Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
4K UHD
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

Columns




Noir: The Complete Series (Anime Classics)

FUNimation // Unrated // August 9, 2011
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted September 9, 2011 | E-mail the Author


http-equiv="content-type">
NoirDVDReview


src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/275/1315459943_3.png"
height="225" width="400">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">

Noir
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">(created
in 2001) is a unique anime series that tells the story of
Mireille and Kirika, two assassins who "work" internationally on any
jobs
assigned to them that involve finding and killing criminals involved in
syndicates. The pair goes by the codename Noir which refers to
the most
powerful assassin around. The duo is also mysteriously linked to one
another by
a past that is unknown. Over the course of the series revelations are
made
about their past, the truth behind one particularly dark and disturbing
criminal
syndicate is uncovered, and the stage is well set for an
action-thriller anime
with dramatic elements. Noir is a seriously dark series
(pun is
intended).


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
greatest
strength of the series is the music score by Yuki Kajiura. This comes
as quite
the surprise as many acclaimed anime series have featured stellar music
that is
perfectly complimentary to the storylines being told and yet Noir
is a rare-breed
of show where the storyline often feels secondary to the style. Noir
oozes style over substance from beginning to end and despite that
shortcoming
it still receives a first rate score to accompany the proceedings. The
music frequently
compliments the artistry of the animation and it serves as a lush
backdrop to
the action on screen. The score tends to bring its own range of
emotional
depth, and that can manage to make up for some of the depth missing at
the core
of the writing for this series, but it is never as satisfying an
experience as
a result.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
animation is visually impressive. The character designs are distinctive
and
memorable for the main characters. The animation backgrounds make
perfect
backdrops for each story and are usually extraordinarily detailed. The
supporting roles that are sprinkled throughout the episodes are never
given as
much detail or individuality in character design and that is certainly
notable
and unfortunate. On the bright side of things - this series does manage
to
showcase amazing visuals in each episode and for a story that tends to
focus
more on style than substance the style is certainly impressive. Noir
can
stand out quite distinctively as a unique anime series simply because
of its
unique approach to the animation and direction.


src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/275/1315460037_2.png"
height="225" width="400">src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/275/1315460038_4.png"
height="225" width="400">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
primary
series director is Koichi Mashimo (Madlax, El Cazador De La
Bruja
)
and the film-making approach is one of the greatest strengths of the
series.
Mashimo is typically much more interested in the interactions between
the characters
and their relationships than he is in the action. This helps to give a
distinctive
feel to Noir; one which cannot be easily duplicated. The
scripts by Ryoe
Tsukimura are often extremely minimalistic with sparse dialogue and
plot.  When the ongoing storyline shows
advancements
it also builds with considerably slow pacing and the only thing that
holds
together these simplistic strands is the series direction. Mashimo
might focus
on the gaze of one of the characters, close up on the eyes, or show
viewers a
seemingly minute detail in the foreground of the animation. These
moments are
frequently filled with pathos that seems to be missing within the
actual
scripts (at least based upon the frequently uninteresting side-stories
that
make up the bulk of the series middle chapters). In a strange way, Noir
might actually consist of many scenes and moments that are less
fascinating
than what one might typically hope for but the series director has such
an
interesting approach to how to tell the story that moments that might
have felt
bland or generic with another director in charge are instead uniquely
fascinating and visually hypnotic.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">If there
is
a dramatic pitfall to the series it is that the good intentions of
director
Mashimo are not entirely warranted given the lackluster character
development
given in the actual scripts. The beginning of the series was wise to
keep
elements mysterious and intriguing. Viewers would surely feel the
series
presented enough potential to become a memorably developed story. style=""> Over the course of the series, however, many
episodes are spent doing little to actually advance the story and it
becomes a
bit repetitive and underdeveloped. It doesn't help that the main
element that
needed to be established - a connection between the audience and the
primary
characters - is never entirely established fundamentally. The
characters are
frequently interesting to behold but the stories never given enough
insight in
to the personalities or minds.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
series
does manage to attempt to ask serious questions about morals and values
in a
way that is interesting and important. The characters seem to be at
conflict
with themselves at different points in the show which does help to
improve the
dramatic backbone of Noir. The series eventually tries to tell
a
redemptive story arc (at least in a sense) but the conclusion doesn't
manage to
be entirely satisfying in that regard.  However,
the last several episodes are filled
to the brim with interesting twists and turns in the storyline.
Characters are
given some proper development that should have come even sooner to
increase
viewer connection to the characters. While the series takes too long to
develop
certain aspects, the writer and director manage to successfully begin
and
conclude the overall show in a compelling way that should please fans.
This "Anime
Classics" release might not seem to be a perfect candidate based upon a
story
that is never fully explored, but the stylistic and original approach
to the
show makes it a noteworthy series worthy of exploration by any anime
fan.


src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/275/1315460038_3.png"
height="225" width="400">src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/275/1315460038_6.png"
height="225" width="400">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
DVD:
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">
 


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center; line-height: normal;"
align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Video:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Noir style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">is
presented on DVD in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen
(which preserves the original television broadcast aspect ratio in a
form
enhanced for viewing on widescreen television displays). The picture
quality is
consistently strong with somewhat muted but beautiful colors that seem
to
represent the artistic style desired by the animators. The image is
smooth and
stable with no glaring technical issues.  


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Audio:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Noirstyle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> is
presented with two different dub options: English
and Japanese 5.1 surround sound. Both audio presentations are generally
pleasant. While the show is frequently front-heavy with less emphasis
on the
surrounds, there are some action-heavy scenes and episodes where the
surround
usage is substantial and improves the aural presentation. The original
Japanese
language dub does seem superior as far as the voice acting goes (with
stronger and
more nuanced performances), but the English language dub is certainly
decent and
even seems to have slightly superior bass performance. Either option
should
satisfy fans.style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center; line-height: normal;"
align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Extras:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">This is
one area where the set really surprises.
Noir features a plethora of bonus materials for an anime DVD set. While
the
quality of extras is a bit mixed (some of the bonuses are excellent
while
others are merely decent) it's hard to imagine fans being disappointed
by the number
of supplements included.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
inside of the case lists all of the extras as
being included on Disc 5 (which only contains bonus materials) but some
of the
extras are only found on Disc 4: Clean Opening and Ending Credit
Sequences

and Trailers for other Funimation Entertainment releases.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Disc 5
contains the following extras: Interview with
Houko Kuwashima (4:43), Interview with Kotono Mitsuishi
(6:33),
Interview with Tarako (5:53), Interview with Aya Hisakawa
(6:20),
Kirika Music Video (1:18), Interview #1 with Shelly
Calene-Black

(Mireille) and Monica Rial (Kirika) (2:09), Interview #2 with Shelly
Calene-Black
(Mireille) and Monica Rial (Kirika) (24:17),
Interview
#3 with Hilary Haag (Chloe) and Tiffany Grant (Altena)
(15:02), Interview
with the English Language Cast (25:32), Noir: The Unsoled
Story (
7:45),
and Original Japanese Promos (3:44).


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
interviews with the Japanese Voice Actors were
thoroughly engaging and informative. The questions that were asked were
related
to the series and hearing the responses was simply fun. It provided
good
insight into the VA's views on the characters, story themes, style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Yuki
Kajiura's score, and on the work done by
director Koichi Mashimo. Any viewer who enjoyed the Japanese language
dub will
likely be entertained from any of these inclusions.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
Kirika
Music Video is pretty similar to how it sounds - it's basically a short
(barely
over a minute long) Anime Music Video (AMV) that highlights clips of
the Kirika
character. It was not a particularly engaging video but the decision to
make it
with most of the color removed was an interesting choice that
highlighted how
interesting the series could have also been in an even moodier, classic
film-noir style.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
interviews with the English Voice Actors were not as engaging as they
were for
the Japanese VA's but they do have some merit and are worth checking
out
anyway. Each VA tends to spend more time talking about their own
personal
backgrounds to greater lengths than they discuss the actual series.
There isn't
as much cohesiveness to the questions and it makes the interviews
somewhat less
compelling from a series standpoint. Yet the actors are interesting
people and
it should entertain some viewers curious to learn more about these
Voice
Actors.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The Noir:
Unsoled Story
is a silly camcorder made short film with sock
puppets being
used as the main Noir characters with dubbing (and actual
cameos) from
the English VA's. It's a bit ridiculous as a short and not nearly as
funny as
it probably was for them to make, and while it's nice that the bonus is
included it's not likely going to engage most fans unless they are
looking for
some simple randomness to watch after finishing the actual series.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">It is
worth
noting that two episode commentaries are
included on Disc 3 for episodes 15 and 16 (The Cold-Blooded Killer Acte
1 and
II) with the English language VA's and dub director. These commentary
tracks
feel disorganized and uninformative. Each participant tends to gloss
over
talking about the actual show and simply goofs off and says random
things from
start to finish. The VA's are not reintroduced for the second episode
either so
unless you've listened to the commentary for the first part there is no
way to
really know who is speaking. I don't see any reason to recommend these
commentaries to fans of the series.


src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/275/1315459944_9.png"
height="225" width="400">

style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Final
Thoughts:


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Noir style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">is a
dark action-suspense anime series with a higher
emphasis on style than on actual substance. At least the series
features enough
interesting visuals and impressive animation to make the experience
worthwhile.
The beginning and concluding acts are strong (even if there is a merely
decent
middle). The score by style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Yuki
Kajiurastyle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> is
fantastic. Noir is definitely
not a perfect series but it is unique enough to warrant giving it a
fair chance.
Recommended.  



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

Buy from Amazon.com

C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Recommended

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews
1. Spawn of the North
2. Cary Grant Collection
3. Clockwise
4. Breezy
5. The Sign of the Cross
6. A Different Story
7. First Snow
8. Carole Lombard Collection I (Fast and Loose / Man of the World / No Man of Her Own)
9. Ghost In The Shell
10. Gunsmoke Movie Collection


Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links