Fictional setting of Madlax

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Madlax (マドラックス Madorakkusu?) is a 26-episode anime television series produced in 2004 by the Bee Train animation studio. Unlike its predominantly realistic spiritual predecessor Noir, this series is set in an alternate reality where supernatural events and powers are possible, and although it bears multiple similarities to the real world (such as in the detailed depiction of existing firearms), the names of all prominently featured countries and political figures have been changed. In fact, the only two countries described in the series are Nafrece (ナフレス Nafuresu?) and Gazth-Sonika (ガザッソニカ Gazassonika?), whereas others are never depicted and seldom mentioned by name. At one point, Madlax's informant mentions that the civil war in Gazth-Sonika has started in 1999 and has been on-going for twelve years, so the story takes place approximately in 2011.[1]

Background[edit]

Nafrece is a tranquil European country apparently styled after France: for example, the Eiffel Tower that can be seen on multiple occasions,[2][3] and in the official English translation (see Releases), the names of these two states are almost exact anagrams of each other. No details on the government or the social structure of Nafrece have been revealed on the series. Notably, no Nafrecian cities are ever explicitly referred by name within the series, either. The currency commonly used in Nafrece is the yul (ユール yūru?),[4] which should not be confused with Euro (ユーロ Yūro?).

One of the world's biggest enterprises, Bookwald Industries (ブッグワルド Bugguwarudo?), is based in Nafrece,[5] and with several central characters being its employees, it plays an important role in the series. Bookwald officially invests into the world's key industries, but also covertly deals with weapons and is, in fact, a subsidiary of a powerful worldwide crime syndicate Enfant (アンファン Anfan?),[6] that controls every information channel on the planet.[7] The leader of Enfant apparently has supernatural powers: he is seen as able to erase a person's memory and alter their personality.[7][8] "Enfant" means "child" in French, wherein this organization parallels a similar one in Noir, called "Soldats" (French for "soldiers").[8]

Enfant's headquarters are located in Gazth-Sonika,[9] a country in south-western Asia, that has been plagued for twelve years by a civil war between a Royalist faction and an armed religious group named Galza (ガルザ Garuza?).[10] This country may have been inspired by or named after the Gaza Strip, since the syllables ga-za (ガザ?) in both Japanese: ガザ地区 (gaza chiku, "Gaza Strip") and Japanese: ガザッソニカ are written with the same kana. Gazth-Sonika is geographically separated into two zones: the combat and demilitarized one,[10] with the city of Daman in the latter being the only city explicitly named in the series [11] (it's unknown whether it has been inspired by Daman, India). The Nafrecian yur is used as a currency in Gazth-Sonika, as well, with 50 yur being considered a very large sum by the locals.[12]

There are multiple general similarities between the real world and the fictional world of Madlax, as well, for example, the Darwin operating system [13] appears throughout the story and the cat statuette that Madlax keeps in her apartment [14] is a traditional Japanese good luck charm called Maneki Neko. Japan itself is mentioned early in the series,[15] although it's the only real country to be so. Moreover, all firearms depicted in Madlax (as well as some vehicles, such as the ERC 90 Sagaie light tank) exist in the real world, for example, Madlax's favorite SIG 210-2 or Limelda Jorg's H&K PSG-1 sniper rifle.

Terminology[edit]

Due to the specifics of the genre, many terms and concepts remain unexplained even upon finishing the series, so the audience has to guess their meaning and nature by their visible effects.[16][17]

  • The Gift (資質 Shishitsu?) is a rare affinity found among the humans who possess paranormal abilities, such as altering the reality by entering the spiritual space called the Sanctuary. Those who have the Gift can be recognized by the lack of common reaction to the Words of Saruon from the Holy Books, however, experienced mystics like Friday Monday, Lady Quanzitta and Nakhl can also tell a Gifted person by simply looking at them. Apparently, there is a gradation of power among those who possess the Gift, since abilities accessible by some of them, cannot be used by others:
    • The only person within the series who can reach the Sanctuary on her own and subsequently use the Gift to its full extent, applying global changes to the reality, is Margaret Burton. In 1999, Friday Monday had the same magnitude of power, but has lost it because of his facial injury.[18] Colonel Richard Burton entered the Sanctuary but was unable to resist the Words of Awakening, so whether he has had the Gift is arguable. The least prominent but obvious Gift belonged to Carrossea-Poupee,[19] who could only reach the Sanctuary with Margaret's help. Madlax does not have the Gift, but is able to follow her other persona, Margaret, to the Door of Truth. Quanzitta Marison can communicate with the Sanctuary residents, but has never displayed any other abilities commonly associated with the Gift.
  • The Door of Truth (真実の扉 Shinjitsu no Tobira?) is a metaphysical construct that separates the Sanctuary from the material world as most humans know it. Only those with the Gift can reach and go through it.
  • The Sanctuary (聖都 Seito?) is a spiritual dimension, where the power of those with the Gift reaches its limits. Such things as splitting oneself into multiple personae or starting a global war are only possible within the Sanctuary, though the latter also requires the presence of all three Holy Books and a very powerful Gift in a person. Although entering the Sanctuary is only possible from certain material locations (such as the cave guarded by Lady Quanzitta and Friday Monday's residence), once inside, a person can apparently exit it to any geographical point, which'd explain how Margaret returned directly to Nafrece in 1999 and in the end of the series.
  • A "persona" (multiple: "personae") is a living being that is created when a person possessing the Gift wishes to separate themselves from certain parts of their personality and to accomplish that, draws upon the power of the Sanctuary. Such beings receive a physical form that is rarely similar to the original and a number of peculiar traits, such as Madlax's supernatural battle skills and regeneration. The nominal "main" persona is the one that retains the Gift since only they can merge the others back together.
    • A "memory keeper" or a "memory ghost" is a special type of personae that appears when a Gifted person loses or forcibly rejects their memories while within the Sanctuary. Memory keepers cannot leave the Sanctuary without assistance from other personae in the material world, however, they do appear to them in dreams and visions. Aside from that, only the mystic Quanzitta Marison can communicate with them directly. In the series, only two memory keepers are depicted: Laetitia and Poupee.

Holy Books[edit]

The three Holy Books

Firstari (ファースタリ Fāsutari?), Secondari (セカンダリ Sekandari?), Thirstari (サースタリ Sāsutari?) are the three Holy Books (三冊の本 sansatsu no hon?, lit. "a book in three volumes") written in the extinct language of Saruon (サルオン?) with the Elies script (エリエス文字 Eriesu moji?). The term "Holy Books" wasn't used in the Japanese original but is, instead, a neologism coined by the English-speaking fandom in attempt to merge the terms "a book in three volumes" and "the Holy Words of Saruon" (サルオンの真言 Saruon no Shingon?), which was used by the authors. The origin of the Books is unknown even to Lady Quanzitta Maris, and it is said that none of Four Great Ancient Civilizations (Egypt, Babylon, China, and India, according to the eponymous theory by Chinese historians) could have created them.[20]

Each Book contains one of the three powerful incantations necessary to reach the Sanctuary and use its power. For humans who don't have the Gift, the incantations are of grave danger because they put those who hear or read them into deep trance [16] (an effect similar to the fnords found in The Illuminatus! Trilogy [21]), making them first murder everyone they can (starting with their own relatives and friends) and then commit suicide.[22][23] This effect has been explained so that a person in the trance is "freed" from moral and ethical restrictions of their upbringing and therefore genuinely enjoys acting cruel and inhumane, or "naturally", as Friday Monday firmly maintains.[24] In rare cases, such as Eric Gillain and Madlax's, the Words of Saruon simply make a person remember once committed, but later selectively forgotten crimes that were so amoral that a mere memory of them can result in their suicide.[25][26]

The only humans who didn't have the Gift but were able to resist the incantations throughout the series are Madlax,[26] Elenore Baker,[27] and Vanessa Rene, though the latter required Madlax's help.[24]

  • Firstari contains the Words of Awakening - Elda Taluta
  • Secondari contains the Words of True Nature - Sarks Sark
  • Thirstari contains the Words of the Truth - Ark Alks

References[edit]

  1. ^ Madlax, episode 3 (5:43): The dialogue about Guen McNichol.
  2. ^ Carter, Jason (2005-07-20). "Madlax DVD #1 review". AnimeJump.com. Archived from the original on May 10, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  3. ^ Madlax, episode 14: The Eiffel Tower can be observed at approx. 6:25.
  4. ^ Madlax, episode 2 (7:22), the auctioneer: "I'll open the bidding at 1,400,000 yul".
    Madlax, episode 7 (05:58): Elenore and Eric Gillain discuss the latter's payment.
  5. ^ Madlax, episode 2 (11:18): Charlie tells Margaret about Bookwald.
  6. ^ Madlax, episodes 12-26: Vanessa and Madlax's investigation.
  7. ^ a b Madlax, episode 4: Maclay Marini's investigation of Enfant and its consequences.
  8. ^ a b "Madlax DVD #2 review at AnimeOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  9. ^ Madlax, episode 24 (13:45): Madlax and Elenore reach Enfant HQ without leaving Gazth-Sonikan combat zone.
  10. ^ a b Madlax, episode 11 (1:39): The article about Gazth-Sonika that Margaret reads.
  11. ^ "Madlax DVD #3 review at AnimeOnDVD.com". Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  12. ^ Madlax, episode 1 (7:46): Madlax overhears a soldier reporting on outcome of the negotiations with a Galza fighter.
  13. ^ Madlax, episode 4 (2:50): A "Welcome to Darwin!" message can be seen on the screen of Anne Moré's laptop.
  14. ^ Madlax, episode 13 (12:43): Maneki Neko can be seen on Madlax's desk.
  15. ^ Madlax, episode 2 (8:01), Vanessa Rene: "There was a Japanese firm next to us."
  16. ^ a b "Madlax DVD #6 review at AnimeOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on 2006-03-25. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  17. ^ "Madlax DVD #4 review at DVDVerdict.com". Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  18. ^ Madlax, episode 25 (7:47): Friday explains the significance of his wound.
  19. ^ Nakhl: "I also met one other person who had the Gift. [...] His name is Carrossea Doon". Madlax, episode 15 (4:03).
  20. ^ Madlax, episode 7 (11:47): Eric Gillain's informant on the Elies script.
  21. ^ "The Golden Apple: an excerpt on fnords". Archived from the original on 2006-11-09. Retrieved 2006-11-10. The first conditioned reflex was to experience the panic reaction (the activation syndrome, it's technically called) whenever encountering the word fnord. 
  22. ^ "Madlax DVD #2 review at AnimeBoredom.co.uk". Retrieved 2006-12-14. 
  23. ^ Madlax, episode 4: The Moré case.
  24. ^ a b Madlax, episode 22 (13:16): Vanessa is subjected to the Words of Awakening by Friday Monday (16:59) after a short conversation.
  25. ^ Madlax, episodes 7 and 8: Eric Gillain's life story.
  26. ^ a b Madlax, episode 14 (1:38): Madlax's reaction to Enfant's trap.
  27. ^ Madlax, episode 24 (16:21): Margaret, Elenore, and Friday Monday's conversation.