|Last updated October 12, 2006.|
. . . strikes a nice counterbalance with Noir which also features a pair of winsome lasses carving out their niche on the darker end of justice as assassins for hire. Noir also features some pretty good music and what I've seen of the show so far does not suck at all, contrary to the many negative reviews I've seen for it. I wouldn't go so far as to call Noir dark (despite its title), at least through the first 10 episodes, but there is a definite melancholy vein connecting its themes. Kirika, at least, is a somewhat reluctant assassin, but dutifully caries out her assignments as she clearly has a knack for it and her amnesia (yes, amnesia) keeps her from finding any compelling reason to stop. However, her reticence is derived more from her dismay at being able to kill so easily and without sorrow than from any actual remorse from the killing itself.
Two additional notes. (1) I'm rather fond of Noir's "boy, you guys are screwed" music, and (2) I can't believe I didn't hear the Mireille / Misato connection. I guess that's what AnimeNfo.com is for.
The January issue of Newtype USA contains a promo DVD with the first episode of Noir, dubbed by ADV. The original language track is not included on the promo DVD. It's a bit difficult to gauge the quality of the dub from the first episode since there really isn't a whole lot of dialogue. As far as I can tell, the dub isn't terrible like ADV's Evangelion dub, but not especially commendable.
My biggest criticism of the dub is that I swear I can hear the recording studio—meaning that the acting doesn't sound very natural, and it feels more like I'm listening to actors recording their dialogue than actually hearing the characters speak. I also don't think the dubbed Kirika sounds young enough, and the dubbed Mireille's voice really could use a harder edge to it. On the plus side, it appears to be a very straightforward dub, without extraneous dialogue and sound effects or changes to the script. Also, it doesn't suffer from that "cartoon sound" that seems to plague most dubs, and the voices are thankfully soft and serious when appropriate.
Of course, this is all rather moot, as I'll never listen to any dub track when an original language track is available (regardless of the media), but for those of you who can't or won't read subtitles, I shall simply attest that the dub isn't great, but it did not at any time make me cringe in horror, which is really something, I guess.
The first disk in ADV's Region 1 DVD release of Noir will be available in February. It will also be available with a collectors' box.
I should point out here that I ordinarily would not have paid $10 for a freaking magazine, but the January issue of Newtype does contain (brief) coverage of Macross Zero and some additional Love Hina material. The clincher, however, was the Noir promo DVD, as this show has steadily been making me its bitch.
I've developed quite an affinity for Noir, despite its mostly negative rap and consistently bad reviews (at least among the circle of opinions I typically survey when looking for new media to sample). However, I believe I have salient rebuttals to most of the complaints voiced by its detractors. Bear in mind, however, that so far I have only seen the first 12 of its 26 episodes (i.e., Chloe has only recently been introduced, and I still don't know anything about Altena), and have no idea how it ends. It's possible my opinion of the show could change dramatically once I get a chance to finish watching the whole thing, so, for now, I'll just address the two most common complaints.
First, I'd like to address the complaint that Noir contains too many flashback sequences. It's true that Noir does seem to contain an inordinate amount of flashbacks—there's even a flashback in the first episode to events that happened . . . earlier in the episode. However, I don't think they would be intrusive unless one tried to watch the show by cramming in several episodes in a row marathon style instead of, say, one per week. The flashbacks fit the story contextually, and occasionally serve the same purpose as the "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer" prologues. More importantly, I think one needs to recognize that (at least through episode 12) this is much more Kirika's show than Mireille's. Being an amnesiac, Kirika can't remember events that occured prior to the first episode. These episodes and flashbacks are the only memories Kirika has. They are essentially the corpus of her entire life as she knows it; and it doesn't appear as if she has anything else. We see these scenes over and over because Kirika sees them over and over—they're all she has, and the flashbacks serve to remind us of her personal isolation.
Second, I've seen a lot of complaints about the almost total lack of blood. I concede that this is remarkably peculiar, especially in light of the staggering body count these assassins manage to pile up. It seems likely that the lack of blood simply serves to appease the censors; the bodies can do their bleeding off-screen. However, there actually is some blood in the show, just not from anyone killed by Kirika, Mireille, or Chloe. My pet theory is that they're simply that good. They are professionals and they kill quickly, cleanly, and efficiently without a lot of mess. Furthermore, if one watches closely, it is clear that blood is often represented metaphorically: For example, look for red wine, or red flowers, or at the backlighting in the scene below.
It seems to me they had to leave out the blood because these are wussier times, but they found a way around it. Then again, Hellsing had practically nothing but blood, so who knows what their excuse was.
At some point I should probably get around to properly introducing the show and talking about its music, which is top notch. There's also a Mireille:Kirika::Misato:Rei parallel that I'm itching to scratch. However, right now I'm too busy waiting for all Hell to break loose on Witch Hunter Robin.
Noir rules. That just about sums it up.
As you may have gathered, I finished watching Noir—quite a while ago, actually. I just haven't gotten around to wrapping things up yet. But to put it simply, it was a good premise executed extremely well. Noir got better with every episode and its ending exceeded my expectations. It may be a bit of an understatement to say that I am very impressed with this show.
As I mentioned during my initial impressions, its soundtrack is top notch. Don't underestimate how influential a good soundtrack can be. Besides establishing tone, the soundtrack in Noir is also used as foreshadowing, although you're probably not going to notice that on first viewing unless you're really paying attention.
And you do have to pay attention while watching Noir. Its plot is not convoluted, but it does grow increasingly intricate as the show develops. It's not really the kind of thing you can watch sporadically, because you'll risk missing many of the nuances and early clues about the underlying plot.
The main plot establishes that Noir is very much Kirika's show. Most of the episodes are dedicated to developing her identity and slowly revealing pieces from her past.
As it is Kirika's show, I found it extra satisfying that she never started whining about killing people. Sure, as she learned more about her past it kinda bothered her that she was snuffing people on a daily basis, but she did accept her role as an assassin. There are no preachy "killing people is wrong" speeches in Noir. I suppose, there is one episode that deals with the constant danger surrounding her life and her inability to escape it, but that episode is handled very well and serves to humanize Kirika and develop both her and Mireille's characters without insulting the viewer with expository moralizing.
Although Noir remains Kirika's show all the way through, the second half of the series significantly develops Chloe's character. Chloe plays an increasingly important role in the second half of the series and is a welcome addition to the cast. Her connection to Soldats and her interaction with Kirika and Mireille's lives are catalysts to the main plot. Chloe ties everything together. In a sense, one could even argue that the second half of Noir is also Chloe's show; she certainly steals every scene she is in.
One final compliment: Noir also invites discussion even long after viewing. That is, there always seems to be something new to talk about. I'm holding off on these tangents for the time being, but it's refreshing to find a show that more than casual, passive entertainment.
The first of seven Noir R1 DVDs is now available either as the DVD by itself (containing the first five episodes), or in a collector box along with a free t-shirt. Additional details may be found on ADV Films' official Noir website.
Made a Winamp skin featuring Chloe from Noir.
In case y'all didn't know, the third Noir DVD is already available.
This one contains episodes 10-12. Even people who don't like Noir can't possibly argue that these episodes didn't kick ass.
10 is the big Chloe-introduction episode.
11 is the "tea party" episode.
12 is Chloe picking flowers and fucking people up, wholesale.
Chloe, of course, is Noir's version of Pure Sex. Hey, if you gotta go, I say there's really no better way to die than to have Chloe stab you in the neck.
In other news, I also bought another Vandread DVD, which was the original reason why I was in Best Buy to begin with.
I tried to clean up the source image the best I could, with mixed results.
|Make a pilgrimage for the past with me.|