Archives for : Bee Train

Noir: The Complete Series (anime review)

NoirTitle: Noir: The Complete Series Anime Classics on Blu-ray

Director: Koichi Mashimo

Studio: Bee Train

U.S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U.S. Release Date: April 14th, 2015

Format: DVD /Blu-ray / 650 minutes / 26 episodes

Genre: Action,  Adventure, Girls with Guns

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Titles: Madlax, El Cazador de la Bruja, Gunslinger Girls

Can ones past ever be forgotten and is it possible to completely deny ones Fate? If love can kill the surely hatred can save!


Noir is the story of three female assassins who are drawn together because of their unknown past and through their partnership they discover the truth to their existence. Mireille Bouquet is the first of these women we meet, she is a powerful assassin for hire and works outside the bounds of any organization. She receives a strange e-mail that leads her to the next of these women, Kirika Yuumura. Kirika is a teenage girl who has no recollection of her past but does possess something that has meaning to both Mireille and her past. Mireille notices it right away and takes Kirika under her wing with a simple vow, once they discover the truth she will kill Kirika.

In their quest to find the truth they discover who is behind everything, it is an ancient group know as Les Soldats (“The Soldiers”). This hidden group have their fingers into all walks of life and see Mireille and Kirika as targets and continue to have them killed. This become more and more difficult and finally these two come into contact with the third assassin, Chloe. Chloe turns out to be both a friend and a foe who has a critical part to play in the outcome of this journey of discovery.


Following the Girls with Guns genre set forth by classics like Bubble Gum Crisis and Dirty Pair, Noir provides something a little more involved. The psychological drama that plays out between these strong women is the real power of the series. This is also highlighted by the minimal graphic violence shown in the series. There is very little splattering blood and most to the time you only see a hole in a victims clothing to evidence that have been shot. The emotional bond built between these women is the point and even thought Kirika and Chloe have rather monotone personalities there are those underlying emotions that as they surface have the most impact.

Honestly it has been a real pleasure visiting this older series that laid the groundwork for some more recent series that are also sure to be classics such as Gunslinger Girls and Phantom: Requiem of a Phantom. In the case of Phantom it is very easy to see the connection that Koichi Mashimo brought to it based on what we see in Noir. The loss of soul or should I say the implied lack of emotion that the girls possess is at the center of these heavy dramas and Noir displays it in a much darker fashion.

The artistic stylings may be a bit dated but it was standard TV animation for 2001 and it does a splendid job of convening the essence of the series but it does also tend to lead to some rather flat moments, but overall it fits well with the story. The music and soundtrack is much better suited for the series and both the opening and closing songs frame the series well.

Overall Grade: B+

This series proves that it has all the making of the classic moniker that has been bestowed up on it and also provides a solid drama for all those fans of the darker side of life.

When Koichi Mashimo made Noir he had the trilogy planned out and it wasn’t until 2007 that he was able to complete it so you should check out both Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja. But, if you really enjoy this style of story then you should also see Gunslinger Girls and Phantom; Requiem for a Phantom.

.hack//sign (anime review)

Title: .hack//sign Complete Collection

Director: Koichi Mashimo

Studio: Bee Train

U.S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 24th, 2015

Format: DVd/ 26 episodes + 2 OVAs / 700 minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Gaming, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C


Tsukasa awakens inside The World, an immense online RPG filled with monsters, magic, and mayhem. When he discovers he’s unable to log out of this mysterious game, he joins forces with a colorful group of characters and begins a desperate quest to find his way back to real life. But, before he begins to find his way out he finds that this new world is what he has been looking for and not sure if he wants to leave.

Will he discover that his helpers are really there for him or is it the mysterious voice that leads him to his solitude that has his best interest in mind?


It is great that Funimation wants to remind us all that the concept of being trapped in a game is not a new one and that it is always, almost always fun to see how things have changed. In the case of .hack//sign I now think it should have been left in the archives to be a whispered reminder of days long past. I know that 2002-2003 may not seem that long ago, but in may ways it is a long time ago. Much of the animation styling and voice acting (dubs) still had a long way to go and most series played off the success that Cowboy Bebop and Trigun saw just a few years earlier.

.hack//sign fails to understand that there is more to the story than the plot and in the development of the characters it leaves all too much to the imagination of the viewer. After watching the first 12 episodes it became clear to me that Tsukasa was a character that I didn’t care about and the others that wanted to help him just failed to give a clear reason why they wanted to get involved. Add this to the flat english voice acting made it very hard for me to go on to the next episode.

The one aspect to this series that made me move forward was the fact the basic story was interesting enough to make want more. With the new series that take on this basic plot like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, I really wanted to understand what the much beloved great uncle (.hack) had to offer. It interesting how this concept has taken on new meaning and at the same time holds on  to some of the limited concepts that we brought forth by the true archetype, Tron. For .hack//sign this new world has its own ideas much the same as master program did and the use of regular characters play right into the wheelhouse that was Tron himself. I just think that the sad depressed boy thing that the Japanese seem to fixate on is just a little too much this time.

Overall Grade: C

.hack//sign is a great reminder of what anime was doing at the turn of the century and how time does make a difference. .hack//sign is fun to watch just a some sort of nostalgic trip down memory lane, but if you are looking for something to something to get hooked on please do not look in this direction.

If you want to complete a collection that covers the trapped in a video game world that you will need to get this and the other .hack anime because they are an important part of the genre that can’t be overlooked.


Psychic Detective Yakumo Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Psychic Detective Yakumo Title: Psychic Detective Yakumo: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Tomoyuki Kurokawa

Written By: Hiroyuki Kawasaki

Original Novel by: Manabu Kaminaga

Studio: Bee Train

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Sept. 30th 2014

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Psychological Drama, Mystery, Detective Fiction, Romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating B


Haruka Ozawa’s sophomore year is getting seriously scary. One of her friends is possessed, another has committed suicide, and Haruka could be next. She has a real talent for digging up secrets, but some killers won’t hesitate to kill again to keep those same secrets safely buried. So, how does Haruka get out of this potentially lethal dead end?

She’ll have to convince Yakumo Saito, an enigmatic student born with a mysterious red eye that allows him to see and communicate with the dead, to team up with her. Will Haruka be able to solve the ultimate in dead case files with Yakumo’s help? Or will they end up in cold storage themselves? They may just have a ghost of a chance.


Even though it has been almost a year and a half since Psychic Detective Yakumo was released in the U. S. inDVD format, it is good to see it coming back into the spotlight for the Blu-ray release. The series is a very special one because of the way it approaches the world the series is wrapped up in. It allows us to believe in things that typically scare us but in fact are not the source of despair that most ghost stories wan to lead you to believe. In fact it is the ghost that help solve the mystery and end up just being nothing more than souls that still had something to say.

I really like the way they portrayed Yakumo Saito. He comes across as a cold dejected person who does not care at all about the world around him but as we move through the series we begin to see just how connected and caring he really is. There are moments when I wanted him to show a little more emotion and maybe even give Haruka something that would help her bond better, but I guess that is part of the charm that is this somewhat dark series. I say somewhat dark because it is more of a mystery or deceptive series that a ghost or horror series. I can’t say so much for Haruka’s character. As much as I wanted to like her I just felt like she got in the way most of the time. I realize that she added some sexapeal, but this series didn’t need that. I do have to hand to the writers, they could have made her character to be a ditz but they did give her a relatively solid personality that could handle complex situations.

The plot of the series did drag a little at first but once it got moving everything began to fall in place and it ended up being somewhat of a solid storyline. The animation by Bee Train fit well with the subject matter my only issue is that Yakumo took on a rather stereotypical profile that made him end up being closer to L from death Note than a recluse who can see ghost. His quirky person worked well for a while but in the end it drug his character down just a little too much. I can’t say it was overwhelming but by making essentially a human with a lazy cats aloof personality didn’t play as well as it could have.

Overall Grade: B

Psychic Detective Yakumo is a solid detective mystery  series that will keep you watching. I know that the series was a live action TV show in 2006 ad I would have loved to see it broadcast. I’m sure it was well received. I also know that there are a series of light novels that preceded both the TV, anime and manga series. As a person who loves books I would like to read some of the novels, I’m sure that the characters are richer and much more fun to move through the stories with.

All-in-all I have to say that Psychic Detective Yakumo is a solid series that could have been great. It just lacked in character development and some relative basic styling. Other than that it was a genuinely entertaining series with plenty of drama and mystery to go around.