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Back in the first decade of this century, a little known director (Koichi Mashimo) and a little known studio (Bee Train) teamed up to create a triquel of anime series which have affectionately become known as the 'Girls with Guns' trilogy. The first series of this trilogy was the 2001 series Noir while the last entry into the series was 2007's El Cazador de la Bruja. Arguably the best series in the trilogy, however, is a little known action series from 2004 simply titled Madlax. Melding the unlikely trio of mental trauma, the metaphysical, and civil war as its central themes, Madlax defied the odds by telling an amazing story from start to finish and created lifelong fans of the title in the process.
The series begins with the mercenary title character going out on a mission to retrieve data from the middle of a war zone in the country of Gazth-Sonika. At first glance, this seventeen year old girl doesn't seem like the type of person who would be able to complete this task, but after one episode and many dead bodies later, she more than proves her mettle. Fast forward and the setting changes to the much more peaceful, fictional country of Nafrece where another teenage girl named Margaret Burton lives in a permanent dreamy haze.
At first there is no obvious connection between these two characters. After all, one is a battle hardened mercenary who is capable of defeating entire battalions of soldiers with only the guns strapped to her sides and the other is a carefree teenager who has never known a single day of violence in her life. However, it's soon revealed that as a child, Margaret was involved in a terrible accident and went missing. When she was found and returned home all she was capable of saying was one name... “Madlax”. From here the story unfolds into 26 episodes of intrigue and mystery as the connection between these two completely opposite girls comes to light.
Constantly twisting and turning, is not a series to be taken lightly or watched idly as even the smallest of details can come back into play later particularly whenever a character starts talking about the three holy books that everyone wants to get their hands on.
What mysteries are contained within these books and what is the deal with the script inside which can drive a person to madness? These are questions that will be constantly asked by viewers as they move forward with the answers always being just barely kept out of their reach until the closing moments of the series.
There are certainly flaws to be found within Madlax though and while one could certainly argue that Margaret is a burden that drags this series down, I personally feel that one has to look at the whole picture; the yin and the yang as it were. On the surface it might appear that Madlax is the only main character in the series worth paying attention to, Margaret adds her own unique touch to each scene that she's in that edges the mystery forward as it's her that carries the mysterious book that both heroes and villains alike are willing to kill in order to get into their possession. When you look at Margaret and Madlax as two sides of the same coin, both the characters and the series as a whole becomes that much more exciting.
Now thirteen years old, Madlax has been out of print in the United States for at least a decade. Luckily one can still find copies of the complete collection on Amazon for reasonable amounts. If you enjoy action series that come with a heaping side helping of mystery and intrigue, seek out this buried treasure.