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Soul Eater (2008)

DVD Cover (FUNimation Entertainment)
Genres:
Animated Action, Animated Sci-Fi, Animation, Anime

7.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: January 20, 2015
Now, I'm not really an anime guy per se, but every here and there, one of them grabs my attention. Soul Eater is one such series.

In the Soul Eater universe, Death himself has opened a school, training his 'weapons' to fight evil. Literally. You see, the students are divided into two categories: Meisters and Weapons. Some kids can physically transform into weapons and are then wielded by the Meisters. As the pair fight, they begin to connect on the deepest level, and their "soul wavelengths" will synchronize. This union is extremely important because they're not up against ordinary human beings; if someone takes enough human lives, their very soul transforms into a Kishin egg. If left unchecked, it will become a full fledged Kishin (an extremely powerful, evil demon). When one is killed, the Weapon can physically eat its soul. After they've eating ninety-nine Kishin eggs and the soul of one witch, they are promoted to a Death Scythe, a Weapon worthy of being wielded by Death himself. Our series follows three such Meister/Weapon teams. Ostensibly, the main characters are Meister Maka and her Weapon partner, Soul Eater. Between the ability to physically see souls and her parents being a successful Death Scythe team, Maka and Soul Eater are one of the school's most effective teams. Never to be outstaged however is the super-egotistical Black Star. He's more concerned with making sure everyone is paying attention to him than actually completing his missions, so it's somewhat fortunate for him that he's paired up with the super studious Tsubaki; her ability to transform into three different weapons helps as well. Then of course, how can you leave out Death's own son, Death the Kid. With his pistols in hand, the nubile sisters Patty and Liz, Kid should have every advantage. If only he can get over his crippling obsession with symmetry.

In the beginning of the series, the episodes featured one or more of the kids going out on various missions, trying to win Kishin eggs in pursuit of becoming a Death Scythe. As things progress however, the story becomes increasingly fixed on the scheming of the snake-witch Medusa and her henchman, the androgynous Crona and his Demon Sword, Ragnarok. Even after she sets her plan into action, some episodes are still devoted to soul gathering. At first I thought this was out of place since these kids had bigger problems. However, after thinking about it I realize it actually served a valid purpose. You see, Medusa's plans could potentially wipe out mankind, yet everything ultimately fell on the shoulders of these seven students. It's mentioned repeatedly that the three Meisters are Level 1, the lowest rank, so it makes sense that they'd try and throw in some last minute training before confronting this evil. Unfortunately, what was initially a strong story fell apart by series' end. You see, the episodes for the anime came out a lot faster then its source manga. Fast enough that it caught up and overtook it, meaning it basically had to make up its own ending. And while I did enjoy the final battle, it redefined anti-climatic. It's a shame they didn't wait for the manga to wrap up before jumping on the anime.

I decided to watch this after catching an episode centered on Kid on Adult Swim, and it was the character that intrigued me enough to start the series from the beginning more so than the story. True to form, there are some incredibly strong characters throughout the whole show. While my opinion of Kid remained high (even if his OCD did annoy me a few times), Soul was a close second, especially during the Little Ogre arc. In the beginning of the series, I fucking hated Black Star. His brash arrogance drove me up the wall, but his growth throughout the series makes it all worthwhile, especially once his rivalry with the Samurai kicked in. Tsubaki and Maka, while well-written characters, tend to get lost in the shuffle a bit, as straight-men in groups often do. Absolutely stealing the show however, is their insane teacher Dr. Stein. Obsessed with surgery and constantly turning the large screw in his head, Stein had a smile on my face every time he was on the screen.

The animation here is decently solid. It's got that traditional anime style (thankfully light on the chibis), but there's a few visual cues that makes Soul Eater all its own. The sun and the moon are perhaps the most noticeable. Floating in front of the clouds, they're characters in their own right, with the sun's exhausted panting and the moon's bloodied, maniacal smile setting the scene for everything going on. They serve as a nice foil to the goofiness of Death's voice or the little ditty played between scenes. Plus, while there's no nudity, there's plenty of ample fan service leaving no doubt as to the 12-18 male target audience. I will say that the dialogue tends to ramble; I know that's an unfortunate result of writing lines to match the lip movements of a different language, but it's distracting none-the-less. Obviously, if you have access to the sub-titled version, this won't be a factor.

Soul Eater isn't going to blow anybody's mind, but it's a fun little show. Shame it ended on a relatively low note, but I still dug it. 7.5/10.
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