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 Afringe Home / Features / Noir 08/28/2014 
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Animefringe Coverage:
Noir - A Pilgrimage to the Past
By Holly Kolodziejczak


Noir... this word is the name of destiny from a far-away time. The two virgins reign over death. The black hands protect the new peace.

Even the intro itself lends a sense of mystique to this series that just never seems to go away. As one question is answered, another question revolves into view. Nothing is sure in this world, and mysteries lie in the past, present, and future. A hint here, a clue there.. numerous and seemingly incongruous tidbits offer insights into the unknown.

Enter the reality of Noir, basically that of our own world in the very near future. Mireille Bouquet - a French woman; young and blonde, tall and lean, cool and confident. Her Parisian apartment - spartanly furnished, a pool table serving many purposes. She leads a solitary life, but outwardly normal in appearances. Her life in the shadows is well hidden, and for good reason. Mireille is none other than the famous assassin known to her clients and the rest of the underworld only as Noir.

In her travails, Mireille unintentionally comes into contact with one Yuumura Kirika, apparently a Japanese schoolgirl with nothing much special about her. She is small and plain, petite, with short dark hair and dark eyes. But there is something else there... coldness, a distance that is not normal. Kirika has a story all her own to tell, only she doesn't how it begins. She woke up in a strange room, not knowing where or even who she was, with almost no hints at all to unlock the door to her past. The only things that she has are an identification card with the name Yuumura Kirika and her picture on it, even though she is almost certain that it does not belong to her; a school uniform; a pocket watch that plays a haunting melody; and a gun that she instinctively knows how to use.

Mireille inherently distrusts Kirika, as she does anyone who knows who she really is. But when Kirika tells her tale, Mireille notices a link between Kirika and one of the deepest mysteries of her own past. The women form an alliance based on need rather than trust, and together, they make a pilgrimage to the past in search of answers.

Noir is being hailed already as one of the best, if not the best, anime series of 2001. Almost as rapidly as Japanese viewers savor the show, it's being fansubbed and snapped up eagerly by fans around the world. It's no small wonder that Noir is so sought after by otaku everywhere... an incredible soundtrack, beautiful animation, exquisite voice acting, and an interesting and fast-paced storyline are sure to draw you in and then keep you coming back for more.

Although some elements of the story are familiar, somehow it is woven together in such a way that makes it seem brand new. The latest anime from Koichi Mashimo (Dominion Tank Police) and Bee Train studios succeeds beautifully in blending the anime medium with the styles of French "film noir" from the late 30's and Hong Kong action films from the late 90's. The very gifted Mitsuishi Kotono (Tsukino Usagi, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon; Mink, Dragon Half; Excel, Excel Saga) gives a voice to the spirited Mireille Bouquet, and Kuwashima Houko (Philia, Slayers Try; Misumaru Yurika, Martian Successor Nadesico) lends her vocal talents to the soft-spoken Yuumura Kirika. Both of these main character's voices fit their personalities with a masterful touch.

Music from the artisans of the Catholic Church, fully in Latin with a techno overlay, languid Spanish guitar, and melancholy French melodies are only a few parts of the spectacular soundtrack for this series. The opening and ending themes also both suit the series well. The opening theme, performed by Ali Project, is entitled "Koperia no Hitsugi", or "Coppelia's Coffin." Akino Arai performs "Clean Feeling," the ending theme.

Noir first hit TV Tokyo's airwaves on April 15, 2001. The series runs for 26 episodes and a special as known thus far.


NOIR: CHARACTER DOSSIER
Mireille Bouquet

Daughter of Corsican Mafioso, now a first-class assassin living in France and operating under the code-name Noir. Mireille is seeking revenge for the death of her parents. The mysteries of her past are somehow linked with Yuumura Kirika. When she meets Kirika, they form a somewhat shaky alliance because of their intertwined pasts and begin working together.
Yuumura Kirika

A young Japanese girl who woke up one day not knowing who or where she was or anything about her past. The name Yuumura Kirika was on an ID card with her picture, but she doesn't believe that it truly belongs to her. The only clues that she has to her past are a pocket watch that plays a haunting melody and her ability to kill people skillfully and without remorse. Her past is linked to Mireille's and she has joined in an unsteady partnership with her.
Chloe

A mysterious personage that not much is known about. She is somehow affiliated with Altena. She may be connected in some way with the vague and ambiguous organization known only as "Soldats." She could hold a key to the answers about Mireille and Kirika's pasts.
Altena

A mysterious personage that not much is known about. She is somehow affiliated with Chloe. She may be connected in some way with the vague and ambiguous organization known only as "Soldats." She could hold a key to the answers about Mireille and Kirika's pasts.

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