Synduality: Noir

Synduality: Noir

A mecha sci-fi franchise experiment that doesn’t seem to take off

5.2

TV Show

Japan
Japanese
Action & Adventure, Animation, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
2023
Aoi Koga, Ayaka Ohashi, Fuminori Komatsu
25 min

TLDR

AIs might not take over the world this time, but if this is its alternative, then I don’t want it!

What it's about

After the apocalyptic event called the Tears of the New Moon, adventurous Drifters suit up in large mecha to explore the ravaged landscape, and to fight alien monsters called Enders, with AI assistants collectively called Magus. While exploring some ruins with his mentor Tokio, aspiring Drifter Kanata finds an abandoned Magus.

The take

Science fiction imagines new worlds we’ve never seen before, but the world of Synduality: Noir doesn’t feel that way. Noir feels like it presents a familiar world, except with an added touch of AI assistants called Maguses. The fighting piloted mecha robots are reminiscent of Gundam and Pacific Rim. At times, the action looks like automated 3D animation made to cut costs. However, even if the world-building was stronger, Synduality: Noir doesn’t feel like a show that wants to tell a story. There aren’t enough moments that we get to spend with the main characters Kanata and his Magus Noir to justify creating a whole series around it. We don’t even need to get into the icky slave-like dynamic between the (mostly) male Drifters and their (mostly) female Maguses.

What stands out

There have been video games based on anime, and anime based on video games, but it’s rare to hear that a studio plans to launch a new cinematic universe through a video game and anime at around the same time. From the media conglomerate Bandai Namco, Synduality: Noir is one part of the mixed-media Synduality franchise, with the other parts including a manga series, a novel, and a third-person RPG video game. Each part deals with a different set of characters. It would be interesting to see how this experiment will go in the coming years, but so far, the TV series’ plot doesn’t feel compelling enough to stand on its own. With the franchise’s upcoming plans, and the automated 3D video game-esque animation, there’s the inherent feeling that whatever they release only means to be advertising for the next release.

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