Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 6, 2001 to Sep 28, 2001
24 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.461 (scored by 21437 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
action adventure drama mystery
SynopsisMireille Bouquet is a professional assassin, and a very good one at that. But when she follows up an e-mail from a young Japanese girl named Yumura Kirika, inviting her to take "a pilgrimage to the past", her life becomes even more dangerous than it already is. Now, with a haunting melody invoking the memory of an event long past, Mireille and Kirika decide to work together to find the truth about a thousand year old organization that has controlled both of their lives since before they were born. And the only clue in their search, the only thing Kirika remembers about herself, becomes their working codename: a name designating an ancient fate, of two maidens who reign over death--Noir.
Characters & Voice Actors
How often do we see an action anime that showcases the usage of literature in the plot, and where plot progression inherently relies on the literature used? And how often do we see an anime that has bloodless gunfights? Lost for words? Noir is one such anime.
The story starts with Mireille Bouquet; a renowned freelance assassin, coming into contact with Kirika Yumura, who knows nothing of her past due to amnesia. Except that she possesses the skills of an assassin and the word ‘Noir,’ which becomes their leading clue in the future. The reason for their encounter lies in the things they hold in common – a chime played from a pocket watch and an inscrutable monolith that has some connection with their past. Thus, they embark on a journey to track down this organization and uncover the truth behind their existence.
The premise, kept simple despite the many underlying mysteries and twists, starts off at a slow pace. Mireille and Kirika take on many assassination jobs with their new codename, Noir, hoping that The Organization may react to their name. The first half focuses on episodic missions, their growth as a team and skeptical leads about the organization, that sometimes turns out to be a wild goose chase, and most of the episodes end with realistic but bloodless gun-battles. It isn’t until the second half that some new characters, Chloe and Altena, are introduced and the story starts to flow in a deliberate direction. Now, the highlights of the show are the clues inspired by literature. Generally, clues used in many anime are names, places, dates, times, or encrypted codes. However in Noir, literature is used to convey the meaning behind the existence of Noir and The Organization, which, in a way, has its own appeal. The series manages to do a fine job in answering most of the questions that popped up in the beginning.
Noir is definitely a story-driven anime and offers very little room for character interactions and development. Both Kirika and Mireille are left one dimensional; just like puppets acting according to where the story goes, at least in the first half. Some life is given to them in the second half, making them question their feelings, their motives, judge their situations, and act accordingly. Kirika, after losing all her memories is like a lost child; overflowing with innocence, yet oftentimes emotionless which makes her a formidable assassin. On the other hand, Mireille, who was brought up by her uncle, is more rational and can easily blend in with a group. While the production house tried to develop the characters, they do not leave a lasting impression on the viewers.
At first glance Noir’s animation is just plain, nothing that catches the eye. Due to the anime’s realistic approach, the reach of the action scenes are confined by the somewhat lackluster laws of physics. There are no flashy moves or unbelievably fast close combat fights. Every fight is limited to what is necessary. Due to which they are sometimes unappealing to the viewers. Even after restricting themselves to real life action sequels, I found one dubious element in them; whenever there is a gunfight, all the agents do is shoot, run around, and get shot down themselves by the end of it. They never manage to get a singlehit on either Kirika or Mireille. That aside, none of these unfortunately doomed agents even get close to hitting either of them; instead they act as practice targets for Kirika and Mireille to improve their own skills. This is usually how the gunfights ended up, but luckily the case is different when they are facing an expert assassin. And lastly, where was the blood? A lot of agents from The Organization are shot dead and there is not a single drop of blood. Yeah, the production house tried to stick to the nature of the show and avoided heavy bloodsheds, gore and violence. But, at least a small amount of blood wouldn't be bad.
Back to animation, since the setting is based in Europe, the background animation is unexpectedly good, close to how a European society looks and neat for the most part. Character designs are simple and are relatable to their backgrounds. At least they can be easily distinguished, unlike many anime nowadays where all the characters look the same with different hair styles and color. Mireille is designed to look more attractive than Kirika. Kirika’s looks are akin to an Asian high school girl. Mireille is given a matured figure and looks older than Kirika and Chloe, despite the fact that they should be around the same age.
Sound was also kept realistic and at many times minimal. Action sequences were played along with a couple of sound tracks. They didn’t have much appeal in the beginning, but as the series progresses and is given a historical touch, the soundtracks befit the nature of the show.
Noir is one of the few anime where the OSTs contribute higher than animation in building the tension needed during action scenes. The OP is a J-pop song which is somewhat influenced by western pop, and comparatively, the ED is an authentic J-pop song both in lyrics and the style. The ending was especially more enjoyable since it somehow relays Kirika’s feelings of uncertainty. I admire the seiyuus' spirited approach to these characters since there was very little to adapt from the script. Despite having repetitive lines and a script that often sounded monotonous, they did a good job from what little they had.
One of the main reasons why Noir will fail to entertain the viewers is due to the lack of tension in the series. There are hardly any attempts made to intensify the gravity of a particular situation. In one of the episodes where Mireille is to face-off with an old acquaintance, Intoccabile-who supposedly is one of the most ferocious assassins, there is a lack of viciousness in her presence, which brings down the tension and enjoyment in the situation. And this is not evident in only one case; the viewer experiences this troubling trend throughout the series. Noir would be more enjoyable if the viewer is watching it with some intervals. If watched in continuity, completing the series in one go becomes an arduous task rather than a feast to relish.
Noir is an anime that tries to present a realistic approach to the life of an assassin on a journey to find her origins and, for the most part, it succeeds in doing so with the help of commendable animation and sound. And it does manage to explain some of its plot holes.
Like NGE, Monster, Cowboy Bebop and many other anime, Noir is more rewarding after every re-watch. Noir is just one step away from being a remarkable anime, but that elusive one step is the one many action anime fail to overcome.
There are a handful of things that truly stand out from their peers. Sometimes, just occasionally, a series manages to do everything perfectly, pull together all the strands that things before and since have tried and failed to do. Fullmetal Alchemist is one example from the fantasy field; Ghost in the Shell another among postcyberpunk sci-fi; Azumanga Daioh an example from slice-of-life comedy. And, among the fairly niche girls-with-guns proto-genre, Noir is another.
Noir isn't remarkable in its premise, in fact it's quite a patchwork of worn ideas; an amnesiac who is unsure whether her amazing combat abilities or complete lack of remorse is more peculiar teams up with a wronged and vengeful assassin to search for the truth about both of their pasts, and they find more than either of them bargained for. Take one part Luc Besson, mix in equal parts HKBO and spy thriller and a pinch of memory loss, and add anime. As the song says, though, "it ain't what'cha do, it's the way that'cha do it"; none of these various concepts are inherently bad, they each have the potential to be interesting, and Noir fulfils it all. The structure of this 26-episode series works as a perfect blend of the overarching plot and episodic formats, in that almost every episode our heroines have someone new to kill, somewhere new to do it and something new to factor into how they do it and how they relate to one another, but each episode a little more is revealed to them about the power behind the shadows - the pacing is slow, but perfect. Not a single episode is filler or side story, the plot is all. It also keeps you guessing, maintaining the atmosphere of mystery superbly; every new piece of the puzzle being put in place changes the picture a little, goalposts shift and new questions need answering. Noir's story is complex, meaty, demanding of attention and, in the final analysis, highly satisfying; this is by far and away the best assassin flick or secret society yarn I have ever seen, and I don't just mean anime.
The cast is small, and dialogue is fairly spare. Kirika Yuumura, Japanese schoolgirl and amnesiac, is a very reserved, very introverted girl, seemingly all but unable to engage with people. Her initial inability to fully come to terms with her own ruthless, cold-hearted lethality is a feature that her business partner, experienced Corsican assassin Mireille Bouquet, does not share. She is a much more outgoing person, yet in some ways much more vulnerable; their relationship is tense, fragile and fascinating. Terrific acting from Kotono Mitsuishi and Houko Kuwashima does a fantastic job of giving the interactions between these two a highly credible, extremely watchable air. Even this excellent dynamic cannot hope to last 26 episodes, though - so, just when you think it's going to get stale, up pops the knife-hurling, child-voiced Chloe. A completely enigmatic character straight from left field, she shakes up these relationships just right and keeps everything nicely off balance. Aya Hisakawa's ingenuous voicing, her straightforward attitude and her innocence bring her a marvellously odd aura, and scenes between these three very distinct characters are tense and electric. All dialogue seems natural, though scripting is, as mentioned, sparse, but every word resonates, and often what is not said is as clear and significant as what is.
The show adopts a very stylised-realistic look, with marvellous European locations and stylings, keeping things interesting, but art style and actual depiction imbuing the world of Noir with an empty, distant air to almost everything that fits the tone of the show perfectly. Character design is a similarly muted but stylised affair; no super assassin ninja suits or rainbow hair here, most characters, protagonists or enemies, simply look like everyday people (Chloe is once again an exception, with her maroon hair and billowing cloak - but that merely makes everyone else more ordinary). Mechanical detail like guns and computers are very detailed and accurate to reality, although some things such as cars are, while adequate, not quite up to the rest of the series' standards. It all contributes to a sense that this is something that really could be going on somewhere out there right now, a sense that I have never felt as strongly with any other anime. In a way, this seems a perfect candidate for live-action adaptation; but the fact that it is animation, in full control of the look of its world, is one of Noir's most subtle and brilliant tricks. Visually, perhaps at odds with its name, Noir is colour-drenched, from the opening credits to the gorgeous watercolour backdrops, but beautiful and bright though the world might be, it only goes to reinforce the darkness and evil that can dwell inside people. Its characters look like everyday people, but they are stylised enough that the amazing feats of agility and skill they accomplish seem like achievable ends, fully in keeping with the world around them. The sense of a visually familiar world is so well evoked that once the backstory begins to become clear, it slots right into the gap between constructed and actual reality with consummate neatness.
Action choreography is another thing that contributes to Noir's sense of credibility. Most episodes of Noir climax with a gunfight; such a sense for creating gunfights that, working within the stylised reality the visuals provide, are believable, yet remain inventive and exciting, I have never seen with such consistency. Not all are as good as each other, but action in noir is entertaining at worst, and at best among the best fight scenes I have ever seen. The lightning-lit, rain-soaked battle across the rooftops of Paris in episode 20 is nothing short of brilliant. One factor that makes them so enjoyable is held in common with numerous other aspects of the series; they are designed in such a way that what you don't see is as important as what you do. Like blood. While at first glance, the lack of any actual visible blood almost seems counter-intuitive, it ends up seeming a lot more real than the red-steeped approach the subject matter more usually elicits; a truly skilled hitwoman kills cleanly, surgically, without mess. The deaths of opponents, crumpling like automatons, also quietly reinforce the idea of an organisation whose influence is great enough to render people nothing more than its puppets, to be used and discarded.
Noir is not among the best-known anime, but by far the best-known aspect of the series is its soundtrack. While she had composed a couple of anime soundtracks previously, Noir's musical score is essentially the thing that catapulted Yuki Kajiura into the eye of anime OST fans, and on lists of the best anime soundtracks ever, Noir is rarely out of the top ten. By blending electronica, operatic grandeur and solemn church music, Kajiura created a unique sound that for me she has so far never bettered. The haunting massed choir chants, soaring, prayer-like Latin vocals and intricate, piercing violin and expressive piano solos are some of the most evocative, atmospheric music anime has ever known, truly a masterpiece. The opening theme, by Ali Project, is also excellent. Anyone interested in the musical side of anime should acquire and watch this series.
Indeed, atmosphere is something that Noir does phenomenally well. The engrossing story, the excellent visuals and the superlative music all conspire to connect the viewer much more deeply to Noir than mere dialogue could. You get a powerful sense of the lonely, isolated, doom-laden feelings that the characters experience; it's splendid minimalist storytelling of the highest calibre.
Obviously, Noir isn't for everyone. The slow pace and frequent flashbacks will frustrate some. The unremittingly serious and generally bleak tone will fail to appeal to some. The lack of any comedy or more than very occasional and mild fanservice will repel some. The spareness and minimalism will alienate some. The realistic setting will fail to interest some. The lack of explicitness and reliance on implication will confuse some. My experience also suggests that this series does not suit marathon viewing well, being more fitted to watching each episode individually. None of this, however, stops Noir from being a truly excellent series in all respects, worthy of the highest praise. Among its peers, Noir remains a series that exemplifies what outstandingly high quality even a story that, at root, revolves mostly around women shooting people can attain. read more
These series are extremely similar, sharing the same formula of girls, guns and mystery, as well as a large portion of the crew involved. Madlax is the better of the two in my opinion - they're both slow to start, but Noir is a bit shorter on action and excitement until late in the show.
Girls and guns, Yuki Kajiura, same studio, similar plot line, same slow pacing.
Bee Train studio has a serie named "Girls with Guns", consisting of three animes - "Noir", "Madlax" and "El Cazador de la Bruja".
No common characters or plot, yet they are similar in fact that all they have girls with guns. :)
a very good anime, the story line is somehow the identical to Noir, the Sound Track is great too !
Both animes are produced by Bee Train and both are part of Bee train's Dramatic "Girls with Guns" Trilogy series,both deal with two completly unrealated girls who are both assasins but somehow are connected to each other when they search for the mysteriouse"Truth" when they're passes are revealed and eventually becomes an epic battle for "Truth',Trust",Betrayle,Friends against friends"and Foes and foes.
It's from the same anime studio, and the two anime shares many similaritys, like the story, the characters, the themes, but both of them are indeed very different though.
yuki kajiura during the action scenes, need i say more?...okay
both have the same emphasis on two women on some type of adventure, both have some secret organization that is causing all the trouble for these women, and both have the main storyline where two people are the chosen ones...but they forget that there is also one more
noir is more realistic , madlax has more action, but in my (professional) opinion noir is the more entertaining show
Similiar personalities from both protagonists. Both females with guns. Both composed music by Yuki Kajiura.
both of these anime's where done by the same people. but they are two different story types. also the are a darker type of anime. they are not a happy go lucky, but much more of a serious anime. they also a "girl with guns" type. always a good thing^^
Given that in the trilogy "girl with guns" includes three anime: Noir, Madlax & El Cazador de la Bruja, but I still want to compare it Noir with Madlax, because they are more similar to each other in terms of art / music / characters than
El Cazador de la Bruja.
In terms of plot, they are similar in that the girls - main characters are trying to measure his adventures to collect pieces of his memory, but their path is not simple because mysterious organization trying every way to prevent them from doing so.
For the rest, both of these anime have their inexpressible atmosphere of charm a "girl with a gun in his hand, instead of a handbag" (moreover, the girls in the movie might have been some maniacs-terrorists, and very feminine (^__^), what adds even more pleasure from viewing), that propels superb OSTs, and style / staging animation from BeeTrain.
First of all, both series are produced by the animation studio, Bee Train. Additionally, the music soundtrack in both series are composed by the talented Yuki Kajiura.
Both series features strong and independent women who has a dark past but also skilled in the handling as well as the usage of guns.
Both series has a complicated plot that has twists with the main characters behind a dark past.
Both series contain mature themes such as assassinations, patricide, and among others that sets a general darker mood for the audience.
similar girls with guns, hitman and secret association story
Even if the storyline isn't the same, they have a lot in common, they both deal with Mafia, Secret Organizations and assassins. They are both set in our era, they are not medieval or futuristic.
both have 2 people who are assasins. They are the best of the best no matter what happens they will finish their mission.
If you liked Phantom, you will like Noir, hands down. Both deal with the aspect of a character forgetting their memory and becoming assassins. They both deal with secret organizations that control these assassins. Similar art style, and similar music. And hey, aren't they both by the production company Bee Train? Well that would explain everything!
Life of assassins. Trust and betrayal. Both are great series, highly recommended.
Produced by the same studio, they both feature assassins and contain a high level of action and a good soundtrack.
The characters and the violence are very similar.Like the two characters are the same compared to phantom of a requiem with lost pasts and have to deal with a lot of emotional pain when killing people they don't want to kill.
Both series features powerful and independent female protagonist who has the skills to handle a gun.
Both series thus, have plenty of action and drama with thriller like sequences in a few episodes.
Both series has a mystery like aura as the episode progresses that depicts some of the action and violence beyond just physical.
Both shows are about two assassins working together and discovering their hidden pasts. They also have strong and beautiful OSTs
It follows the trend with girls with guns. In addition it holds the theme of two unlikely people holding a strong yet confusing bond while both protagonists hold a secretive past.
Both shows focus on a duo of assassins, secret societies and organized crime syndicates. Both were produced by Bee Train and feature musical scores by Yuki Kajiura. It's almost as if Noir was the first draft for Phantom in that there are several similarities between the two (Ein and Kirika are pretty much the same character). If you enjoy conspiracies and mystery thrillers, you will likely enjoy both of these titles. Noir is the more tame title of the two. Phantom has a darker, grittier feel to it and presents itself as fare for a more mature audience.
Opening Theme"Coppelia no Hitsugi (「コッペリアの柩」 Coppelia's Casket)" by ALI Project
Ending Theme"Kirei na Kanjo (「きれいな感情」 Beautiful Emotions)" by Akino Arai
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