When she was a young girl Mireille's family was killed by an unknown assassin. Taken away by her uncle, she learned the ropes of becoming an assassin herself. Assuming the alias Noir, she's earned a reputation for being one of the best. Mireille receives an email from a Japanese girl named Kirika, claiming she may be able to help unlock clues about her past, but finds the girl has amnesia when they meet. The two return to Paris to continue looking for clues about their past. At first it seems like their pasts are unrelated, but as the pieces fall into place it turns out they have a lot more in common then either could have guessed. The key to the secrets are all tied to an underworld organization known as the Soldats who have existed for over a thousand years. The Soldats are not keen to reveal their secrets and have marked the two for death. Can these two stand against a secret organization that has its roots reaching to the highest levels of power?
First episodes are a hangup for many series, good or bad. Noir starts out with a strong first episode so I had high hopes for the series. It has cool fight scenes, catchy music, and a lot of visual flare. That's good because I clung to the memory of this first episode like a life preserver in a sea of boredom. As a series starts you'd expect character development, moving to the big plot, or perhaps just entertainment. Noir doesn't really do any of that. I started to wonder if Noir would EVER pick up, and it does around episode 15. Yes FIFTEEN. I had my own interest stall a few times trying to get through this show, so keep that in mind.
Another problem is that aside from Mireille, all the characters are pretty weak. This isn't unusual for action titles, so it's not as bad as it sounds. Mireille has a lot of history that is revealed, and her struggles work pretty well. Kirika and Chloe on the other hand, are like blank slates with no personality. It's also annoying that all three are supposed to be "master assassins", but aside from Kirika occasionally hiding somewhere "sneaky", gun battles are on par with an 80s action film. The heroes shoot pistols from long distances with no cover, while dozens of bad guys return fire yet never come close to hitting them. Most of their "stealth" is suddenly appearing behind people. Only Star Trek has more instances of people suddenly appearing out of nowhere and at least that's explained by a teleportation device.
Noir is a classy show, and its sense of style does well for it. It's just unfortunate that it's rarely put to good use. At times there are well placed pauses which build tension, but often Noir gets stuck in flashbacks already seen and it just draw things out. Another thing that makes Noir is the classy soundtrack. The action theme is so catchy that you may be inspired to fly to Sicily and have your own stylish shootout with the Mafia.
Much of this title is unfortunately dull. There, I said it. I don't know how a story about two sexy assassins can be boring, but Noir somehow manages to pull it off. It picks up around episode 15, and only at episode 20 onward does the pace feel right. Really, this is what Noir should have been the entire time. Aside from that the dub is very weak. People have "European" accents, but it sounds pretty cheesy with everyone sounding "kind of Italian" (they're mostly in France BTW). The major characters thankfully aren't dubbed this way, but enough of the extras are to consider avoiding the dub.
I think Noir was an okay anime, but obviously stretched to 24 episodes when it could have been done in 13. Watching the first episode and skipping to episode 15 I think makes this much more watchable, but if you're insistent on watching the entire thing be prepared to slog through the middle where Noir spins its wheels. Don't even get me started on how much Mireille and Kirika chaise after a book that doesn't mean anything. For an action title it's okay, and I did like the super secret organization that actually DOES feel mysterious. Wish it would have either condensed the content or pushed farther with what it had.
Mireille: The wounded beast only sees the pain within itself. It sounds like me doesn't it?
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