Funimation appears to be dead. I’m stuck on ep. 15 of Witch Hunter Robin and it says the site is unavailable. Which is worse than going to the site and having the stream stall.

Hours go by…

That’s Robin. Love the hair-style and the glasses. She dresses uber-goth too.

Noir means black in French. It is also used to describe a style of film making with cynicism, moral ambiguity, and pessimism. Characters in noir are typically hard-boiled, unsentimental, and Machiavellian. The world is a harsh place without forgiveness and where no good deed goes unpunished.

The noir style usually has a twist at the end. The more unexpected – yet still in conformity with the plot – the better. Twists that suddenly dump a lot of previously unknowable clues aren’t as good.

If you’re interested in the noir” genre, Witch Hunter Robin is a great choice.

This world has witches in it, people with a genetic propensity for supernatural power. Some of these people go bad. It is the job of the STN (aka “Solomon”) to track down witches and neutralize them. The unit in Japan that does this is the STN-J.

Amon, her partner. A dangerous and sometimes colorless character. Is he a witch killer?

Other branches of “Solomon” in other countries simply kill the witches. Japan captures them alive and ships them off to “The Factory” for detention. The agents use tranquilizer guns filled with something called “orbo.”

A crucifix filled with orbo also protects agents from the direct effects of witchcraft – though it will not help you if the witch uses telekinesis to throw a refrigerator at you.

Robin is a mysterious girl who was raised in a convent to be a special kind of witch hunter. She has a power they call a “craft.” It s the ability to create and control fire. They don’t consider her a witch because… well just because.

She is assigned to the STN-J office as a replacement for another craft-using agent who died under mysterious circumstances, Kate. Her control is poor because when she uses her power she loses her vision. Her new partner, Amon, realizes what is happening and gets her fitted with glasses for combat. The glasses look like reading glasses and sit so far down her nose I don’t see how that could be useful but they do look really kawaii.

The rest of the field agents on the left. Office manager and assistant on the right.

What makes this noir? It is dark and gritty. At first, the witches they hunt are obviously bad. As the story goes on, the moral issues become less clear. Is a girl who hunts down the murderers of her sister, who also sent many other children off to their deaths as involuntary organ donors, a bad person? How about a young child who is only doing what his abusive uncle says to?

Moral ambiguity is a hallmark of noir.

Eventually, she’s attacked and her roommate is collateral damage. People in the STN-J are betraying her. Is it her partner Amon? Her boss Zaizen? Where does a visiting inquisitor from

Your friendly neighborhood inquisitor. Notice how he is shot  without color in this scene.

Solomon fit into it? Mistrust and deception is another hallmark of noir. One doesn’t know who to trust.

Yet being alone is only for the hardest of the hard. Robin is a powerful player and a kuudere but she isn’t so hard-bitten as to reject those around her.

Why is a witch hunter being herself hunted?

This anime has definite flavors in it. I can taste some “Ghost in the Shell”. There’s more than a little of another anime I reviewed, Noir. A touch of “Ergo Proxy”.

Zaizen – Heartless bastard?

The animation is dark, sometimes dark enough I want to grab it, redo the contrast and pump some saturation into it. The voices are often flat and emotionless. It starts out with a “monster of the week” approach that is itself deceptive. If you assume that’s all there is, it will become boring.

There are tiny little droppings along the way that things are not as they seem. Doubts as to the nature of what is going on crowded my mind immediately and there is a slow build until Robin’s secure world starts unraveling.

If you find you have a taste for the noir genre, other anime you’d probably enjoy are Perfect Blue, Kite, Requiem for the Phantom, Vampire Slayer D and the eponymous anime Noir. Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell are considered noir by some. IMHO, while there are noir elements I would consider them as “noir lite.”

Guys, look at the final image. The lady leaning over to look at the expensive goods in the window is a “witch” about to “hunted.” We know nothing about her. However, the name of the store is a fleeting clue as to the nature of her crime.

I love little touches like that!