Noir Vol. #2: The Hit List -

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Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Noir

Noir Vol. #2: The Hit List

By Chris Beveridge     April 07, 2003
Release Date: April 08, 2003

Noir Vol. #2: The Hit List
© ADV Films

What They Say
The mysteries deepen as professional assassins Mireille Bouquet and Yuumura Kirika, now working together under the code name ?NOIR?, ply their chosen trade even as they search for the mysterious link that connects them. Is there someone out there who already knows? And if so, is it the same mysterious person-or people-who?ve been playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with them since they first met? Secrets wrap around secrets and the body count continues to rise in the second stunning volume of NOIR.

The Review!
The series plunges ahead with lots of brooding moments and some well done action sequences that kept us fairly well glued to our set as it all played out.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Unfortunately, we weren?t able to listen to the original mix for the show as the disc provides only the remixed 5.1 version of the Japanese. This mix is by no means bad at all, and I think it does an excellent job of bringing out the warmth of the great music score and in providing some really sharp clear moments of vocal directionality, but I really want to have the original mix included as well, particularly for those players/sets that don?t downmix well from 5.1 tracks. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we noted no distortions or dropouts. As we learned previously, the 5.1 soundtrack was created by the Japanese but has as of this writing, not been used or released onto a home video format in that country.

The transfer looks very close to what I?ve seen on my region 2 copies of the series, which means it has lush colors, no cross coloration and hardly any aliasing that I could see. The color stylings of the series is very well done for this series, in that they gave it a very definite color shading and feel, where there?s a number of very solid colors making up areas that almost look grainy but really aren?t. Watching this on the HDTV was just a real pleasure as there wasn?t anything I could really find flaw with. Watching it in letterbox mode on the non-widescreen sets is interesting as well, as the bars definitely give it an interesting feel, almost more like miniature movies than a TV series.

The great looking covers continue this time with the Japanese TV volume number four getting the front here, with a nice looking image of a wounded Kirika and Mireille in hunt mode. The pale whiteness to the background provides an interesting look to the cover as things take on a hazy dull look. The back cover is much more vibrant as the pale white background is covered up with lots of shots from each of the episodes as well as from the third TV cover. The discs summary, features and extras are clearly listed, though with the volume numbering appearing only on the spine and the back cover just listing how many episodes there are, I can see some people taking time to figure out which is the first volume. The insert has the full artwork from TV volume number three and opens up to many panels that have production notes for a few episodes and several staff notes.

Done in anamorphic widescreen as well, the menu layout here is a bit confusing with the remotes in moving around. The opening menu features an angled hallway with episode selections being marked by each window and the discs features below it, but navigating to where you want to go is a bit awkward at times. Access times are nice and fast with a quick transitional piece of animation playing, but returning from submenus is faster without that. The layout is pretty standard fare but looks good with its striking colors and motifs from the opening sequence of the series.

The extras included are decent but not too much to write home about. The inclusion of the textless anamorphic opening and ending sequences continues to be much appreciated. The new extras is a section of production sketches and two brief promos for the home video release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the initial rush of getting into the show and learning its basic premise and secrets, I was looking forward to seeing how I?d feel about the series as it progressed through another four episodes several months after seeing the first volume.

If anything, I?m finding myself enjoying the show much more than I did originally now that I?m past the ?does it live up to the hype/does it live up to the hate? mentality. The second volume drops in episode count by one but makes for a much more enjoyable viewing session for me, since I start to get a bit fidgety after two hours or so. This volume plays out nicely with two self contained episodes and then an interesting two-parter.

The self contained episodes are fun little pieces that play out much like they did in the first volume, as little mini movies really. This is driven home even more when watching on a non-anamorphic set as the widescreen bars really give it that impression. You won?t find me giving up that anamorphic transfer though as the look and feel of this show with the wider visual range to play with looks fantastic.

The opening episode is a good somber piece where Mireille and Kirika head to some little Eurorussian country where they?ve been hired to kill a man who was responsible for a great many deaths years ago in the final days of World War II. It?s a tale of ethnic war that goes back and forth over centuries really, but has become focused on this one man. In the time since his atrocious deeds were committed, he disappeared and then reappeared as someone whose only goal is to help those in need. Now very old and almost ill, he spends his days doing the small things that improve the lives of those around him.

So while you know Mireille has absolutely no issue with finishing the job and not looking back about it, it serves more as a test for Kirika as she learns of who he really is and what may have caused him to do the things he did, and to cause him to try for this atonement. While it serves a simple purpose such as that, it?s played out very well and with a lot of great visuals as we see Kirika trying to wrap her head around this and to do what is the right thing, even as the man she must kill knows that his death really is the right thing after all these years.

The second episode is another fun piece that tests the relationship between the two women again as Kirika gets hurt when she doesn?t do things exactly as professionally as she should during a mission and ends up wounded. This causes problems in them trying to get out of the country as they?ve just killed the popular revolutionary leader and they?re on a hunt for the man who did it. It?s not until they learn the name Noir that one of them realizes what they?re in for, but it gets dicey for everyone involved once they manage to capture Kirika and try to torture the information out of her. This episode plays out very well, much like the first, in providing some very good ?cold? moments, particularly for Mireille, as she goes about the lair of the enemy and striking them down. It?s this feel that continues to draw me very much to the series.

The final two episodes bring us to a great little two-parter that takes us back to Mireilles past. After she and Kirika knock off a powerful mafia figure in New York City, the family decides that they?ll get even the best way possible and bring in the Intoccable. The Intoccable is actually a young woman named Silvana who has long been exiled by her grandfather to Sicily, where she spends her time for having (masterfully) executed her own father. Her grandfather, Salvatore, has decided to bring her into the family once more and make her the head of the Greone family and responsible for exacting justice upon those who killed one of their own.

The two episodes that play this story out are slow and nicely paced as we find out that Mireille had actually visited the Greone family in Sicily many years earlier when she was a small child who came with her father for a meeting. She and Silvana, both about the same age, played together in the beautiful rolling fields of the countryside and talked about how the two of them, one a Corsican and the other a Sicilian, managed to get along and to befriend each other. But Silvana has a much darker edge to the still innocent Mireille, and it?s something that scares Mireille at that age. And it?s something that continues to haunt her, so when she learns of who is actually after her, the chase becomes much more interesting than usual.

As mentioned, I really love the cold aspect of the lead characters and the near deadpan way they operate. More than enough people may find that dull and impossible for the characters to actually carry the series, but with the majority of the show being in this style of small self contained stories, it works out well. It may not work out well when watching them in a marathon session though, but that wasn?t how the show was made. I love just about all the aspects of this series so far, from the music, the pacing, the character designs and the storytelling. With this second volume, my enjoyment of the series has definitely grown beyond what I expected it to be and I?m eagerly looking forward to more tales of Noir.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animation,Original Japanese promo spots

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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