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Preview: "Madlax" Makes Eyes Happy

You know, I just don’t get ADV lately. It seems they’ve been really big into buying shows with initial episodes that just don’t make any sense. Madlax, whose volume one DVD is set for an April 22 release, is no exemption.

The first episode focuses on the main character, the beautiful but brutal Madlax. She takes jobs that no else will take, and goes where few people dare to go so she can do them. She’s sort of reminiscent of MacGyver in an odd way, in as much as I can totally see MacGyver being air-dropped into the middle of a harsh war in South America to recover vital data for a secret organization. However, Madlax entirely lacks MacGyver’s aversion to guns. She’s a crack shot who can put bullets in the head of various guerrilla soldiers at quite a distance using only a small handgun, and moving targets aren’t an issue either as she easily drops an entire group of guerrillas while they’re barreling along in their Jeeps. It’s almost as if she sees things on a different plane of perception when she’s shooting people. She manages to recover the data, but she isn’t able to save the guy she got it from. A real pity, as he asked her out before he died, and she was looking forward to the date. End episode 1.

With that I thought, “Hey, this might be pretty good. Great visuals, wonderful sound production and foley, pretty good music for the purpose, and a reasonable concept.” I definitely enjoy espionage and smart bishoujos packing heat. Cue episode 2, which seems to have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with episode 1. In that episode, we follow a British, upper-class, teenage girl named Margaret who seems awfully spacey and who she runs into an old neighbor friend. This friend works a for somewhat odd and mysterious company, and she seems to have something weird to with this girl’s past. The only tie-in is an admittedly intriguing twist at the end of the episode. The twist infers that somehow Madlax and Margret are linked, but who knows how.

All in all, Madlax seems just as gratuitously mysterious as Gantz or Elfen Lied, two other ADV titles. Like those shows, it’s undoubtedly visually and aurally outstanding, but I just don’t get the aversion to having even a little bit of exposition. Expositon done in the right way would certainly be a bit of an aid when it comes to getting into the show, especially since it doesn’t have an particularly special visual or pacing style. Madlax looks and sounds like a lot of other BeeTrain titles. Its design and music wouldn’t look at all out of place in .hack//SIGN or Noir. Unfortunately, this means the show’s somewhat gratuitously slow and artistic pace is only made to feel more awkward. Glossy and clean animation are a waste if you’re not going to bring something fresh and interesting to the table, which really seems to be the problem so far for Madlax. It’s beautiful in motion, but so is a good screensaver.

That said though, I am somehow curious to see where Madlax is going; the twist at the end of episode 2 really does seem to beg further investigation. I mean, how could a contract killer and a boring teenage girl be connected? I just hope the show doesn’t drag and instead launches right into the meat of the matter. I’d just like more MacGyver with Guns, and less “why am I watching this?” in future episodes. After all, Madlax is already halfway there with the superb visuals: it just needs an awesome story to back it up.

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