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Anime: Madlax DVD #4 "Elda Taluta"
Friday, September 16, 2005
Age Rating: 14+
Company: ADV Films
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Running Time: 100 mins approx
DVD Region 1


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Madlax and Margaret are the key to unlock Friday Monday's wicked dreams.

Note: My review of volume #3 in this series can be read here.


Content

The story so far: Madlax, top secret elite mercenary who works for the mysterious SSS in Gazth-Sonika and Margaret Burton, quiet naive schoolgirl who happens to have no recollection of her life before aged 12 when she went missing for a period after a plane crash. Their two lives have at some point intertwined, and now as Madlax protects Margaret's friend Vanessa from a criminal organization that wants data she holds, the pieces of their broken pasts begin to fit together more...

Episode 13: Cry Of Awakening



Carrossea Doon makes contact with Margaret, claiming to be a friend of the (now dead) book detective she paid to discover information about the picture book she owns. Carrossea despite knowing its true power, appears to have an agenda all of his own and doesn't steal the book. Instead he befriends Margaret, as seems to want to find out about his own past (that he has no memories of) rather than disrupting hers. He is aware of a mysterious girls in jungle type clothes watching her however. The girl watching Margaret attempts to take the book, but Margaret who is beginning to act decidedly strange, wards her off as in trance threatening to kill all who touch the book. Completely out of character for the girl. Doon also manages to his surprise to link Margaret with Madlax.
Back in Ganzth-Sonika with Madlax and Vanessa a distinctly "touchy-feely" relationship has developed from the two. In all honesty it could well be a mother-daughter or perhaps even sistery (they do look rather alike) relationship, but I'll take a long shot and say its romantic. I certainly would say Vanessa's sexuality is questionable! Suddenly the sinister Friday Monday, sends the "Elda Taluta" virus that causes those to see it to kill themselves or have mental breakdowns to Madlax's PC, and Madlax breaks down at the end of the episode..

Lots of mystery surrounding the book and Margaret in this episode, and a cliffhanger ending with Madlax seeing the infamous words that have bumped off several cast members already. The series returns to its earlier "creepy" atmosphere which is certainly a plus, very tension-filled. We also hear about Madlax's past and how she hopes to one day find her father, which is interesting and gives her a bit of a background.
Episode Score: 8/10

Episode 14: Forgotten Thoughts



Madlax survives witnessing "Elda Taluta", but begins to act totally differently, asking to sleep with Vanessa and talking about "red shoes" (something Vanessa remembers Margaret doing in one of her trance like states). Vanessa wonders what to do.
Back with Carrossea, he warns Margaret that she is being followed and to hold onto her book at all costs (Eleanor is suspicious of him so keeps a watchful eye on them both). Confronting the girl spying on Margaret Carrossea is faced with near supernatural movement from her as she escapes into the night, something evidently strange going on with the other-faction looking for the book. Carrossea also calls of Limelda from hunting Madlax, but Limelda seems so obsessed with finding out if Madlax is dead or not that she ignores orders and continues hunting for her.
Bumping into a dazed Madlax in the city streets late at night (she's wandered out her home in a daze), Limelda decides to eliminate her but Vanessa (whose chased after Madlax) draws a gun herself and a standoff ensues, with Madlax cowering in the shadows. Fortunately for Vanessa , Madlax suddenly snaps out her trance and defeats Limelda (for about the fourth time), and the two run off into the night leaving an injured Limelda behind and even more obsessed.

A fair few revelations here and a testament to Madlax's power as she overcomes "Elda Taluta", personally I like all the episodes with Limelda, and look forward to seeing her getting increasingly insane in her efforts to defeat Madlax. Again some light shoujo-ai, but its really hard to tell what (if anything) is going on with Madlax and Vanessa. Fun to read into none the less! Lots of action and more mystery here.
Episode Score: 9/10


Episode 15: False War



Time for a big revelation episode, as the two worlds of Madlax and Margaret grow ever closer. Madlax decides that re-watching the Elda Taluta sequence on her PC will help her find the truth as she had flashbacks to the past while under its influence. Viewing the text this time however sends her into a strange world, where the two spectral children we occasionally glimpse in the series live. Latetia (the young girl "ghost child"), tells Madlax that everything is a lie, except what lays in this strange world (its like a ruined city). Madlax comes to from the strange reality to find Vanessa at the PC with information that the entire civil war is being staged by Enfant! They fund both sides, and the war isn't real just a distraction perhaps for something else Enfant are doing. Madlax and Vanessa have the most important find in the series in the palm of their hand.
Elsewhere with Margaret, there's some rather comic moments with Eleanor going out of her way to keep an eye on Margaret and to protect from the people after the book, and its interesting to note that when Madlax passes into the bizarre world, Margaret collapses while Madlax is there. Her eyes glowing red, showing a evident supernatural link between the two.

Important revelations are always good in a mystery series, and here we have the biggest so far. While the episode is a bit low on the action front, the story is told masterfully and is gripping to see. I was mildly confused by what was going on at times, but I will give the series the benefit of the doubt for now that "all will be revealed".
Episode Score: 8/10


Episode 16: The Timbre Of Gunshots



This episode pretty much focusses on Madlax and Vanessa as they rush to get the information out publicly. There are a few brief moments back with Margaret and Eleanor as they maintain an eye on the book.
Madlax and Vanessa's plan of exposing the data goes wrong though when they are captured by Enfant the data disc being destroyed (there is a back-up in Madlax's hidden base however). Taken to a strange ruined city, Madlax comes to amongst the rubble and comes face to face with Friday Monday. Friday tells Madlax she is "special", and knows the location of the second book (Carrossea and the strange tribeswomen already know this, so its clear Friday is out of the loop). Madlax however after some brief flashbacks refuses to tell him, claiming she wishes to be normal and Friday storms off in disgust.
Vanessa and Madlax reunite and are faced with a legion of Enfants guards, "cue ridiculously OTT battle sequence"!!!. Plenty of fun to be had here at the end of the episode with Madlax leaping about in (and sometimes out =x) of her dress and shooting the enemy with a fantastic gun display. Vanessa proves her worth by shooting a guard at the end of the episode too.

What can I say? This is the type of episode where Madlax shines, more revelations, gripping dialogue and a fantastic action sequence are all here!
Episode Score: 9/10

Overall Disc Score: 8.5/10


Audio

Not much to add to my previous review other than I loved the "new" song that was frequently used for mystery scenes. No audio glitch this time round either. The dub was what as I watched as it's quite frankly amazing. Nancy Novotny and Kelly Madison shine as what are the "lead" roles of Madlax and Vanessa on this disc, with general good voice acting all around from the rest of the cast. Vic Mignogna as Carrossea Doon, really grows on me on this disc as well.
Audio Score: 9/10


Video/Animation

Nothing to add from last time other than there's a glitch on at least two of the three players I tried it on in which the disc starts up with subtitles on whatever audio options you set it too. Not a major pain but mildly annoying. Loses a mark from last time.
Video/Animation Score: 7/10


Extras

Clean Opening/Closing, design sketches, Japanese TV promos, ADV trailers (featuring possibly the most awful trailer for an anime ever in "Yumeria") and the truly hilarious "Conversations with SSS", which this disc had some rather funny "yuri" themed conversations which I must say I enjoyed.
Extras Score: 8/10


Packaging

4 page insert (with some rather suggestive Madlax and Vanessa art on the front) and interviews with Houko Kuwashima (Margaret) and Satsuki Yukino (Vanessa). The inside of the case is black and bland, as is the DVD. The cover portrays Madlax in the dress she wears in combat on this disc, with Friday Monday leering behind (pretty good cover). The back has blurbs about Carrossea Doon and Friday Monday, as well as screencaps.
Packaging Score: 7/10


Overall Scores
Disc Content: 8.5/10
Audio: 9/10
Video/Animation: 7/10
Extras: 8/10
Packaging: 7/10







posted by Mangaminx On Friday, September 16, 2005  
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