Noir-Volume 3: The Firing Chamber (2001)

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Released 2-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Cast-Houko Kuwashima
Gallery-production sketch montage (5:39)
Credits-clean opening
Credits-clean closing
TV Spots-original Japanese promos
Trailer-ADV Previews (5)
Booklet-interviews and notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 73:06 (Case: 75)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kouichi Mashimo
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Houko Kuwashima
Monica Rial
Kotono Mitsuishi
Shelley Calene Black
Aya Hisakawa
Hilary Haag
TARAKO
Tiffany Grant
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Yuki Kajiura


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Titling
English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode teaser after closing credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

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.

    The first eleven episodes of Noir start with that; the twelfth changes it in an interesting way... If you haven't been reading along as I've reviewed these discs, I strongly recommend that you begin by reading my review of Noir Volume 1: Shades of Darkness. You might care to follow that with Noir Volume 2: The Hit List.

    The episodes on this disc are:

10 The True Noir Mireille and Kirika meet a shadowy new figure who interferes with their work
11 Moonlit Tea Party Their big chance to get a lot of information on the Soldats
12 Assassination Mission We learn more about the mysterious Chloe

    That's right, just three episodes, after the first disc had five, and the second one four. This disc feels a bit underweight. The funny thing is that I'd not have minded if I got three discs, each with four episodes, but this distribution feels unsatisfying. I hope the next disc isn't two episodes...

    These episodes do form a coherent whole, however. They introduce us to some new characters in an interesting fashion. The impact of the new characters is to confuse us and to cloud an already less-than-clear situation, but that feels right in this series.

    It's amusing to see Mireille, ordinarily a decisive and composed professional, nonplussed by Chloe. There seems to be an understanding at a level below the conscious between Chloe and Kirika — as though they share some kind of deep kinship, something to watch closely as it develops through the series.

    The artwork on the cover is somewhat confused — the background image on the back cover, and the large image on the right, are both from the two-part episode The Intoccabile that was on the previous disc. The same images appear on the included booklet. This seems like a strange mistake to make, unless, perhaps, the discs were meant to have four episodes each, in which case the closing half of The Intoccabile would have appeared on this disc...

    The action on this disc takes place in France, and possibly England (I'm not sure if Lambert Memorial Park is meant to be in England or France), plus somewhere in the Alps, perhaps Switzerland. Playing the game of "where is this episode set" can be quite challenging.

    There are some interesting scenes where our lethal ladies are confronted by large numbers of men carrying guns. It's like turning a pair of leopards loose on a pack of Chihuahuas — the ladies are graceful, economical, and oh-so-deadly, and the men are so dreadfully out-classed you feel sorry for them.

    This anime series is really quite beautiful, intriguing, and sometimes brutal. I can't tear myself away from it, and I suspect I'm not alone.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    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. It's interesting to note that this disc seems a touch sharper still than the previous two. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise, even though there are some really dark scenes that would show any low-level noise there was.

    Colour remains gorgeous — some delightfully deep, rich, fully-saturated colours are on display, and a huge palette of subtle colours is in use. This disc seemed just a touch more intensely coloured than the previous two, but the difference was slight. Few anime series use colour as well as this one does. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    I saw no film artefacts at all. If there are any, they must be tiny.

    There was next to no aliasing on my primary system, even on long pans — this is an improvement over the second disc (not that there was too much there, either). Unfortunately, when I tried the disc on another system (one that was not progressive) there was some quite visible aliasing on horizontal pans. There's no moire, and no MPEG artefacts. There is some interlacing, but it's hard to see, and you are likely to find it invisible when playing the disc back normally.

    We are 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 was pleased to see this, because I feared the reason we only got three episodes was to fit them all into a single layer. I didn't see the layer change, because it's located between episodes. The first two episodes are on the first layer, while the last one is on the second layer. The layer change is hidden in the brief pause between episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, as is conventional for the best anime. Both are Dolby Digital 5.1, running at 448kbps.I watched the three episodes in English, and again in Japanese. The soundtracks sound pretty much identical except for the language.

    What dialogue there is (this show has a great many scenes with little or no speech) sounds clear. The English dialogue is readily understood. The Japanese isn't, at least to non-Japanese speakers like me. Both seem well-matched to the animated mouth movements.

    I love the music on this show — it's a real enhancement to the action. Yuki Kajiura does a superb job.

    The surrounds aren't used blatantly. There's rarely any obvious directional sound coming from the rear, but they provide a more enveloping experience. This is nice subtle stuff. The subwoofer does get used, but not heavily.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are somewhat repetitive again, but there are a couple of gems.

Menu

    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.

Interview — Houko Kuwashima (4:41)

    This is an interview with the voice actress who plays Kirika on the Japanese soundtrack. It's interesting, but beware — it contains a spoiler for episode 13, Season of Hell, which happens to be the next episode we haven't seen yet! This is not good planning — they should have held this interview until the next DVD in my opinion.

Gallery — Production Sketches (5:39)

    I really like this extra on this series — once again it features sketches from the episodes on this volume in a free-running montage. I strongly recommend using your remote (the Angle button) to switch to angle 2, because that adds English language annotations that translate the Japanese comments scrawled on the drawings — very helpful unless you happen to read Japanese.

Clean Opening (1:31)

    The opening theme and animation shown without credits. As on the first two volumes. It's nice, but getting a bit stale.

Clean Closing (1:31)

    The closing theme and animation, also minus credits. As on the first two volumes. Definitely getting stale.

Original Japanese Promos (3:05)

    Advertising in Japanese for the series. This sequence begins with spots we saw on the first volume (more repetition), but continues to show us some spots we haven't seen before.

Trailers — ADV Previews (7:49)

    Five trailers that play one after the other:

    Only the first one is (sort of) new. The last couple are for series that are already finished. The Burn-Up Excess trailer sounds rather muffled.

Booklet

    The booklet is a bit shorter this time, but it still contains plenty of detail. One of the most interesting is the discussion of character designs. The four main characters, all female, were designed by women. Interestingly, three different designers contributed, which is unusual. It explains why Chloe seems to be drawn in a different style from Kirika and Mireille (the simple explanation: she is!), a fact that confused me when I first saw her.

R4 vs R1

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 May 2003, a bit over a month before this one. It has the same episodes (and the same complaint about going to three episodes on the disc!), the same front cover artwork, and pretty much the same extras (minus the trailers).

    By reports, the R1 transfers are at least as good as the R4, so I think you could be happy with either. I like getting the local product, but that's really the only way to discriminate between the two.

Summary

    (Only) three more episodes of an intriguing and stylish 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 and booklet quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, July 04, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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