I’ve completed watching Noir last night – another Japanese Anime. I’ve watched in basically two or three evenings, all 26 episodes – that should tell you something.

What’s Noir about? The show tells the story of two assassins, Mireille and Kirika, who are trying to uncover the past of the later: Kirika has lost her memory. The only clues are a pocket watch, that Mireille recognizes, and a word: NOIR.

From episode to episode, the two girls discover more about what’s going on, until finally they can confront their enemies in the climatic battle.

The show focuses greatly on the “hidden past”, with lots of gun battles thrown in – some rather nicely done. There are some religious/mystical hints to the background story, a stark contrast to the violent profession of the two protagonists. In fact, Noir is a lot about contrast – ancient mysteries vs. the modern world, beautiful scenery vs. bloody gun battles. There is character development – especially in Kirika – and a lot of conflict of interests – especially in Mireille in the later part of the series; I don’t want to give anything away about it though.

I think there are three downsides to Noir. First, once revealed, the whole background secret feels… unpolished, unfinished. Yes, I was watching the Fan-subbed version, so I might have missed some depth of dialog. There are also hints of the occult and supernatural, which should have been expanded or explained away in the end.

Second, I wish that some of the gun battles were more inspired. Some of the action scenes are really cool, but some are, well, boring.

And last but not least, flashbacks are really overused in the series. This is a problem especially during the first few episodes, where a longish flashback is repeated over and over again, with the viewer being at a loss what exactly to make of it. A little better writing here would go a long way to improve the overall series – especially since some viewers might get bored and give up before episode 5.

Still, overall, I would recommend Noir to anybody who likes action anime and doesn’t mind a high rate of kills. I did watch it in about three evenings, episodes 14-26 of which in one night; that should tell you something.

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