노블레스 TVA (Korean)
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Notables: Animation - Production I.G.
Cadis Etrama di Raizel ('Dai') awakens after 820 years of sleep. His intention is to simply attend the perfectly ordinary looking high school that has been established by his loyal servant, Franken, for his use. But he soon finds himself entangled in a conflict with artificial warriors created by a nefarious organization, The Union.

13 episodes
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Rent Stretch [series:4216#628]
(All episodes watched):

The thought occurred to me while watching episode one of Noblesse that this character, Dai, sort of looks like a vampire what with his red eyes and all. But come on, that was ridiculous. But now I'm not so sure; this business about him being asleep for 820 years (and his blonde servant's full name being Frankenstein) was news to me when I read the ANN synopsis, because episode one made no mention of such things. I think it's safe to say that this first episode doesn't exactly clarify what's going on here. At one point, as Dai is introduced to the unfamiliar technology known as the smartphone, I wondered if this might actually be a comedy. But that did not square with the wholesale slaughter of some 300 soldiers (we are told) in the opening scene. That bit really annoyed me; even if we are dealing with superhuman artificial warriors (who look like punks), I'd much rather have a plausible, semi-realistic approach where the new guys are clearly vastly superior but not totally invulnerable (one thing they can't do is rush at a man firing an automatic weapon and somehow dodge every bullet at point-blank range then kill their opponent with bare hands). Depicting ordinary humans as totally hapless is frankly boring, and so unlikely that suspending disbelief becomes difficult. In general, the fights are painfully stereotypical and unambitious. On the other hand, there were some touches about this show that I liked; in particular, this rejected artificial soldier who has a scar on his lips and is apparently on the run from The Union. He is the most interesting character of the show by far, but I doubt if that was what was intended. I can't help feeling that the various elements of this series have been slapped together in a haphazard manner. If this show had been tightened up somewhat it could have been pretty cool and exciting; but that obviously didn't happen. I think I will watch some more, to see what happens to the rejected soldier, and if the guy with the broken arm develops, and if we really do get a vampire and Frankenstein's monster versus evil super-soldiers, and if the good jokes continue. But I bet this will all fall apart before long.

Actually, I sort of enjoyed episode two. We learn who the Noblesse are: Godlike superhumans who have been around since time immortal, and feel a sort of duty to care for humans (though humans don't need their care as much nowadays as they once did). So, apparently not vampires. Dai is one of them and two more turn up. They're looking for something known as 'The Coffin'. I was pleased that the reject ('#21') continues to play a major role. The childlike argument he got into with one of the newcomer Noblesse made me burst out laughing at one point. I wish the direction that the main plot is headed (and therefore what's important and what isn't) would be made more clear, but I am curious and will continue watching for now.

Ha! This show is actually pretty fun. In episode three I was LOLing numerous times as the colorful characters interact. Little touches like how the girls at the school adore the handsome #21, or Noblesse member Regis' arrogance, or how Franken agonizes whenever Dai has to do the slightest menial task, are all great fun. Things get serious, however, when the Union's super-soldiers come looking for #21. For all their strength and skills, however, they somehow don't know that he's on the run from The Union. They just obey their orders. And Dai and his people don't know whether he has been kidnapped or has defected. These actually struck me as a clever, realistic touches; in real life people seldom know all the variables when making decisions. Dai, by the way, has played relatively little part in the story so far--he keeps quiet and is almost comically reserved. No doubt one of these days we'll learn about some fantastic powers he holds and that The Union shouldn't have gotten involved with him. We also get to know the soldiers of The Union better, and they have personalities, too. Some kill only when necessary while others kill whenever they have the slightest excuse. This is looking like a complex and sophisticated plot with numerous interweaving strands. Despite my early misgivings, I think it's safe to say that Noblesse is my favorite show of the Fall 2020 season. I like it enough that I started rewatching the earlier episodes to refresh my memory of who's who and what they know.

I'm not so sure about episode five, however. It struck me as a long, drawn-out series of fights in which strong contenders meet stronger ones, who in turn meet opponents who are stronger yet. Perhaps because this was serious business, it lacked the clever comedy that I love. But as serious as it was, and for all the slugfest, apparently only one person got killed (and not as a result of one of these face-to-face duels). When you have all this power yet it yields so little result the whole thing starts to feel like the old irresistible-force-versus-immovable-object. And I was left kind of confused regarding what the whole point of this situation was and where the story was trying to go. But it looks like in episode six Dai himself will finally get involved, and hopefully we will get a thrill from that. I thought it was a little odd that the Noblesse can apparently fly wherever they please, as if they were birds but without needing to flap their arms. Episode six was better as we see that, as expected, Dai is an ass-kicker extraordinaire. An arc seems to come to an end as the feud between the Union's team of super-soldiers and Dai's people is resolved. I thought it ended fairly well; some people wind up dead while others change sides. The revelation we get about #21 was kind of bizarre. Judging from the OP sequence, two important characters have yet to be introduced, namely a woman who appears to be the queen (or something) of the Noblesse and some bearded guy who might just head the Union. Perhaps Dai and his augmented team will attempt to take down the Union as a whole in the second half of the series.

I sometimes get the feeling that there's a missing episode, episode zero, to Noblesse. There are several mentions of an action in which #21's friend, #24, was killed (and possibly two Union agents as well). The incident played an important part in this story yet we only hear about it second-hand. Perhaps it was included in the manga that (I assume) this anime is based on, but it was decided to omit it here. In episode seven we are informed of another major event which took place a good while ago but has been kept completely from us until now. It's a fairly startling thing, partly because it comes at the end of an episode that was largely comedy as the members of the Noblesse and the artificially enhanced humans are asked to give their advice on romance, and their expertise on this subject is somewhat lacking. The two missing characters from the OP sequence make their first appearance, and it looks like the guy is either a Noblesse himself or at least serves them. He is being sent to search for Regis and Seira, who haven't reported in for a good while. I get the impression that these people don't know that Dai has awakened after 820 years of hibernation.

Things get complicated in episode eight. We learn a good deal about how the world of the Noblesse is organized, with 13 clans each with a influential leader (Siera is one of them). Their supreme commander, the Lord (actually the woman from the OP sequence) despises Dai for things he did centuries ago. And the mild-mannered and subservient Franken was once a sadistic criminal? And Dai may be a vampire after all? Critics at ANN described the second half of the series as a 'mess'. I hoped it wouldn't get too serious and would retain some of the LOL comedy we sometimes saw in the first half. Why did Franken, once a crusader against the Noblesse, embrace Dai as his master and serve him with the utmost loyalty? It was almost like love at first sight. How did he gain the ability to 'kill' members of the Noblesse? What was Dai's purpose as he stayed alone in a grand mansion? It seemed as if the Lord (at the time) needed him to do whatever he was doing, but why wasn't made clear. So, this show has gotten confusing, but I still enjoy it. I'd enjoy it even more if what was going on was made more clear, however.

Far from being a 'mess', episode ten seemed kind of intriguing to me. Siera is being used as a tool by the Lordess, who holds a grudge against Dai, to get at him. That's a fairly realistic and sophisticated ploy, and what was going on during this episode was pretty clear. And, I was reminded, this show often makes me laugh more than pure comedies do, with things like the bit about paper airplanes. The humor is the best part of this show; don't miss the post-ED sequence bit in episode 12 (I think). In episode 11 we learn why the Lordess hates Dai. I bet it was all a misunderstanding and he never really did anything wrong. Indeed, the impression I got from the final episode was that all of these people getting the ---- beaten out of them was ultimately unnecessary and the matter might have been settled by Dai writing a letter to the Lordess. A number of questions remain unanswered or not answered very well: Was Dai 'the person inside the coffin'? That would make some sense. Why had Gejutel gone so far--even to the point of almost being executed--to keep secret what had transpired between himself and Dai? Is there actually only one Noblesse, who is to the Lords what they are to ordinary humans? Still, I felt distinctly good as Dai returned home and things wrapped up. I would gladly watch if any additional seasons of this show are produced, but I hope they would be more like the first arc than the second.

Last updated Wednesday, January 13 2021. Created Tuesday, October 13 2020.

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