Noir-Volume 2: The Hit List (2001)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
TV Spots-Japanese promotion
Trailer-ADV Previews (3)
Booklet-Interviews and production notes
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||97:29 (Case: 100)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Kouichi Mashimo|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, next episode teaser after closing credits|
Le noir, ce mot désigne depuis une époque lointaine le nom du destin.
Les deux vierges règnent sur la mort.
Les mains noires protègent la paix dex nouveaux-nés.
Noir — it is the name of an ancient fate
Two maidens who govern death;
the peace of the newly born, their black hands protect.
Every episode of Noir starts with that little homily. It's made quite clear that these ladies are not blushing innocents — these are about as far as possible from the classic heroine who twists her ankle and requires rescuing by the hero. And these are not simple happily-ever-after stories, either. This is animation for adults (or older teens) — that M rating is not decoration. I strongly recommend that you begin by reading my review of Noir Volume 1: Shades of Darkness.
The episodes on this disc are:
|6||Lost Kitten||How much service to the community can wash hands clean of a massacre?|
|7||The Black Thread of Fate||Will Mireille abandon or kill Kirika after she's wounded?|
|8||Intoccabile, Acte 1||There's information they need written in a contract|
|9||Intoccabile, Acte 2||Mireille confronts a great fear from her past|
The first two episodes develop our understanding of Kirika and Mireille. It's interesting to learn that Kirika speaks several languages, for example. It's much more interesting to learn that Kirika can show emotion while she's working — she has seemed so cold while working as an assassin before.
The second pair of episodes further the longer plot arc. Noir takes a contract to kill a Mafia boss in exchange for an old piece of paper — a contract that established one of the great families of the Cosa Nostra. Things don't go too smoothly, though, and Mireille ends up face-to-face with something that had a profound effect on her in the past. And don't worry — you'll find out what "Intoccabile" means quite quickly...
We're still in the dark as to some of the mysterious figures that appear from time to time, but details are slowly emerging. We do get another hint about the Soldats; by the way, it irritates me that Mireille, who is French (alright, Corsican) in origin, mispronounces this word (which is a French word meaning "soldiers") — the voice actor pronounces the "t".
The attention to small details is beautiful — there's a section in the included booklet that points out that Kirika's Beretta has brown overtones (it's made of an older steel), while Mireille's Walther has blue overtones (it's made of modern high-tech materials) — it also points out that their guns sound different (but I'd already noticed that — you can easily tell who is firing by the sound). And they even pay attention to details that aren't related to firearms...
These ladies continue to get around. It's not clear where Lost Kitten is set (somewhere in Europe, is all), but The Black Thread of Fate is set in a North African (or possibly Middle Eastern) country, Intoccabile Acte 1 takes place in the USA, and Intoccabile Acte 2 happens in Sicily. These are world-class assassins.
For two such skilled assassins, it's a bit surprising that they fail to ensure a kill on a couple of occasions during these episodes (or maybe the script writers were a little lazy...). Still, they have little hesitation at dealing mercilessly with an entire terrorist base if need be.
Noir is a beautiful and stylish anime series that will appeal to the kinds of people who enjoyed the French film Nikita, or possibly Leon. Strongly recommended.
This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. This show was framed for widescreen from the beginning, and it shows.
The image features sharp character animation over softer backgrounds, as though the characters were drawn in ink and the backgrounds in watercolours — it's an attractive effect, and easy on the eyes. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise.
Colour is gorgeous — there are deep rich fully-saturated colours at times, but most of the colours are close to natural, with a range of subtle shades. There are some scenes that appear with an effect like coloured lighting, where all the colours are distorted — this is highly effective, and handled well. There are no colour-related artefacts.
There are no film artefacts of any significance — there's a translucent blob at 22:17 that's barely noticeable, for example.
Unfortunately, there's somewhat more aliasing than on the first disc, especially on pans — it's not too distracting, though. There's no moire, and no MPEG artefacts. There is some interlacing visible in paused scenes, or when advancing frame-by-frame, but it's utterly invisible when playing normally.
We're provided with two sets of English subtitles, one just covering signs, the other giving full dialogue as well. I watched the full dialogue subtitles, and they are easy to read, and seem well-timed and accurate. As usual, they don't match the English dub, because they translate the Japanese fairly literally, while the dub has been adjusted to better match the mouth movements.
The disc is single-sided and dual layered. I didn't see the layer change, because it's located between episodes. The first two episodes are on the first layer, and the last two are on the second layer. There's a moment of blackness between the second and third episodes that hides the layer change — excellent work.
The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, the optimal choice for anime. Both are Dolby Digital 5.1, and for good reason. I watched all four episodes in English, and three in Japanese. The soundtracks sound pretty much identical except for the language.
The English dialogue is well written, and matches the animation well — there are many scenes with little or no dialogue. It is quite clear and comprehensible. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear enough. Both English and Japanese dialogue seem well-matched to the character mouth movements.
This show has a fabulous score, written by Yuki Kajiura. It features a wide variety of musical styles, mostly chosen to match the locations. It's mostly orchestral music, with what sounds like chants in Latin at times. A significant part of the style of this show comes from the music.
The surrounds are used with discretion, but they are definitely used. The subwoofer is used subtly, but effectively — there is some excellent bass. This is an example of the right way to use 5.1 mixing. It's very fortunate that the first volume is being re-mastered in 5.1.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras are somewhat repetitive from the first volume.
The menus are animated with music. The main menu is styled after a corridor running diagonally — while a little disconcerting, it is easy enough to use.
This is in the same style as the gallery on the first volume, but featuring sketches from this volume. Once again there are two angles, but I recommend viewing the angle that shows the annotations — they add to your appreciation of the sketches.
The opening theme and animation shown without credits. As on the first volume.
The closing theme and animation, also minus credits. As on the first volume.
More TV spots that advertised this show on Japanese TV. Fewer than on the first volume — I guess they did less advertising once the show was established.
Three trailers that play one after the other:
This continues to be one of the more interesting extras, containing four separate articles — two interviews, and two sets of production notes. There's quite a bit of information there.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc was released in April 2003, about a month before this one. It has the same episodes, the same front cover artwork, and pretty much the same extras (minus the trailers). We even get the same soundtracks, this time.
By reports, the R1 transfers are at least as good as the R4, so I think you could be happy with either.
Further episodes of a fascinating anime series on a high quality DVD.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is excellent.
The extras are good, with the production sketches a particular stand-out.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|