Noise Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13+
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 142780303x
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: NOiSE

Noise Vol. #01

By Erin Jones     October 08, 2008
Release Date: June 01, 2008

Noise Vol. #1

 Forget the techno babble and confusing set-up of this beautifully rendered sci-fi world--the real mystery is who decided to capitalize this volume's name in such a crazy way.

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Tsutomu Nihei
Translated by: N/A
Adapted by :N/A

What They Say
A sci-fi adventure set in the Blame! universe.

As detective Musubi Susono investigates a series of child kidnappings, her own partner is viciously murdered. But when the investigation takes a brutal turn, she is suddenly confronted by the killer - and his vicious Silicon Creature...

The Review
The translation for this single volume reads nicely (if blandly), but the treatment of sound effects was distracting.  Rather than having being placed alongside the Japanese, the English translation is placed in the white spaces between frames.  The editors attempted to place the translation as close to the original SFX as possible, so sometimes the translation is above the frame, and sometime it’s below.  Occasionally, it will even be placed at a ninety-degree angle, along the side of the frame. This is hard enough to follow when there’s only one translation per page, but during the action scenes, it can be difficult to determine what translation goes with what SFX. 

Noise is a volume with an incredibly distinct visual style that adds a great amount to the enjoyment of the volume.  Character designs give off a surreal feel, particularly that of Musubi.  Her wide-set eyes and delicate, pointed face make her seem out of place in the harsh world she lives in.  And what a world it is.  Nihei has given a lot of attention to the background art in this story, which is required to replace the lack of information we are given about it.  Fights are very well-drawn, engaging, and their ends are gruesome--characters are rarely shot, but are torn apart instead.

There aren’t a large number of screentones at use in this piece.  In many scenes, the idea of the color gray is given by using hatch lines at varying widths.  It’s an interesting approach that makes some of the art look messy and grungy, which is perfect for the setting.  Tsutomu Nihei uses a variety of angles and distances in both fight scenes and those that are more mundane.  Panels depicting characters walking from place to place were invariably my favorite, because you get a wonderful sense of the size, decrepit condition, and emptiness of the world.  The sense of place that is given through the artwork really helps to immerse you in the story and elevate this volume above most others of its kind.  I suppose that as beautiful and skilled as the art is, it is not as immediately visually appealing as more mainstream releases with “clean” lines.  It does grow on you, though.  The longer that I looked at any one frame, the more I liked it.

Another aspect of the release that gives me mixed feelings is the volume’s cover.  The front artwork is rather garish; I think I prefer Nihei’s art in black and white.  I like the majority of the color, although the combination of orange and turquoise is a little off-setting.  The thing that throws me for a loop, though, is the unshaded purple color of the night sky.  It just looks out of place, especially when set up against the nearly maroon border.  The logo is also unattractive, and adds another overly-bright color to confuse your eyes.  The cover of NOiSE is also not slick, but noticeably textured.  Although it’s hard to say why, this approach appeals to me when combined with the sci-fi action fare inside.  The back cover is also interesting, as it consists mostly of a garish outline of Kloser’s mutilated form.  The summary is crunched down into what are obviously blood spatters at the bottom of the cover.  Extras consist only of a pair of advertisements for other series.

Police Detective Musubi has just seen her case go terribly wrong.  Her investigation of a string of kidnappings ended in a room full of dead children and the loss of her partner, Kloser.  Even his death seems to have been for nothing when the evidence is destroyed and Musubi’s firearm use is restricted.  Yet the bizarre mysteries continue for the detective.  She is led to the site of a bizarre ritual, where Kloser’s maimed and reconstructed form is strung up on a cross.  Despite her attempts to communicate with him, Kloser attacks his former partner, and she only just manages to escape.

Yet as Musubi continues to investigate her partner’s death, she finds herself drawn into a more and more complicated, intense web of outside forces attempting to destroy those not yet pulled into the Net. Kloser’s consciousness, if not his actual body, guides her throughout, even after her death and resurrection.  With his direction, Musubi is able to engage in one last battle to put an end to the mysterious Order that destroyed both of them.

Noise is a piece that I never would have picked up on my own.  A setting-heavy story whose dialogue is filled with “techno babble“ from a related series I have not read is not the kind of story that appeals to me.  Published near the end of Blame‘s original run, it is obviously intended to give fans a more in-depth look at the creation of the Net.  That doesn’t mean that there isn’t something here for people who haven’t read the original Blame series; it just means that the reader has to accept some of the unexplained technological aspects and focus on the detailed, surrealistic setting and attractive fight scenes.  While I imagine that it has a much deeper impact for those who have read Blame, I found it to be light on substance, although it was certainly a welcome change from the  more polished, commercial series that are filling up the shelves.  There’s just not too much to say about it, though, without having experienced Blame.  Those who have read that will no doubt enjoy this volume much more.


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