24 January 2006

Noir: A Surprising Disappointment

I'm sitting here watching the 7th episode of Haibane Renmei and wondering why I spent the last 2 months renting the 7 discs of Noir from Netflix. I just finished watching the last episode the other day, and had been waiting anxiously to post until it was all over. Well now it is.

I had heard from several sourced that Noir was a good anime, which is why I decided to watch it in the first place. It starts out pretty well, very Bourne-identity "Hey I'm a great killer but I don't remember ANYTHING"-esque. You follow 2 main characters: Kirika Yuumura, a teenaged girl who wakes up one day and doesn't remember anything about herself and wouldn't even remember her name if she didn't have an ID card (Oh did I mention she has this uncanny ability to kill people? Think River from Firefly), and Mireille Bouquet, a blond female assassin for hire. The beginning is very interesting; Kirika wakes up and all she can remember is the name "Noir", and Mireille finds her and decides to help Kirika figure out who she really is. Mireille ends up taking "Noir" as her codename as an assassin and Kirika helps her out with her gigs. Oh if only she realized what that codename really meant....

Babes, guns, mystery, intrigue...Sounds cool huh?

I thought so too! However, after watching maybe 10 episodes my interest turned to boredom. I took a gander (without peeking at spoilers) at episode ratings online. It seemed to me that the ending episodes were rated very well compared to the mire that I was stuck in, so I persisted and kept watching. By the time I got to the 20th episode or so I was almost ready to give up, but by that point why stop if there's only 6 more episodes? Banking on the hope that the last few episodes would pull everything together, I finished it up. It was a weak ending, though very "anime". You find out early in the series that Noir is the name of two women who are basically crazy powerful assassins. As I said, the position is for two, no more, no less. By the ending episodes there are 3 characters vying for those 2 positions. You're forced to choose favorites. My favorites didn't win, which is fine, but (I apologize for my vagueness, I don't want to ruin it), the way they came about not winning was lame. Parts of the ending were good for sure, but it was not as strong as I had hoped.

So what made me so bored? Well the re-used sequences became sufficiently annoying after a few episodes. You know the bad-anime staring contest that's so popular in those such as InuYasha and Naruto, where they cut to a character's face for over a minute as if to show emotion, then cut to the next...then back...and so on? Lots of that in Noir. If I was supposed to see anguish in those shimmering drawn eyes of Mireilles', I could have probably figured it out without having to stare at her for 30 seconds. Also, I feel that the entire story could have been squashed into a great miniseries, maybe 3 episodes like Angel Sanctuary. The music, which was appreciable in the beginning, turned sour after they re-used it throughout the whole anime.

There were up-sides. The plot IS good though drawn out. The characters (my favorite was Kirika) were recognizably humanistic and relatable, maybe except for that whole perfect killer problem Kirika has going on...

Time for grades?

Plotline: Very Good
Characters: Good
Music: Fair
Animation: Poor

Despite the plot, I'll have a tough time recommending this one because it's so frustratingly drawn out.


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