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[Noir box art]
AKA: N/A
Genre: Stylish action-adventure suspense drama
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by FUNimation.
Content Rating: R (violence, adult themes, intensity)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Bubblegum Crisis, Perfect Blue
Notes:
Rating:
 

Noir

Synopsis

An established assassin, Mireille Bouquet, receives an email from a mysterious amnesiac, Yuumura Kirika, who invites her to "make a pilgrimage to the past" with her. Intrigued, Mireille travels to Japan to look for Kirika. Their first meeting is punctuated by questionable men who attempt to kill both of them and by Kirika's amazing ability is disposing of these annoyances. Kirika also possesses a pocket watch, which holds the key to both of their pasts. To uncover the demons of their past, Kirika and Mireille form an uneasy alliance under the codename Noir. Will their past finally catch up to them? What is the meaning behind Noir? Will it finally lead to their demise?

Review

Pop quiz! What do you get when you cross stylish female assassins with exotic European locations with beautiful animation with rich music score and a good plot? An anime that can't go wrong! That's what!

First off, Noir is a suspenseful and grim anime. The characters never resort to SD mode and there are no characters inserted simply for comedic effect. In short, Noir it can easily end up as your favorite anime, as long as you don't try to marathon it.

After our quick introduction to the two leading ladies, we are plunged into their lives as they accept and carry out assignments. Mireille is the tactician, the ever-cautious assassin who makes up for her poorer combat skills with planning. Underneath the professional and cool veneer lies a very aggressive young lady who is ready to pull the trigger.

Kirika is the polar opposite. You would pass her without a second glance and dismiss her as another gentle and somewhat introverted high-school girl. Underneath the shy exterior is a remorseless and highly resourceful assassin who kills without blinking an eye. Anything that can be used as weapon will be used as a weapon.

The first half of the series is pretty standard "assassination of the day" fare, so it tends to drag a bit. But I feel that this is inevitable and especially important in fleshing out the characters. This is where we learn their strengths, weakness and their reasons for choosing their kind of lifestyles. This is also the part where we see the bond developing between Mireille and Kirika.

The next half of the series moves with a break-neck speed with the introduction of the mysterious Chloe (my favorite!), the cold-as-ice assassin that carries out the bidding of Les Soldats without fail, and the creepy Altena, the power behind Les Soldats. This is the part where things are spiced up, as Mireille and Kirika get ever closer to solving the mystery behind the Soldats and finding the truth about themselves, leading to a climactic finale.

While the creators try to make Noir as realistic as possible, certain things are still glaring. The first thing that strikes is that while people are dying left, right, and center, there's hardly a drop of blood spilled. The wounds are all incredibly clean. The second is what I'd like to call the Rambo element - where there are 100 dudes all totting submachine guns but their bullets will never hit their targets while a single shot fired by our ladies will drop them immediately. But hey! Who's complaining? They are the main characters. They are not supposed to die! Plus you'll quickly forgive the creators since all fight scenes are beautifully animated and very well choreographed.

And eye-candy lovers will not be disappointed. The backgrounds and scenes are all richly detailed with decent frame rates. I do have a bone to pick with the character's eyes though. They still look rather 'flat' in emotional and close-up shots. The music is easily the most memorable with the beautiful melodies and acoustic that is characteristic of Kajiura Yuki. Tense melodies reflect the insecurities and uncertainty of their lives while pounding techno beats with Latin singing intensify the battle and gives the show a more urgent feel.

Why do I like Noir? Three words: style, style, style. Noir oozes style. It is an original anime that stands out - the perfect anime if you've had too much fluff.

Drop one if you are not into grim series. — Diane Tiu

Recommended Audience: Definitely teens and up. Very, very violent (it's screened at midnight in Japan) with deaths in every episode and implied child rape and torture. While there's obviously a deep bond between Kirika and Mireille, there's nothing to imply that they are homosexuals. However, certain ladies in the show did share a kiss or two.

While younger audiences may just watch for the sheer style, it takes a mature mind to understand why the characters are doing what they are doing. And lives of assassins are nothing to be glorified.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub; R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Noir © 2001 Bee Train