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Noir DVD 1: Shades of Darkness
Violence: Lots, but bloodless
Sex/Nudity: None
Music: A
Runtime Episodes: 24min/26
Overall Rating: A
Artwork: A
Story: A
Comments: This show originally aired at 1:30 in the morning in Japan!  The music is some of the very best in anime.
Voice Acting English: D
Voice Acting Japanese: A
Genre: Mafia, Asassins, drama
Extras: A DVD insert, which has a conversation with the production staff of Noir and 3-D glasses .  Clean opening and closing.  Previews for: Farscape season 2, Colorful, Zone of the Enders, You're under arrest theatrical, The devil Lady, Excel Saga.  The Original Japanese trailers, Production Sketches,

Date Reviewed: 5/2/09 Last Updated: 10/24/09

Basic Premise: A young amnesiac girl named Kirika, who is an exceptional killer and an extraordinarily well trained killer, hires Mireille, a professional killer, to help her regain her memory.  They also both know that in some unknown way their pasts are intimately and intricately tied together.
Review: Kirika is a young amnesiac and not very attractive and has very little self worth; almost suicidal really.  Despite her near total loss of memory, Kirika remembers Mirielle.  

Mirielle, on the other hand, is a professional assassin who kills for hire by taking on job offers that are solicited to her through the internet, but she only takes on cases that she wants.  When she receives a message from Kirika in an email she dismisses it at first until the attachment starts to play a terrifying and haunting melody from the darkest part of her past that she has spent her life trying to forget.

Curious, Mireille goes to meet this mysterious person who knows of Mirielle's past, only to discover that Kirika is an incredibly skilled killer, who has no memory and wants to remember.  Mireille accepts on the condition that as soon as she remembers, and maybe sooner, Mirielle will kill her.  Kirika, gladly accepts the offer.  It turns out to be a dangerous mission where there will be many assassins hunting them the closer they get to rediscovering Kirika's memories.  The assassins who know of Kirika and Mirielle, are well trained, and part of a vast secret organization that reaches across the world and to every other powerful organization around.  

Kirika and Mireille know not to trust each other since they are both assassins, but Kirika decides trust Mirielle regardless of the risk.  Mireille, on the other hand, does not trust Kirika at all.  In fact she finds Kirika very disturbing.  After all, Kirika can kill as if she were born to it and also is somehow tied to Mireille's very dark past in some way she doesn't yet understand.

The inside of the DVD contains a short pamphlet that is well worth reading that discusses the story of the origins for the Noir anime and some of what went into the creation of this show.  There is even a secret code on the back that can only be read if you wear the 3-D glasses  Kinda cool.  The extras on the DVD are not really bad or absent, but getting to them is quite annoying.  The angles make reading and selecting the extras difficult.  Must there be a huge fan with blades constantly rotating over the titles?  This is the most annoying main menu I have ever seen in a DVD and is worse than it was getting to the extras in The Complete Shamanic Princess where you had to install them onto your computer and then find the file that they are hidden in before you can play them.  I'd also rather the production sketches were stills that I could navigate with my remote.  Oh, well.

The artwork and animation are really good.  The animation is smooth making the fight scenes exciting and the facial expressions give each character so much more depth.  Care is given to keep the guns realistic and the movements realistic instead of exaggerated or cartoonish.

It really has been a while since I have seen any episodes in this anime and I was wondering what I would think of the voice acting now that it has been a while.  The English voice acting is still not as unpleasant as it was when I first listened to it.  The voice for Kirika is still not the best though.  Her super timid voice just grates on my nerves.  The Japanese voice for Kirika is timid as well, but somehow it seems more appropriate.  In the Japanese, Kirika is timid, but like a defeated person, but she has a strong confidence to her when talking about foes or figuring out a puzzle.  In Japanese it is clear that her timidness is due to having a very strong emotional attachment to Mireille.  Kirika is very emotionally fragile when it comes to what Mireille thinks of her.  In the English side Kirika is just emotionally fragile in general.  It is not really bad, just a very different rendering of her character and not even wrong.  The Japanese voice has more depth to it when doing Kirika is all.

One of the real problems in anime is that the voice actors in English and Japanese, but mostly the English voice actors, tend to over act.  This usually takes the form of women doing meek high pitched voices in a vain attempt to seem cute.  Women can be cute, but it almost seems like many just try too hard when voice acting.

I love the music.  I have had this anime for years, but I still listen to the songs from this show on my computer.  Yuki Kajiura the composer is one of the best known in the anime industry.  She is actually second.  I am not sure off hand who is number one.  Yuki Kajiura's music is really breath taking.  Normally I consider myself lucky if the opening or closing is really good, but the music just blows me away throughout the show and the variety of music is really varied as well.  Quite a treat!

The storyline is like the title and more noir in theme.  More like a cross between the Godfather movies and old detective movies from the 1940s and 1950s.  Normally, I find this type of story boring, but this stays true to the noir format and really engages me and keeps me wanting to see where things go from episode to episode.  This first DVD has some continuity to it, but is really about the first few jobs that Noir take on to help us get to know the characters and how they relate to each other.  I find it interesting how Mireille seems to resent Kirika no matter what.  We are also briefly introduced to the Soldats, a mysterious organization who have people everywhere and for some unknown reason are trying to kill Noir.  The reasons that the Soldats are trying to kill Noir is vague, but it is hinted that it is more of a sick game as opposed to an organization trying to get rid of a threat.  More like a chess game with real people, but Soldats do not see Noir as any type of threat.  Many of the episodes feel like different aspects of a mafia family with the exception of Noir.  Noir is an independent group of two that are in business for themselves and are not part of any Italian family.

There is also a lot of traveling to other countries, like Russia or the middle East, which is a real treat for me.  The real selling point of this show is the relationship of Kirika to Mireille and the fight scenes.  I also like this series because it is one of the only noir/mafia type shows that I have ever enjoyed this much.

Conclusion: A mafia style anime that is not for kids.  There is a great deal of violence and while it is bloodless it can be disturbing.  One of the classics in anime.

Related Website: http://www.jasms.de/anime/noir/noir_start.html in German I'm afraid.  It was the best though that I have found so far.
Where Found: amazon
Copyright: 2001/2003
Author: Koichi Mashimo
If you enjoyed this anime try: None yet


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