Noir Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Jacques
Review Date: Friday, March 19, 2004
Release Date: Monday, March 15, 2004



What They Say
With a bullet to the head, the truth is revealed. Friends become foes; partners become enemies. The twisted weave of the fabric of fate becomes a shroud of death as Mireille and Kirika find themselves facing their most deadly challenge. Gun against gun, knife against sword, the path they have followed brings them to the slaying grounds. Now the choice must be made. To what, or whom, do their real loyalties lie? The answer unfolds in the sixth stunning volume of NOIR!

The Review!
Four more episodes of intrigue, death and some big revelations, in the penultimate volume.

Audio:
Perfect Dolby surround sound reproduction on both the English and Japanese sound tracks. I alternated the sound track between each episode, no problems detected.

Video:
Crisp, clean and widescreen- what more do you need?

Packaging:
The front cover has Chloe, Mireille, Kirika. The rear has four stills, one form each episode. Also included is a three page fold out insert; it talks about artistic and regulatory restrictions; some conversations between members of production; and a discussion on whether NOIR Yuri anime (hehe). The disc itself is printed in the usual style of a black silhouette on a dark background.

Menu:
The menus are presented in slightly off centre angle, giving the feeling of a foreboding corridor. Selection speed was quick and at no time did I have resort to pressing the Root button to get me out of there.

Extras:
The Production sketches are good, and last around 4 minutes, although using the Alternate angle tends to obscure the drawings. Clean open and close are always welcome. Of course the jewel in the Extra's crown is the interview with Aya Hisakawa who is the voice of Chloe.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Episode 20 starts with the Chloe and Kirika reciting the NOIR chant, much to Mireille's horror. Mireille now realizes that her best friend, perhaps her only friend Kirika, is in fact a Soldat!

As a prelude to pulling the story towards it's conclusion, Altena recalls the history of the Soldat, their beginnings and their purpose. And this is important, as you will need to understand what motivates Altena and the Soldats, and why they are quietly plotting against each other. You may have a problem working out what the "sin within the sin" is that Altena refers to, but it is the driving force behind this entire story, so pay attention to any references to this. And although Altena has much to hate the world for (see her personal flashback, which is cut slightly from the R1), she comes over as a person of high moral responsibility.

A big gunfight on top of Parisian rooftops is used to bring Chloe, Mireille and Kirika together, so that Kirika can understand what she must do next on her path to enlightenment.

Episode 21 finds Kirika beginning to remember her past (at last) after Chloe's unique memory jogging treatment. I can't say too much about this episode, except to say that finally we learn what the connection is between Chloe, Kirika, Mireille and Mireille's parents death. Yup, this is a milestone episode for sure, so mum's the word (reviewer taps nose).

Episode 22 has Kirika making her journey back to "the Manor", where Altena and Chloe await her arrival to commence the ceremony. The Grand Retour is what the Soldats bigwigs fear the most as the power will shift back towards Altena and Noir, and so they will stop at nothing to ensure it doesn't happen. And what is even more fascinating is that we get to see an entire village of Soldats fight off an army sent to kill Kirika.

Episode 23 focuses on Mireille; she mulls over the recent events and makes preparations to confront the Soldats- if only she knew where to find Kirika? She gets help from a very unexpected source. A Soldat boss comes to Mireille and offers to give her the location of the Manor, only they want something in return- Altena's death! There is a really good "moment of truth" scene, as the clock chimes, and we wonder if Mireille will sell her soul to Soldats for a chance of revenge, or will she accept an uncertain death by assignation?

By the end of this volume, we have Kirika at the Manor with Chloe and Altena, and Mireille preparing to join her for a showdown and so pay back.

In summary-
This volume is excellent, just enough action to keep things interesting, just enough plot revelation to get you excited, just enough intrigue to keep you wanting more

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language ,English 5.1 Language ,English Subtitles ,Interview with Aya Hisakawa (the voice of "Chloe" on the original Japanese track) ,Production sketches ,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
JVC 28" Pure Flat Wide Screen TV, Pioneer 454 Progressive Scan code free DVD player, Logitech Z-680 THX DD/DTS receiver & Speakers. Secondary equipment, 21" Sony Trinitron monitor, ATI 9700pro & PowerDVD v4, Creative Audigy 2 & headphones



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Noir