In a post-apocalyptic world plagued by constant attacks from alien Enders, humanity must survive and rebuild. Fighting back against the Enders are the Drifters, human mecha pilots who work alongside their android counterparts known as Magus. Together they defend their Nests, the new homes of humanity. Our hero Kanata strives to become a fully-fledged Drifter, and one day he meets a mysterious Magus with amnesia known as Noir. Thus kicking off their futuristic journey together.
The central conflict in Synduality: Noir is finding answers for Noir’s missing memories. Our main group stumbles into mecha battles each episode in the process. In their travels, they face humans hoping to capture and sell Magus against their will and Ender variants for the team to eliminate.
Kanata dreams of being a Drifter and reaching the elusive paradise called Histoire. He’s average and clumsy at first, but you see his kind heart from the start when he saves Noir. This good-natured personality stays with him throughout the series while he grows stronger as a fighter. As a side effect of her memory loss, Noir tends to be curious. She doesn’t show much emotion, but her caring side comes out through her actions. As thanks to Kanata for saving her and going great lengths to help her regain her memories, she pushes herself to become stronger as his Magus.
Both Kanata and Noir describe themselves as hacks, underperforming as fighters compared to their friends. But as their relationship grows they turn out to be perfectly matched, with Noir taking aim and Kanata handling the defense of the Coffin. Along the way they uncover Noir’s hidden Magus abilities together.
Much of the narrative for Synduality: Noir starts by focusing on the strange yet powerful Noir, but after forming a contract with Kanata the plot shifts more into his bonds with the rest of the characters. Particularly the female ones, which leaves much to be desired when it comes to Noir and Kanata’s relationship.
In connection to the classic harem trope, the anime provides heavy fanservice. Sometimes to a degree that overshadows the main story, which is already light-hearted in itself despite its setting. The series attempts to balance the easy-going and comedic tone with moments of seriousness with mixed results, like when the climactic battle teases near-death experiences without any lasting repercussions. It misses opportunities to commit towards its darker side.
Nevertheless, the anime shines when it comes to 3D CGI action. The way the Coffin mechas move feels real and expressive even when they’re damaged, which makes for a visually immersive experience. Broken Coffins twitch and struggle to remain upright, which makes them feel more like living beings begging for their life. Even without seeing the Drifters internally operating them, these robots are easily extensions of the character themselves.
Every notable character in Synduality: Noir is unique but not necessarily above the archetypes that they represent. They serve their roles in moving Kanata’s journey forward while remaining likable. You’ll find yourself empathizing with each character despite their personal flaws, such as Tokio’s wasteful tendencies and Claudia’s disloyalty.
Synduality: Noir combines action, science fiction, and comedy in one. Watching an episode is like uncovering pieces of a puzzle. Not only the mystery of this post-apocalyptic universe far into the future of humanity, but also of the characters that you grow to love. Once you press play, you have entered the humble Rock Town or extravagant Baccarat Nest, and you will undoubtedly be laughing at the endless antics of Kanata and his friends. If you can overlook the excessive fanservice and sudden tonal shifts, this anime is worth giving a chance for an easy yet intriguing watch.
Synduality: Noir is available to watch now on Hulu. A second part will air in Winter 2024.
Title: Synduality Noir
Media Type: Anime
Aired: Summer 2023
Director: Yuusuke Yamamoto
Original Story: Hajime Kamoshida
Original Character Design: neco