First Look: Noblesse

Manga Adaptation by Production I.G
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Raizel, a powerful noble freshly awake after 820 years of slumber, is enrolled in a high school, presumably to learn about the customs of twenty-first century society. He is looked after by his servant, Franken(stein?), and a newly-acquired bodyguard with special abilities, himself an escapee from an experimental lab. However, Union, a nefarious secret organization that probably wants to rule the world or something, is hot on Raizel and his team’s trail.

Artemis’ verdict: So… Are They Vampires?

I’m hesitant to rag on Noblesse too much, given that I’m very clearly not the target audience here – though had this aired a couple of decades ago, I’m sure I would’ve had slightly more interest. To its credit, Noblesse wastes absolutely no time in getting down to what probably matters most when catering to its demographic: hot guys sitting around sipping tea, hot guys brooding on rooftops, and hot guys casually chatting on balconies, all complete with the most dramatic hair and/or accessories you could ask for given the modern-day setting. Personally, I’m a little confused as to exactly why the high school setting was deemed necessary, because as far as I can tell, it does pretty much nothing in terms of furthering the plot in any way. Then again, if we didn’t have the entire female student body swooning over our main bishies, how would we possibly know they’re hot?

I do at least appreciate that the series isn’t always intent on taking itself 100% seriously. There are a couple of moments where the writing takes some brief swings at comedy, mostly based around Raizel’s lack of knowledge of the modern world, having recently awoken from an 820-year nap. Unfortunately, the delivery just isn’t there, perhaps because the comedy doesn’t set itself up well to begin with and is weirdly dry in tone, so none of the jokes quite managed to land. Somewhat making up for this are the production values – nothing special, but the character designs are consistent from frame to frame, the lines are crisp, and the colors are vivid. Oh, and I’m sure there are more than enough Hyde fans out there to enjoy the OP, even if it’s not really my thing these days.

Bottom line: you’ll know within the first few minutes whether this show is for you – and if not, well, no doubt you could do far worse this season.

Jel’s verdict: Nothing Special

If you felt as confused as I did watching this episode, there is an OVA from 2016 that gives a more proper introduction to Raizel and the world of Noblesse. For some reason they decided to start the new series assuming you watched that single, random episode of anime four years ago. If you really are interested in the story, it’s probably worth checking out.

That said, I don’t think the plot is the most confusing thing going on here. Noblesse seems like a jumble of ideas that never properly blend. I mean, I couldn’t even tell you who the main character was if I didn’t read it in the description beforehand. It seems like Raziel, the red head kid, and the dude with the scar all got equal screen time. The tone is all over the place too, jumping from serious to light hearted with no rhyme or reason. I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel and therefore I feel nothing.

I suppose all will be forgiven by some folks because everyone in this show is extremely hot, but even that is marred by average animation quality at best. Go check out a few seconds of the OVA and you’ll see a huge difference. It’s too bad because I feel like this had the most potential of the three big webtoon adaptations this year (the others being Tower of God and God of High School) and I don’t see this one being particularly great either. Nevertheless I’m sure it will find an audience, I just will not be part of it.

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