May 5, 2005. That was the date I reviewed the first translated volume of the now-classic Noir. And I’m *still* not done reviewing this series. lol Don’t want to rush things, ya know?
My first thought, upon pulling this down from the shelf where it lives was to wonder how it would hold up in my post-Madlax, post-El Cazador de la Bruja brain. It’s a testament to the series that I found it as enchanting, as exhilarating and as entertaining as I remembered it being the first time around. When I have a weekend where I have time to take myself off-line for three days or so, I’m going to marathon them all in a row just to see what a head-to-head comparison leads to. ^_^
In fact, Noir was so good, that I found myself taking notes to remind myself of the things I wanted to mention here. I wrote them down in no particular order and they will be relayed to you with the same randomness as I conceived of them. ^_^
The sound of a shell being ejected from a gun is a sound that fills all three of the “girls with guns on the run” trilogy. It’s almost, in a creepy way, comforting to hear it. Ah, we’re in a Bee Train series about women who kill things. Ahhh…
Volume 6 provides us with as much of an explanation of the internal political situation in Soldats as we’re going to get – and it’s a good place to realize that Altena is pretty much barking mad. One half of Soldats is about the power and money, very Illuminati-esque, and Altena, cracked as she is, wants to destroy the world for its “own good” and return to an 11th century “purity,” using the two maidens who embrace sin. Um, yeah, sounds great, uh gotta go, look at the time… All I’m saying is that Altena, Friday Monday and Rosenberg in a room together would rival Sartre’ for surreal conversation.
The one thing I thought was exhausting was that Chloe was there at the horrible past event that, when both Mirielle and Kirika remember it, pretty much changes nothing, except for their ability to be honest with one another. Please. Mirielle’s house must have been crawling with random people wandering in and out or something. Cats, kids with guns, donkeys, etc,….
I also noticed that Chloe’s eyes are really small and suspicious, like adults typically have, but her worldview is surprisingly naive and childlike. In contrast, Kirika’s eyes are huge, like the typical little girl, but her worldview is very scarred and bitter and adult.
In Volume 6, you can actually pinpoint the moment where everything unravels. Kirika begs Mirielle to kill her now that they know the “truth,” since that was what they had promised. Mirielle fails to do so. Kirika interprets Mirielle’s failure as a form of punishment, forcing her to stay alive and face her crimes. Mirielle inteprets her failure as a weakness of spirit when all it is, really, is that she’s grown to care about Kirika.
From this point, Kirika erroneously decides to embrace her fate as Noir, since she believes that Mirielle has rejected her. Mirielle is grasping at trying to put some meaning on her failure to keep their promise. When she reads Kirika’s farewell letter, she realizes what it means, and it gives her strength to go after Kirika.
Which brings me to the letter. “Daisukina Mirielle” it reads, which the translators translate as “Dear Mirielle.” Which I think is fair, although I really would have preferred, “My dear Mirielle,” as encompassing a slightly more intense, but no less ambiguous, feeling.
As I’ve mentioned here many times, Bee Train has publicly said that if you want to see Yuri in Noir see it. If not, don’t. I know that Yuri fans want commitment from the creators of anime so that we can point to a series and say “See? This is *Yuri*!” which is why Strawberry Panic will always be popular. Noir is not that series. But whether you see Kirika’s letter as an admission of love love, or of friend love, it’s still a nice letter and a great scene.
Interestingly, the liner notes for this volume include a little essay on Yuri in Noir. Overall it gives a fair assessment, considering the Yuri as part of fan parody, the fans playing with this series. The conclusion drawn is, basically – feel free to have a little fun with the characters and if you see Yuri, go ahead and see Yuri. It interests me to note that Bee Train and the director felt like they could “have a little fun” with the characters in El Cazador themselves, and make the Yuri a little less ambiguous while they were at it. ^_^ As if they were heeding their own advice.
The other extra of note was an interview with one of my all-time favorite seiyuu, Hisakawa Aya, as she discusses voicing Chloe and her relationship with the other voice actresses. I clearly have to go back and watch the extras for earlier volumes that I completely missed. Duh.
Art – wildly inconsistent from 4-7
Character – 8
Story – 8
Yuri – 5
Service – 1, but I can’t actually think of much
Overall – 8
The other thing I wanted to mention is that joining conspiracies is definitely the way to go. All the Soldats, Enfant and Leviathan folks seemed to have been pretty successful, so there’s obviously some kind of lesson in that. ^_^