Noir mark 2, also known as Madlax. Studio Bee Train messes a little weenie bit with the exact same premise and throws it out supposed as a different anime we should regard differently. I am not fooled by that so as punishment I will even reuse most of my Noir review. Because I am that evil, muahahaha!
Just like THAT previous show as well as the later rehashes, Madlax made some sensation when it first came out. Being emo was cool back then and most didn’t mind watching the exact same thing over and over again. Just like the rest of these Chicks With Guns titles, it was shoved to the side more and more with each new similar anime before eventually being almost forgotten after Requiem for the Phantom came out (which is the best of this sort of shows). Its context was so simple, it got rehashed right away in later shows with gradually better directing. It’s like watching five seasons of Pokemon; the visuals may be improving but they are otherwise THE EXACT SAME THING!
So yeah, the visuals are slightly improved in details and colors next to Noir. The baddies have more details on them and are not mass produced Men In Black clones. They have faces and show a lot more facial expressions while fighting. Plus the sceneries have a lot more flora in them instead of being just squared grey buildings. It’s like the difference between the environments in Metal Gear Solid and Snake Eater; they feel more natural and the battles look less artificial.
Besides that, the animation is rather standard, with people mostly standing still and talking, while action sequences are basically the girls doing some really impossible acrobatics while their enemies are standing frozen for several seconds. Meaning, although the battles seem impressive on a superficial level, it all boils down to a few girls killing a dozen men with a six pistol, while miraculously evading a hundred bullets with fancy aerobics and hitting their opponents easily because they are standing still. Hey, I can only suspend my disbelief for a few episodes before it gets repetitive and the stupidity of the whole thing surfaces. THE MOOKS DON’T EVEN BLEED!
The music is very good if you are fans of lyric music full of ambience. I personally have nothing against it and it holds out as a fine soundtrack to buy. The problem is that sometimes they are reusing the tunes, like they reuse the premise itself. And if you don’t understand what I mean…
hack SIGN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfDUJ5WAtuE
The dialogues also have some maturity in them for going for some deep psychological or mysterious issues from time to time. Other than that, the overall simple context of the whole series will most likely make them feel like they are repeating pointlessly. Thus it is the music and not the talking that keeps you interested. Sound effects, meh, nothing special to comment.
The story and characters are A MESS! Trying to stretch a simplistic premise to last a full season can only be accomplished by slow pace, repeating flashbacks, going in circles, and throwing in lots of battles with easily defeated baddies. It tries to be mature and mysterious but eventually the ending is one big WTF and you are left wondering the point of the whole show. Something about books which magically brainwash you? Only thing, the setting has NOTHING to do with magic. The main characters DO develop though. And by main, I mean only the girls since the male genre in this series is just an army of weaklings existing to be killed. It’s all about the girls and their emo pasts. There is some interesting chemistry amongst them (hem, yuri, hem) but the whole thing happens so slow and repeats a lot before eventually going for magical nonsense and people who talk for half an hour in the middle of battle instead of doing the unthinkable and just PRESSING THE TRIGGER. Yeah ok, lol and move along.
There is no value in this anime, since as I said Requiem for the Phantom is its nth remake and the best of its kind (although I am no fan of emo chicks with guns and by no means fan of that series). As one described it, such Bee Train shows are basically long moody music videos and not good action/mystery series. So no, I don’t recommend it. Hear the soundtrack and skip the rest.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 0/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 2/2
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 1/2, Story 0/3, Characters 0/4