Noblesse: Awakening’s limited runtime is one of the issues that hamper this OVA.
Title: Noblesse: Awakening
Genre: Supernatural, Action
Original Creators: Su-Gwang Lee, Jae-Ho Son
Release Date: Feburary 6th, 2016 (via Crunchyroll)
An ancient being tasked with protecting the world from supernatural creatures has awakened from an 800 year slumber…and decides to spend his time at anime high school.
For the first third of this half-hour OVA, it felt like Noblesse: Awakening would be yet another anime with a supernatural premise that would ignore it’s unique moments in favor of well-worn tropes. The title character is every anime vampire cliche rolled into one (his character design makes him look like he wandered off from Vampire Knight), his subordinate ticks the “Yes, my lord” box from Black Butler, and the students who decide to befriend the title character are one note at best, taking the roles of the hot-blooded “I won’t let you hurt my friends” fighter, the glasses-wearing nerd, and the damsel in distress who screams a lot. The villains are not much better, establishing that they are the Bad Guys by monologuing in shadowy alleyways and committing random and pointless mass murder (since it’s never explained why doing so helps their vague plan).
If that was all Noblesse: Awakening had to offer, then it would be easy to write it off as a disappointing look at supernatural anime cliches and call it a day. But the OVA does have its moments. The only characters to receive any kind of character development are two supporting characters who plan to double-cross the villains using the power of Noblesse. While it’s slight, it does give some extra tension to scenes where the underdeveloped characters weren’t cutting it.
That said, most of the problems with the plot and character development can be attributed to the runtime. While Noblesse: Awakening’s total runtime is little over a half an hour, that includes an opening theme song and credits, putting it’s story runtime at about the length of a standard anime episode.
In addition, almost half of that time is dedicated to cutting between several fight scenes. These are the highlight of the OVA, where the unique supernatural abilities of the characters shines through the animation. The framing and fluidity of some of those scenes needs to be seen to be believed, and more than makes up for the duller first part.
It is also worth noting that Noblesse: Awakening is based on a longer ongoing series on LINE Webtoons. When viewed as an introduction rather than a stand-alone piece, Noblesse: Awakening does it’s job well. Enough intriguing questions are teased without full answers for every one of them, and there is the sense that there is a far larger world and plot to this series than can be expressed in a half an hour. However, whether or not the viewer is interested enough by those dangling plot threads to check out the main series depends on how they feel about the tropes presented, and if they’re willing to sit through them to get to what makes this series unique.