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GreenCine Movie Talk
Anime
Discuss all topics related to anime.
561

Noire in Anime
Topic by: Omognum
Posted: April 23, 2005 - 3:42 PM PDT
Last Reply: May 19, 2005 - 5:34 PM PDT

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author topic: Noire in Anime
Omognum
post #1  on April 23, 2005 - 3:42 PM PDT  
Hey, guys. I'm new to the whole anime thing (well, I've seen some of the cannon: Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell) and I'm currently really digging the Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex cop show- film noir-iness of it all. Can anybody steer me towards other anime that would scratch this same itch?

Thanks!

(I also really dug the train-episode of animatrix. You know, the black and white one? Does anybody make stuff like that full-time?)
jross3
post #2  on April 24, 2005 - 12:49 PM PDT  
Well... There's an anime called Noir, but I can't guarentee that that's what you're looking for. Still, it's a terribly obvious thing to suggest...

Cowboy Bebop might appeal to you in a similar way as SAC, but I don't know if I'd describe it (or Stand Alone Complex) as "noire". People like and hate both of those for various reasons, but if it's the cop-show-ishness of sac that you're in to, Bebop is a kind of jazzy cops-and-robbers show in its own way (just about as much as SAC is a cop show, at least).
ahogue
post #3  on April 25, 2005 - 9:20 AM PDT  
> On April 24, 2005 - 12:49 PM PDT jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Well... There's an anime called Noir, but I can't guarentee that that's what you're looking for. Still, it's a terribly obvious thing to suggest...
>
> Cowboy Bebop might appeal to you in a similar way as SAC, but I don't know if I'd describe it (or Stand Alone Complex) as "noire".
> ---------------------------------

I was thinking that too about Cowboy Bebop. What I saw of Noir didn't strike me as really being noir at all. But I think it really depends, Omognum, on how strictly you define "noir". I haven't seen SAC yet, and in any case don't know much anime. Wow, big help I am! At least I got a chance to (nudge, nudge) spell "noir" properly for you all.
jross3
post #4  on April 25, 2005 - 10:33 AM PDT  
no, Noir isn't noir-ish at all, is it?
But is SAC is noir, then I suppose Noir isn't much of a stretch....
(<---- knows as much about film noir as he does about microwave construction)
lizzoqops
post #5  on April 25, 2005 - 10:52 AM PDT  
Maybe Paranoia Agent? It has some noir-ish elements, and it's just plain cool. Just try getting that damn theme song out of your head.
ahogue
post #6  on April 25, 2005 - 1:00 PM PDT  
This might be helpful for purposes of talking about film noir.
jross3
post #7  on April 25, 2005 - 2:01 PM PDT  
> On April 25, 2005 - 1:00 PM PDT ahogue wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> This might be helpful for purposes of talking about film noir.
> ---------------------------------

Doesn't that seem a little dated, though? They talk about the "Ten Shades of Noir", but these days TVs and computers can use millions of colors at once.
(b-dum bum)
whitetigre2001
post #8  on May 10, 2005 - 11:29 AM PDT  
> On April 23, 2005 - 3:42 PM PDT Omognum wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Hey, guys. I'm new to the whole anime thing (well, I've seen some of the cannon: Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell) and I'm currently really digging the Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex cop show- film noir-iness of it all. Can anybody steer me towards other anime that would scratch this same itch?
> ---------------------------------

Try Madlax. Same creator of Noir.
underdog
post #9  on May 11, 2005 - 1:21 PM PDT  
Actually, this might be helpful, too.

Meanwhile, what about Kaze No Yojimbo? Not perfectly noir in the ways we think of many of the films noir, but has that sensibility.

Or Paranoia Agent?
underdog
post #10  on May 11, 2005 - 1:22 PM PDT  
Oops, didn't see that Lizz had already rec'd Paranoia Agent, so... just consider that a second. :-)
Mafey
post #11  on May 15, 2005 - 2:53 PM PDT  
> On April 23, 2005 - 3:42 PM PDT Omognum wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Hey, guys. I'm new to the whole anime thing (well, I've seen some of the cannon: Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell) and I'm currently really digging the Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex cop show- film noir-iness of it all. Can anybody steer me towards other anime that would scratch this same itch?
>
> Thanks!

Search under Departments for the Anime primer. It's an excellent intro with a sectional breakdown to the vocabulary, the players, and examples of the good (and maybe the not so good) titles with links into the Greencine catalog. I came away with a much much better understanding of what I was looking at and how to start looking for other anime.

There's plenty of lists and a good thread for Top10's by DBooher. Lists are tough to make and understand unless you have the criteria. For me, they're mostly based on watachability since I don't understand enough of anime to do comparisons.

Oldish classical cell-drawn styles, include ones you mentioned: Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell.

Bubblegum Crisis 2040
Berserk
Escaflowne
Vampire Hunter D
Rahxephon
Neon Genesis Evangelion

I tend to favor sharper graphics and brighter colors which leads naturally to newer CG or CG/Cell blends even if the story lines are weaker. These should have a wider audience beyond the Otaku and may or may not fit into the classic noir.

Witch Hunter Robin
Wolf's Rain
Heat Guy J
Samurai Champloo

Non-noir, and simply fun to watch:
Super Gals!
You're Under Arrest!
Shaky
post #12  on May 15, 2005 - 8:36 PM PDT  
I can't really think of anything that would really be considered noir. Cowboy Bebop plays off some easily identifiable conventions of noir in some episodes, but it isn't really noir itself in the strictest sense. On the other hand, since a big part of noir is the darkness of it, often including a sense of hopelessness and emphasizing loneliness in its main characters, I can think of a few titles that draw the same feelings. I get the sense you're looking more for the same kind of atmosphere you'd find in noir, rather than strictly film noir itself.

With that in mind, I might recommend Go Nagai's Devil Lady. It's is really quite noir-ish once you get past some of the silly demons. It's about a woman, a model, whose "demon gene" activates and allows her to transform into a demon at will. Unlike its Devil Man counterpart, this story is much darker and deals more with the Devil Lady's struggle to keep her humanity throughout. As silly as Go Nagai's other stuff usually is, I was quite pleasantly surprised with this one, which is more of a drama and is more dark and brooding than the description might lead you to believe.

Boogiepop Phantom is quite noir-ish also, although it isn't the easiest story to follow. The same kind of loneliness permeates Texhnolyze, without so much of the horror element.

Cyberpunk often borrows from noir and uses many of the same conventions. If you liked Ghost in the Shell, you might also like Parasite Dolls. Parasite Dolls is the latest installment in the Bubblegum Crisis world, and it is helpful to have seen some of the original Bubblegum Crisis series first to understand some of what's going on. The original Bubblegum Crisis was actually inspired by Blade Runner, which itself is considered to be something of a cyberpunk noir film. I think Parasite Dolls is a little more noir-ish than the other BGC titles. (If you find you like the original series, there are several shows set in the Bubblegum Crisis world, all of them compiled in this BGC list.)

Those would be where I would start. If I think of any more, I'll post them later.
hamano
post #13  on May 15, 2005 - 9:22 PM PDT  
> On May 15, 2005 - 8:36 PM PDT Shaky wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> With that in mind, I might recommend Go Nagai's Devil Lady. It's is really quite noir-ish once you get past some of the silly demons. It's about a woman, a model, whose "demon gene" activates and allows her to transform into a demon at will. Unlike its Devil Man counterpart, this story is much darker and deals more with the Devil Lady's struggle to keep her humanity throughout.

I'd agree with Shaky about the first 2/3 of this series... I really loved it at first, but it devolved into one of Nagai's trademark apocalyptic goth demon-fests by the end. The first couple of volumes showed a really fine control over creating a really great atmosphere of bleak foreboding.

> Cyberpunk often borrows from noir and uses many of the same conventions. If you liked Ghost in the Shell, you might also like Parasite Dolls.

This is what I'm thinking in terms of Omo's first post. You're talking about "noir" like Blade Runner is "noir" right? Sci Fi Neo-noir. Cyberpunk noir.

If we were talking about classic noir, I'd recommend the show Monster which is currently still being fansubbed. It's quite an effectively done crime suspense series.

Noir on the other hand isn't very "noir" at all. It's ultimately a stylish yet silly girl-assassin series that concludes rather unsatisfactorily... great music, though!

Nightwalker is a good "noir" vampire detective series. I think Joss Whedon got the idea for turning Buffy spin-off Angel into a sort of "noir" LA detective show after seeing the Nightwalker anime, or reading the manga. Of course it's not a great leap to go from "vampire" to "noirish detective" (shades of Batman...) so maybe he thought it up on his own...

The first Patlabor film has a very noirish element to it, with a couple of police detectives hitting the pavement to unravel the origins of the saboteur, parallel to the robot aspect of the story.

Witch Hunter Robin is Witch Noir the way Nightwalker is Vampire Noir, again very stylish with good music, but in the end I didn't think the plot lived up to the mood it created.

I haven't seen GitS:SAC yet, but I'm suspicious of any noirish sci-fi anime... they're mostly borrowing from Blade Runner, IMHO... if you like that stuff, maybe check out the Armitage titles...

Oh, am I stepping waaaay out on a limb here if I recommend Samurai X: Trust&Betrayal as a really good Samurai Noir title? And also Jin Roh as an excellent Paramilitary-in-an-Alternate-History Noir?
hamano
post #14  on May 15, 2005 - 9:27 PM PDT  
Personally, I thought The Big O was a really clever (and funny) tongue-in-cheek sci-fi big robot noir... The animators certainly borrow a lot of classic "noir" stylings, in graphic design, narrative elements, and music.
Catullus
post #15  on May 16, 2005 - 12:13 AM PDT  
> On May 11, 2005 - 1:21 PM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Actually, this might be helpful, too.
>
> Meanwhile, what about Kaze No Yojimbo? Not perfectly noir in the ways we think of many of the films noir, but has that sensibility.
>
> Or Paranoia Agent?
>
> ---------------------------------

excellent rec on kaze no yojimbo UD, I came here to say the same myself, now ill just second it ;)
Shaky
post #16  on May 16, 2005 - 7:19 AM PDT  
> On May 15, 2005 - 9:22 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> If we were talking about classic noir, I'd recommend the show Monster which is currently still being fansubbed. It's quite an effectively done crime suspense series.
> ---------------------------------

That's a really good suggestion, but Omognum should understand that it's not out on DVD or available for rent in the US and still has to be downloaded. But then, if he gets into anime enough that he starts downloading the fansubs, I would also have to suggest Speed Grapher. Despite the bizarre powers of some of its characters, this show has all the classic noir elements.

The premise is that a former war photographer turned city newspaper photojournalist gets caught up in an investigation of a weird "Eyes Wide Shut" type of sex club. He ends up in what appears to be a hopeless attempt to rescue a very rich teenage girl from being used as the main attraction at these parties. He has to elude the henchmen of her very rich and powerful family, who are kingmakers in a sense, because they have control of many of the major politicians in town.

It has all the classic noir elements: a loner, a girl in trouble, rich and powerful people with no scruples, corrupt cops and officials, a guy made out of rubber, a woman who eats diamonds, a camera that blows things up when you take pictures... Okay, well maybe they stretch it a little, but no more than combining noir with cyborgs.
hamano
post #17  on May 16, 2005 - 7:42 AM PDT  
> On May 16, 2005 - 7:19 AM PDT Shaky wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> ...a guy made out of rubber, a woman who eats diamonds, a camera that blows things up when you take pictures... Okay, well maybe they stretch it a little, but no more than combining noir with cyborgs.

Yeah, and what about the bad guy with the frilly bodysuit and the leather nose patch? Who can track people's scents through subways and streets? OK, the freaky powers are actually not so bad. I'm a fan of The Law of Ueki, after all (The Power to Grow Trees out of Litter! The Power to Make Tornadoes with Coins!). But what I'm a bit disappointed with is the superficial way in which the bad guys are portrayed... they try to add a little backstory and depth, but in the end I don't really feel sympathetic for them... the bad guys are just evil and/or crazy. I'm still watching this show, but my expectations for it have dropped a notch with each episode... This is supposed to be a show for grownups, after all, while Ueki is aimed squarely at kids and tweens...
Shaky
post #18  on May 16, 2005 - 7:22 PM PDT  
I dunno. Maybe the problem is that you're not actually a grownup?

I agree with you on the villains. They are very two dimensional. But for some reason I don't care.

In any case, the more I think about it, the more I think this may be the best example of film noir in anime. Despite the nosepatch.
hamano
post #19  on May 16, 2005 - 8:32 PM PDT  
> On May 16, 2005 - 7:22 PM PDT Shaky wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I dunno. Maybe the problem is that you're not actually a grownup?

I did do a bit of a double take when the latest villain in Speed Grapher was a lady who could turn herself into a diamond, while on Ueki there was a battle with a kid who could turn his forehead into a solid diamond. What is it with diamonds all of a sudden?
Mafey
post #20  on May 18, 2005 - 10:31 PM PDT  
> On May 16, 2005 - 7:42 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On May 16, 2005 - 7:19 AM PDT Shaky wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > ...a guy made out of rubber, a woman who eats diamonds, a camera that blows things up when you take pictures... Okay, well maybe they stretch it a little, but no more than combining noir with cyborgs.
>
> Yeah, and what about the bad guy with the frilly bodysuit and the leather nose patch? Who can track people's scents through subways and streets? OK, the freaky powers are actually not so bad.


When I think of traditional film noir, OVA titles like Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress come to mind. And these are probably ones I won't watch again. Millenium's film like directing style and editing are there. But I keep thinking of other discs I'd rather be watching.

It's hard to come up with episodic titles that are noir. There's enough time to only pull in some elements and style. Omognum may be right in looking at noir-iness instead.

Speaking of which, I've finally learned what fan service meant. If anime gets picked up by the networks, movie listings would need to include warnings for parents: Speed Grapher - strong language, violence, fan service.
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