Julian Gaitan

Noir Vol. #1: Shades of Darkness (Regular & Special Edition) (Mania.com)

By:Julian Gaitan Review Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2003



The Review!
Mireille Bouquet is a professional assassin. She is very good at her job. She is beautiful, intelligent and cold hearted the perfect lethal combination for her occupation and she also goes by the alias Noir.

MAIDENS WITH BLACK HANDS

\"Maidens with Black Hands\" is the title of the opening episode for the series. It starts with Mireille Bouquet running through the streets of Paris trying to get home. We see that she lives in a rather nice apartment. When she gets home she checks her email and she gets a mysterious message. The message says \"Make a pilgrimage for the past with me\". It is signed by a mysterious by a young Japanese girl by the name of Kirika Yumura. Mireille dismisses the email as non-sense but she hears a melody that is attached to the email and this causes her to remember a secret memory. Mireille decides to go to Tokyo to try and track down this mysterious Kirika and she does find her and she confronts her but they are interrupted by men in black suits who are shooting at them. Mireille is able to hold her own but gets punched and is about to be executed until Kirika saves her and we see how skilled Kirika is as an assassin, Mireille watches with utter awe. Kirika takes Mireille to
her home and they talk about past. Kirika explains that she has amnesia and cannot remember a single thing before waking up a few months ago. Kirika also wants to know why she is such a fierce killer and feels no remorse. Mirielle decides to take Kirika as a partner and the two of them go to Paris, where Mareille lives.

This is an excellent opening episode. It may seem very slow to some , but I found the pacing to be perfect. The writer and the director work with the music to help convey the emotion that they are trying to show. The episode is violent but the violence is nessacery. It doesn\'t show much gore. I liked how the first episode really left you feeling rather clueless. It makes you ask \"Who are these two women? How and why did they hook up? Who is shooting at them? What was with the melody?\" I felt very satisfied to watch the next episode.

DAILY BREAD

Episode two starts off with a bang. Mirielle and Kirika are trying to live a normal life. Well as normal as two ruthless assassins can live. We see the twosome doing things together, From sitting and drinking coffee and too making dinner. We see that they get along but there seems to be some friction between them. Its not that they are not getting along but that their two different enigmas trying to live together. While this is going on wit them, there are covert anti-terrorist agents being murdered one by one. This causes major waves in the power structure of France. One of the supporters of the Government hire Mirielle to take out the both the leader of a right wing faction and the man who leaks the identities of the men who are on the covert anti-terrorist team.

The two girls go and do the hit almost flawlessly but its Kirika this time who has trouble but she gets out of it quite impressively. We see just how ruthless and cunning she is. This disturbs Mirielle a bit but she gets over it. At the end of the episode we see Kirika show some real emotion. We see her cry when she asks \"Why can\'t i feel bad, when i kill?\". Truly touching.

\"Daily Bread\" is a good episode that establishes more of Kirika\'s charater in the first episode we saw how Mirielle acted and how her personality was. I liked the pacing and the violence in this one. Hardly any killing on camera, always off. Once again it leaves you wondering and salivating for more. This time we actually hear more about the mysterious named known as Noir...

THE ASSASSINATION PLAY

Mirielle and Kirika are starting to get used to each other and one can see a real bond forming between the two women. Nothing of a sexual or a business nature but more of a sister or family style relationship. This time Noir, who now represents both Mirielle and Kirika are called to eliminate a man by the name of Albert Drux, he has ties to the French underworld and their employer seems to be the widow of a president of a rival crew. Mirielle and Kirika accept the job and figure they can take about Albert Drux at his hotel, his latest scam. Little do they know that Noir is being set up by a third party and Drux is prepared for their arrival. Drux is aware of the reputation of Noir, as being one who is merciless and very good at killing so he has a double crew ready and their is an amazing shoot out sequence that is in the dark with Kirika doing her thing ever so gracefully.

The Assassination Play is a very fast paced episode. It really picks up speed compared with the first two episode. There is very little flashback and very few scenes with the girls at their home. It is very violent with a lot of the violence on camera and it is dark. It has a very dreary feel to it. Throughout the entire episode it is raining or it is at night so we get a very gritty feel to it.

This episode also marks that their may be a third party that is playing a game of \"test your skills\" with the two girls. Even though it is not said, one could tell that something may be a little off and therefore their maybe a secret society at work. We will just have to see in the next exciting episode of Noir.

THE SOUND OF WAVES

An assignment takes Mirielle and Kirika to a country called Ulgia. I assume that this is supposed to be some small post Soviet country, most likely Georgia, and they are there to eliminate the top Lieutenants for a corporation called H-Corp. Their primary target is a man by name of Hammond he is the founder of H-Corp which is supposedly an insurance company, but rather they are mercenaries for hire. They stage coup de taus, train soldiers, do terrorist attacks, this of that nature. The opening scene is a rather impressive one, where Mirielle and Kirika take out two of the high Lieutenants of the corporation. From there the pace slows down a bit and we see while the girls are on assignment they take a little vacation by relaxing at the beach and just hanging out. Meanwhile Hammond\'s daughter Rosalie comes to visit him, since he is rather estranged from her and this sparks feelings in Kirika\'s heart. We see her looking at the picture of the family and we see a flashback of h
er waking up and wondering who she. For the very first time we see just how lonely she is. The ending has an awesome shoot out with the Ulgean troops and a very memorable scene involving Hammond and Kirika.

This episode is a sad one. Though not as dreary and gritty as \"The Assassination Play\" , but \"The Sound of Waves\" does have a feeling of loneliness in it. Even though Mirielle never actually says it we see that she is just as lonely as Kirika is. The ending has a scene that would make anyone tear a bit. I was most impressed with this episode. Very sad. It also is starting to confirm that fact that a third party may be part of both girls\' past.

LES SOLDATS

The fifth and final episode on the DVD is a pretty good one. This one starts off quickly with Mirielle receiving an invitation from an old friend by the name of Venell, to come for lunch at his Chuateau in the French country side. Mirielle and Kirika arrive to find the entire family murdered. Mirielle and Kirika are shocked at the level of carnage the murderers have done to this poor family. Mirielle is bent on revenge. In this episode it is hinted that Venelle could have been Mirielle\'s mentor and taught her how to kill. Mirielle decides to visit an old assassin that is very much like a father figure, this is the man that taught Venell how to be a wicked hit man. They talk and he tells Mirielle that he has left her a message. It is written on a bottle. Distressed Mirielle takes the bottle home to try and figure out what the message on the bottle could mean. Both Kirika and Mirielle come to realize that the message ius directions to a catacomb behind an old church.

That evening Mirielle goes and finds what has been left there for her. Once outside she gets ambushed by a man who has been following and their is a little gun fight between the girls and some mysterious men in black suits.

This episode really adds a lot of depth to the anime as a series. The last couple of episodes had been very episodic but this one pushed the initial story quite a bit a head. It finally revealed what was persuing the girls and at the final scene we come to learn how Mirielle and Kirika\'s past are linked. We don\'t know the whole truth but we have a sense that something big is brewing.

As a whole I loved the DVD. It is one of the best DVDs that i own. I rank this series one step below the Excel Saga on my top ten Animes of all time. I simply love the look of the characters and i love the story. Quite original and that Mirielle Bouquet is quite a sexy dish. I highly recommend this DVD for all of you newbie Anime fans. It is a good one to get started on. It is a good story and its not a fantasy show like many other animes with talking animals and power ups. This is a very realist show. I highly enjoyed.

I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you on Noir: The Hit List. The second volume to this excellent anime drama.



Review Equipment
PS2 and 27 Inch Sony Flat Screen TV




Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98/44.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Noir