There’s something about Madlax that I can’t quite put my finger on. All the elements for a good action-drama seem to be there; an intricate plot full of twists, a cast of sexy characters with mysterious backgrounds, and impressive set pieces and action scenes. And yet, somehow, it’s one of the dullest things I’ve ever seen.
It’s a shame, too. The second volume was beginning to show a lot of promise, and I was starting to think that Madlax could only get better. Unfortunately, instead of building upon the momentum gained, it has fallen back to the same dull slog that made the first installment such a chore to sit through. Twelve episodes in and it still feels as if nothing is happening, and it seems that little real progress has been made. Madlax is still running about Gazth-Sonika killing people. Margaret is still milling about in a perpetual daze. Carrossea is still slinking about mysteriously in the shadows. Friday Monday is still acting the part of stereotypical archvillain, hiding away in a dark room, wearing a mask and sporting a daft name. Nothing has changed, and I want to hit them all with the “get on with it’ stick. What’s worse is that I still don’t particularly care for any of the main characters – most of the character development and emotional attachment process has been spent with supporting characters that are likely to never be seen again -in this case, the disillusioned ex-soldier who can never quite escape the battlefield.
That’s not to say that Madlax is without its moments. There is some level of excitement to be found when Vanessa talks an old friend into hacking into her company’s computers, and finds things she shouldn’t – but I can also say that the most interesting bit was watching two people stare at a computer screen. The sections with Margaret are still as dull as ever, with her random trip to a hotel coming across as a mixture between flimsy plot device and even flimsier excuse to get the girls into swimsuits. Even the bits with Madlax as the focal character do little to raise the thrills.
After a promising turn in the second volume, Madlax falls back to a dull plod that feels like it’s going nowhere, fast. The bottom line is that if something big is indeed going to happen, the pieces should have fallen into place by now, but as it stands it’s taking far too long to get going. If you want girls and gunplay, there are plenty of better alternatives out there, and as such I can only really recommend this to people with the patience of a saint, and Noir fans.