Noir Vol. #6: Cloaks & Daggers - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Noir

Noir Vol. #6: Cloaks & Daggers

By Chris Beveridge     September 13, 2003
Release Date: September 16, 2003


Noir Vol. #6: Cloaks & Daggers
© ADV Films


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!
As the series races towards its conclusion, revelations are pretty much constant in these four episodes.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The serious looking covers continue with this one as the triangle format of Chloe, Kirika and Mireille ties things together nicely. The back cover is much more vibrant as the background is covered up with lots of shots from each of the. The discs summary, features and extras are clearly listed. The technical information continues to be presented just as I like it with everything in a nice easy to read box at the bottom. The spine continues to be the only place for volume numbering. The insert has the full artwork from the front cover and opens up to many panels that have production notes for a few episodes and several staff notes.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The extras continue in much the same fashion, with a new Japanese voice actor interview. This time around we get the lovely Aya Hisakawa who plays Chloe talking about her role and what she found so enjoyable about the show and the people behind it. The production sketches section gets more new pieces added to it and we get another round of the textless opening and closing. I still find myself playing these in the minutes before we actually start the show to get into the feel of things.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this release, to say the series really hits its stride is to do a disservice to the earlier episodes. With the revelations previously about the why and other reasons behind the varying attacks on Mireille and Kirika, that particular problem becomes less so and lets the series change its focus.

Mireille finds herself in a truly bad place now. Having seen how in synch both Kirika and Chloe were during the last battle, right down to the recitation of the Noir ?theme? if you will, she?s unsure of just how to deal with her being even in the same room. Their relationship takes a chilling turn and ends up sending Kirika into the streets again.

Mireille and Kirika both go on new journey?s here, though both of course wind back to each other. Kirika?s is by far the more interesting. As she travels along she ends up eventually being taken in by an elderly couple in a strange little village. From them, she learns that the village serves as a gateway to the Soldats home. Though done in a standard revelation way, having the new character simply pontificate upon the past, it?s nicely done here as we find out the real history of the Soldats, starting back in the 10th century with the problems that caused them to form.

The history of the Soldats isn?t terribly special in and of itself, being not very different from many other secretive behind the scenes kind of groups in various stories over the years. The additional pieces about their being the two maidens who will take the sins upon themselves and do what is required is the piece that makes it more of its own, as that is the tie that brings us to the characters in the present. The other revelation, though only somewhat surprising at this stage, is the division within the Soldats.

As with any group that continues after so much time, you end up with two camps. There?s the one side that has gotten comfortable in the power that they have, using it fairly well but not shaking the boat all that much, but still believing the groups purposes are being protected. Then you have the other element that believes things have fallen to the side and the real focus has been dimmed or removed entirely. We learn of the split, with Altena leading the group that intends to bring about the Great Return that will elevate the two maidens to their truly proper place once they pass the trials.

There is a lot going on through these episodes, from the revelations to the action scenes. The shoot-out in the village outside of the Manor is well done and really does a good job of driving home the point of those who Believe in what they?re doing. While not seeming outwardly like the religious fanaticism you?d expect out of something created and forged during centuries where the Crusades occurred, the devotion level appears to be quite the same to Altena and the promise of the Great Return.

Noir continues to be an extremely enjoyable journey that hasn?t really disappointed me at all. While I do wish for a few simpler standalone stories for the two to partake in, I?ll just be happy to have the lost episode that?s provided as a hidden omake on this disc. The pace and tenor of the series continues strongly here with elements around it rising to meet the tone of the new twists. With only three more episodes to go after this, it?s been a quick and highly enjoyable series.

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
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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