WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 1 of Noblesse, "What Must Be Protected/Ordinary," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Noblesse, which just aired its first episode, is an anime series that could have some potential in the future. The first episode introduces a lot of interesting elements, from the relationship between Frankenstein and Raizel to the organization called Union that is chasing after the Noblesse. However, there is one critical problem for those who go straight into Noblesse, and that's understanding what the heck is going on.
Episode 1 of Noblesse doesn't feel like it should be a series premiere. Rather, the way that it is structured leaves something crucial missing. The first half of it will not be surprising to those who watched the trailers because it's largely comprised of the material from them: Raizel, the red-eyed protagonist, is already attending high school under Frankenstein's protection while M-21 serves as a security guard for the school. But the first episode does little in terms of providing any context for newcomers to understand the world they occupy.
What the first episode is effective at showing is the deadliness of members from both sides of the upcoming conflict. Raizel and his allies are eventually going to clash with Union, a group that possesses a number of modified humans. As far as evil organizations go, they have already shown how deadly certain members can be with the annihilation of an army base. In contrast, the school is already under attack by goons who are bothered by one of its students, but this threat is easily neutralized when M-21 enters the fray.
Considering the aforementioned details, the material of the first episode itself isn't impossible to pick up on. With the given material the names of all the important characters are dropped in, along with the way that things function with Raizel at school. But the big question left for those who went straight into the anime series is how this situation even came to be.
Four years ago, an ONA called Noblesse: Awakening was created that brought this initial conflict to life. The ONA answers many of the questions that the main series Noblesse doesn't address in its opening episode, such as why M-21 is working with Raizel and Frankenstein despite once being part of the Union, and why certain students have the injuries they have in the first episode. As the proper animated introduction to Noblesse, the ONA shows how Raizel was taken out from the ocean and awoke when moonlight was cast onto his casket. In terms of M-21, he, along with certain test subjects, were abused by those above them. Their abusive treatment serves as the catalyst for M-21's plans to eventually betray Union once he finds the Noblesse.
If you intend to watch Noblesse the series, then you really have to watch the ONA first to have a full understanding of how things came to be by the time of the premiere. The first episode of the series is built on the premise that you have knowledge of the incidents that occurred beforehand. Unfortunately, without this being made clear enough, it may put off many people who were looking to jump into the webtoon's world for the first time.