All Noir released episodes
Maidens with Black Hands
An e-mail containing the words "Make a pilgrimage for the past with me", accompanied by a strangely familiar tune, lure professional hitwoman Mireille Bouquet into meeting with Kirika Yumura, a Japanese amnesiac with amazing killing skills. Could the mysteries of Kirika's lost memories shed some light on Mireille's own past?
Having gone into business as Noir, Mireille and Kirika take on their first job together- the assassination of a far right terrorist and his collaborator in the Peace Department.
The Assassination Play
It seems like a simple job for Noir when they are hired by a widow to take revenge on her husband's killer. But when the job turns out to be a set-up, the tables are turned, and the hunters become the hunted. Can Kirika and Mireille hope to out-think their enemies and escape with their lives?
The Sound of Waves
Mr Hammond is a man of many roles- on the one hand, he is president of the nefarious Atride Corporation, well known for inciting wars to make a profit, but on the other, he is a father adored by his teenage daughter Rosalie. And now, in sunny Ulgia, Hammond has another role- as Noir's next target. Yet there are still enemies in the shadows who want nothing more than for Noir to fail.
Having asked her old friend Vanel to find information on the people who are trying to kill Noir, Mireille is shocked to discover that whatever he has uncovered has cost the lives of him and his entire family. Realising that Vanel must have been onto something important, Mireille begins her own investigation to find out the secret that cost her friend his life.
During the Cold War, a KGB agent named Yuri Nazarov ordered the slaughter of members of an ethnic minority known as the Tashkil. Now the few surviving Tashkil have commissioned Noir to avenge those deaths by killing Nazarov. Yet these days Nazarov is a benevolent old man who has dedicated himself to helping the destitute. Can Noir bring themselves kill Nazarov given his apparent change for the better?
The Black Thread of Fate
Noir has just fulfilled a contract to kill a revolutionary leader, but Kirika is shot herself whilst making the hit. With the remaining revolutionaries hot on Noir's trail and out for revenge, Mireille realises that her only chance of escaping may be to relieve herself of the burden of her injured partnerâ€¦
Intoccabile Acte I
In exchange for a document that has a connection with the mysterious Soldats, Mireille and Kirika assassinate a Mafia Don. But the Mafia is well known for its revenge policies, and Noir soon find themselves the target of the ruthless Mafia princess known as the Intoccabile, a woman who Mireille has met long ago, and has cause to fear.
Intoccabile Acte II
Noir and the Intoccabile still have unfinished business with each other after their last face off, and each side knows that matters can only be resolved with a final showdown. To that end, both sides travel to Sicily, where Mireille and the Intoccabile met as children. But with Kirika's arm injured and Mireille fearful and doubtful about her ability to defeat the Intoccabile, does Noir have any hope of victory? And will Mireille and the Intoccabile's past play a part in the coming encounter?
I love stories that drag my mind for a loop. To toss it's world at me and experience a parallel to the characters on screen. What's going to happen? What's this, and who's this?. To feel suspicion, doubt, and excitement of what the next moment might bring. Opportunities to let our minds think and roam. Doing this at every corner, at every stop, and at every turn is not always well executed, but when it is, that tangible, emotional engagment is never far off, and can bring plenty of memorable moments with it, which is to bring up the subject of this review: Noir. Directed by Koichi Mashimo, the same director behind Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, and Written by Ryoe Tsukimura, Noir strives to bring us said experience within it's action-packed, mysterious, and twisting Neo-Noir story. This is also an anime that I came across blindly; never hearing about it in the slightest or what it was about, becoming interested for it's branding as a neo-noir anime, and I like me some Noir. But in the past, blind experiences always seem to be strong, and what I came out of was nothing short of engrossing... albeit with a share of thorns. So as an anime about Girls with Guns, who try to uncover a ancient secret, does it go the distance needed to lay an impacting impression? Sit back, relax, and pause for a moment... as I give you my evaluation of Noir. **---Plot & Characters Summary** The show starts with Mireille Bouquet, a highly skilled assassin for hire with a mysterious past regarding her powerful family's deaths; somethign that'll come into play later on. One day, she receives a strange email on the computer, requesting for a meet up. It's around this time that she comes across another main character, "Kirika Yumura", and I say that with quotes since the name's a fake, and she doesn't know or remember anything, with the exception of another name, Noir. A gunfight in a construction site occurs, and afterwards, it's soon hinted that Kirika might be related to Mireille's past, and after tending to her injurys, Kirika pleads to travel along; which Mireille accepts. They both join up and adopt Noir as a name for their newly formed alliance, ignorant of the name's true purpose. Let's just say that this is where the plot goes deeper, since after a few hit-contracts, we are introduced to the over-arching antagonists of the show; the Illuminati-esque secret society known as The Soldats, who become their biggest foes, but also their biggest clues to finding the truth about their pasts. Twists will arise, clues will come in multiple forms, action and killing will lay bare, and how far our characters will go to solving their personal mysteries will take them into territory unknown, and what they'll find is bigger than what was initially comprehended, not only to the true intentions of the Soldats, but the very nature of themselves. **---Plot & Characters Overview** Almost each episode has it's own story with the occasional story arc, but it's all inter-connected to one one singular narrative. From fulfilling a hit-contract, or to track down a new lead, Mireille and Kirika go down a road where mystery is in the air, and clues can come in different shapes; from paper-copies to entire characters. To dig into the main meat of the show is to bring up it's style of exploring it's plot, scattered secrets, and the characters themselves. From lines of dialog to it's highly effective use of enigmatic flashbacks, Noir goes about itself in a variety of contexts. The first portion of the anime is where elements are most balanced, and it helps that it's use of ambiguity augments this aspect, which even transfers over to the main cast. You see, the first half of Noir doesn't entirely paint the "bad guys" as 100% concrete, and if anything it leaves you with a bit to sympathize with in certain cases. From being torn between killing an old man whose trying to repent for the bad deeds he's done, to a cold corporate father who decides to make up lost time with his kid, it's set-up in a rounded way and when you get the big realization by the end, it'll make you question the actions of our characters. There's a lot of killing, sure, and morality is tossed out the window during the action scenes, but in a way, those actions do have some purpose to serve as a backdrop for the underlying question mark of the show. Characters don't necessarily receive the traditional method of development, but rather, the show puts a focus on how their bonds develop; seeing the evolution of their relations from beginning to end, and how they go about their respective character arcs as the story progresses. Mireille is dead set on finding the Soldats to learn about her scarring past, while Kirika is a blank slate character with no set in stone personality, which the show uses to great effect. She builds her own self, creating the person she wants to be, which is supported by the interests, questions, personal dilemmas, and experiences given to her. She wants to be more and more of a person, rather than someone who just kills people, and that's what I like about her. Kirika has a proactive nature and doesn't wait to find out who she is, but decides to grow a personality herself and be... well... her, basically. And knowing that the show acknowledges and supports this growth only makes the character more likable in spite of the circumstances. This is great, since I found myself to be highly engaged with the developments that were tossed around; leaving me thinking, guessing, bridging the pieces of the puzzle in my mind along side the characters themselves, and when twists came, I reacted momentously. Though if there's one nitpick, it would be pacing, as it's intentionally slow; the purpose being to provide tension, establish an atmosphere, and build other elements up before dispersing it. Kinda like seeing a cutscene of the next boss you're about fight only to encounter a loading screen, becoming excited or dreading what might come next. It's fairly effective, but at the same time, I can imagine those with lower attention spans to get bored easily. Yes people, Noir is that slow. Then you get to the middle portion, and things get a bit sticky. This is where the show kinda goes all over the place, and it isn't until the last portion that it finally gets back on course. Not to say it's bad, if anything the show keeps things going with it's bending plot, but that it does some things I don't prefer. Ambiguity is lowered at this point, and we are introduced to characters who don't always mesh well. Sure, Mireille's uncle and Chloe is essential, but then we have The Intoccabile and this poison dispencing chick who serve as side antagonists, but they ultimately lack an impact on the plot at large. And speaking of the plot, it's also around this point that it has the tendency to go in multiple directions, as if it needed to fill it's episode quota and made different stories just for sake of it. It still makes for solid material, it's just when you are faced with a mystery on a scale such as this, you only want more, and not to sit around and watch our characters go to Taiwan that ends with having little to no reason to happen in the first place, all things considered. Then there's the use of the Soldat's heavy-handed, psuedo-religious info-dumps and philosophy that attempts at give the show an over-arching message that's meant to be important and deep; lifting you from your shirt to convince you on how complex it is, when it can be summed up simply like this... "Man is bad. Man commits sin and are not good. The world is putrid, vile, and corrupt. Noirs withhold the sins of man, like Jesus if he had guns. Noirs are meant to save people from love and the cruel world and 'War. War never changes. Does it? No, it's War'" Thing is, it didn't need to do this to have a complicated overtone. Symbolism already does this and the implications of said symbolism are what drive the thoughts into our heads and provide a layered substance of ambiguity and personal questions that involve the viewer's opinion, and when it does spew the same pretentious gobbity goop at you on a near constant basis, it's not only weak in comparison, but can feel misguided. It's a very solid action/mystery plot that'll keep you hooked. To go along with the characters with the back-stories withstanding. A puzzle with revelations that will shake you at the core each time, and concludes in tip-top fashion, even if it attempted at be deeper than it should be. Noir has problems, sure. As the mystery gets peeled back over time, the middle portion carries a majority of the issues related to plot direction, and it's thematically convoluted attempts at expressing a relatively simple message, but all of that is little compared to what it does right; and it does things very right. Noir's execution of the central core experience gives you reasons to stay, no matter what you may find to be hindrance; a presense that lies radiant within it's story. Now the next question is: Does the presentation produce the same spark? **---Presentation** Produced by Bee Train, Noir was made before a time when digitally enhanced 2D art was common place, so I'm going to approach it with whether or not it holds up despite it's apparent age. From the out-set, Noir's visuals are as expected, with the colors looking fuzzy and a little underpowered compared to digital colors, but that's not to a big gripe at all. If anything, the details that Noir implements into it's art is something I found to look quite natural on it's own. To backgrounds, characters, scale, and all else in between it's bloodless gunfights and moments of downtime, Noir holds up without the need for CG or other constant uses of digital enhancements; outputting atmospheric, intense, and abstact visual themes to work alongside the story. Sure, you don't get a high definition polish, but all in all, this is a fairly decent looking show, and how the art manages to remain consistant throughout it's 26 episode span is impressive. For animation, Noir moves surprisingly well, with action scenes that look and feel appropriate against the swift and calculated direction of almost each one. That's not to say it's great. Obviously, choppiness will strike and seeing it's age, it strikes hard, prone to display stiff movements in areas. But when things are sorted out, it can pull through decently. Audio-wise, I'm going to say that this is yet another show where I have only seen the English Dub. Yeah yeah, I know, but that's not a bad thing.. Shelly Calene-Black gives Mireille flavors of subtly morose, composed, sometimes incredulous, but also optimistic, compromising, altrustic, and conflicted in her performance that succeeds to offset her seeming heartless-ness, Hilary Haag outputs her abilities as the cold, lightly sadstic, but honor-bound Chloe, with Tiffiny Grant as the motherly but strangely troubled Altena. However, the highlight, without a lick of sweet doubt, is Monica Rial as Kirika, who fits the character with inaugural efficiency, featuring a distant, melancholy, caring, adaptive, and even tormented performance that makes up her role. With her voice, acting direction, and dialog, she absolutely makes the character her own with emotion and nuance in tow, and given the Kirika is this person who tries to build her identity in a plight of rediscovering it, along with her true nature, Rial does something that tends to fall a little short at best, and it's this believable display of Kirika's mixed emotions, occasional self-loathing, connection to Mireille, and a yearning towards an answer to her own meaning to be, that gives life to the character and ends up shining above the rest because of this. So really, the English voice acting is damn some good stuff. Now the soundtrack is interesting, and a part of that is because it's composed by Yuki Kajiura; yes, the same composer that brought you music for Madoka, Fate/Zero, and a few incarnations .Hack. So if there's anything you can expect, it's a good musical score. Utilizing the usual arsenal of orchestral melodies of violins, pianos, flutes, guitars, and other instruments, ominous sounds, and vocal chants that we come to expect from her, it all culminates in smooth, calm, unsettling, ominous, tense, upbeat, and exciting in one collection of tracks. It's some good stuff, and while I wouldn't say it's her best work, it succeeds at suplementing the scenes with mood setting pieces of auditory splender that does give your ear a treat. If there's one thing that could be seen as negative, it would be that it does get repetitve, at first, though this is negated somewhat by introducing more tracks to shake things up, so it seems the show was aware of this too. So with the solid soundtrack and voice work, the presentation is a good effort for an anime that's over a decade old. From decent visuals to great audio design, Noir will give you something to look and hear. For an old dog, it ain't that bad. **---Conslusion** I'll just get this out of the way, Noir is not for everyone. Yeah, for how good the show really is I'll admit that it doesn't have the accessablity one would expect; as it expects you to invest time to think about what you're experiencing. Action is not something one should go into Noir for-- not exclusively, at least, but rather, one can expect an anime that takes you along on a rollercoaster of symbolic intrigue, character insights, and significant discoveries that twist the fabric of any conclusions you may have manifested in your mind. A mystery with action being just another piece to the puzzle that is Noir. It may have problems with melodrama, and a middle portion that likes to wander off the path, but when all is said and done, they tremble before the might of everything else it nails, and in turn, rewards you. So even if it isn't easily digestible, it's worth seeing to those seeking a grand retour to something thoroughly aggrandizing. 8 out of 10
Co-Director, Episode Director
Director, Sound Director, Episode Director, Storyboard
Episode Director, Storyboard
Episode Director, Storyboard, 2nd Key Animation
Theme Song Performance
Theme Song Performance
Theme Song Arrangement, Theme Song Composition