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(I only watched the first seven episodes of the anime. I don't intend to watch further or read the manga, so don't ask.)
Soul Eater is... actually, I'm not sure what it is, in genre. That's probably my biggest problem with the show. But more on that later. A friend recommended me Soul Eater, and while I enjoyed it at first, I quickly got bored and stopped.
Mixed to negative would be a good way to describe my feelings. I've been told that it Grows the Beard later on, but it find it hard to imagine that it's worth it to get there - what I saw of this is fantastically mediocre, and I wouldn't recommend it very highly.
EDIT: If you're going to comment on this review to debate with my opinion, that's fine - go ahead. I can't stop you, and a lot of the commenters have been interesting. But just remember that I can tell when you think I'm stupid and you're not prepared to consider my opinion. So if you're going to go in with that mindset... I think your energy is best spent elsewhere.
Soul and Maka are great protagonists
Beginning episodes do well to establish the characters
Fights while not the most strategic have their fair balance of both fighting and careful tactics
Animation and art give it a distinct style that separates it from other animes
Black Star and Tsubaki so far have the best characterization in my opinion even though it may not seem like so at first
The horror elements mesh pretty well with the shonen elements
The Kishin revival arc was brilliant and had some great writing and brilliant characters
Personal Cons and Just for Fun Cons are things that bother me or do very little to bring down what I am reviewing
(Personal Con) Comedy falls flat on a few scenes
Death the Kid is a one-dimensional character with an annoying symmetry quirk
(Personal Con) The Comedy based episodes are noticeably weaker than the episodes that have a mix of those
(Just for Fun) Why does Maka hate her dad for being a pervert when her mother isn't even there to take care of her?
Overall: This so far is a solid series that deserves its praise from me. The great writing, great characters, and brilliant fight scenes make this a great series to pick up.
But since nothing is perfect, a few flaws bring this down. First of all, Death the Kid is a one dimensional character who's only quirk is his symmetry OCD. This is unacceptable for any writer to do.
Second, some of the comedy falls flat due to either how cliche it is, happening during a fight, or just plain bad delivery sometimes. Don't get me wrong, some of their jokes are funny but some also fall flat.
Lastly, the comedic episodes are noticeably weaker than the episodes that have a mix of those. For example, compare the episode where Death the Kid and Black Star go to get Excalubur to the episode that Maka and Soul have to fight Free. Like I said, it is probably because of the fact that their comedy can by weak to begin with.
But despite these flaws, Soul Eater still gets one more fan from me and hopefully this review convinces you to give this anime a watch too, despite all the flaws pointed out here and in other reviews.
Soul is saying that its not an issue of one's form, but of one's spirit. Let's backtrack to the very first quote of the anime.
"a sound soul dwells within a sound mind and a sound body"
A sound body would refer to one's physical form, right? And the soul's soundness is a reflection of how sound the mind and body are, right? Contradictions.
There's a villain called Dr. Franken Stein. And there is Al Capone in the same anime. I don't think this is possible, since Al Capone was born in January 17, 1899, and the story Frankenstein's Monster by Mary Shelley takes place in the late 1700's. Not only that, but Frankenstein-not the monster-dies at the end of the story. So the Dr. Stein in this anime has to be the monster. He also had to have lived over a hundred years to be in the same time period as Al Capone. And he must have went to college and med school and gotten his doctrine degree.
Mifune apparently KILLED Al Capone. What. Al Capone died January 25, in 1947 in Alcatraz from a cardiac arrest after a stroke.
There's a peeing panda in the background and more girls. But if they're in America (where Al Capone was/is), then there should NOT be panda images. Al Capone died in 1947. So this must take place prior to that point in time, or maybe even at that year. The first American zoo shown (not born in the zoo) panda wasn't born until 1985 (not to mention, ABC didn't show footage of pandas until 1982). Unless people came from Asia and built it.
Also, Maka's father and Cross from D.Gray-Man share some striking similarities.
Cross: Red haired. A womanizer. Disliked by his young teenage pupil. Dresses in dark clothes. A jerk. Badass.
Maka's dad: Red haired. A womanizer. Disliked by his young teenage daughter. Dresses in dark clothes.
Mifune and Angela's hair styles are similar to Takano and Rika's hair styles respectively (both are from When They Cry).
Soul Eater begins in a unique Burtones-que setting of a School led by the Grim Reaper where students hunts down (and eat) the soul of people falling into Madness. Composed of a cast of seven main character, each with his own quirks and dynamics, in particular girl genius Maka with cool slacker Soul, whose depth and uniqueness gives one of the more original pair since the Elric Brothers. Many other character appear and are very fleshed out and whose design is very striking, from their classmates to their teacher, all belonging to the DWMA, a school tied with misteries from the 12th century, as subtly foreshadowed
Soul Eater, alas, at first was nothing more but a shameless Fanservice fest who had the luck to Grow The Beard at the appearence of the first main antagonist, Medusa. From then on, the series was rather clever, the character have unique relationships (most hilariously the supporting like Kilik and Ox, or some subtle touches with mains like Liz and Soul), the villain become unique and creepy (from cheesmasters like the Gorgon sister to Asura's creepiness) and atmosphere which were a perfect mix between a Lovecraft story and anine, the fanservice toned down and the unique background allowing it to mix both history or mythology or things entirely original, the fist two actual arcs of Soul Eater are a must read to everyone.
However, from the Rescue Kid arc, the story loses tension, mostly because the villains become more one-dimensional (Noah is a primary example) and the series, rather than getting geared towards fear and mistery, becomes more centered towards action. Because of this, the effectively good parts come mostly from the first arc (again, Medusa and her child) and the resulting reveal lose some of their impact because of how hastily they are thrown. As the final battle near, it's a shame to see Asura be nothing but a very powerful monster rather than the embodiement of Terror as had lived up until the final battle, a power everyone seeks, dreads and is in the end consumed. In the end all is being boiled down to a fight and, frankly enough, a rather underwhelming one, especially if measured to other mangas, a shame because at first there was a lot of psychological insight even during these battles both for heroes and villains, giving them a rather quick paced character development.
Still a must read,
Soul Eater is a mix of horror, action and comedy. It's not really scary, but the horror/Halloween themes make it fun to watch around October. However, it excels in the last two; Soul, Maka, Black Star, Death the Kid, Crona and Tsubaki all deliver crowning moments of funny, heartwarming and awesome over the course of the series (Don't care much for the Thompson sisters tbh), and that's just the main cast!
The animation is great to look at, the music is fitting, the plot is very well-paced (Despite the series being 51 episodes; honestly, I feel very few shows deserve to be longer than 26 episodes, but this is one of them) and original, the characters are all well-written and likable, and so on.
Some people didn't like the gecko ending, but let me just point out here that if you know what it is, the actual scene isn't as stupid as many people make it out to be; hearing what happens and seeing the episode complete with all the buildup aren't the same thing. I personally liked the ending, but I guess I'm in the minority here.
To anyone here who is a fan of FMA (Probably 95% of the readers), this show will probably appeal to you a lot. After all, this is pretty much FMA's spiritual successor. Well, since FMA is only my favorite anime/manga series ever, here are a few of the similarities in particular I'd like to point out:
-The place Maka enters within Soul's mind at one point REALLY resembles the gate from FMA
-Both of the main characters are blond-haired and get angered easily when someone points out how underdeveloped they are
-when a certain villain fades away it really resembles when the homunculi fade away
Overall I'd give Soul Eater an 8.5/10. It's no FMA or Trigun, but with the great characters, a fun setting, and overall awesomeness, I can safely say Soul Eater is the one story I wish I could have written. I don't favor it over the aforementioned masterpieces FMA or Trigun, but if someone asked me if I could just magically make myself the author of any anime/manga series, I'd go with this one. I'm not quite sure why myself; perhaps its the horror elements and the fact that I'm obsessed with horror films? I don't know, this story just REALLY appeals to me.
I haven't read the manga all the way through yet (I'm about 10 volumes through, though I guess I'll review it when I'm done.
The following review is intended to cover both the anime and the manga (as published so far). It also contains some spoilers for the early episodes/chapters.
...the result would probably resemble this.
My first experience of Soul Eater was with the anime. Having grown bored of Bleach's endless filler arcs I asked a friend of mine if she had any suggestions and immediately got the title of this show as a (rather enthusiastic) response. Curious to see what begot such an impressive level of devotion and impressed by the artwork (which would make Tim Burton proud), I sat down to watch the first episode (of about 20 which were out at the time). I wasn't disappointed.
The series follows three teams of students who attend "Shibusen", an Extranormal Institute for weapons (essentially humans who can shapeshift into a weapon form) and their technicians (a partner who wields them), founded by the Grim Reaper to protect humans from witches and corrupted humans. The first team is a hard working, bookish tsundere named Maka Alburn and her more laid back partner; the titular Soul Eater (who transforms into a scythe). Next there's Black Star, an egomaniacal ninja and his put upon partner Tsubaki (who can transform into several "ninja" weapons). Finally there's Death's powerful but Super OCD afflicted son Death The Kid and his more down to Earth partners Liz and Patti Thompson (who become a pair of handguns). Even though having such a large main cast could lead to them being dull and two dimensional, the characters are all well written and likable.
The series as a whole has a very strong Dark Is Not Evil vibe with even the witches being shown in a sympathetic light and some of the heroic characters having a great deal of moral ambiguity (Doctor Stein, for example is a Mad Scientist who's constantly at risk of going too far into the "mad" part of the archetype). There's plenty of standard shonen fare but it's rarely played straight, with villains and heroes of every morality present and some subtle deconstructions of the genre's tropes.
Manga: A well written shonen series with likable protagonists and an eyecatching gothic art style. 9/10
Anime: A decent animated adaptation, but the Gecko Ending may disappoint. 8/10
To quote Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, "It's worth remembering that sometimes popular things are popular for a reason."
To sum it up, Soul Eater is a great show. It is the only show that I actually enjoyed enough to read the source manga and while the gravity of that statement won't be apparent to anyone reading this, that's pretty damn impressive.
Characters are well developed and complement each other nicely. Character Development is steady, subtle when it needs to be and enjoyable to watch. Some of the characters may seem like jerks when you first meet them but if you hang around for a while you'll probably begin to like them. The interactions between them help drive the show as much as the action, which is varied enough to keep it entertaining. Humour is present as well and doesn't feel as forced as it usually does and gets pushed to the side when it needs to be. Strangely, there were a couple of freaky moments, a few in particular that anyone who has seen the show will know right of the bat, but they fit with the plot and overall tone (At that particular time) so it enhanced the action, rather than detracting from it.
The show diverges from the manga in the later half but that's not a bad thing and it was done for a reason. I personally didn't like the series' conclusion from a plot perspective, but I'll freely admit that what they did, they did extremely well.
As always, that's not to say it doesn't have its flaws. Black Star's voice actor in particular grated on me, and the carefully constructed plot began to fall apart after the divergence from the manga (very minor plot holes covered by one-off hand waves) but it was good enough that I, at least, can forgive it.
Overall, a well written, very well presented and genuinely satisfying show (it's probably my personal favourite) which can and should be enjoyed by anyone.
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