Don’t worry loyal readers who might be concerned seeing a new review for another anime series when I haven’t even finished watching all of Cowboy Bebop yet. That show is still my primary anime focus, but I only get it in the mail from Netflix, and I need to find other things to occupy my time besides just the movies I’m watching for this blog and the stuff I’m getting physically sent to me from Netflix. I’m constantly looking for new television series to get into, especially in the anime department which I always feel I am poorly cultured in for how much I profess to enjoy anime, and lo and behold, Netflix had a complete series available to view instantly that I pretty much felt I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to give a shot to. This series is the shonen anime Soul Eater which is based off of a manga that while the anime series is over, the manga series is still running. While this show has not proven itself yet to be nearly as entertaining as Gurren Lagann or Cowboy Bebop, it does have some aspects of the series that are really quite fantastic, specifically character design and art direction.
The basic premise of Soul Eater is that the Grim Reaper himself, Lord Death, has set up a school to train individuals known as meisters to combat evil souls known as kishin who have been turned into evil abominations by the evil in their hearts and souls. Lord Death has them do this in order to maintain the balance between good and evil on the planet. The meisters are aided in their fight by humans who are capable of transforming themselves into weapon forms, such as a scythe, a chain blade, and pistols among others. The ultimate goal of a meister is to defeat 99 kishin and have their weapon consume the kishin‘s souls. They also must defeat one witch. When this happens, the weapon will become a death scythe in the employ of Lord Death himself.
The show has a main cast of about 7 characters, three meisters and four weapons (i’ll explain the oddness there in a second). The first pair, and the pair that I think is probably the main pair on the series, is young girl Maka, the meister, and her partner Soul. Maka is earnest and intelligent. Soul is sort of a more surly youth with a quicker temper and less patience than Maka, but they still make a great pair. Soul’s weapon form is a giant scythe. The next pair is Black Star, the meister, and Tsubaki, the weapon. Black Star is a fairly obvious jab at the ninja/assassin sub-genre of anime, particularly a certain very popular ninja *cough*NARUTO*cough*. He’s loud, not particularly stealthy, yet through his sheer determinator status, he somehow manages to pull shit off. It’s not a straight deconstruction of the Naruto-type, but more of a loving parody. His long-suffering partner Tsubaki has to constantly deal with the fall out of his just rushing head first into a situation, until he suddenly remembers that he’s a highly capable stealthy ninja when he’s not being a dumb-ass. Her weapon form is a chain blade. The last group is Death the Kid, the meister, and Patty and Liz Thompson, his weapons. Kid is the son of Lord Death himself and the most naturally talented meister at the academy. His partners weapon form are two pistols. Unfortunately for Death the Kid, he has a crippling, OCD level obsession with symmetry in every aspect of his life that keeps him from being as effective a meister as he could be.
The story on this show hasn’t been super-engaging at this point, but it’s pretty early in the series, and the final episode I watched actually looked like maybe the show was finally going to start going in a more interesting direction. The fight scenes haven’t been particularly awesome looking but after Gurren Lagann, I guess every fight scene ever will be a disappointment. The problem that this is pretty much a shonen fighting anime so far, and I hope the fight scenes get cooler. However, the art direction in this show is phenomenal and it has one of the most unique art styles that I’ve ever seen on an anime. It’s this really cool combination of gothic art along with sort of surreal dream-like flourishes. The characters are all drawn very well and the world itself looks great. It’s probably what keeps me dragging along with the show even when the story hasn’t been that great.
So far the series reminds me of kind of what would happen if you cross-breeded Harry Potter with the very first story arc of Bleach, back when Ichigo and everyone was still in high school and they hadn’t spent a million episodes carting around the Soul Society. I’m probably going to end up finishing the series, but it definitely doesn’t seem at this point that it will be as good as the last two anime that I’ve watched for this blog. However, if you like really imaginative art styles and a fairly original universe, then you might want to give this one a try. I’ll keep on watching at least until the end of Part 1 and then decide there if I want to finish the whole series or not.
Score in Progress: B