First Impression: SYNDUALITY: Noir

Welcome to the future: murderous robots run wild in a Japan full of ruins and toxic rain. Enter Tokio and Kanata, a team consisting of “Drifter” (read “mecha pilot”), and tech expert who collect relics of the past from cities overcome by nature, and transport them to the dome-protected “Nests”. They do so with the help of a Magus, a human-looking android that acts as the central computer of the mecha. When they pick up a non-functioning Magus girl, Tanaka is just thinking of collecting parts and filling in a few gaps in his knowledge of the technology of the past. That doesn’t stop Ellie, a more successful Drifter, from getting jealous though. She also takes the chance to confront him about his persistence in staying with Tokio, who is seen as something of a loose cannon by other Drifters, instead of joining the more successful Aventure Team, and perhaps stopping living in his bachelor lair, where he seems to have no future. Unbeknownst to her, though, Tanaka already tried the admission exam and failed. But when the Magus girl wakes up, everything may change for him.

“Noir”, of course, is French for the color black. “Synduality” (not to be confused with “Synodality“) is a fun non-existent word: I suppose it comes from syn-, together, and “duality”. Two, together: the Magus and the Pilot, the boy and the girl. But this duality is a staple of the mecha genre, so, what distinguishes this show from its abundant, sometimes illustrious competition? Well, for one, so far the worldbuilding is great. The Domes are a living, breathing world with fake sushi, aerial transports and human-robot friendships. The visuals are beautiful, with non-terrible CGI, cool environments and great landscapes (see the sunset at the top of this post, for example). So, what’s not to like? Well, just now, the characters are the biggest obstacle for me. Don’t get me wrong, they are likable enough. But for the most part, they fall into the same mecha stereotypes we know well: the oddball young mentor, the tsundere-ish pilot, the innocent, emotionless prodigy, and the self-doubting Boy who gets into a mecha. I was also put off by some off-color jokes. Will I be able to overcome this creeping feeling of “seen there, done that” and give them a chance, hoping that the show will do something new with them? Yes, I think so.

SYNDUALITY Noir can be streamed on DisneyPlus, or, if you live in the USA, on Hulu.

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