Noir-Volume 7: The End of the Matter (2001)

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Released 19-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Cast-English language voice actors (25:21)
Gallery-Production sketches (4:08)
Alternative Version-clean opening (1:31) and closing (1:31)
Trailer-ADV Previews (6:51)
Booklet-4 pages
3D Glasses
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 72:55 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered 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 Song Lyrics
Smoking Yes
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;
the peace of the newly born
their black hands protect.

    The original phrasing of the introduction returns, but with an interesting twist on this volume — listen carefully, especially on the final episode. If you are new to this wonderful series, 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 Noir Volume 5: Terminal Velocity and Noir Volume 6: Cloaks and Daggers.

    The episodes on this disc are:

24 Dark Return Kirika arrives at The Manor, and we learn the full story of her upbringing
25 The Depths of Hell's Fire Mireille arrives at The Manor, and the three candidates for the true Noir must become two...
26 Birth The final confrontation

    The last three episodes, and all the revelations we have been waiting for. We don't get answers to every question, but the ending is quite satisfying.

    I was so tempted to misquote the tagline to another movie and say "there can be only two", but that would be corny, wouldn't it?

    This disc starts with Kirika's arrival at the Manor, where she is greeted as the returning prodigal by Altena. Chloe is very happy to see her (and we learn why in these episodes). Now the ritual of the Grand Retour can take place, with all that implies in terms of the balance of power within the Soldats.

    There is quite a bit happening in these episodes, for all that they seem quite slowly paced. One of the English language voice actors comments that in this show a single sigh may be conveying multiple emotions, because there is so little dialogue. Apparently one of these episodes had just four pages of dialogue (and innumerable sighs!).

    There's one thing that confused me in these episodes: we meet two characters called Bornes and Marennes. Strangely, although they look female, and even sound female (albeit with strong accents that seem intended to be Irish) they are credited as being voiced by men (at least in English). Odd.

    The cover art looks odd, as though it was drawn by an artist unaccustomed to the characters. There are a couple of moments like that in the show, too, which is a bit disappointing. The oddest part is that the scene depicted on the cover does not appear in the show.

    This is a magnificent series. It may have a high body count, but such stylish slaughter. It is easy to grow quite fond of Kirika and Mireille. I'll miss them, but I think I'll be watching the series all the way through again in a little while — I look forward to seeing where they snuck in hints to the plot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's correct.

    The image is mostly quite sharp and clear, although long shots are somewhat softer (probably simulating distance). Flashback scenes (and there are quite a few) are deliberately a bit over-bright, and a little softer. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise.

    Colour is rich and detailed, drawing on a wide palette. There are no colour-related artefacts, and especially no "rainbows".

    There are no noticeable film artefacts.

    On a progressive system there is no significant aliasing. There is some minor aliasing on an interlaced system, mostly on panning shots. 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 and dual layered, RSDL-formatted, which surprised me, given that there are only three episodes on this disc (despite the cover claiming 100 minutes). The layer change is placed between the second and third episodes, making it next to impossible to spot.

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 — the standard for good anime. Both languages are provided in Dolby Digital 5.1, running at 448kbps.I watched all of the episodes in English, then again in Japanese. The soundtracks are pretty much identical except for the language — even the voice acting is similar.

    Even for a show as sparse in dialogue as this one, these episodes (especially episode 25) are remarkably free of speech. What little dialogue there is is clear in both English and Japanese.

    Ah, the music of Noir — one of its highlights. Yuki Kajiura has completed the series with scoring that quotes the themes frequently, as is appropriate for the climax.

    The surrounds are not heavily used, but they are noticeable. The subwoofer is used, especially in supporting the gunfire.

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

Extras

Menu

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

Interview — English Voice Actors (25:21)

    This is a badly made interview (horrible noisy audio, with people bumping the mike, and grainy poor-quality video), but the content is quite interesting. It features the four central actresses: Monica Rial (Kirika), Shelley Calene-Black (Mireille), Hilary Haag (Chloe), and Tiffany Grant (Altena). All expense has been spared — they look like they have come from cleaning out their garages. They don't take it too seriously (understandably), but I still recommend watching it.

Gallery — Production Sketches (4:08)

    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. Like all the others, this offers two angles, with one of them supposed to show English translations of the annotations on the drawings, but I didn't see any translations.

Clean Opening (1:31)

    The opening theme and animation shown without credits. Exactly as on all the others..

Clean Closing (1:31)

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

Trailers — ADV Previews (6:51)

    Four trailers that play one after the other:

Booklet

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

"3D" Glasses

    Yay! Tucked in next to the booklet are a pair of "glasses" (cardboard and cellophane) that make it possible to read the hints hidden in the orangey rectangle on the back of each booklet. There's a sheet of instructions, too. Don't expect a 3D effect, though — both lenses are the same, so there's no way these could produce a 3D effect. Of course, even once you can read the hints you have to work out what they mean! No, I can't help you there. What are they hinting at? The location of Easter Eggs, many of which are fiendishly concealed.

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 October 2003. It has the same episodes, the same front cover artwork, and the same extras, but doesn't include the glasses — I believe they got them included with an earlier disc.

    From all reports, the Region 1 disc is just as good as this one, so I think you can buy this series in either region. However, I like my Region 4 discs, and I'm happy to have bought them — Madman have done a lovely job of them.

Summary

    The end of an anime series that I truly looked forward to every couple of months. Presented on a high quality DVD for our delectation. A moment both sad and satisfying.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are very good, with more content, and with the magic glasses that can drive us crazy trying to decipher the cryptic comments — an excellent reason to revisit the earlier volumes!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, April 01, 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

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