Dear Messrs Tapert and Raimi –
I hear that you’ve gotten the greenlight to create a live-action version of the Noir anime series for Starz. While I admit to trepidation at the idea that an American TV (premium cable, but still,) channel is interested in one of my favorite anime series, nonetheless, as the driving force behind Xena: Warrior Princess, I am willing to trust you both. (Not entirely indirectly, it was because of Xena that I now write here at HU, so I believe I owe you some thanks for the impact you’ve had on my life.)
Before I explain a little bit about Noir and what we, the fans, are and aren’t willing to tolerate, let me start with:
Elements That Made Xena Great.
1 – “Strong Female” leads that actually were.
2 – Female team-up that acknowledged, but did not collapse because of, romantic entanglements with guys.
3 – Unresolved Sexual Tension between the leads – this is a critical point and I’ll get back to it in a moment.
4 – Xena smiling when she gutted people. Maybe it’s only me, but this was a key selling point for the show.
5 – The comedy. The jokes were always horribly corny and usually pretty stupid, but it meant that viewers never forgot the show was not to be taken seriously. This is a *very* important element when dealing with fans.
6 – Fighting – lots of it.
All of these, except the comedy should also be part of Noir. The anime Noir takes itself very seriously, so cornball humor would seem out of place for those of us who know the series but, again, I’m willing to give you some leeway here. Make it dry humor, rather than corny and I promise to behave.
Element That Did Not Make Xena Great
I realize that he’s a relation, but if Ted Raimi shows up in Noir I will hate you, probably irrevocably. The one exception is if he shows up as one of the intended victims, is given a moving monologue, then Kirika shoots him. That is acceptable.
Having established some of the key concepts that should and shouldn’t be carried over, let’s talk Noir.
Noir is the first of a trilogy of “girls with guns on the run” anime series, all of which have certain elements in common. It would probably be a really terrific idea to translate at least one, hopefully several, of these elements to your new series.
Elements You Should Have in your noveau Noir
I’m going to assume you’ve got the whole older, worldly mature woman / younger, naive woman pairing thing down. You nailed it in Xena and something similar should work just fine for Noir. I won’t beat this one to death. Go with your guts.
In the Noir anime, the shadow organization that pursues the leads is an occult, Medieval, secret society; in the second series Madlax. it’s a magic-driven gun-running, war-mongering organization and in the third series, El Cazador de la Bruja, it’s a scientific conspiracy to resurrect and co-opt a magical culture. As you can see, the anime director really liked to have his women running from a shadow organization. And so did the fans. I insist you must have a conspiracy. Because the original shadow organization was not only incredibly silly, but random and unevenly developed, fee free to handle it however you like…as long as there is conspiracy of some kind.
This is a no-brainer, honestly. Both Mirielle and Kirika are professional assassins. In Madlax. Rimelda was an assassin and in El Cazador de la Bruja, Nadie and Ricardo were assassin/bodyguards. So, please, don’t make them ex-soldiers, or ex-CIA gone rogue. It’s okay to just make them professional killers.
Unresolved Sexual Tension
You did this great in Xena. Just do the same exact thing in Noir. I don’t need them to get together…there just has to be the plausible possibility that they might.
UST, as we called in back in the day in the anime and manga fandom, is a common and popular element in team-up stories. I know it’s cable TV, but don’t give into the temptation of having them fake kissing, or going undercover and having to pretend to be girlfriends or anything else embarrassing and in bad taste. Start with respect that is returned, that maybe becomes something more.
I’m throwing this out, knowing that you probably can’t do anything about this, but if you have actually watched Noir at all, you’ll realize that the music is practically a character in the story. The chances of you actually being able to license Salva Nos or Canta Per Me are slim to none, I realize, but if you can bring *one* thing over whole from the anime, choose the music.
Element from Noir Anime You Can Lose and No One Will Cry
The watch. Lose the watch, the watch’s musical theme, the watch’s 800 appearances as repeated footage. The watch isn’t the deal-breaker Ted Raimi is, but honestly, no one will miss the watch.
Bonus Fan Points
If you want the already-existing Noir fans to love you, (and we are poised and willing to love you!) please don’t pointlessly Americanize the names into Michelle and Karen or some such idiocy…we’re adults, we *know* there are other countries with names that are not in English!
It’s true that there are people who have never watched the anime, and have no reason to know what the character names are but, there are also people who are already fans of the series, who could specifically subscribe to Starz *just* for the pleasure of watching you not fuck up the series we love. Just sayin’.
Here’s looking forward to the new series.