Noir-Volume 6: Cloaks and Daggers (2001)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 14-Jan-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Menu Animation & Audio
Interviews-Cast-Aya Hisagawa
Credits-clean opening (1:31), clean closing (1:30)
Trailer-ADV Previews (4)
Booklet-6 pages
Booklet-6 pages - the missing booklet from V4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 97:32 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kτichi Mashimo
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Houko Kuwashima
Monica Rial
Kotono Mitsuichi
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
English Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode preview

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

Plot Synopsis

Noir — it is the name of an ancient fate
Two maidens who govern death;
to ward the darkness from the nursing babes
their black robes serve as shields.

    The same variation on the opening recitation as on episodes 14 and17 — in this volume this one alternates with the original. 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, then Noir Volume 3: The Firing Chamber, Noir Volume 4: Death Warrant. and Noir Volume 5: Terminal Velocity.

    The episodes on this disc are:

20 The Sin within the Sin Kirika and Mireille are attacked by the Knights of Paris. Chloe has been sent to give "the final guidance"
21 Morning without Dawn Mireille is told who killed her parents and elder brother, and the reason the killing was ordered
22 Journey's End Kirika collapses while wandering in the mountains, and is rescued by villagers
23 Sentiments for the Remaining Flower Mireille is approached by a man high up in one of the factions in the Soldats — he has an offer for her

    A four episode disc, fortunately — an awful lot happens in these four episodes, but it's all connected, and it would have been torture to leave off at the end of episode 22.

    This is the second last disc, so I was expecting some interesting developments (particularly after the hint in the preview on the last episode of the previous disc). And interesting developments there are.

    The disc picks up with the scene that ended the previous disc. Kirika and Chloe have just slaughtered the men sent against them, and they are intoning, in unison, the saying about Noir. Mireille is disturbed by this and interrupts. It amazing how a simple change to the way Kirika holds her eyes changes her from the sweet lost innocent we like so much, into Dark Kirika, the merciless killer who is such a threat (but, yeah, we still like her!)

    We learn that there is conflict between factions of the Soldats, and how deeply the division has split them. This is made rather clearer when we eavesdrop on Altena telling Chloe a bedtime story about the origin of the Soldats. We also begin to understand what motivates Altena, when we see her as a child. Such a contrast between her and the other elders of the Soldats, sitting self-satisfied in front of their fire.

    The Grand Retour (pronounced in an Anglicised fashion, despite the words being French) is a ceremony which will establish the true Noir. It will also elevate Altena to the position of High Priestess of the Soldats (the religious elements have always been present, but they are becoming much more important) — that would give her power that the other elders want to deny her.

    As I said, a lot happens in these four episodes, but so much of it must come as a surprise that I can say no more. Let me just say that if you have enjoyed Noir up til now, you'll really enjoy this disc.

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 uses the wide frame well, producing more the feeling of a film than a TV serial.

    The image is sharp in the foreground, with the inked characters, but looks soft in the backgrounds (because they are painted, rather than inked). There is some slight blur on flash-back shots, but this is completely deliberate. There is no film grain, and no low level noise (important, because major parts of the story take place at night). There is one scene (the confrontation in the cemetery) where Mireille looks quite wrong, drawn, I'm guessing, by a bad artist.

    Colour is superbly rendered. This show uses a rich and varied palette of colours. It is a beautiful show to watch, and colour is a significant part of this. There are no colour-related artefacts, especially no "rainbows".

    There are no noticeable film artefacts.

    On a progressive system there is no aliasing to speak of. There is some visible on an interlaced system, mostly on panning shots, although I noted some minor dot-crawl on a character outline in one static shot. There is no moirι. There are no MPEG artefacts. Interlacing was never evident when playing at normal speed.

    We're provided with two sets of English subtitles, one just covering signs (and songs), 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.

    This disc is single-sided (with a nice label, echoing the cover), dual layered, but not RSDL-formatted. The layer change is placed between the second and third episodes, rendering it invisible, save that a really slow player may pause a bit longer between these two episodes than between others.

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 — just as we expect on top-quality anime. Both languages are provided in Dolby Digital 5.1, running at 448kbps.I watched all of the episodes in English, and again in Japanese. The soundtracks sound pretty much identical except for the language — even the voice acting is very similar (the performance of Chloe is a little bit different in intonation, but I think that may be cultural)

    There's a bit more dialogue than usual, but still less than many shows. The English dialogue is clear and easy to make out. The Japanese sounds equally clear. Both seem well synchronised to the animated mouth movements. I do get irritated when a supposedly French character pronounces a French word or name in Anglicised form, though (in these episodes there is a character called Thibault, and the English voice actors say "Th", rather than "T" as it should be).

    I adore the music. Yuki Kajiura continues to provide a score that is so much a part of the artistry of the show. There are some extra pieces in these episodes, including a song in the second episode that's quite touching, even though I don't understand the language. There's also a nice piece towards the end of that episode that sounds like a Gregorian chant set to rock music (I know that sounds odd, but that's what it sounds like).

    The surrounds are not heavily used, but they are effective, and you'd miss them if they weren't there. The subwoofer is used for emphasis, but it's well-integrated, and not noticeable; it gets plenty of gunfire to support, too.

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

Extras

    The extras are pretty much the same again, but the interview is good, and I like the production sketch montage. The back cover lists all these extras, and another: Original Japanese Promos — that one's missing from the disc.

Menu

    The menus are animated with music. The main menu is familiar, just like the previous five.

Interview — Aya Hisakawa (6:18)

    Aya Hisakawa is the voice actress playing Chloe in Japanese. She seems to relish the role, despite the paucity of lines her character gets.

Gallery — Production Sketches (4:16)

    This is the one of the best extras on this series — it features sketches from the episodes on this volume in a free-running montage. Remember to switch angles using the Angle button on your remote, because only one of the two available angles shows the English version of the annotations on the sketches.

Clean Opening (1:31)

    The opening theme and animation shown without credits. Huge surprise — that's six discs with the same extra.

Clean Closing (1:30)

    The closing theme and animation, also minus credits. Ditto.

Trailers — ADV Previews (6:03)

    Four trailers that play one after the other:

    Exactly the same selection as on RahXephon 5, released on the same day.

Booklet

    The booklet is brief (four pages of content on six pages), but I like it. Each page is a different topic, with these being:

    A piece of really good news is that this disc contains two booklets: this one, plus the one that was missing from Volume 4: Death Warrant — I'm pleased that they decided to provide us with the missing booklet, and I'm extra pleased to get a double-dose this time. Even better, the booklet features an alternate cover for Volume 4 — one featuring Kirika clutching the art book — very cool.

    I have just learned an interesting item: the back of each booklet has a rectangle of speckled colour on it, and apparently there is a hidden message in each one, hinting at the location of omake (Easter eggs) on the DVD. Unfortunately, to decode these messages requires a filter (included, in Region 1, in the first disc), and I don't have one. Fortunately, I'm resourceful - I have managed to extract the information by scanning the rectangle, then doing colour separations and thresholding on the red layer. The secret message on the back of this booklet is:

(SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read)

Shattered in the rain
The sign of the cross
Draws visions from beyond
To comfort the dead

    Now all we have to do is work out what that means!

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 September 2003. It has the same episodes, the same front cover artwork, and the same extras.

    There is a report of a hidden episode on the Region 1 disc, but the report I read made no mention of how to invoke it (annoying!), so I cannot determine if it is present on this disc — there's a hint on the back of the booklet, though (see above).

    The R1 transfer sounds to be as good as the R4, so I think you could be happy with either version. I'm happy to buy the local version of each disc (although I can easily understand someone buying the R1 discs instead of waiting!).

Summary

    The second last disc of one of the best anime series around, presented on a high quality DVD for our enjoyment.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are good, with the production sketches and booklet very good. Plus we get the missing booklet to fill in for Volume 4 — very cool.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Easter Egg - Anonymous