Plot: Madlax is a high level mercenary for hire, able to complete assignments others could never finish. She is skilled in all forms of combat and weapons use, blessed with a brilliant mind for strategy and tactical elements. In other words, not the kind of person you want to have to deal with, since she has no real weaknesses. She even has a moral compass, taking only cases she believes in and never putting cash over her principles. She is so efficient and flawless in fact, that some believe she isn’t even human, instead some kind of mechanical marvel. Margaret Burton on the other hand, is a spoiled rich girl surrounded by advisors who guide her actions and decisions. While the two women seem like total opposites, their lives will soon become interwoven as a brutal war rages around them at all times. When the two do finally cross paths, will they be on the same side and in any case, will Madlax be able to fend off the forces that seek to extend and expand the conflict?
Entertainment Value: I first saw Madlax on The Cartoon Network and the show seemed interesting, but I was unable to catch it from the start. I saw random episodes, a handful or so, so I wasn’t up on the story, but the show still entertained. Now that I have watched all the episodes, I am even more impressed and Madlax develops some great stories and characters. The writing is very good and pays off for those who invest the time to watch the entire series, with subtle touches and references. This is an action packed series, but it never neglects character depth or narrative, so it is able to deliver both an interesting story and some bad ass set pieces. I also appreciated how the action makes sense within that narrative framework, so it isn’t just random shootouts or battles, but an organic part of the storytelling.
So while I expected just a wild show about girls and guns, but Madlax does has depth and even social undercurrents. Not heavy handed stuff by any means, but it was cool to see some social issues examined and touched upon. The animation is not all that great and hasn’t aged well, but it still looks solid. The designs all have shades of classic old school anime, but detail isn’t that strong. So things have kind of a basic appearance and the animation itself could be more fluid, so in terms of visuals, this series isn’t a top flight anime show. But the visuals are just one element of the series and to me, the good story and character development help compensate, not to mention the frequent, effective action sequences. I think Madlax is a great series and even casual anime fans will have a blast, so this complete collection earns a solid recommendation.