The Dub Track
by Ryan Mathews,
Once again, fan-hype has failed me. I don't understand. It used to be that I could count on fandom's buzzing to lead me to the good titles. I mean, if the fans are all doing cartwheels, there must be something good about the anime, right? But this marks the third time that I've found a hyped title to be disappointing. First Love Hina, then FLCL, and now Noir. Either my tastes are changing as I grow old and crotchety, or today's fans are just way too enamored of "style over substance".
I won't go into detail regarding my opinion of Noir, as that's beyond the scope of this column, but allow me to refresh everyone's memory regarding this anime. Noir are two young, beautiful lady assassins who kill various people as they attempt to decipher the mystery of their own past. The two are portrayed as near-unstoppable killing machines, as deadly as they are lovely. As far as I can tell, this terrifying killing talent is merely the ability to aim a gun. And I don't mean "marksmanship", but just the idea of pointing the gun at who you want to kill. This is in contrast to their opponents, who mostly use the method of repeatedly pulling the trigger while waving their guns in the general direction of our heroines. If Noir were shown making incredible, Gunsmith Cats-style shots, I might be more impressed, but honestly, most of their battles feature little more than them gunning people down at fairly close range and not missing. Oh, while cool music plays. Spare me.
But luckily for ADV, I'm not here to review the anime, just the dub. And the dub is pretty good. Not perfect, mind you, but pretty darn good.
The dub is directed by Matt Greenfield, who continues to impress me. Truth be told, when Greenfield, the second-in-command at ADV Films, started showing up in the credits as an ADR director all those years ago, I rolled my eyes. "It must be nice to be the boss and give yourself all the cool jobs, huh?" I thought derisively. Greenfield has since made me eat those mental words several times over and has established himself as one of the better anime dub directors in the business.
The older half of Noir, the professional assassin Mireille Bouquet, is played by Shelley Calene-Black (Dr. Reiko Amagi, Steel Angel Kurumi). Her voice is perfect for the role, confident and calculating while retaining a sense of humanity that makes us sympathize with the character, no mean feat consider she's antisocial and, well, kills people for a living.
The younger half, the amnesiac schoolgirl expert killer Kirika Yuumura, is played by Monica Rial. You may remember her as Hyatt from Excel Saga. She uses much the same voice to portray Kirika, for similar reasons. Whereas Hyatt was always near-dead physically, Kirika is near-dead emotionally. Rial nails the part, but I don't know whether to be impressed or feel sorry for her, since most of her lines require nothing more than a velvet monotone. If you'd like to hear the most emotion expressed by Kirika during the first five episodes, check out the clip at the end of this column.
And that's it as far as major characters are concerned. Save for those two voices, the cast consists of various bit players who appear for one episode and are killed by Noir at the end of it. Since so much of the dub consists of these one-shot characters, it is important that they be consistently good, and they are. I especially liked Christine Auten (Priss, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040) as the assassin "Belladonna lady". So believably sad and wistful (as so many of the characters in this series are), it almost made up for the idiotic way her character died.
The one area in which this dub falls just a bit short is accents. Save for the first episode, volume 1 takes place primarily in France. This is established vocally by using French-accented English for the French natives. Some of these accents sound impressively authentic, but many others are weak, just the barest hint of an accent, as if the actor feared doing more would damage his performance. Mind you, weak accents are better than poorly done accents, so I consider this only a minor flaw.
All in all, ADV has crafted a strong dub for Noir. I only wish I liked the anime as much as I like the dub.
Rating: *** (out of 4)
(Review based on episodes 1-5)
Released by: ADV
Dubbed by: ADV/Industrial Smoke & Mirrors
Director: Matt Greenfield
Kirika Yuumura - Monica Rial
Mireille Bouquet - Shelley Calene-Black
Belladonna - Christine Auten
- Mirelle describes her career
- Kirika feels tremendous sorrow about not being able to feel sorrow
- "Okay, is that 'Hack-hak-haggkh' with one or two 'G's?" (Yes, I know she's not really saying "It's...", but it sounds enough like it to be funny.)
Agree? Disagree? Have a comment about a dub, or just about dubbing in general? Let me know! (mathews1 at ix.netcom.com)
The views and opinions expressed in The Dub Track are solely those of Ryan Mathews and do not necessarily represent the views of Anime News Network or its sponsors.