared about the what and why of Mireille and Kirika, but after the first DVD of this show, I can't say the same for Madlax and Margaret.
The biggest problem lies in the characterization. Madlax is, for lack of a more diplomatic term, ditzy. She never seems to have more complex brain patterns than "kill soldier A", "I love my rifle", or "pasta sounds good tonight". Granted, neither Kobayashi Sanae nor Nancy Novotny comes up with anything memorable; frankly, I can't take Madlax remotely seriously as a professional mercenary-for-hire.
I think the problem is that Nancy Novotny in particular sounds just plain awkward calling herself Madlax. I would, too, if I had a name like a suppository.
Margaret's problem is that she makes Kirika look articulate and downright gabby - the creators make her as obtuse as possible, which does no favors for either horribly typecast Kuwashima Houko (vainly channeling her previous role as Yuumura Kirika) or usually energetic (and frankly misused) Luci Christian.
Usually, a show like this is saved by its dramatic themes and its action sequences. Noir was. Madlax ... is not. The "drama" is so convoluted as to be downright boring -- the story just doesn't seem to pick up because it's laden with too many disparate threads all at once. The "action" is so over-the-top as to cross the line between cool and stupid; one scene has us believe that Madlax hugging her semi-auto and firing a burst from it (without aiming, mind you) signifies the off-screen demolition of a fully loaded attack helicopter.
Calling Duke Togo, calling Duke Togo, someone stole your marksmanship!
Honestly, the truly disappointing thing about this show is that it's mediocre material from a team with a successful track record. Kajiura Yuki delivers an oddly average soundtrack, and Mashimo Kouichi's directing simply goes down the tubes here. It's like the Bee Train team were told to redo Noir without any understanding of why Noir worked.
Maybe future episodes will prove me wrong, but for now, Madlax is frustratingly mediocre and extremely difficult to find the motivation to continue.
If Noir was black, then Madlax is most certainly brown.
A disappointing series that doesn't live up to its predecessors. Patient viewers and hardcore military nuts may find this worth a go ... or they may be turned off by the pacing and believability issues. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: The violence is too graphic for youngsters, so a safe bet would be teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (2/26)
Madlax © 2004 Bee Train / Victor Entertainment
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