Here's my giant rant about the war in general. I tried breaking it up into slightly easier to digest piece but idk whether it makes much of a difference. If I add new thoughts/sources to this behemoth, I'll put them in with a new text color.
Difference in Power:
I’m going to preface this holy wall of text with a whole-hearted opinion of mine:
As things are, I don’t think the Black Order stands a snowball’s chance in hell against the Noah/Earl/Akuma as things are right now. I’ll explain why I think so below and what I think needs to change or happen in order for the “good side” to win.
Going off from Marie’s and Bookman’s statements in chapter 157, it seems the Earl not only has the strength to annihilate the order on a whim but also seems to be keeping it alive for some reason.
The question: Why?
Well, chapter 158 answers that: the Earl intends to keep the Order alive and so that it can desperately search for the Heart and therefore make it difficult for the Heart to remain hidden (since the Earl is pretty convinced that the Heart has “awoken”, which may also mean that the Heart has found an accommodator).
The question then turns into: Who is the Heart and what has it been doing for ~7000 years instead of fighting the Noah (especially when only the Earl and Road were alive, 35 years ago)?
At the moment, we only know a few things about the Heart:
1) If it is destroyed, all other Innocence are destroyed simultaneously
2) Apocryphos protects it and seems to be able to telepathically communicate with it
As for the Heart’s accommodator, your guess is as good as mine. It may be someone we know, might be a new character, or may even be a current exorcist disguised as a lesser innocence. We also don’t know how exactly Apocryphos works: Is the Cardinal 100% innocence, or did a sentient innocence possess the Cardinal completely and took over (in the same way Skinn and Tyki were physically taken over by their respective Noahs)? In addition, we also don’t know whether there is only one Apocryphos (the Cardinal), or if there are others. After all, we still do not know much about the upper echelons of the Order and Central. As it is, we do not have enough information to answer many questions related to the Heart so we’re pretty much free to theorize within what we do know.
In fact, Apocryphos and the Heart aside, there are quite a few mysteries surrounding the “layman” innocence as well:
1) How Tsukikami manifests itself (at this point, this guy seems like the key to understanding innocence, imho). As well as some mysteries involving Maria…
2) What exactly triggers crystal-type innocence and why it is different from breaking Critical Point (and whether Crowley is technically crystal-type and whether parasite-types can even turn crystalline anyway).
3) What the heck is up with Innocence acting on their own: protecting Lenalee, protecting Allen, trying to get Allen absorbed by Apocryphos…
4) And why have the above phenomena never manifested themselves before the current time. After all, the generals have been around at least long enough to break Crit. Pt, but none have ever turned or encountered crystalline form.
As we have seen, the Earl and Noah are much too strong compared to the order, and with 12/13 awakened now, the annihilation of the Black Order would be a piece of cake. Why? Because while we still don’t know all of the Noah’s abilities, we’ve already seen that it takes ~5 exorcists (plus minus a general) to take on one Noah (in their Noah, not human, form) and that’s without any Akuma backup. Factoring in that Timothy is a kid and can’t do any more than possess a Level 2, Miranda and Hevlaska are 100% non-combatant type, and Cross is dead as far as we know, the Order’s army looks pretty thin. And that’s assuming Allen and Lavi will continue to fight for the Order, and Kanda survives long enough.
So next question: What is the Noah’s weak spot, anyway?
We know dark matter and Innocence are polar opposites, but the scale of strength has been tipped towards the Noah/Akuma from the get-go. So what exactly does the order need to do to beat the Noah once and for all?
Answer: Actually, we have no idea.
So far, the Order has been focusing on simply hunting for Innocence, finding accommodators and destroying Akuma. Which is good and all, but no one has been able to provide an answer to the questions “How do we win?”
It has been presumed by Komui that finding the Heart holds the answer, but from what we know as of chapter 218, the Heart isn’t too concerned with sharing the way to win the war. Apocryphos, too, has remained hidden for a good 7000 years (in fact, he had no problem with taking out arguably one of the strongest exorcists, Cross). Meaning that both have literally watched their fellow innocence get found, hunted and destroyed for at least the last 100 years. Logically, this means that with every day that passes, the Order/the Heart lose potential accommodators and therefore soldiers, while the Noah family have the Earl who can spawn Akuma with (what seems like) ease, and the Noah themselves that are essentially immortal. Hell, even the destruction of the egg didn’t set them back too much and now we have Level 4s actively springing up everywhere. Actually, looking at what Road says at the beginning of chapter 93 makes me thing that in the same way that the Noah are the “sacrificial lambs” for the Earl, the other, lesser innocence are also “fodder” for the Heart. Except for some reason there’s a finite number of innocence.
All things considered, this whole war comes off as a lost cause.
There are 109 pieces of Innocence. Regarding this number, there is only one thing we don’t know: Whether the Heart and Apocryphos are part of this number or not. Out of these 109 there are:
76 known innocences:
15 Have been destroyed
The status of 3 is currently unknown
And the rest have either been activated or stored within Hevlaska or with a General
That leaves 33 pieces that have yet to be found.
Judging by the ease with which Tyki destroyed Allen’s innocence, I’m assuming that it doesn’t take much effort for a Noah to destroy one. On the flip side, Exorcists with a synchronization rate under 100% stand virtually no chance against a Level 4 (even Cross was thrown for a loop), not to mention a Noah. Basically, there’s a rift in power so great between the two sides, that in my opinion, the Order has no chance of successfully taking on the Noah family without having at least another 10 generals at least. And that excludes the Crystal-types, since as far as we know, their synchronization rate has not changed (ie: Lenalee has yet to surpass 100%). Frankly, this rift in power is far too big – especially when you factor in the Noah’s Akuma army, the Akuma virus (that will take out everyone except Allen and Crowley and maybe Lau Shimin and Timothy).
Like, no joke, the Order doesn’t stand a chance.
And then, I realized that we still have no clue of how to really, seriously, and permanently kill a Noah. Kanda took out Skinn Boric, but the Earl expects the Noah of wrath to awaken once more quite soon (ch. 187) and Allen’s Exorcism sword did do some damage but ultimately failed against Tyki Mikk, and although Apocryphos’s single punch seems to have knocked Road out, she’s not dead. So far, the one person who has done the greatest damage to the Noah has been the 14th/Neah - the damage he did to the Noah memory kept any of the 11 Noah he killed from awakening for 35 years. So… basically, the innocence seems pretty useless. At the very least, neither we, nor the Order have any idea of how to kill the Noah family permanently.
But I do have a few theories:
1) The Earl is “the Heart” of the Noah – kill him and you’ll kill the others, permanently.
2) There’s no way to kill the Noah, since all humans carry the original genes. So the Order will have to keep hunting Noah as they are awakened and take them out, for the rest of eternity. Or…
3) Destroy humanity.
There’s not much info to support or disprove points 1 and 2, but number 3 is something I can play with.
In chapter 187 we found out that after the fateful battle between the Earl and the Heart 7000 years ago, the 13 Noah restarted humanity and therefore all of humanity carries the Noah genes. Which subsequently allows the Noah to reawaken whenever one of them dies. As far as we know, Innocence does not seem to have a permanent affect on the Noah’s rebirthing cycle (b/c Skinn), and so I am led to believe that unless the Earl equals the Noahs’ “Heart”, there is only one way to permanently kill the Noah (and Noah genes): destroy humanity completely and start anew. This theory fits into my concern about the lack of action taken by the Heart and Apocryphos in the last 7000 years. Especially since the whole Noah clan was down only to 2 members 35 years ago and at their most vulnerable. Therefore, I’m led to believe that while the Earl is keeping the Order alive to search for the Heart, the Heart is letting the Earl continue humanity’s massacre in order to purge the world of humans that allow Noah to be reborn from generation to generation. I’m not quite sure how exorcists fit into this plan (since, as humans, they should still technically carry Noah genes), but given that Innocence seems to have failed to put a stop to Noah reincarnation, this is the only other solution I can think of. Unless of course, there’s option number 4:
4) The relationship between the two sides is (supposed to be) an infinite loop.
Either way you spin it (based on current information) the Noah reincarnation circle cannot be broken while humans remain alive. Which isn’t quite fair when you compare the millions of humans alive during the 19th century (not to mention Akuma), and only 109, destructible pieces of innocence capable of battling the Noah family. That seems too much like a one-sided fight, doesn’t it?
Unless, of course, Innocence isn’t actually, completely destructible.
What if Innocence cannot be destroyed by Noah in the same way Noah memory cannot be completely wiped from humanity’s genes by Innocence? This theory seems a bit farfetched until you factor in the actions taken by Allen’s innocence. Of course, there’s still always a chance that Crown Clown is special or even the Heart, but I find its actions in chapter 56 and onwards to be quite odd. Allen’s Innocence was destroyed by Tyki, but it turned into mist instead of “dying” and plugged up Allen’s heart (protecting him) and then waited for him to come around and resynchronize with it. Same for Lenalee’s and Kanda’s innocence (to a degree). The innocences waited around until their accommodators could resynchronize. Which makes me think that (in order to even out the power rift between Noah and Innocence) either the Heart is capable of creating new Innocence or Innocence is not completely destroyed by Dark matter, but rather shatters and fixes itself over time, waiting for an accommodator to come along. Meaning that all of the innocences destroyed thus far may not be completely out of the picture. This theory is plausible since Hevlaska cannot vouch for the destruction of Innocence, and since the order has yet to collect all 109 pieces, it’s possible they haven’t realized that Innocence cannot be truly destroyed (except via the Heart). This is essentially the only theory I can think of that plugs the power gap between the two sides, as well as fits into the story, plot wise.
The rift in power is too great – there has to be a plug. If there isn’t, the Noah can easily waltz into the Order, take out Hevlaska, and humanity will no longer stand a chance with the 33 remaining innocence (even if they found the Heart), in the face of immortal Noah and Akuma that can evolve to who knows what level.
Take it as you well, but this is the conclusion I've come to. I have some other rants coming up about the 14th/Earl/Mana etc., but they'll have to wait for a bit since I'm all pooped out from this behemoth.
Also, when you look at the Innocence Fragment in the Apocryphos chest here:
It's exactly the same cross shape as Allen Innocence fragment:
Most of the Innocence fragments seen are circles, ovals or squares. I wonder why Crown Clown and the Apocryphos share the same design?
Dont forget about Akumas, Akumas are the key for Noah's plan, the Earl said once: ''They (black order) dont know what Akumas really are, if they do, our plan willl fail'', something like that.
And yes, the Noahs are more powerful as things are, maybe even the black order with the appearance of the Heart cant take them out, just the 3rd side, and both sides (Noahs and black order).
My theory is that the 3rd side is integrated by: PastAllen, Cross, Nea, Mana, Bookman, a little part of Road and the old man with poor health that is in the order.
There is something important to happen, the awakening of the 14th, and in second place, the Heart. Maybe the Heart is waiting for the 3rd side and Noahs battles... and then, it appears and benefits...
Allen innocence has always been quite strange, hasn't it? Before its destruction and revival, it took on the appearance of a cracked, oversized red arm, quite at odds with Allen's frail body. In the first chapter, the station detective comments on the cross embedded in Allen's hand, thinking it looks like a wound. In addition, before its activation, Allen's left arm is rendered nearly completely useless by his innocence. No other innocence users that we know of have had similar problems integrating with their innocence. So why Allen's? Bak Chang illuminates the subject for us after the revival of Allen's innocence when he likens the old form to an "unstable raw ore of innocence" that "wasn't even a proper Akuma weapon." Only after it's destruction and reintegration does it "attach properly" and "connect with Allen's heart." This begs the question of how Allen got his innocence in the first place.
All of the other users that we know of obtained their innocence either from a general or some sort of ancient artifact. But the origins of Allen's have always been a mystery. He didn't have it 35 years ago, as confirmed by Nea, but somehow obtained it in his arm between then and being found as a child with no memories. How could this come to be? Signs point to Apocryphos.
Apocryphos had the motive. As seen in recent chapters, for unknown reasons, he considers the 14th a threat to the heart and will stop at nothing to prevent his return. Nea using Past!Allen as a means of revival would obviously be a less than ideal situation. For reasons about which I'll speculate later, Apocryphos and The Heart do not kill Allen, and instead implant his hand with innocence as a deterrent to Nea's Noah memories. It would be too convenient if they just happened to have innocence on hand that he was compatible with, so Apocryphos implanted part of himself in Allen's hand instead. (Kanda's contact with Apocryphos reminds him of the innocence experiments he underwent, so this ability is not surprising.) This slipshod job is why Allen's innocence is so at odds with the rest of his body. Erasing Allen's memories is an obvious extension of this plan. As for suddenly becoming a child...I would guess that it was either a side effect of the invasive operation (because innocence = youth?) or because a kid with no memories is way less shady than an adult with the same.
Apocryphos may have implanted Allen with innocence instead of killing him secure in the knowledge that he could just absorb him if any problems with Nea's memories arose, "suppressing them by a stronger power" in his own words. Maybe Apocryphos and The Heart created Crown Clown hoping that in doing so they could develop a stronger exorcist in the bargain once Allen bonded to it properly. Apocryphos seems to have been keeping tabs on Allen's development, remarking that he's "grown to be a beautiful exorcist." This could explain The Heart's "concern" as well. But the most important reason for not killing Allen outright may have been to keep tabs on the Third Side. When Allen glimpses Apocryphos's memories of threatening Cross, Cross mentions that he should have realized the mistake of Allen's name not being Allen when he first met him. This implies that this incongruity is a big hint as to what allowed Apocryphos to corner him in that way. (I have a much more satisfying background for this, but this post is already too long.) Apocryphos seems to know Allen's location no matter where he runs. What else does he know? Even if he doesn't know specifics long distance, we know he can read the minds of innocence users for information and erase their memories afterwards. Having Allen would put him in an ideal position for info-gathering on Cross, who as a member of the Third Side is also a threat to The Heart.
Why is the Third Side such a threat? After all, doesn't killing all of the Noah at least initially align them with the Heart's alleged goals? And why hasn't the Heart or Apocryphos ever offered any aid to the obviously outclassed Order? The answer to this question is, I think, of most interest to OP's original pondering and lies in the tragic "true form of the world" that the Millennium Earl alludes to at Skinn Bolic's Noah awakening. Unfortunately, I'm going to stop myself around here because this post is hella long and from here on out things become more speculative. I'll leave with one more point. Nea's purpose is "destruction." But if this was simply the apocalypse, there would be no reason for the feud between him and the rest of the Noah, as this is supposedly their goal as well. Nea's purpose seems to be breaking the cycle and putting an end to the Holy War. What if The Heart doesn't want the war to end?