The series that fans have to thank for being the predecessor to Madlax.
In this story, our main character is Mireille Bouquet, an assassin for hire working out of
Seeking the truth about their pasts, the two women team up in an uneasy alliance under the code name “Noir” under one condition: Mireille gets to kill Kirika as soon as they figure out what it is in their pasts that they can’t remember and what it is that links them together. But soon the hunters become the hunted and the pair must figure out who it is that is trying to kill Noir.
Good and the Bad
Just from the opening credits I knew that the animation was going to look slightly dated which disappointed me. I found very quickly that those suspicions were accurate. While not bad by any stretch, the animation in this title really does look dated by today’s standard which is ironic since the title is only about five years old. I never noticed any particularly bad points such as spots on the animation; it just had an older look which stood out. It’s not distracting though so viewers are naturally going to be able to take this observation for what it’s worth to them.
The similarities in character design between this series and Madlax is obvious. This is more points that should be taken off of Madlax but Mirielle looks very similar to Madlax and Kirika looks very similar to Margaret.
After that, the characters really manage to stand out on their own. I like how each assassination is laid out with plan details instead of typical action fare which seems to just involve the characters jumping into a battle and shooting wildly with no real plan. The writing in this series really paid attention to detail when it came to the girls going out on their missions.
On top of that, the action scenes were very well choreographed. I really felt myself get into them and never felt like I had to suspend my disbelief too much in order to enjoy it. Instead I found myself more really getting into the battle sequences and when Kirika quietly picks up an automatic assault rifle and blows away a half dozen men without blinking, I don’t think my eyes were anywhere else but on my screen absolutely glued to the action.
This first volume goes a long way towards proving that this anime is more than action though. While the first four episodes are very episodic and do very little to delve into our primary story, the fifth episode really starts to show the audience what this series is striving to become and gives the audience a great idea of what kind of story the staff wants to tell.
Additionally, this volume really had excellent pacing. Every episode moved at a very brisk pace with no pauses or gaps. Even the slower scenes were well delivered and never felt like the momentum of the series had been disrupted or the flow had been hindered.
I acquired the soundtracks to this series a long time ago and so I’ve been in love with the music from this series for a very long time. Yuki Kaijura composed an absolutely phenomenal soundtrack for this series. Every song is just as powerful as you would expect and fits the scenes perfectly. In particular I loved the battle themes.
Not everything about this series is a hit though when it comes to sound and music. Even though they only last for a couple of seconds, the guitar chords used during the eye catches sound terrible and I also noticed a short drop in audio quality at the start of the third episode.
It’s possible though that the audio drop I heard was more just an example of speaker directionality. Sometimes, such as during episode 5, the background music would be louder than the dialogue making it hard to hear what was going on when listening to the English track.
Dub vs. Sub
Monica Rial as Kirika and Shelly Calene-Black as Mirielle absolutely own this series. Their performances were phenomenal throughout this first volume and I can’t wait to hear more from them. Observant fans will also want to pay attention to Jay Hickman getting killed at least once per episode.
There are a number of standard extras on this volume including clean animations and original Japanese promos but that’s not what people care about… people care about hidden Easter eggs and this series has tons starting with…
~ To see a nude production artwork sketch of Kirika, highlight ‘clean closing animation’ in the extras menu and hit left, down, left, down, enter. To see a naked sketch of Mireille, pick any episode from the main menu and hit up, down, up, down while the man is being shot.
~ The last egg on this volume is when you start chapter 4 of episode 3. Upon the start of the chapter; hit left, left, right and you’ll see a special backstage interview with Shelly Calene-Black and Monica Rial.
This series has a very positive reputation behind it. While many people aren’t going to get into the whole ‘chicks with guns/spy thriller’, this opening volume sold me. Filled with intrigue, gun battles and intriguing characters this series is not even close to its full potential yet but now that the seeds of a primary story have been sewn, I can eagerly await the rest of this series. I can’t say that this opening volume is a good reason to recommend the series but I’m sure that volumes two or three will do that for me.
Final Grade: 91% – A