Noir Vol. #3: The Firing Chamber -

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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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Noir

Noir Vol. #3: The Firing Chamber

By Chris Beveridge     May 15, 2003
Release Date: May 13, 2003

Noir Vol. #3: The Firing Chamber
© ADV Films

What They Say
The word is out on the street: Noir is back in business, and any life can be bought for a price. But Mireille and Kirika's latest case takes on an unexpected wrinkle when someone else beats them to their first target. Who is this unexpected competition, and what links does she have to the mysterious Soldats? If you thought our first two femmes fatales were deadly, just wait 'til you meet Noir's third lethal lady of the night. Her name is Chloe, and her calling card is murder.

The Review!
After two chock-filled volumes, this release drops yet another episode.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The 5.1 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 very little seemed to go to the rear speakers during these episodes. 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 palette 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 six getting the front here, putting Mireille and Kirika off to the side as Chloe takes up the center piece in her skinsuit and cloak. 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 fifth TV cover. The discs summary, features and extras are clearly listed. The spine continues to be the only place for volume numbering, but the episode numbering and titling has changed for the better. Whereas before it would just say how many episodes were on the disc, the pictures from the show contain the episode number and title just above them, and I?m quite glad to see that change. 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.

There?s a nice little batch of extras here, though they?re quick to get through for the most part. Voice actress Houko Kuwashima, who has quite the fan following here in the U.S. that I?ve seen, gets a five minute segment talking about her character and what she did to really get into her for the role. There?s a batch of new production sketches and promotional trailers as well. The opening sequence also gets another textless run here as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having fully committed myself to this show and enjoying it quite a lot, with the bulk of my reasoning for enjoying such an episodic little piece in the last two reviews, I was quit eager to dive into this third volume. While it definitely held up very well compared to past episodes, and in some senses went beyond them, I wasn?t happy with the episode drop nor that the series is going to be seven volumes.

For the show itself, things take an interesting change here. The first episode opens with a typical scene, a courtroom where a dirty cop is getting off scot-free due to an equally corrupt judge who won?t let the investigation go beyond the preliminary phase. With a row of cops behind them that are equally dirty, you know you?re dealing with a sizeable problem here. So as that part ends, and we follow both Mireille and Kirika into the building to perform the ordered execution, you become surprised when the dirty cop is already dead and the rumors they soon hear indicate that it was done by Noir.

That?s the setup for the second half of the contract, which is taking out the judge himself. Before they move onto that target, the two women start investigating who did the other hit and start hearing more and more rumors about Noir performing it, and it being someone who hadn?t operated in a few years. While the two are looking into this, we see from our perspective a young woman named Chloe who arrived from (presumably) Italy, where she was instructed by her friend Altena on what she must do as the True Noir.

Chloe, as we get to know her, is an interesting character. She?s been sent with a specific job, but also several missions to complete that have some affect on the main job. It becomes obvious early on that she?s testing Mireille and Kirika as she warns the judge about their impending attack, allowing him to attempt to set up a trap to try and save himself. Chloe does something similar in the next episode as well, after a member of the Soldats sends the women a copy of a page that they already have with the mysterious writing.

Mireille and Kirika become very intrigued by what he has, especially since his photocopy indicates he has not just a page but potentially an entire book. When he calls them up and lets them know he knows who they are, they set a meeting up in the park. But Chloe, under orders from Altena, adjusts the situation when they come to meet him again and pits the two women against a faceless horde of men in suits with guns.

There is definitely more than meets the eye with Chloe, and she ends up surprising the two women in a most amusing way. While they?re trying to figure out just what?s going on with everything and what Chloe?s involvement in it is, Chloe simply arrives at their residence. While the situation starts off tense, Kirika breaks it in a most amusing way by offering her a cup of tea, causing all of them to simply sit down and attempt to get information out of each other through pleasantries. At moments, the way its presented is almost absurd, but it works beautifully.

The final episode here is the best though, as it takes Mireille and Kirika out of the picture entirely and has Chloe featured as she?s sent to eliminate a retired General whose being protected in a mountain retreat. It?s a great little self contained story that helps expand the interest in Chloe as well as giving more insights into the organizations running behind the scenes. It?s not often a series will take the two leads out of the picture for an entire episode, so this gets a solid amount of praise for doing just that as well as providing a very enjoyable tale.

While the three-episode format works well here since it provides episodes that feature a new character, things ended too quickly here and left us wanting more. That in itself is obviously a good sign, but after going from five episodes to four and then to three, it?s almost like torture. This content for this particular volume is solid though, and highly enjoyable. This series is on the fast-track for one of my real favorites of this year.

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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