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     " The only thing I can find wrong with this series thus far is that the main character, Mireille, appears to be French. Maybe she was raised out of the country or something, as she only surrendered once in the entire disc. "

      Title: Noir: Shades of Darkness from ADV Films

      Format: Assassin Thriller Anime

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: There are two things that anime lovin' guys especially love: assassins and hot chicks. It therefore stands to reason that hot chick assassins are the greatest thing known to anime. Here to prove that point is Noir. Follow the adventures of Kirika Yumara, young girl without a past but with amazing abilities to deal out death and Mireille Bouquet, the older experienced assassin. They've been hired…but can they eliminate their target audience in this first of disc of the series? Read on.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Animation: Crisp, clear, and beautiful. Probably helped along digitally as most of today's anime is. The lines are just where they need to be to create a soft beautiful picture with something tough just around the edges. The action can get a little frenetic at times (especially with Kirika whippin' some of her moves around), but the animation follows it all perfectly without missing a beat. The colors are dark and forbidding, fitting the mood of the anime very nicely. The show also does very nice set work, with some great architecture and building sets. The show takes place in several interesting locations, and transitions nicely between them. Even if one of those locations is France, it's still pretty good looking. 4.5 out of 5

      Story and Voice Acting: I will admit it upfront- the amnesia angle has been done. A lot. That aside though, it's still an interesting story presented thus far. Kirika, a young Japanese girl doesn't remember her past, but seems to be a completely capable assassin. Mireille, a more experienced and callous assassin gets a mysterious email, which leads her to the young girl. Through various trials, that comprise the first episode, the two become partners, resurrecting the titular assassin group, Noir. From there on out, the two take on assignments and search for answers to their past. It's an interesting dichotomy that the two play out with each other, and their characters play it well. If you can ignore the amnesia cliché, there's an intriguing story arc developing in this first disc. There's a sense of manipulation and a greater force behind things.
          The Voice acting is great. The two main characters give wonderfully subdued performances, lending to the almost downtrodden feel of the show. It lends the whole thing a very soft and subtle feel that plays well off the images of intense violence that play when the two are going in for a hit. The supporting cast comes out fine as well, with nobody ruining the show. Translation snafus are few and far between. Words are, of course, changed but nothing that goes to unnecessary lengths. The background music blends well with the action on screen, surrounding and enveloping it all for a more whole experience. The aural experience of this disc is easy and enjoyable on the ears. 4.5 out of 5

      Value vs. Price: You're getting the movie, with a few bonus features. You also get a set of red plastic glasses (like those old 3D glasses) for reading the "hidden message" on the inner jacket. The jacket itself, with plentiful notes about the show, is almost a bonus in itself. Also, in a wonderful move DVD producers have made of late, the first disc comes with a box which will hold all of the volumes which come out (about 7). In that box is a cool Noir T-shirt. All that for about 30 bucks (5 more than standard price) ain't half bad. And the anime is certainly worth the expense. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       I think the only thing I can find wrong with this series thus far is that the main character, Mireille, appears to be French. Maybe she was raised out of the country or something, as she only surrendered once in the entire disc. All in all, this is a slick, cool, dark series that certainly seems poised to impress.

      The Good: Über slick assassin chick anime

      The Bad: Slightly clichéd story arc

      The Overall Ugly: When you can kill a man with his own sunglasses you are officially my hero.

      What it's Worth: Pay market, get the cool box.

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