Review by: Ai Kano
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 650 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
These ladies deal in lead and business is booming.
There’s just something about cute girls with guns that had Director Koichi Mashimo revisiting the theme in his other titles that include El Cazador de la Bruja and Madlax but the anime series that truly deserved its place among the Anime Classic line is Noir. A stylish action series with deliciously dramatic, The Complete Series of Noir is one of those classics that stands as a girls-with-guns series done right.
The 26-episode series introduces us to a beautiful and skilled female assassin named Mireille Bouquet who receives a message from a young dark-haired girl who wants to meet her immediately. The stunning blonde want to ignore the request but the message calls to her thanks to a familiar little tune that’s included with the cryptic words the girl sent. Mireille meets the girl named Kirika Yuumura who – surprisingly enough when they are attacked by armed goons – shows Mireille that she’s good at killing too.
Kirika, it turns out, knows who Mireille is as well as her assassin code name, Noir, but she does not know who she really is since she woke up in a strange room with guns, a school uniform and an ID card with what could be a fake name. She asks Mireille to help her discover the truth about her self in return Mireille will find out the truth behind the blonde’s only tragic past. It is then that Mireille and Kirika become partners in the assassination trade and traveling companions searching for the truth.
Together the two women travel most of Europe, particularly France, trying to connect the dots that make up Kirika’s big picture as well as get some work out of it as well. Mireille has been doing hits as the famous Noir for a while but now with a partner it becomes easier to take down the target as instructed via emails. Their first job together goes down in Paris where their target is the leader of a far right terrorist group and the Director of France’s Public Peace Department who are responsible for the killing of man who was part of an anti-terrorist unit. In another job, they are tasked with taking out a big shot businessman connected to the “accidental” death of the company president.
As Mireille finds out as they continue to take out contracts, Kirika is even more skilled at killing than she is but Mireille is still sticking to her plan of killing the young girl after they discover the truth. Unfortunately, armed gunmen continue to pursue them and both girls discover that the men that are hunting them down belong to a group calling themselves The Soldats. Who are they and why do they want Kirika? As the young women begin to look into this mysterious group, they make intriguing discoveries about their practices.
Even more interesting is that they discover that the codename Noir is an old one belonging to not only one assassin but rather an assassin duo team. They meet a fellow female assassin who uses the same codename as she reveals herself to be Chloe … an assassin that reports to a woman named Altena who holds the key that unlocks the mystery of Kirika’s past. Chloe shows up often and even helps both assassins as they get closer to finding the truth.
Meanwhile, Mireille learns much about her past as well when the daughter of a mafia family don becomes the head of the crime family. As it turns out, this woman named Silvana has met Mireille when they were younger and has an idea of who might have the blonde assassin’s parents killed. The deeper Mireille digs into the deaths of her parents the more she learns the truth that leads up to a shocking twist.
Oh yeah, you can bet that said shocking twist leads up to a brilliant finale that we actually do not see coming. The series does not disappoint when it comes to telling a story that is surprising and dramatic enough to keep you watching.
Noir never really relies on fanservice to win over the audience unless you count the girl-on-girl kiss near the end of the series. Instead, it tells a compelling story with the focus being character development and intense action scenes where even Mireille and Kirika are badly injured physically and emotionally. These women have their flaws as well as interests such as the episode where Kirika takes a liking to an older man who paints beautifully. The action is handled perfectly as well, although those looking for bloody shootouts will not find it here.
The Complete Series of Noir is certainly worthy of being labeled a classic and with an astounding story, great action scenes and characters that don’t come off as cardboard cutout; you will find yourself loving every minute of this anime series. Whether you’ve seen Noir before or if this is the first time hearing about it, this Anime Classics collection is version you really should buy.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Mireille is a top assassin who receives a message from a young girl named Kirika who happens to be a talented killer with no memory of who she is and why she’s so good at assassinations. Together, they go on a journey of self-discovery as well as take on a number of contracts that lead them closer to a mysterious group that is connected to both girls. It’s a good story told superbly.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The animation is on the dated side but the visual style isn’t bad at all with beautiful backgrounds that really sell the exotic European setting just right. There are some great action scenes that are bloodless but still very fun to watch.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting is topnotch whether you prefer the talented Japanese voice cast or the magnificent performances by the likes of Monica Rial, Shelly Calene-Black and Hilary Haag in the English dub. The opening and closing theme songs are hauntingly beautiful but it is Yuki Kajiura score that is simply gorgeous and unforgettable
FUNimation loads this Anime Classics release with more than enough extras to keep any fan happy and this is a very good thing since the extras go beyond trailers, original Japanese promos as well as the textless opening and closing theme songs. The juicy extras include audio commentary for Episode 15 and Episode 16 as ADR Director Matt Greenfield chats with Monica Rial (Kirika), Shelly Calene-Black (Mireille), Hilary Haag (Chloe) and Tiffany Grant (Altena) who go off topic but are loads of fun to listen to in these two commentary tracks. There’s even a Kirika Music Video of the song “Canta per Me.”
Better yet, FUNimation included a fifth DVD packed with even more extras like in three separate interviews with Monica Rial, Shelly Calene-Black, Hilary Haag and Tiffany Grant so if you ever wanted to know about these talents and how they go started you will enjoy this. Then there are four interviews with the original Japanese cast members such as Aya Hisakawa and Kotono Mitsuishi just to name a few. Then there’s “Noir – The Unsoled Story … with live-action sock puppets!
A dramatic, action-packed and delightfully cinematic experience, The Complete Series of Noir should be among your collection if you like a meaningful girls-with-guns action series that relies more on story than cheap gimmicks. Mireille and Kirika’s journey is one you will not forget anytime soon so this is one collection you really should check out.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment