noir series review
photo by: FUNimation.com

Anime: Noir: Complete Series
Licensed By: FUNimation
Release Date: 4/14/2015
Retail Price: $49.98

Noir… It is the name of an ancient fate. Two maidens who govern death. That is what begins each episode to the action thriller anime titled Noir, similar to the film noir genre itself. Noir begins with Nineteen year old Mireille Bouquet is a professional assassin based out of Paris France, and operating in solitary. Mireille’s parents were unexplainably killed while she was a young girl and the mystery has been residing in her subconscious ever since, as we are repeatedly shown an innocent young Mireille alone in disbelief clutching her teddy bear during a clouded scene. More of this moment in time is revealed further down the line, as a larger story for Mireille and others begins to unfold. Mireille discovers a random message from a 16 year old amnesiac Kirika Yuumura that suggests they “make a pilgrimage for the past.” prompting Mireille to fly out to Tokyo and meet Kirika. The two women team up under the codename “Noir” and begin searching for answers to their mysteriously linked past. The hunt takes Noir closer to a secret society named Les Soldats who has had an influence over the young women’s lives since childhood. However as it turns out, Les Soldats may be the ones hunting Noir. Mireille makes it known to Kirika that when they find the answers they seek, she will in fact kill Kirika herself and resume her secret life, which a dazed Kirika agrees to. Mireille is one of the more fascinating examples of a female anime protagonist, with her past afflictions, closed off personal life, as she exhibits moments of overcoming a state of being emotionally stunted after repeatedly seeing the effect of outside influences surrounding her as a child. Kirika is a more sweet and soft-spoken opposite to Mireille, but her formidable skills make her one of the most dangerous characters explored in Noir and in moments difficulties comprehending the concept of sympathy.

The first half of the 26 episode series supplies a multitude of short term characters, each essentially adding depth to the series two protagonists. As the show explores the past, it becomes apparent that both Kirika and Mireille have lived hard lives with little to no answers for major traumatic events; the girls continue to be pushed to the limit as traps are mapped out for them in a twisted mystery game. In addition to the two protagonists, Chloe is introduced, who bears major similarities to Kirika, and subsequently idolizes her and the abilities she developed. Chloe is thrown into the mix as a potential “Noir” causing conflict as there can only be two who claim the pseudonym Noir. Another major player Altena, high priestess of Les Soldats, plays a pivotal role in the grand scheme and can often be seen spinning lies to many to achieve her own end game. One of the most successful traits to Noir, is the ability to blend character connections, and still surprisingly add to the complex dynamics with additional unexpected twists and turns. Once answers begin to unravel and the key figures are out to play in the second half, Noir amps up the risk factor for everyone involved, with the final arc answering burning questions masterfully.

From a production standpoint, the main voice actors Monica Rial (Kirika) and Shelley Calene-Black (Mireille) capture the many emotions felt by the two women, who already are known for their devastating experiences. Hilary Haag voices Chloe, making her fit the bizarre Chloe, with Tiffany Grant used as the voice of Atlena, the ominous mother like figure to the Noir candidates. This Blu-ray upgrade brings out more vivid images from the 14 year old series, while keeping that gritty noir look as well, an even better reason to continue remastering these classic anime series.

Finally, Noir contains sensational battle scenes choreographed impeccably to fit the dramatic, film-noir based atmosphere created for the series entirety. Though the fight scenes are rave worthy, the most notable form of confrontation would be the grand scale shootouts that left a colossal body count in the wake of the Noir women, with almost every altercation treated as an epic battle. Noir defies the role many anime series has created for women, showcasing them their ability to be powerful, intelligent, adaptable characters in the face of peril, without falling back on cliché’s or stereotypes. Noir fundamentally is a long running mystery, filled with unforeseen revelations, well paced action, and inner conflict that earns its title as a true anime classic. Noir will go on as an anime that holds its value over the course of time, and the exploration of life and death.

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Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-The balance of Mireille and Kirika feels authentic, and both are equally interesting characters

-Chloe’s introduction to the storyline (trying to avoid getting to spoilery) changes the course of the story in a smart, yet sudden manner.

-When it comes to action, Noir is jam packed. Fight scenes, bullet barrages, nail-biting showdowns, everything is included in this femme fatale anime.

-I’d like to see future animes take notes from Noir for successfully integrating numerous plot devices.

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