Noir: Institutionalized confidence and the aesthetic of power

I sat down to watch a little more of Noir earlier and it got me thinking again about a show that I feel has become rather criminally underrated these days.

You see, the thing this show does so well – beyond being gorgeous to look at, and gorgeous to listen to (courtesy of a stunning Yuki Kajiura soundtrack) – is a question of confidence in the two lead characters.

This most plainly manifests itself in Mireille. Blonde, achingly attractive, and always dressed to the nines, Mireille is in essence a female James Bond. There’s a kind of irony to the fact that throughout all the various antics of the series, she remains impeccably dressed in that miniskirt – why? It can hardly be the most practical of outfits.

But then – perhaps smartness, and the confidence linked with smartness, is part of the persona she portrays outwardly to the world (as well as inwardly to herself). Both her and Kirika are arguably monsters – they plow through hundreds of faceless thugs across the series without batting an eyelid. They are machines, ending lives with a single shot. Yet for Mireille, her confidence in her own abilities continues. Every time she makes a dash for it – the thought that she might die seems almost secondary – she has, in essence become institutionalized in the belief of her own survival strategy. For her, confidence is a means to continue onward, to continue avoiding the reality of her actions.

It reminded me at times of the novel Cocaine Nights by JG Ballard, which deals with some similar themes of an undercurrent of organised crime in a post-modern society. One where the police are non-existent, and policing thus falls to those able and willing to dispense it – in essence, those with that self-same institutionalized confidence and power (ie. the rich).

In the world of Noir – the activities of Mireille and Kirika continue in a space that is at once our everyday world, but also at a remove from our world. The physical space is the same, but it plays by a different set of rules. Here, disagreements are settled with a bullet, and life is cheap.

You’re left to ask yourself, who would want to live in a world like this? Or perhaps even, actively enjoy living in a world like this? Again, it comes back to that sense of institutionalization – of an activity and way of life becoming so ingrained in the persona that it becomes as natural to theme as breathing. Here, Mireille’s manner – that easy, classy confidence, that runs simultaneously to her glamorous disposition becomes part of that act. The persona she chooses to put on for both the world and herself.

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