Tag Archives: Mashimo Koichi

Review: Noir (2001) Anime | My Reviews 31 JAN 2014

noir anime 1Present day Europe. Mireille Bouquet is Noir, one of Europe’s most deadliest assassins. However, her life is uprooted when she comes into contact with a young girl named Yuumura Kirika. She has no past, but she has knowledge of Noir. And she knows how to kill.

But it is the clock that she possesses that binds Mireille to her. Both have dark histories that shouldn’t be remembered. Mireille needs to find the truth of hers, while Kirika needs to discover just who she is. Together, they must make a pilgrammage to the past.

But they are being watched. There is an organisation so secretive, so powerful, that to know their name is to invite death. They control the world. And they hold the key to Mireille and Kirika’s search. They hold the knowledge of the true Noir.

They are… Soldats.

Noir is one of those must see anime titles. Set in Europe, Noir follows the story of two assassins who team up to uncover the secrets of their past. A mysterious and powerful organisation appears to be pulling the strings, and Mireille and Kirika find themselves going up against it.

The story builds up to a crescendo, the action is intense and the drama sublime. Always keeping you guessing, Noir is indeed a superbly crafted story.

The characters are all interesting, with both the villains and the heroes getting enough motivation and characterisation.

The animation is very good – stylish and fluid. Although there is a lot of death in this title, there is almost no blood. In an effort to keep the age restriction down, Noir depicts very little bloodshed, despite the massive amounts of violence. However, this is done in a way that doesn’t detract from the title at all. The backdrops of all the locations are beautifully rendered, with each country or location depicted perfectly.

The music of Noir is awesome. Keeping with more emotional and evocative music, Noir’s soundtrack draws you into the show. One song in particular is always used for the action sequences and when it starts, you can’t help but get goose-flesh of excitement.

Overall, Noir is a solid package. An intriguing mystery story, great action, brilliant animation and superb music, Noir is one of those classic anime titles that you simply can’t miss. A powerful piece of work indeed.

noir anime 2

(Historical Note: This was written back in February 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noir_(anime)

Review: .Hack//Sign (2002) Anime | My Reviews 20 DEC 2013

hack sign anime 1In the year 2005, a computer virus called ‘Pluto Kiss’ completely shut down and restricted the global internet network of the world. In 2007, after extensive rescinding of the network, the CC Company created and released an online fantasy network game called ‘The World’. With about 2 million players world wide, the game took the world by storm. This is the story of ‘.Hack//Sign’.

Inside a cold, dark cavern, a mysterious boy regains consciousness. Dressed like a wizard, carrying a strange looking staff, the boy slowly surveys his surroundings. The boy can’t remember much, but he knows his name – ‘Tsukasa’.

As he teleports through various places in ‘The World’, he comes to realise that something has happened to him. Something has made it impossible for him to log out of the game. Even stranger, it’s as if he has become part of the game. His senses have become attuned to ‘The World’. He now feels pain inside ‘The World’.

Returning to the cave, he comes across a ghost image of a strange cat character. He remembers a name. ‘Maho’. But the image fades, leaving a magical tablet behind. Touching the tablet, a voice declares: ‘I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. I need you, just like you need me. Let’s walk together. So long as we walk together, I will protect you.’ With that cryptic message the tablet disappears.

And so the mystery surrounding the boy who is unable to log out of the system begins.

.Hack//Sign is an interesting anime to watch. When it starts, it disguises itself as a standard sword and sorcery show in the unique setting of a game environment. However you quickly realise that this is not the case. It is more of a mystery and drama than an action title. It also deals heaviily with human relations and motivations.

The story revolves around a girl who has lead a very rough life. Her mother died when she was young, and her father is abusive towards her. Her mind gets trapped in her only escape from reality, the online game known as ‘The World’. The story deals with how she opens finally learns to open up to other people as more and more people get involved with her character, the boy named Tsukasa. Central to the mystery is the plot by which she is unable to log her consciousness out of the system, leaving her body and mind in a vegetable state out in the real world. The power behind this tragedy appears to be some malicious code left behind from the original game fragment.

However, the story never deals with real life events. Rather, every facet of the story is told through the game. Everything is manifested as players and characters taking part in this marvellous RPG world.

The animation of .Hack//Sign is simply superb. The backgrounds are more like fantasy artwork than landscapes. The colours are sumptious to look at, and the environments are all breathtaking spectacles. The characters are all beautifully designed and rendered, and their animation is very fluidly done. The action sequences are well handled, and the camera shots are well thought out.

The musical score is hauntingly beautiful, with a number of melodic tracks laid down. See-Saw perform all the vocal tracks. All lyrics are in English which is relatively strange for an anime title. The show has a particulary powerful opening theme.

Overall, this anime is well worth the watch. It is very well written and enacted. The ideas presented come across as original and all the characters are well rounded and presented. If any complaint, the only thing would be that the pace of the anime feels at time very slow. The episodes don’t grab you to watch the next one as soon as possible. Another weak point that could be pointed out is the ending to the series. It is a very open ended end to the show, leaving one with many questions unanswered. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be faulted, as it was written with a sequel in mind. If you are looking for a thought-provoking anime, the you will enjoy .Hack//Sign.

hack sign anime 2

(Historical Note: This was written back in June 2003. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.hack//Sign

Review: .Hack//Liminality (2002) Anime | My Reviews 13 DEC 2013

hack liminality anime 1Something is happening inside ‘The World’, the online network game that took the world by storm in 2007. In Japan alone, at least six cases have been reported in which players all of a sudden dropped down into a deep coma. The attempts at reviving these fallen players have all failed. While their vital signs appear stable, their minds remain locked behind in ‘The World’.

The most recent case happened at Ishikawa Prefectural Kanazawa Sogo High School. Two people taking part in an experiment involving the playing of ‘The World’, collapsed during the game. Tomonari Kasumi and Minase Mai both slipped into deep comas. However, Mai managed to awaken from this state, the first person yet to do so.

Enter Junichiro Tokuoka, the Japanese Version Director for ‘The World’. Two years ago, he cut off ties to the CC Company, producers of ‘The World’. He knows that something has gone wrong with the game. And he intends to find out just what is going on inside ‘The World’. As he travels, getting closer to the truth, he enlists the aid of some unlikely allies. Minase Mai, Aihara Yuki, Tohno Kyoko, the mysterious hacker Helba and her liason, Kuro no Bito all join Tokuoka in his fight against the CC Company.

These people try to unravel the mystery surrounding the game, the theories of Emma Wielent and the actions of the prototype fragment programmer. And even if they are successful at finding the source of the problem, will it be within their power to set ‘The World’ right again?

The .Hack//Liminality OVA was released in conjunction with the release of the .Hack games in Japan. Something has gone wrong in ‘The World’, causing a lot of problems in both the real world and the game itself. The playstation game investigates the problem from within the gamespace, whilst the OVA investigates the problem from a real world perspective. You can watch the OVA as a stand alone story, but it makes even more sense if you watch it in conjuction with the playing of the game.

.Hack//Liminality is surprisingly well done, considering that it was released as a freebie with the game. The animation, soundtrack and story are all top class.

As I mentioned, the complete story is told from two viewpoints. However, enough details are given during the OVA that you can follow what is going on just by watching the OVA. Whilst the time/information skips between episodes are sometimes noticeable, it is understandable because these missing issues are dealt with within the actual game. The first three episodes introduce the four main characters in the OVA and serve to set up the story. The final episode then serves up the action as the four try to solve the problem of ‘The World’.

The animation is smoothly done and the characters and backgrounds are well designed. The colours are sumptious, and really stand out during the outside scenes of episode three.

The soundtrack and voice acting are all of a high standard. See-Saw perform the potent opening and closing tracks for the OVA.

Overall, I thought that this production is really well put together. I like the idea of telling a story from two perspectives. However, if you only have access to the OVA, the I believe you are missing a little bit. Nevertheless, the quality and story of the OVA make it worth your while to give it a look. However, the story will only really make much sense to those who have watched both the .Hack//Sign and .Hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet television series, which serve to introduce the marvelous game and characters that make up ‘The World’. If you are a fan of the .Hack franchise, I would recommend this OVA to you.

hack liminality anime 2

(Historical Note: This was written back in May 2003. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.hack//Liminality