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MapleRose's Noir Tv Review

Noir tv Review

Story & Characters

"Noir, it is the name of an ancent fate. Two maidens who govern death."

This is the main theme of Noir, as said at the beginning of every episode. However, I don't think it's explained too well just what Noir is and what Noir is supposed to do. Sure it gives you hints here and there, but there are still plenty of questions left unanswered.

The story focuses on two assassins Kirika Yumura, a Japanese assassin with amnesia, and Mireille Bouquet, a Corsican woman who is one of the most reliable assassins in the business. One day, Kirika messaged Mireille, asking her to go on a journey to the past. Mireille became interested after hearing the music attached to the message that is somehow related to her own past, and agrees to help Kirika discover her past - with one condition, that she will kill Kirika after finding out the truth. Teaming up as assassins under the name "Noir", they open business in France, taking on jobs while uncovering the secrets to their pasts.

Kirika at first glance looks like a kind and gentle schoolgirl, but she is a deadly killer who takes lives without batting an eyelash, and that makes her sad. She seems unwilling to kill at times, but does her job all the same. A talented assassin, she is able to kill with almost any sharp and everyday object like forks, the wheel axle of a toy truck, and even the metal from a pair of glasses. And she is also deadly with a gun. She has a sort of fatalistic view on life sometimes, and agrees to Mireille killing her after finding the truth.

Mireille is a professional assassin who had a tragic past that is slowly revealed throughout the series. She is a somewhat cold woman who looks out only for herself, and doesn't trully trust anyone, not even her partner Kirika. She prefers to use a gun, and keeps one with her at all times in her purse.

Chloe is later introduced in the series, and also plays a part in the plot. She was brought up and trained as an assassin, and prefers using knives. She is cold and kills mercilessly like Kirika, but unlike Kirika who feels sadness and remorse, Chloe doesn't seem to feel anything. She follows the orders of Altena, who is like a mother figure to her without question.

The main cast is rather small, consisting of these few characters, all female. There are no main male characters present, all the main assassins that Kirika and Mireille meet and combat with are female, who are also very good at killing.

The story's tone is rather serious and sometimes a bit dark, there's no room for humour or romance. It does get a bit suspenseful at times, and there's lots of action. It is kind of stylistic and is inspired by the Noir-type films.

The plot is confusing to say the least. And at times some episodes and sidestories get a bit pointless and random. Also, the setting for the beginning few episodes is also confusing: one moment Mireille's in France, then they're in Japan, the next they're in France again, without any warning it seems. The episodes aren't the most coherent between one another, and there are many questions left unanswered.

Rating: 5

Art

I'm not really too impressed by the art or animation. But it does have a certain degree of style to it, especially in the opening and ending sequence, using limited palettes that contributes the artistic style seen in Noir-type films. But other than that, the backgrounds, settings, colours, and general quality aren't all that great.

The character designs for Kirika and Mireille are pretty ordinary. Chloe is somewhat unique, but I don't like her colours, and I'll never understand how her hair works. Altena is okay, but again, not that great. The designs for their clothing is average.

Because they couldn't show blood on TV, the fighting scenes are highly stylized. People get shot nearly every episode, but you hardly see blood or people agonizing. The minor characters are usually dead within one shot, to better emphasize the main characters' amazing assassination abilities, though I think it's a bit too exagerrated sometimes. However, even though the main characters rarely get hurt, they're not completely invincible either, as Kirika does get hurt once. And her blood and agony is shown, perhaps to distinguish her from the other faceless minor characters and make her seem more human.

Rating: 4

Sound

The soundtrack of Noir is excellent, both in terms of voices and music, and is the strength of the series.

Voices
The Japanese main cast consists of well-known and experienced voice actors that give the characters life.

The main character Kirika is voiced by Houko Kuwashima (Sango of Inuyasha; Stellar, Fllay and Natarle of Gundam SEED/Destiny; Quon of Rahxephon, Minoru of Chobits; Rose of FMA), who is a seasoned performer and one of the most versatile female voice actors. She is able to portray Kirika's gentle and quiet personality, while keeping the distant and sad part of her.

Mireille is voiced by Kotono Mitsuishi (Misato of Evangelion; Usagi of Sailor Moon; Jury of Revolutionary Girl Utena; Gracia of FMA; Murrue of Gundam SEED/Destiny), who has also been in many many roles in various animes. She gives Mireille an authoritative and determined voice, but at times also caring and soft. I love her voice, and I admit that it's one of the reasons I picked up Noir. The only slight problem is that Mireille is only supposed to be 19, but her voice makes her sound much older.

Chloe's voice is done by another well-known actor Aya Hisakawa (Yuki of Fruits Basket; Keroberos of Card Captor Sakura; Ami of Sailor Moon; Haruka of Rahxephon), who gives Chloe a somewhat condescending tone. Actually I kind of find Chloe's voice annoying at times because of its thin-ness sometimes, or maybe it's because I'm not too fond of her character.

All three women have worked together before and after the production of Noir, and I think they work well together.


Music
The best part of Noir is its music. The opening "Coppelia no Hitsugi (Coppelia's Casket)" by ALI Project, is rather unique and fits the theme of the series, but I'm not personally very fond of it. The ending "Kirei na Kanjo (Beautiful Emotions)" by Akino Arai is less memorable than the opening, but it's not too bad (again, not really my style).

The best parts are the insert songs and background music, the style of which unlike any other anime's. Using a mixture of instrumental violin, piano, and opera-ish singing, they really brings those scenes to life, and there's an "European" flavour to them. Most notable is "Canta Per Me (Sing for Me)", which is Kirika's theme song, played when she goes into action. Mireille's theme song "Corsican Corridor" is also beautiful and memorable. Chloe's theme songs "Secret Game" and "Chloe" both add to Chloe's mysterious character. Altena's theme song "Lullaby" is also very beautiful. The melody from the pocket watch, called "Melodie" is very haunting, though it did get a bit annoying after several repetitions one after another. "Salva Nos" is also very good background song, played during the fighting scenes. It energizes the audience and compliments the stylized fighting, although it also gets a bit repetitive after playing it every episode. The soundtrack to Noir is highly recommended.

Rating: 9

Presentation

The plot is too incoherent and confusing sometimes to get into and really enjoy. The art and animation isn't the best. And I find the constant flashbacks of Mireille's childhood very annoying and repetitive, especially they're of the same sequence of scenes over and over again, sometimes with a little bit more added. But sometimes this scene is repeated more than once in the same episode, and some consecutive episodes.

The emotional impact is at times good, some scenes are sad, but not enough to make you cry, but you do learn to empasize with the characters. The utter lack of romance and humour may turn some people away, but there are hints of yuri here and there.

The thing that I most watched this series for (and I'm sure for most other people as well) is the music and soundtrack. Unfortunately, it's not enough to overwhelm the strange plot and not-so-great art.

Rating: 5

Final Verdict

5.50 (average)

Reviewed by MapleRose, Feb 03, 2007

Comments

  1. shoujoboy Feb 04, 2007

    Wait a minute someone else didn't like Noir? Oh thank God I'm not the only one. In fact I'd rate it much lower than what you did and not because the story was confusing, the show was just plain boring. I actually had to put my DVD's on Ebay to force myself to watch them before they sold in 3 days. And I agree, the music was the high point. But is it just me and anything Yuki Kajiura composes for seems to just suck? Maybe I'm looking too much into it.

  2. annakee Feb 05, 2007

    this anime isn't an artwork; the incoherences are continued and i know that... even so, but for a strange reason i liked this anime.
    maybe is the soundtrack because, as you said, is the best point here. i just love the music on noir.

  3. Rosegirl18 Feb 09, 2007

    A great review - quite some talent present in this! I'm happy that you have joined the Minitokyo-Review group. You seem to possess much knowledge and reasonable opinions on this series...unfortunately I don't, since I got bored enough to quit after the first episode. I certainly agree with the two people above me - the music was the one excellent point of the series, I'm sure, since the wonderful Kajiura Yuki composed.

  4. prirky Apr 11, 2007

    Agreed. The plot wasn't interesting (wait, there is one?) and there were just too many flashbacks. However, music was nice although they used the same tracks over and over again for the same thing in each episode. I was bored so I watched the whole series.

  5. shadowfoxza Apr 16, 2007

    The plot was a bit murky, but it was there. I did find the flashbacks somewhat annoying (but when aren't they), but I wouldn't rate Noir quite that badly.

    And while the art certainly wasn't above average, I find a 4 to be a bit low ...

  6. Imperatorumgladio Sep 18, 2007

    Noir is not make for everyone, it must be an inteligent expectator. If you think there's no plot, what are you waiting which the director gives you everything easy to understand, that's a mediocre work. I have seen this more than five times and in three diferent languages the story is criptic and made for clever minds, somethimes there's no need of speaking to know whats going on, this is the reason of many flashbacks or eyes scenes, the subjectivity of the character is been tested by the circunstances of the episode. Also watching at the scene and listening the music is really important, that why I only have seen it once in japanese because I don't understand it. I think that is a crime reading subtitles while there is Salva Nos on scene. For example Melody - Salva Nos in episode 21 explain you cleverly the feeling of Kirika, listen to the latin lirics "Dona nobis pacem/Dona nos requiem/Dominus Misere/Salva Salva Nos" that is amazing. The same with Canta per Me in episode 6 "Tempra la cetra e canta/il inmo di morte".

    Your first critic is about the cifusing of the first episode in base of the location where it made.I don't understand where's the confusion a task in PAris, othr in Rusia, Americam remnber Les Soldats flown into the great river and now they are the world.

    "Many questions left unanswered" that because you didn't understood it maybe one of these answers are in non-speaking scenes. Besides there's some things that no need to be answered because they aren't needed to tell the story. For example who cares about why Kirika lost her memories or about her past we only need to know that she is Noir. The true nature of Noir can be undersood just listening at the criptic message of the pilgrimin and make comparison with the main character relationship.

    About the art, the background are very likely european impressionism, an artistic movement started in France and followed in Italy. In Noir the impressionism is mixed with the dark atmosphere of Noir films as you can see not too detailed but dark backgrounds. Althought Noir is meant to be realistic so you won't see any kind of strange character I have only saw three Chloe (she also is a particular character in many forms), a girl whit blue hair at the begining of episode 16 and a red haired girl at the start of Salva Nos in episode 18. The character are supposed to look realistic, not extravagant. "too exagerrated sometimes", agree but remenber they are "Two maidens who govern death"

    In conclusion, Your review seems to be made without paying attention to the serie, I recomend you to watch it again maybe you change your mind

  7. Kukuru Dec 06, 2007

    Interesting MapleRose - while I do enjoy a complex anime script every once and awhile that makes you think, I'm a little disappointed by how to rated this anime. Not saying that your review is bad - it's just at the time I thought it had potential but it seems to me that perhaps not as well as I thought.

    Needless to say, it won't be on the top of my anime-to-watch list ;)

  8. SchRita Jan 15, 2010

    Thanks for the review!

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