Archive for the Noir Category


The Great “Girl With Guns on the Run” Trilogy Rewatch

December 23rd, 2016

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve finally done something I promised to do years ago. I rewatched Noir, Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja back to back.

And it was good. ^_^  (From Sean G, a link to concise, amusing summaries of the main characters.)

I said as I began El Cazador de la Bruja, “If Noir is a knit narrative, then Madlax is crochet and El Cazador is macramé. Each successive iteration of the elements has more holes.” Upon reflection, though, I’m not sure I was right. 

Noir spends the most time building the story. More happens in the first episode of Madlax, than happens in the first 6 episodes of Noir.

It’s not that it’s killing time, but Noir is filling in all the details very slowly and carefully, with a lot of time spent in simply watching Kirika and Mirielle function as hitmen. Their relationship is built through this action, rather than through speaking. In fact, of the three series, this one has the most silences. 

The music here is a cue mostly only to that they are again in a shootout. It’s awesome music, though and worth re-hearing. And, by the time Kirika and Mirille’s full history is filled in, we kinda guessed already. ^_^ The climax of the series is satisfying and Soldats just ends up looking stupid and ham-handed.

In the end, I realized that I think of Noir, not as Kirika’s story, but as Mirielle’s.

Madlax starts with a completely different pace than Noir. There’s an obvious initial almost-schizoid split between episodes with Madlax and Margaret. Nonetheless long before Margaret goes to Garth-Sonika, we’ve figured out that there’s some connection between the two.

Where Noir takes place in identifiable places in our world, Madlax takes place in places that seem familiar, but are wholly fictitious. Nafrece might be France or England or Japan, but it’s not. This gives the story a lot of leeway to adding fictive elements, like a arms-dealing conspiracy driven by magic and the desire for more magic and allows for the entire climax to happen in a place that isn’t even of the world at all. 

Friday Monday is still a stupid bad guy with a ridiculous name.

Although Noir probably still wins for overall body count, there’s more deaths of people we cared about in Madlax than in Noir. In fact, I was pretty surprised to realize how dark Madlax was. Dark and dense. It was slow going, with so many storylines that had to converge. 

The music in Madlax is practically a character, it plays such a significant role.

El Cazador de la Bruja almost feels like a reaction to the intense darkness of Madlax and Noir. While there’s still a lot of shooting, the overall body count is much less. Nadie mostly shoots to disarm. And the general tone is much lighter and cheerier.

We’re back in the “real” world for this series, in an American Southwest-ish. There’s a President and a White House and Taco chains, but there’s also magic that works visibly.

This is the only story of the three with a deranged stalker who won’t take no for an answer.  Where Nadie and Ellis help each other to become more human, LA ends up being more and more a wounded animal who needs to be put out of his misery. To accomplish this, even some of the initially silliest plot elements end up fitting into the apparently hole-filled puzzle by the end. In fact, as I watched the final episodes tonight, I was surprised to find the climax much more tightly scripted than I remembered.

The music is purely window dressing, without much meaning as it was in the first two series. Rosenberg was a delightfully horrible bad guy whom we will not mourn.

While all three series end with a journey renewed,  El Cazador de le Bruja wins for the utter sappy wonderfulness of the ending, which could leave no doubt as to the fact that the main characters are incontrovertibly a couple. Squee.

Top characters of each series for me: Noir – Mirielle, Madlax – Rimelda , El Cazador de la Bruja – Jody “Blue Eyes” Hayward. So Hisakawa Aya beats Mitsuishi Kotono 2-to-1. ^_^ 

Still three of my favorite series, with some of the best music I’ve ever loved.

Ratings:

Noir – 10

Madlax – 9

El Cazador de la Bruja  – 10

This was a long time in coming, but it was loads of fun! I’ll do it again in another 10 years. ^_^

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Breaking News: Noir Live-Action Movie

June 18th, 2011

According to ANN, the anime Noir has gotten the go sign for a Live-Action Movie for the Starz Network.

My reaction – ambivalence. I dislike American rewrites of anime because the producers didn’t read/watch the original and don’t really care about the material. On the other hand, the development team is Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, creators of Xena: Warrior Princess. So, I gotta trust that they’ll give us the girls with guns on the run team that we deserve.

Also, I plan on writing them and telling them exactly what I expect from them. ^_^

I’m pretty sure I don’t have Starz, but if this actually gets made and trailers do not look like they suck, I will consider it. (Ambivalence, thy name is Erica)

So, part of me squeed at the news, and part of me groaned. Let’s see part which wins!

Thanks to YNN Correspondent Filo for the heads up!

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Yuri Anime: Noir, Volume 7 (English)

May 14th, 2008

What a really fabulous series Noir is. It’s been years – practically lifetimes in fandom years – since I first watched this series as it came out on Japanese TV. I enjoyed it just as much, maybe even a little more, this time as I did lo those many years ago when I first set eyes on Kirika and Mirielle.

In Volume 7 of Noir, everything comes to a head. Kirika has left Mirielle behind and given herself over to the dark side of the Force. She’s entered the alternative universe of Altena’s Manor and, to Chloe’s genuine joy and delight, has dedicated herself to being Noir.

Chloe really blossoms in this volume and it still creeps me out.  ^_^

When Mirielle arrives, the sense that she’s come to free Kirika from a spell is not as strong as the sense that she’s arrived to allow Kirika to free herself. And then the battle become two on one and there’s no question, really, who the true Noir is. It’s the “End of the Matter” as the volume title states.

In the final episodes, as Mirielle takes on the members of Altena’s household, hearing Shinohara Emi as one of them was like a little easter egg for me.

There’s a lot of wonderful moments in the final volume of Noir, most of which would be spoilers, so I don’t want to point them out. If you have never watched Noir to completion, do – there’s gold in them there hills. If you have and can’t remember Altena’s final scene, then watch it again. It confirms what I have been saying since the beginning – she was a refugee from a completely different anime series. ^_^

We were treated to a bump up in Yuri for the final episodes, with Chloe fawning over Kirika, but for me, not being a huge Chloe fan, it was Mirielle’s decisions that spoke volumes about her feelings for Kirika.

The final production notes read more like a discussion guide than anything else. They propose questions for us, the audience, to answer, and end them all with “What was Noir to you?” I’ll tell you what it was to me – a story of love and redemption, a story of action and violence, a story of growth and diminishing, a story of two women whose lives change are irrevocably changed when they meet after many years. And the beginning of a fantastic triptych of girls with guns on the run.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Character – 9
Story – 8
Yuri – 6
Service – 4 Hawt ritual bathing action

Overall – 9

Still want to do a Noir, Madlax, El Cazador marathon. If they are each good by themselves, how much better will they be when we run them together until our eyes bleed? Everything’s better in excess! ^_^

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Yuri Anime: Noir, Volume 6

December 19th, 2007

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?

It’s a testament to the genre’s growth in the past two years that it’s taken me so long to get around to Volume 6. (Check out the Noir category on the sidebar for the other reviews.)

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.

Ratings:

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. ^_^

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Yuri Anime: Noir, Volume 5

April 17th, 2007

Wow, there’s nothing like taking a step back a few years to really appreciate both what went before and what we have now. I recently sat and rewatched the volume with the most awesome episodes of Sailor Moon (106-109, in case you care) and on the train on the way to a professional conference, I rewatched Noir Volume 5 for the first time in many moons.

Volume 5 of Noir is not high art. It makes the art of Madlax look stunning by comparison, but story-wise, it’s pretty much the lynchpin moment, the moment at which the entire story alters.

It begins with one more foray into Mirielle’s past where she learns the horrible truth about herself – that she is a child of the organization who now hunts her. Turning away from her own past, she now decides to focus on Kirika’s. Kirika, in the meantime, when faced with a choice of knowledge about herself, Noir and Soldats, or saving Mirielle’s life doesn’t hesitate to chose her friend over herself. I say “friend” here, because it seems that that alone is enough of a revelation for both of them, that they might, perhaps, be becoming friends.

When Mirielle reminds Kirika of the promise that they made – that when they both understand who Kirika is and what, exactly Soldats wants, she will kill the younger woman, there is a edginess to it – we can see that that promise is now a lie, even if they can not.

Just as they start to deal with this change in their relationship, it all comes to a crashing halt. Chloe, who has been stalking Kirika from the beginning, shows Mirielle, in an impressive and incontrovertible display of skill, that she and Kirika are the True Noir. Her explanation of what Noir is, and why Noir is, only serves to highlight the gulf between Mirielle and her partner. When Kirika begins to respond to words that Chloe utters, it becomes obvious that Mirielle has lost the battle, if not the war.

This is a very “having loved and lost” kind of volume. We watch Mirielle gain knowledge of her past, but lose some of her understanding of what her childhood meant to her. She gains Kirika as a friend, but loses her as a partner. And she gains understanding of Soldats and Noir, but loses herself in the process.

I found the Noir/Soldats manuscript lines just as silly this time as the last, but somehow – and really, I don’t know how – it all sort of seemed to make perfect sense. Above all, the sense of loss that Mirielle was experiencing at the very end was very poignant and very powerful. And because El Cazador de la Bruja has already begun, I found myself hoping that I care half this much about Nadie and Ellis by the end, as I do about Kirika and Mirielle.

What makes the story here so interesting, is watching Chloe take everything that Mirielle has fought so hard to gain. What makes the rest of the series so interesting is watching Mirielle fight even harder to get it back.

Ratings:

Art – 4
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 4
Service – 2

Overall – 7

I still think Chloe’s character design looks weird and out of place, but I guess that kind of works…

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