Movie: People ask me for recommendations all the time, especially in my preferred niches such as foreign films and anime titles. Often enough, someone who wants to know more about anime wants to avoid the cartoony stuff and the Mech-Robot series that I seem to focus on. In those cases, I always have an ace up my sleeve. that ace is NOIR. The show follows the exploits of a team of female assassins that are still learning about one another. As the show progresses, the characters develop but they seem to provide a new secret for every one they unlock. That means there's a lot of replay value here and here's what ADV says about the second disc and episodes. "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."
Episode 6: Lost Kitten:
Traveling to Russia, Noir is tasked with the assassination of Yuri Nazarov, a former KGB Agent who oversaw the systematic extermination of the Tashkil ethnic group during the days of the former Soviet Union. Upon the completion of his grim task, Nazarov resigned his commission with the KGB and now wanders the streets like a Saint; making penance for his past crimes by helping refugees. Kirika unknowingly befriends Nazarov's cat, and returns to the hotel with it, much to Mireille's displeasure.
The following day, Kirika and her new friend are greeted by Nazarov, who tells her of the cat's identity and thanks her for taking care of him. As he leaves to depart, Nazarov suddenly doubles over in pain, the shocked Kirika rushes to his side to aid him. Sitting with Nazarov by his bedside, Kirika learns that the years of hard work have taken their toll on the ailing Nazarov and that he will soon succumb to his ill health. Kirika struggles internally with the notion of carrying out her mission after seeing how much the kindly old man means to the refugees he helps.
Episode 7: The Black Thread Of Fate:
On an assignment in the Middle East to assassinate a Revolutionary leader, Kirika is seriously wounded and loses her cherished Student I.D. card. A hindrance to Mireille in her present condition, she considers killing Kirika in order to escape the country alive and make the scheduled rendezvous with the awaiting helicopter. Mireille hesitates, and then opts against it as Kirika may play an integral part in uncovering more information about the mysterious Soldats who have been challenging them, as well as the mysteries that lay buried in her own obscured past.
While Mireille is out purchasing supplies and attempting to arrange for their extraction, a heavily-armed band of militants raid the hotel where Kirika and Mireille are currently staying at and capture the wounded Kirika as Mireille watches powerless from a rooftop across the way. Under interrogation by the militant's ruthless commander, Kirika is severely beaten and abused for her connection to their leader's assassination. In the mean time, Mireille undertakes a daring rescue mission to rescue her captured partner.
Episode 8: Intoccabile Act 1:
Traveling to America, Kirika and Mireille assassinate a powerful Sicilian Mafia Don. In response to this, the Don's father, Don Salvatore, summons his granddaughter Silvana (known as Intoccabile) to America from her place of exile in Sicily. Mireille learns of Intoccabile's arrival and becomes greatly disturbed; recounting her unpleasant childhood encounter with the most brutal princess in the world. Upon assuming control of the Cosa Nostra, Intoccabile purges out the traitorous elements within her organization that were responsible for hiring Noir to murder Don Greone.
Summoning the three legendary Mafioso from Sicily who took on the names of Saints to battle the infamous Noir, Intoccabile entices Kirika and Mireille into making an assault on her hideaway in New Jersey by murdering their client. As Kirika engages in a fierce battle with the Saints outside in the darkened forest, Mireille infiltrates the cottage where Intoccabile lays in wait with the mysterious contract that Noir seeks to claim.
Episode 9: Intoccabile Act 2:
Returning to Sicily, Lady Silvana researches the contract which Noir seeks to obtain. Intoccabile learns that the document establishes that the Greone family is one of the oldest Mafia families in Sicily, but Noir's motive for seeking it remain elusive to the brutal princess. Following her to Sicily, Mireille continues to be haunted by memories of her childhood encounter with Silvana. As fate would have it, Silvana seeks out the shaken Mireille as she reflects upon those days. Much to Mireille's horror, Silvana, too, remembers their previous encounter and with the kiss of death, she challenges the frightened Mireille to a duel.
Reluctantly accepting the challenge to battle, Kirika and Mireille head off to the battleground to engage Intoccabile and the Mafioso Saints in one of the most challenging encounters Noir has faced to date. Kirika, her arm wounded in the last fight with the Mafia Saints, must now face Sicily's best hitters on her own. Meanwhile, Mireille confronts the single person who fills the normally fearless assassin with so much dread. Will she be able to overcome her fear before Intoccabile's blade cuts her down?
Picture: The picture is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 16:9 ratio and looked great. If all anime looked this good, I'd be broke.
Sound: The sound was presented in both Japanese and English 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo. I'm not sure if I liked the English track better than the Japanese track as both seemed to provide a different experience. Excellent sound in all respects.
Extras: The extras consisted of some sketches, a clean opening and closing, some trailers, and a great paper insert that gave some real insight about the show.
Final Thoughts: NOIR gets better with each volume and that's been no easy feat. I wonder if the later dvds will be able to compete at the rate this one is going. It's not just that the show is somewhat unique or that the technical values are so much above average but the characterization and scripting seems to be a labor of love as well. I give this one a Highly Recommended and if the rest of the dvds are as good, a boxed set should rate a Collector's Series rating. Go NOIR!