To say “I was pleasantly surprised to see an animated Noblesse OVA” is an understatement. I was fangirling pretty hard at my desk overcome with shock and surprise, and maybe even a little anger. Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me Noblesse got an anime? Why wasn’t I informed SOONER? Because, there is no denying it: I am a huge Noblesse fan.
It’s safe to say that Noblesse may not have been the first manwha on the scene (when it first came out other manwha like Goong, One Fine Day, and Pig Bride were being licensed and released) but is certainly made the biggest impact on the manga online community. Noblesse has a particular art style, comic orientation (read vertically versus horizontally)and coupled with an appealing story line is what made Noblesse stand out. Noblesse was one of the hottest manwha and scanlations around, if you weren’t reading it, someone was telling you to read it. It doesn’t surprise me at all that It was picked up for an anime OVA run, and that’s a pretty huge accomplishment. Im not aware of very many manwha being turned into an anime, breaking that cultural barrier.
That being said, I watched the Noblesse OVA in reverence. What was originally striking to read was just as striking, but doubly gorgeous, to watch. The first thing you notice about Noblesse is that the animation is definitely of high production. It was like they were thinking “Rai is so damn pretty, we can’t possibly give him anything but the best animation.” It’s clean and exciting to watch, making the fighting sequences entrancing. The animation steps out of the new age area, very similar to Vampire Knight, with vibrant colors and dark, defining lines. Personally, I love this type of animation so it was a pleasure to the eyes.
Voice acting and sound quality is spot on for Noblesse. Usually there are times when I hear characters for the time and Im taken aback by the decision producers made. No unpleasant surprises in Noblesse though, I loved all the choices they made for all of the characters. Shinwoo was spunky as I had hope, Frankenstein found this perfect balance of flirty and deadly, while Rai’s voice actor nailed the graceful, calm, but commanding demeanor of the Noblesee…..without sounding like an unlikeable, apathetic aristocrat.
Unfortunately, Noblesse lacks in the one department that counts: story and character development.
I find that most shows that transition from its comic version sometimes struggle to carry over all of the character development into a time limited episode and the Noblesse OVA certainly failed in this department. The 30 minute segment definitely gave you action and some story progression, but it ultimately failed to give you character/plot development, growth, and depth. The single OVA managed to cram an ENTIRE story’s arc of Noblesse into 30 minutes. I kid you not! That entire, single episode, is several months’ worth of Noblesse weekly comic installments. When the episode ended I was pleased with the animation but heartbroken about the lack of character development.
From watching the episode you kind of get the basic dynamics and relationships between characters. Frankenstein and Rai have a master servant dynamic, M21 and M24 are good friends, and (this was the most disappointing one of the lot) that Rai has affection for his school friends. But that’s all you get. It is just an elude to how deep some of these relationships are, or exactly how strong –with except of Rai and Frankie- some of the characters are. All that character building, the thing that makes you fondly attached to the story’s inhabitants, is blatantly ignored.
Sadly, it isn’t just character development that is lacking, but also the story development. Again, the single episode doesn’t give you much depth to the story other than there is an Organization out to find a really powerful item/person, who so happens to be Rai and he’s attempting to enjoy school life since he’s had enough beauty sleep to make him looks like he’s God’s gift to the universe. (AND HE IS). The episode is missing the small drops of future arcs or upcoming events. Instead it focuses on getting through the present situation as quickly as possible.
Im not sure if the OVA made this decision to forgo story and character development because it was just a pilot episode, trying to determine if Noblesse garners a full season or not, but in either case I think it was a huge mistake and makes it looks like Noblesse doesn’t have anything to offer besides a gorgeous animation style for its equally gorgeous cast.
If I were new to Noblesse and the only material Ive seen was the OVA, I would have walked away with a piqued interest but I doubt it would have made it into my weekly queue where I anxiously await updates or so search for a newly uploaded torrent.
Overall Noblesse OVA is a pretty average watch. It doesn’t give the audience anything they haven’t seen before, and because it lacks character and story development, it doesn’t give the audience any tangible attachment to the Noblesse universe to want to come back. It’s good for a once through when you have nothing else to watch. As a Noblesse fan, it hurts me even more to say that I walked away just a little disappointed from this OVA because I know how awesome this series is, and what makes it awesome was terribly lacking.
Fortunately, Noblesse isn’t limited to just an OVA, it was green lighted for a full season! Which means multiple episodes! Which means all the things that I feel need improvement, will hopefully get improvements! Which means Noblesse will become a great series that is entirely WORTH a time investment.
That being said, as a Noblesse fan, I would like for all of you who felt let down by the OVA to give the series a try; because giving Noblesse a series is like letting wine age—it’s just going to get better with some time to allow for the series to ramp up and to let the story get some foundations and growth. Noblesse has all the workings to becoming a wildly successfully series, the OVA just rushed it to the point where it will put some doubts in some viewer heads.