Margaret is a young schoolgirl in a sprawling European city, orphaned at birth, and haunted by not only unusually memories but strange dreams and visions, she attempts to get on as best she can with only her housekeeper Elenore to help her. Madlax is an assassin and a mercenary, an unstoppable killer stalking her pray across the nearby country of Gazeth-Sonika, and ultimately killing them. Many would think that these girls had nothing at all in common, but they may just be wrong. Each of these girls are suffering from a form of amnesia and haunted by similar memories, and they seem to have a strange connection to each other. What will happen when these two meet, and more importantly, who or what is guiding their fates?
The creators of Noir once again conspire to have us delve into the darkest regions of the human mind and unlock a conspiracy so deep that it may threaten the very world itself.
The show can really be described in respect to the first volume as being somewhat akin to trench warfare, large sprawling stretches of inactivity interspersed with violent bursts of activity, usually breaking up a flashback of an unknown past or visions of unknown allies and foes to be found in later episodes. The show hangs on every word and look from each character and while the certainly has to be elements, phrases and images that will reoccur and play a massive part in the development of the show, only the truly obvious stand out.
Interestingly, Margaret seems to be cold and fairly detached, to the point of being uncommonly rude to her friends and elders and seems to drift through life without really paying much attention to the world around her. Maxlax conversely has a personality that at first might seem to be an unlikely one for an assassin, she is kind, funny, and compassionate even while on missions (although will turn into a cold-blooded killer at the drop of a hat). Other characters appear in the show, but tend to keep tight-lipped about both their personalities and agendas, although almost all seem to know much more than they're willing to let on.
The animation is essentially all standard 2D and is certainly unremarkable for all but two facts, the first is the detail of the scenery and the buildings in everything from the amazing architecture to the slight dirt and damage that lends a certain realism to things; and the second is the intense choreography employed in the fight scenes, almost to the extent of being physically impossible (like The Matrix but without all the silly special effects). The show has an unusual way of employing shadows and spectral colours within them, this definitely gives the show an eerie otherworldly ambience The music is somewhat otherworldly, and seems to be an eclectic mix of upbeat electronica and folk music with some of the trademark Noir vocals thrown in for good measure. This may seem like a strange mix, especially when all three elements come together in the same song, however it seems to suit the show and mirrors the cities and technologies unlikely facets.
This show gives its secrets one episode at a time, which can be incredible frustrating at times, but will leave the viewer with an almost desperate need to see the next one. While I really liked this first volume, it's certainly taking it's time getting anywhere, all four episodes on the disk are scene-setters to the point that the two main protagonists never actually meet. Thus the plot has not really begun to unfold in full yet, and to be honest, the rest of the show will end up dictating how useful these first four episodes are. In the end, the first disk of this series is intriguing to say the least, but will need one, possibly two more volumes to really get going.