Noir: Initial Thoughts

I am slowly making my way through the Anime queue I posted recently. I’m currently watching Noir and am a little less than halfway through the series. In no particular order, a few thoughts on Noir:

  • The series follows Mireille Bouquet, a pretty blond assassin. Her professional career seems to be going quite well… until she is contacted by a young Japanese girl named Yumura Kirika, who asks Mirelle to take “a pilgrimage to the past.” Yumura is quite talented as well, though she also seems to be afflicted with Jason Bourne Syndrome (apparently a common condition among assassins). Together, the two seek to solve a mystery involving an ancient, myserious group called Les Soldats. As of yet, it’s unclear what role the girls play in the plans of the Soldats, but after a slow start, things seem to be unfolding at a good pace.
  • Mireille takes contracts under the name “Noir.” She has built up a good reputation, but there are several hints of old hits that could not have been accomplished by Mireille, leading me to think of Noir as a sorta Dread Pirate Roberts of the contract killer world. Later in the series, Mireille and Yumura meet someone named Chloe who refers to herself as “The True Noir.” Chloe is an intriguing character, and one that has only just been introduced, so I’m expecting much more to happen with her (and her guardian at the vineyard). The word “noir” is French for “black” and is often used to describe dark stories featuring morally ambiguous characters. Film noir was a phrase coined by French film critics to describe Hollywood films of the 40s and 50s. So far, I would not say that this series follows any sort of Film noir conventions, but it’s something I’ve been keeping an eye out for…
  • So the girls are racking up quite the body count. 12 episodes in and I think they’ve already outpaced legendary murderers like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. It seems that every episode features the girls taking on and killing dozens of armed minions. Apparently the regular appearance of 20 or so dead men is a common feature of French society (the series takes place in France). Nothing to get worked up over, even when the dead men are cops.

    Yumura dodges some bullets

    Yumura dodges some bullets…

  • Also intriguing about the people of France as portrayed in the series is that they appear to be bloodless. Of the hundreds the two assassins have killed, apparently no blood was shed. Either their bullets are not very effective against them, or the French have invented a blood substitute that is far superior to our own (but provides no apparent benefit, except for easy cleanup).
  • As assassins, it seems that the only tool in their assassin toolkit is a pistol. Apparently no long-range weapons like a sniper rifle, no hidden attacks like poisons and no “accidents” (unless, I guess, the accident involves someone falling on a bullet with a lot of force – an explanation I suspect the French police would accept). Still, the large amount of gunfights makes the series quite entertaining, though they never quite approach the balletic beauty of John Woo’s double-fisting pistol showdowns… though I suppose we still have 14 episodes or so to rectify that. Also, despite Yumura being much younger, she seems to be more effective than Mireille. At one point, the pair are trapped in a large casino. Their enemies turn off all the lights and wear night-vision goggles. Mireille is largely defeated by these tactics, while Yumura just closes her eyes and uses apparently superhuman auditory prowess to locate enemies and kill them (a neat trick). I guess it’s worth noting that Chloe eschews the pistol and uses all manner of knives instead.
  • So far, the series has posed some intriguing questions. Who is Noir? How does one become Noir? Who are the Soldats? And how do the Soldats relate to Noir? There appear to be factions within the Soldats, which could lead to some interesting developments. I haven’t gone into it much, but there is a lot of tension between Yumura and Mireille, and there are a lot of questions about why the two are cooperating and what will ultimately happen to them. From all appearances, these are questions that will be answered later in the series, and from what I can tell, they are answered in a satisfying manner. It’s easy to create intriguing questions and a lot of series manage to do so (*cough, cough* Lost *Cough*), but many series fall apart once they reach the the resolution (the jury will remain out on Lost until it ends, but I will say that I was quite disappointed with the end of Battlestar Galactica.) So I look forward to the rest of this series!

A few more screenshots and commentary in the extended entry…

The girls take out some mafia henchmen

The girls take out some Mafia henchmen. Apparently the Mafia was created in part by the Soldats…

A real live Soldat

A real live Soldat. You can tell because of the accent and the mustache.


This is Chloe. She’s quite effective with knives. She’s only been in a couple of episodes, but she does get one to herself that emphasises that she has some sort of honor code. I like the character and am intrigued to see how she fits in with the rest of the series.

Chloe and the girls have some tea

In one of my favorite scenes, Chloe stops by while the girls are having tea. Yumura invites her to join them. It’s an interesting scene.

That is not how to hold a gun

Every now and again, you see the girls use this stance. It’s not quite the ridiculous sideways gangster style, but neither is it a proper way to hold a pistol. A total nitpick and one that could have a visual language meaning (oblique angles in a frame typically emphasise instability and uneasiness), but it was something I noticed.

Mireilles computer screen

This is Mireille’s computer screen. As you can see, she is using one of the ugliest interfaces ever devised. She must be using a linux distro (*zing!*).


Just another shot of Yumura, because I felt like it. That’s all for now. Should be finished with the series in a week or two.

2 thoughts on “Noir: Initial Thoughts”

  1. I’ll be very interested in your final judgment on Noir. I watched the whole thing; and while there were interesting bits here and there (and is that OP awesome or what?) I quickly lost interest after the first two episodes. Part of the problem I think is that I never really got anything out of Mireille. Every time I thought I had a handle on her characterization, it veered off in a different direction. I also expected more out of Kirika and Chloe that what seemed to be offered in the end.

    Probably the biggest problem was that I went into the series primed with all of the “it’s teh awesome!” reviews and comments. Living up to the hype would have been difficult, but Noir fell FAR short for me.

    I’ve been hoping to try Madlax, which is basically the same premise by the same team. Most reviewers relegate Madlax to “also-ran” status, so maybe I can pick up on exactly what doesn’t work for me with Noir.

    But, I like to keep an open mind…sometimes other viewers can provide an appropriate context for re-viewing. Cheers.

  2. I’m actually not a huge fan of the song in the OP, but the visuals are cool (and the music within the series is good too). I have a similar view of Mireille in that I’m finding the other characters more interesting than her. I do have a hard time figuring out what the deal is with her, but it’s not like she’s doing anything stupid or acting completely out of character the whole time.

    I guess only time will tell. I will say that so far, the series does not seem to be lighting a fire the way it has with some other viewers. There does seem to be a fair share of filler and repetition here, but at the same time, I’m enjoying myself. I’m not pouring through the series the way I did with, say, GitS:SAC, but neither am I dreading the next disc like, say, Trigun. To me, it will come down to the ending. If they can answer these questions satisfactorally, I’ll be happy.

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