Movie: One of the best anime series on the market today is NOIR. The series is centered on a couple of female assassins in France who take only the most difficult assignments and usually for the "right" reasons. One of the leads has amnesia and struggles to regain her sense of self while the other appears to be quite a mercenary. In the latest volume of the series, NOIR 6: Cloaks And Daggers, the story is beginning to quickly reach a conclusion as the team of assassins learns more about their past. Both are sworn enemies of a criminal syndicate, Soldats, which has a contract on the teams' heads. Both ladies want to learn about their pasts, even if it means their untimely demise. The series is somewhat exceptional based on it's quality of animation, it's music, and it's story lines that appear to have plenty of thought going into them. As the show comes ever closer to the end, the team find themselves faced with a series of choices, between loyalty for one another and the pasts each of them strive to learn about. With only one more volume to go after this one, you know a lot of threads are going to start getting wrapped up. Fans of the show should definitely get this one since a lot of history is revealed and the details of the show start getting really interesting (which, of course, they were before too).
Rather than go through a blow-by-blow description of the 4 episodes presented this time, particularly since each of them involve major plot threads and spoilers, I'll just provide a brief general description of this set of episodes in order to keep from ruining it for readers. The team is rapidly finding that they may have to kill each other, as has been stated in a number of previous episodes in the past (or at least alluded to). Chloe tries to force their hand and they all end up in a sort of Mexican standoff with one another. The true origins of Soldats come to the forefront and each of the gals has a stake in the organization from one perspective or another. Up until now, they wanted to destroy the shadowy group, based on the belief that it was responsible for the death of their close friends and family but now they are confronted with the fact that the group is like many others; it may not be as bad as it appeared in first light, or it may be much worse. As the series continues down to the last volume (the next one is it), more detail is revealed in one form or another about the interrelationships of the key players. Those of you who've followed the show this far will want to take note that anything more I say about it will potentially cheapen the experience for you but be on notice that the music, the animation, and all the other aspects were as good as always here and the plot/direction were great in each of the four episodes. I'm rating it as Highly Recommended for all those reasons and more.
Episode 20: The Sin Within The Sin
Episode 21: Morning Without Dawn
Episode 22: Journey's End
Episode 23: Sentiments For The Remaining Flower
Picture: The picture is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and again looks great. I didn't see any problems with the transfer or the print itself. Very sharp and crystal clear as usual.
Sound: The sound was presented in both Japanese and English 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo with optional English subtitles. This is another area where the series shines. The vocals, especially the Japanese vocals, were crisp and clear with plenty of separation between the channels. The music was exceptionally good too and a series soundtrack is available too.
Extras: The best extra here was the interview with Japanese vocal performer, Aya Hisakawa who discussed a lot about her role as Chloe. The other extras consisted of some sketches, a clean opening and closing, some trailers, and a paper insert that provides some background notes about the series, this time, focusing on Chloe, the limitations of publicly broadcast anime, and a brief essay regarding the sexual connotations of the relationship between the lead characters.
Final Thoughts: This volume in the series was not one of the best in terms of stand-alone value. If you haven't watched it until now, you'll be lost as can be so I strongly advise you check it out from the first volume and work your way through. If you can appreciate the spy-like nature of the action, the subtleties of the show, and all the work that went into this one, you'll definitely have a dvd with a ton of replay value.