Noah’s Notes 001-003 – Manga Review
Synopsis: Mirai Kotobuki doesn’t see the point of studying, not when it comes to history at the very least. She’s got her life all figured out, get married, pop out a baby or two, and live it up as a house wife. That’s the best way to find happiness. At least, that’s the plan, until Mirai stumbles upon a weird artifact. It doesn’t take long before Mirari finds herself accosted by one Minami Umberbach, an unparalleled genius of archeology. Mirai’s artifact is way more important than her disinterested history self could possibly realize, as the artifact holds the key to the very future of the world, which is intrinsically tied to our deep and buried history.
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
Noah’s Notes is rocky. While Jujutsu Kaisen might’ve been a tad too generic, it at least had an enjoyable attitude and charm running through it. The same can’t be said of Noah’s Notes. Our introduction to the series is one of heavy-handed exposition coupled with humor that’s equally as hamfisted. The humor ranges from painfully poor jokes to Minami shoving a gun down Mirai’s throat, making for a wildly uneven tone. It doesn’t help that Noah’s Notes boasts an art style that doesn’t really seem to fit the type of story it wants to be. At times the art feels distinctly gag-manga-ish, a bit stilted, rarely dynamic, and often quick to deform the characters into a more comedic depiction. Yet for all the comedy Noah’s Notes tries to hammer us with, the underlying narrative is decidedly epic.
Once we’re past this uneven introduction we learn that the true story beneath it all is a sci-fi tale about averting the end of the world. As it turns out buried beneath the city of Yokohama is, well, the city of Yokohama. Noah’s Notes presents the intriguing idea of loop theory, that all this has happened and will happen again, exactly as before. It’s one of those concepts that makes less and less sense the deeper you get into it, and feels like a series where it’s best if the reader doesn’t try to rationalize things. It’s not to say Loop Theory is an unsound idea, but as presented, Noah’s Notes creates a lot of lingering holes that make Loop Theory seem far-fetched and ridiculous. Perhaps that’s where the comedy comes in, to try and create an atmosphere that makes this more absurd, nonsensical depiction okay. Yet at the same time the series wants us to take threat of the world’s impending destruction (4 years off) seriously.
It doesn’t help that the way they go about researching the end of the world is through things like discarded diaries, or children’s time capsules. It feels a bit silly, giving the story a weird whiplash between the serious goal of saving the world and the more juvenile approach to that.
In some ways I’m reminded of Dr. Stone, a series with an intriguing premise, but one where you can sense just how much research the author put into the story, and not the good kind. One gets the sense, particularly with Noah’s Notes, that little informative segments, blurbs, and ideas cropping up are the absolute wealth of the research the author did in order to craft the story. This makes Noah’s Notes feel narrow, as if the story isn’t much deeper or meaty that what’s actually on the page.
By chapter 3 Noah’s Notes has managed to give a basic idea of what to expect chapter to chapter. Mirai following Minami around, looking for clues as to what destroyed and will again destroy the world. I might have more faith in the overarching concept if Noah’s Notes worked to address the immediate logical inconsistencies with such a tale, but the series plows ahead, introducing ‘super’ villains to impede our heroes’ research, giving the sense that it would much prefer we take its concept at face value with as few questions as possible.
Overall I have to say of the three newest Jump Starts, Noah’s Notes is not among the titles I’d vote to see as additions to the Western Shonen Jump line up. It’s a rocky beginning to the series, one that feels half-baked. While the mysteries the series presents are potentially interesting, its unwillingness to address those logical problems with its concept don’t give me a lot of faith that any answers at the end would be all that satisfying anyway.
That’s it for today. Please let me know your thoughts on Noah’s Notes in the comments below!
Noah’s Notes is published as a Jump Start in Shonen Jump.