Noblesse (Korean: 노블레스; RR: Nobeulleseu) is a Korean webtoon written by Son Jeho and illustrated by Lee Kwangsu. Noblesse was first posted on Naver Webtoon on 30 December 2007, and has been ongoing ever since; it was among the first webtoons to receive an English translation at the launch of Line Webtoon in July 2014. It has been adapted into two original video animations in 2015 and 2016.
Noblesse is about a powerful noble – Cadis Etrama Di Raizel (referred to as Rai) – who has been asleep for 820 years with no knowledge of mankind’s advancement and scientific successes. At the start of the webtoon, Rai wakes up in an abandoned building in South Korea, and starts to get used to the modern world. He goes to a school, where he reunites with his loyal servant Frankenstein. With Frankenstein’s help, Rai enrolls into high school and inadvertently befriends athletic teenager Shinwoo, computer geek Ikhan, and Shinwoo’s crush Yuna, and a few others. Noblesse follows the group’s often dangerous adventures against a secret organization while uncovering Rai’s past.
Cadis Etrama Di Raizel (a.k.a. Rai)
Rai is a very charming, elegant, and mysterious Noble. He has no knowledge whatsoever of the 21st century, and will often become lost and confused especially with regards to modern day technology (such as using a cell phone). He is often used as the manhwa’s comic relief with his love of ramen, the errors he makes with technology, and his terrible sense of direction. He had fallen into a deep slumber for 820 years, and had woken up in an abandoned building in South Korea. After seeing what most of the humans on the streets were wearing, Rai took on the uniform of a student from Ye Ran High School, which is under the administration of Frankenstein, and inadvertently followed the students there.[ He currently resides with Frankenstein. He is shown to be extremely powerful with the ability of mind control, along with a technique called “Blood Field,” which is capable of erasing all traces of its victims’ existence. Although he seems cold and apathetic on the outside, Rai has shown compassion towards human beings, though it is not known whether this is due to actual compassion or merely a sense of duty. Rai is extremely handsome and possesses a youthful appearance, scarlet-red eyes (a common trait among pureblood Nobles), beautiful jet black hair and a quiet disposition and he is usually seen wearing the Ye Ran High School uniform and a silver cross earring on his left ear (a gift from the previous Lord and an item that seals away the majority of his power). It seems that if Rai uses his powers extensively, his overall health and well-being deteriorates, as seen after the battle with the DA-5, although Rai said that it was nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, Frankenstein knows that his master needs time to fully recover his old strength. However, as said by Regis, even in his current state Rai possesses an enormous power comparable, if not superior, to that of the current Lord. During the confrontation between him and the Lord (during the Lukedonia Arc), Rai has shown superiority over the lord. Rai demonstrates his absolute governance over blood by creating powerful blood fields with perfect form without the use of an apparent soul weapon. Gejutel, an ancient advisor to Lord, explains that Rai’s soul weapon does not materialize as a weapon; Rai’s blood and soul is his soul weapon. Noblesse is the title of a single Noble (Rai), and was later adopted by Nobles as the name of their race, (some time after Rai went to sleep). In their society there are two beings who are held in high esteem: one is the Lord who rules with authority, and one is the Noblesse, with strength above all others, who watches over and protects the Nobles. The previous Lord left his soul weapon in the shrine of Reijar as a gift (although Rai cannot use Ragnarok because he is not related by blood to the previous Lord). Rai is shown to have relinquished his ownership of Ragnarok so that the current Lord can complete her soul weapon Ragnarok. Rai’s power consumes his life force when used. Frankenstein finally gets Rai to take a short hibernation, but as soon as he wakes up, he uses a great amount of power.
Frankenstein is Rai’s devoted servant. He supports Rai whole-heartedly and calls him “Master”. He had tried searching for his master after Rai disappeared and eventually went into seclusion to search for Rai privately. Frankenstein is the principal/director of Ye Ran High School, which he founded so that if Rai should return, Rai would be able to live a normal life. He was stunned to find Rai in his school office after Rai had woken up and assumed the uniform of the school’s students. Frankenstein is immensely powerful. When he caused a disturbance in the world, the previous Lord sent two clan leaders (the Kertia and Landegre clan leaders) to capture him. Frankenstein is the only human to be acknowledged by the previous Lord because he exceeded human limitations and acquired power by his own means. Later however, his powers had been sealed away by Rai due to misdeeds committed in pursuit of scientific knowledge and power. Frankenstein is a very cheerful person, but becomes quite serious and calculating when the situation calls for it, although during battles Frankenstein has shown a sadistic side. He is extremely organized and loathes messiness (especially in his house). Like Rai, he is very compassionate towards human beings, especially the students in his school. Frankenstein is an impressive scientist, who has researched human modification. All the research done was recorded down in his diaries, however one diary is now in the possession of Dr. Crombel and another in possession of the Union. His research is responsible for many of the advances humans made with modification. He was very familiar with the previous Lord, whom he calls “old bugger.” Frankenstein is actually human[; although it has not yet been explicitly stated, it is most likely he experimented upon himself to attain the strength that he has now. Frankenstein has possession of Dark Spear, a human-created weapon modeled after Nobles’ soul weapons. He created it from souls and Central Order knights who were experimented on and therefore bear a grudge towards Frankenstein. Consequently, Dark Spear constantly wishes to devour him.
Shinwoo Han (spelled Shinwu in English)
Shinwoo is an energetic and athletic teenager with bright red hair. He is always seen with a bandage over the bridge of his nose. He is well-known within the city to be skilled in martial arts and feared by gangs. He is on par at fighting the top level trained agents of the Union, those who have not been transformed. He fights the infected guy and causes very serious damage to him while receiving no significant damage from him. Shinwoo is often shown sleeping (and drooling) in class and slacking off. Though he is shown as a lazy student, he is very courageous and would protect his friends at all costs. Shinwoo is shown to be popular among the student body of Ye Ran High and other schools due to his superior fighting skills. At the beginning of volume 4, he was scouted by KSA to become modified human because of that very reason. Shinwoo is hinted to have feelings towards Seira, who displays favor for him.
Ikhan is Shinwoo and Yuna’s childhood friend. He is extremely skilled in technology, especially computers and games. He has been shown in the series to be a highly skilled hacker. Ikhan has short brown hair and glasses and is 157 cm (5.15 ft) tall. He has a height complex, being so short, but has found some comfort in meeting Regis, who is about the same height. He has started to become infatuated with their friend Sui Lim. His computer skills showed to be his utmost talent and became useful in certain situations. He protects the intel of the local police manned by his uncle, in which the situation led him to meet the Union’s assassin member: Tao. This talent of his also attracts the attention of the Korean government, as he was enlisted as a candidate for KSA recruitment.
Yuna is Shinwoo and Ikhan’s childhood friend. Yuna rejected Shinwoo when he confessed to her two years ago. Yuna accidentally becomes the target of the infected guy when their paths cross one night. Yuna is a friendly, ordinary and sensible young woman, demonstrably more level-headed than her friends, who tends to sedately sit out, be amused by and often reminds them of the mundane reality behind their dramatics. When she and Rai are introduced to video games, she apparently is quite competent despite it being her first try. It has been hinted that she has a crush on M-21 after he becomes a guard at her high school.
Sui is a pretty popular pop idol who is studying at Ye Ran High School. She first appeared in chapter 94 of the series; she returned to school after doing her concert. Sui is friends with Ikhan, Shinwoo and Yuna; she is always shown hanging out with the group. She later joined Shinwoo and the others in visiting Frankenstein’s house regularly.
The Nobles are a race of nearly immortal, elegant and powerful beings. Although occasionally referred to as vampires, they are not in fact vampires. (Though they do have some of the traits typically thought of as vampiric traits, such as near immortality, exceptional speed, strength, and endurance, as well as the ability to create infected (“mutant”) humans that are the true source of the vampire lore. Nobles do not require blood to survive, whereas the mutants do.) Due to their inability to ignore the slaughter of the weak, helpless humans, they have been guarding the latter against predators since ancient times. “Noblesse” was the title given to only one person, Rai, but the Nobles adopted it as the name for their race some time after Rai entered into his long sleep. Pureblood Nobles seem to share crimson red eyes and a common power of mind control.
In this series, the concept that we know of as “Noblesse Oblige” (a French term meaning “nobility obligates”, implying those with power have the obligation to use it to help those without) historically stems from the behavior of the Noblesse (Rai), who protected the weak. People from the Union have thought Noblesse to be beings at the top of the race of the vampires. It is later known, however, that “vampires” are what humans perceive to be infected beings created when Nobles “awaken” humans and those humans share the power to create other vampires. These “infected” are often understood to be less sensible, often relying on instinct in the consumption of human blood.