Category: Anime Action


Thanks to the disproportionate popularity and public awareness of programs like Dragon Ball Z, Gundam, Bleach, and Naruto, anime has developed a reputation of being nothing more than children’s programming where super heroes and robots use martial arts, explosions, and more sheer determination than you can shake a stick at to save the world from nondescript threats. How many people have been dis-swayed from watching a Hiyao Miyazaki film because they think all anime is the same, even if, in reality, Miyazaki makes some of the most beautiful children film’s this side of Pixar? How many people refuse to watch Cowboy Bebop, the best space western/space noir prior to Firefly, because they don’t think anime is actually capable of being artistically significant? The answer is far too many people. While even I enjoy the occasional action based anime like Gurren Lagann or Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, it’s the wide variety of the genre that really draws me in. Following an unconventional coming-of-age tale with a heavy lean towards science fiction, 2004’s The Place Promised in Our Early Days is another anime feature film that completely defies genre expectations while simultaneously providing an interesting (if perhaps too complex and confusing) tale to entertain the audience.

Set in an alternate Earth history where Japan was split into two after the second World War, with Japan controlling half the country and the United States the other half, The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a personal and emotional tale of friendship, love, and the forces that keep us apart. Set in the late 1990’s of this alternate timeline, we are introduced to Takuya and Hiroki, two young Japanese middle-schoolers that discover a downed drone aircraft and decide to rebuild it, in order to reach a nearly infinitely tall tower that grows in the American section of Japan. The boys befriend a strange girl named Sayuri (who may or may not have visions of the future) and together, the trio spend the summer working on their plane and being happy children. However, one day, Sayuri mysteriously disappears, and for three years, the boys not only hear from Sayuri, they grow apart from each other. Takuya becomes a scientist for the government while Hiroki remains in high school. Suddenly, the possible presence of Sayuri, the beginning of World War III, and other forces begin to draw Hiroki and Takuya back together so they can save Sayuri and possibly the world.

Before I get into some of the areas where I felt this film stumbled (which were unfortunately numerous), let me talk about some of the things I loved. First, the artwork in this film was absolutely gorgeous. You would be forgiven if you thought you had stepped onto the set of a Hiyao Miyazaki film or any other Studio Ghibli production. The artwork is that good. There aren’t a ton of different animations in the film. Instead the strength of the art relies on the absurdly gorgeous landscapes. The attention to detail is just astounding, and there were times when I would just want to pause the movie and appreciate the rolling hillsides or beautiful sunsets. This was one of the prettiest animes to look at that I’ve seen in a while. Similarly, the characters themselves are quite expressive and while they look like your traditional anime school children, there’s something about the way they’re drawn that lends the character styles something indescribably unique.

Also (and this is a compliment), you could also be mistaken that Hideaki Anno had taken a break during Neon Genesis Evangelion to write something a little more uplifting and positive that still bears his trademark of deep and never-ending personal angst and ennui. A significant portion of this film consists of narration by Hiroki describing his deep depression and anxiety in the years since he lost contact with Sayuri, who he loved. Similarly, Sayuri (who for fear of spoiling the film’s science fiction conceits) delivers her fair share of emotionally laden monologues against a gorgeous but desolate dreamscape that could have stepped out of a film David Lynch made for children, but he also made the conscious decision to keep making things strange as hell. Alongside Neon Genesis Evangelion, this was definitely one of the most intensely psychological anime I’ve ever watched, though over the course of the film’s 90 minute running time, I did find myself wishing for more time to spend getting to know these characters who were still frustratingly ill-defined at the film’s end.

However, the actual plot of the film (as opposed to the deep characterization of its protagonists) was vague and sort of confusing at best and intentionally unclear at worst. I’m willing to attribute part of this problem to the manner in which I saw this film which was on my Instant Queue on Netflix. I watched the English dub, and I’m willing to bet that something was lost in the localization and that the Japanese text which popped up occasionally in scene transitions (and the scenes themselves at times) which wasn’t subtitled at all caused me to lose some of the story. However, I also think that at the film’s core there was simply a science fiction story which meshed in an incredibly uncomfortable with the otherwise painfully realistic coming of age tale that was the beating heart of the film. The film doesn’t resolve a lot of the sci-fi technobabble that accompany some of its seemingly most important scenes. Similarly, the ending is exceptionally vague and confusing, and I’m still completely unsure as to what really happened there. It’s as if I loved half of the film’s plot and equally loathed the other half.

My other major problem with the film was the really bad voice acting in the English dub, with the exception of Hiroki’s voice actor. Takuya sounded like he was in his mid-40’s (as opposed to being a middle/high schooler), and Sayuri embodied virtually every high-pitched/obnoxiously feminine quality I despise in female anime voice acting (Faye Valentine is legitimately the only great female voice in all of anime). I can’t really blame the movie for that too much because anything outside of Studio Gainax or Cowboy Bebop has this problem in spades. It’s endemic of the whole anime industry. I love Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (it’s my second favorite anime ever), but I’m physically incapable of watching the English dub because the voice acting is so awful (save Ed). Hiroki’s voice actor was great though and really sold all of his personal anguish and depression. It was heart-breaking to listen to his little speeches because they felt so real and personal. It was a very intimate performance.

One last positive note before I end my extended ramblings on this film. The soundtrack is hauntingly gorgeous. There are two moments where the characters play violins that will stay with me for a long while, and the whole film is filled with beautiful musical moments like these. All in all, this is a movie made for those grown-ups like myself who hate having to defend their love of anime to uninformed individuals who don’t get just how much the genre has to offer. Even if you’re not a fan of anime but like psychological coming-of-age stories, I can also recommend this beautifully intimate tale (though the sci-fi story tacked on drags that whole production down). It’s not perfect, and while it wasn’t the masterpiece you’d seem come from Studio Ghibli, it is the definition of scenery porn as anyone with the slightest appreciation of art will probably eat up every scene and the core story of friendship is achingly tender. It has deep flaws, but the parts that work more than make up for the rest.

Final Score: B+

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The vast majority of anime are based off of manga series, and it is on the rare side for an anime to be made after the manga has finished its run. Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece are incredibly long-lived anime series that are based off of manga that are still running. What happens the most during these shows is that the anime will fill the series with filler while it gives the manga time to sufficiently jump ahead of the anime. Hence, this is why Goku would take several episodes just to power up his spirit bomb or the fact that the show was on Namek for legitimately 80 episodes. However, some series take a different approach. Rather than waiting to catch up with the manga, they create an entirely new storyline for the show to follow as they eventually diverge with the manga‘s canon at some point. The original Fullmetal Alchemist took this approach and this is also the approach Soul Eater has taken as well. I only bring this up because these last couple of episodes have had a distinctly different feel from earlier episodes and I can definitely see where this is caused by different writers.

Medusa’s surrender to the DWMA was short-lived as it was simply a ploy for her to pit the DWMA versus Arachnophobia as well as to complete Stein’s madness to complete insanity. She offered the DWMA the location of the kishin Asura as well as Arachnophobia in exchange for her freedom and a promise that the DWMA would leave her alone. Crona and Marie set off to defeat Medusa anyways since they are no longer part of the school. The rest of the DWMA heads to Arachnophobia’s headquarters to finally defeat Arachne and Asura. At the last moment however, Maka decides to join with Marie and Crona since she can’t believe that Shinigami-san could ever let someone as evil as Medusa free. During the fight against Medusa, Crona sacrifices himself (although he lives) to save Maka and firmly places himself on the good guys’ team. After Marie cures Stein of his madness, Maka uses Genie Hunter again to finally defeat Medusa who leaves with the cryptic warning that they’re still not strong enough to stop Asura.

This disc had plenty of plot and besides Maka’s angst about Lord Death releasing Medusa, it was fairly devoid of filler. The closest thing it had to a filler episode was when Kid ent to a city to find the very last magic tool. However, this episode did commit what i feel is a cardinal sin of comic books/ anime. Unless you’re Gurren Lagann, and you’re entire universe is guided by the rule of awesome, please do not suddenly give your characters new powers without explaining where they came from. This is called deus ex machina, and it’s a crutch for bad writing. While we had seen Genie Hunter before, it was never explained that it could expel spirits from the body of those possessed or that it destroyed all evil it touched. Also, the way that Marie cured Stein’s madness was from the same principle. We had never seen her use a single one of her powers and she is a Death Scythe so she’s very powerful, but it would have been easier to swallow that whole sequence if we had seen her do something similar earlier in the series.

I’m kind of excited that Soul Eater is drawing to a close. School is starting up in a week, and I just don’t have time to be reviewing three TV shows at once (not counting the ones I’m reviewing as they air which makes the number six). I should finish Soul Eater and Buffy literally right after each other. And after that, I’m sticking to one show on DVD at a time. It’s all I’ll have time for. I’m trying to make up my mind about whether the next show should be Twin Peaks or Angel. I’m possibly Jossed out at the moment, so I may decide to visit the crazy mind of David Lynch. Anyways, here’s to hoping that Soul Eater closes its page with as epic an ending as humanly possible.

Disc Score: B

Alright, all of the worries I had last disc have been assuaged. The show spent nearly 7 episodes not doing anything particularly significant, but we had a pay off, as we got three episodes of an epic, large-scale battle, and then three equally good episodes exploring what’s happening at the DWMA now that the battle is over. The series is drawing to a close, and I only have one season left with 12 episodes to go. I didn’t think I could enjoy a typical shonen series as much as I have Soul Eater, although I think it’s unfair for me to call this series typical. Whatever it is, we’re entering the end-game of the series. I’m still not entirely sure what in the hell is happening anymore, but I’m firmly along for the ride, and I want to see all of these bad-ass kids save the world one last time.

This disc begins with the gang going on a dangerous mission to “Lost Island”, a once beautiful island paradise that was destroyed in magical explosion and is now a snow-covered wasteland. They are after one of the magic tools that both Arachnophobia and the DWMA are searching for. The magic tool is nestled in a magnetic field in the middle of the island that is in fact some sort of weird time warp to before the explosion. Anyone stuck in the magnetic field for more than 20 minutes is stuck in the time loop forever. The kid meisters head in against Stein’s orders to rescue Stein and Marie and fight the weird little guy named Mosquito. They fail to recover the magic tool, but Arachne doesn’t get it either. However, Medusa actually found it first. Stein has officially lost any semblance of sanity he ever had as the snake Crona sneaked into his body is completely robbing him of his sanity. Crona finally fesses up to what he did to Stein, and Death may or may not be expelling him from the DWMA. Also, the disc ended with Medusa “surrendering” to the DWMA.

All of the fights on Lost Island were bad-ass. In addition to the main three meisters being there, there were also three other meisters who served as the defensive line while Maka, Black Star, and Kid went to rescue Stein and Marie. Their cool abilities and weapons made me wish that maybe we had seen a little bit more of them through out the series. Sure, Ox is a loser but he’s kind of a bad-ass in battle. Also, last disc, the gang learned how to resonate their souls together to be even more powerful, and we finally got to see that in action with the fight against Mosquito. Soul had to work with that creepy demon that lives in his subconscious to do it, but when they were all powered up, they kicked so many different shades of ass. Kid was shooting Mosquito up like something out of a John Woo picture. Black Star was moving around faster than Bruce Lee on cocaine, and Maka and Soul upgraded witch hunter to the even more impressive genie hunter. The fight was so awesome. Also, I just really loved the touch of Soul’s creepy piano playing during the fight. It was a nice aesthetic counterpoint to the violence. I just wish the show was relying less on MacGuffins. I really hate MacGuffins.

Maybe Soul Eater doesn’t have the most original plot on the planet. That’s a completely valid point. It’s definitely a typical shonen anime in that regard. However, I feel the series distinguishes itself (besides from the art and character styles which I talk about constantly) through a healthy sense of characterization. I think about how much Black Star used to irritate the hell out of me when he first showed up, but after his big episode this disc, he’s grown on me a lot. I see why he’s so determined and gung-ho. Maka has grown up a lot too over the course of the series, but I liked her a lot at the beginning. I mean, this is no Fullmetal Alchemist but it makes no pretensions of being as such. This show is meant to be fun. It is. Therefore, it succeeds. I’m excited to see how it ends. I’ll probably read the manga since I’m at the point now where the show diverges considerably from the manga source material.

Disc Score: B+

So, I would have finished this review yesterday, but my dad and sister paid a surprise visit to Morgantown, and Nicole ended up spending the evening at my apartment (hence why I watched Take Me Home Tonight). Anywho, It wasn’t until 10 this evening that I was back here in Morgantown after driving Nicole home and back that I felt settled in enough to get started on productive things like blogging. The last two discs of Soul Eater that I reviewed, so basically almost all of Part 2, were very arc-driven and heavily serialized. There was very little in the way of filler. Most of the disc dealt with the battle underneath the DWMA and the fall-out of that fight. The first part of the series had some story stuff, but there was nearly as much (if not more) of  an emphasis on filler, which admittedly is the plague of almost all shonen anime. While this disc was about half story, it was also about half filler, and as I’m finding myself confused about what exactly is happening in the story stuff and not caring about the filler, it was difficult to really engage myself with this disc (although two fantastic episodes raised its overall score).

The last disc ended after the battle between Medusa’s forces against Stein and the main meisters and weapons of the show. The kishin Asura escaped his prison and is now spreading his madness throughout the whole world. One of the way’s that his madness manifests is that it awakens powers and evil that had lied dormant for centuries. The last episode of the disc had Maka, Soul, and Crona heading off towards the Czech Republic to battle golems. It turns out this golem houses the soul of an ancient and evil witch who has now finally manifested back to her old form. This is Arachne who is competing with Medusa and Asura for the series Big Bad at the moment. Before Stein chopped her in half, Medusa spit out part of her soul which has now attached itself to the body of a little girl, and Medusa is trying to regain her former powers. The story aspects of the disc followed the students as they try to stop Arachne’s forces from acquiring these things known as magic tools which are needed for something known as the book of Eibon. I’m not really sure what’s going on. I think the book of Eibon is some all-powerful MacGuffin, but I could be wrong. Also, Stein is losing his god-damned mind.

I was just having a ton of trouble getting into this disc. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it was. However, there were two great episodes. For one, Crona is now a student at the DWMA. We got an episode where he is forced to choose between his loyalties to his new friends and his mother Medusa, who has returned from the dead. We got a fairly tragic look at the mind-set of this incredibly damaged youth. That poor boy has more mommy issues than the kid’s in Mommy Dearest. Also, we got the third Excalibur episode of the series. Excalibur finally finds a meister who can put up with his 1000 provisions, and we finally get to see just how ridiculously powerful Excalibur is. Once again, like the other two episodes, this one was hilarious. Excalibur is such a minor character on the show, but I know anytime that he shows up that I need to prepare myself for plenty of gut-busting laughs.

The disc ended with the three meisters learning how to resonate their souls together for even more awesome power, so hopefully, there’s going to be some kick-ass fights to show just how bad-ass Maka, Death the Kid, and Black Star are when they work together. Also, I just feel like the show has been laying the pieces for what should hopefully be a more serialized story leading to battles against the Big Bad’s. There’s three floating around at the moment, so the series isn’t lacking in bad-ass enemies for the group to take on. I’m not concerned (yet) that the series is undergoing some massive dip in quality. Soul Eater is never going to be a great show. It’s just going to be a beautifully animated fun show. We’re just in a lull that I’m assuming the show will probably quickly jump out of.

Disc Score: B

So, the last time I actually reviewed a disc of Soul Eater for this blog was way back in the middle of April. I forget the exact reason why I had stopped watching it because when I stopped, the show had just started to really get interesting. I think part of it was just an internet thing as I was using my bandwidth for other purposes besides streaming movies from Netflix and then, I moved out of my apartment and back home right at the beginning of May where I couldn’t stream stuff from Netflix cause I had dial-up internet. Anyways, I’ve decided to go ahead and finish the series. I spent most of last week watching the episodes that I had seen two months ago, and then I finally caught back up and started watching the rest of Part 2 which I hadn’t seen the second half of. We definitely have some interesting stories going on and two characters are experiencing some interesting character development that should have some compelling pay-offs as the rest of the series progresses.

The last disc ended with the three main Meisters and their weapons (as well as Stein and Spirit) facing off against Medusa, Crona, and Free underneath the DWMA while Medusa attempts to awaken the kishin Asura. After tapping into the same madness plaguing Crona, Maka and Soul are able to make Crona realize he isn’t a villain and bring him over to the good guys side. After a fairly epic battle where Stein’s own inner madness is resurfacing, Stein and Spirit are able to defeat Medusa, although it is mostly for naught as she was just biding time for her minions to awaken Asura. Asura rises and has an epic fight against Lord Death, although Asura escapes and now it is just a matter of time til his madness begins to envelop the whole world. After the fight, Crona is enrolled at the DWMA and Stein is slowly losing himself to his own madness.

I have officially decided that Stein is simply the best character on the show. His general bad-assery mixed with his moral ambiguity and potential insanity just makes for compelling television. While Death the Kid and Excalibur are both awesome as well, Dr. Stein simply has layers of complexity that neither of those characters can match. Also, Crona is becoming much more interesting than the chew toy he had been previously. While I never really thought he was a bad guy (because he was just so damn pathetic), taking him to the side of the good guys will be a great chance for them to develop his powers while making me see what he would be like had Medusa not mentally tortured him his entire life. Also, Spirit isn’t nearly as annoying as he used to be either. While Maka’s father is far from my favorite character on the series, Spirit has definitely grown on me as well.

This show is never going to be as great as FLCL or Gurren Lagann or Fullmetal Alchemist, but that’s okay. This is simply a fun shonen (maybe?) anime that I can just sit back, relax, and enjoy all of the bad-ass heroics. What separates it from other anime of similar theme will always be the art and character design which remain just top notch. It’s a beautiful show that I enjoy looking at as much as following the plot. I’m glad that I’ve come back to watching Soul Eater and I’ll be bouncing back and forth between this and the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the TV that I’ll be watching that isn’t TV currently airing like Torchwood and Breaking Bad. Well, I can’t wait to see what happens now that the series Big Bad is on the loose and has the potential to wreak havoc on the whole world.

Disc Score: B+

 Since I’ve reviewed three anime series for this blog (and will be reviewing Neon Genesis Evangelion whenever Netflix decides to actually have it in stock), it should come as no surprise that I love anime. I also love science fiction. I especially love cyberpunk. Perhaps, that has something to do with the fact that I’m part of the generation that has spent as much on the time the internet as we have in real places. So, a film that’s considered a classic of both anime in general and specifically cyberpunk, 199X’s Ghost in the Shell, should have been a movie that I loved. And while perhaps I just had a really terrible subtitle translation job (although this is the official Blu-Ray re-release so I doubt it), I thought this film was a unmitigated mess of techno-philosophical mumbo-jumbo that I found nearly impossible to follow (and not in that good David Lynch sort of way), and by the time the film was over, I really had no idea what had just happened in the movie I watched.

Ghost in the Shell is a story set in a futuristic Japan where people are able to directly connect their brains to the internet and cyborgs (people that have human brains but robotic bodies) walk the streets as peers with the regular humans. However, because humanity has become so integrated with the digital world, it is possible for expert hackers to take control over a person’s brain from the internet through a concept known as Ghost-hacking. Once the world is set up, which is actually done fairly well, that’s when the movie falls apart because other than knowing who the villain was, I had no idea what his motivations were, how he had been captured, or what the fuck happened at the movie’s end. There’s a lot, lot, lot of talking in this anime and not in a good Neon Genesis Evangelion sort of way.

If you’re a fan of cyberpunk, I’m going to go ahead and guess you’ve already seen this. Any one who’s watched the movie and actually understood the ending, I would appreciate an explanation because I had no idea. Pretty much there are only two good things I can say about this film. The score was pretty fantastic. It was awesome. The animation was really good too, although I don’t know why the movie had to have so much gratuitous and unnecessary nudity. I can’t really recommend this to anyone, unless you’re a serious otaku, and then as I’ve said, you’ve probably already seen it.

 Final Score: C

Well space cowboys, we’ve come to the last leg of our journey. Our time upon the Bebop has come to a close and we must bid Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein a most fond farewell. It was a fun trip that involved amnesiacs, mind control, truckers, blobs in refrigerators, yakuza, artificially aware satellites, and more crazy awesome than you can shake a stick at. But like the Native American in the finale said, all great journeys must eventually come to a close. And it will be time for a new one to start for me soon enough (actually as soon as my next Netflix DVD’s come in the mail and I start getting Neon Genesis Evangelion).

While I’ve written 5 other reviews for the series so far, they focused on the particular episodes that I had seen at that point. This will try to be a general synopsis of my feelings for the series so I apologize for the fact that a lot of the things I’ve said before are probably going to be repeated. Unlike many anime which are highly serialized and consecutive in their myth arc development, Cowboy Bebop is much more episodic in nature and the myth arc is developed slowly but beautifully over the series course, and much of that is simply character development and universe building. The show focuses on the antics and adventures of the crew of the spaceship Bebop. The primary protagonist is Spike Spiegel, a Cowboy, which is the show’s word for a bounty hunter. He’s joined by ex-cop and father figure Jet Black, mysterious con woman Faye Valentine, genius child prodigy Ed, and the dog Ein. Over the course of the show’s 26 episodes, you get a deeper and deeper look at their stories and the universe that they live in, and it all culminates in an absolutely beautiful series finale.

The series is science-fiction first and foremost, but it masterfully weaves a tale that incorporates all of my favorite genres of fiction. Film Noir, westerns, mafia pictures, comedy, psychological drama. And it does all of them better than most shows can do a single one. Some of the episodes of this show are my favorite episodes not just of anime but of any type of TV. Spike and Ed are two of my favorite characters in all of anime. Spike is simply one of the coolest dudes to ever be drawn on screen and Ed’s never-ending word salad is always endearing. Series big bad Vicious is also one of anime’s most compelling villains. The animation and art direction are also superb enough to match the story-telling, which is often a rare feat in a lot of anime.

One of the most memorable aspects of the series is its soundtrack. Live action or animated, no show has a better score than Cowboy Bebop. Yoko Kanno, over the course of the series 26 episode run, delivered a score that can only be described as perfect, and while it is heavily jazz-influenced, it also shows streaks in practically every genre of music, and it never failed to impress me. If you have no interest in the show, you should at least check out its superb soundtrack. The voice acting on the show is also top notch and has the finest English dub of any anime that I’ve watched. No voice actor drags the series down and it never succumbs to any of the cliches of most English anime dubs. I actually think the English dub is better than the original Japanese voice acting.

Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime of all time. It outclasses its closest competition for me, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, by a mile. Even if you don’t like anime, you should give this one a go, especially if you were a fan of science fiction cult classic Firefly. This show has multi-demographic appeal and I recommend it whole-heartedly.

Bang.

Final Score: A+

*SPOILER ALERT*

God bless whoever had the idea at Netflix to start letting people watch movies via instant streaming. While the idea has probably sucked away countless hours of my life that I could have used for more productive purposes like school or writing a novel, it has also given me the opportunity to watch countless shows and movies that I would have never had time to watch because of the nature of shipping DVD’s. Netflix recently expanded the content of its anime selection to watch instantly to a really respectable amount of content, and I just know that I’m going to lose so many hours of my life watching all of these anime that I’ve wanted to see but never had the opportunity to get into. Soul Eater really upped its game in its last 7 episodes, and I watched every single one of them practically in a row today. So, yeah, it’s becoming addicting.

The first major story arc of the show has really started to kick into gear as the ultimate plan of the Witch Medusa has finally been placed into action. Apparently, there is a kishin that has been held in basically a quarantine state underneath of the DWMA (Death Weapon Meister Acadamey). His name is Asura and he was one of Lord Death’s most trusted and powerful warriors. However, he began to crave too much power and fed on human souls and ultimately became a kishin. It is Medusa’s plan to re-awaken Asura, although I’m not really sure what her goal is after that. When Medusa instituted a plan to trap Lord Death and all of the meisters and weapons in one of the school’s towers, the show’s three main groups as well as Dr. Stein are able to escape and they delve into the bowels of the school to try and stop Medusa and her henchmen. Epic fights ensue.

As well as the incredibly plot relevant stuff, we also got two filler episodes. One was kind of boring and made me wary that this disc was going to be awful and it was about an exam the students were taking. The other was awesome and hilarious. It brought back one of my favorite supporting characters, the weapon Excalibur. He’s a supposedly incredibly powerful weapon, but he’s such a diva that no one wants to put up with all of the ridiculous demands he makes on a meister. He’s on my short list for the ensemble dark horse of the show. I spent his entire episode just cracking up. We also got some back story for Death the Kid’s weapons, Patty and Liz in one episode that brought back Crona. Also, in the very last episode I watched, Crona him/herself got some pretty important back story and it explains just why in the hell he’s so messed up which is what you would expect from Medusa’s own, mentally tortured child.

I don’t know exactly why I was able to watch all 7 of these episodes in like one day when it took me like a week and a half to watch the first 7. I think it’s probably because I finally felt for the first time in the show that it had some serious plot momentum and I kept wanting to figure out what would happen next. It generally does a pretty good job of ending episodes on cliff-hangers that make you want to immediately turn in next week (well next week if it were on tv. right now since it’s on netflix). I know considering how the very last episode ended that I definitely want to see where it goes, and if I weren’t going home to Philippi tomorrow night where we have dial up internet, I’d probably watch even more of the show.

Score in Progress: B+

Well, in the immortal words of Jim Morrison, this is the end, or almost anyways. I’ve got one disc of Cowboy Bebop to watch after this review is over. It should be coming from Netflix within the week and that means my return to the spaceship Bebop and the adventures of its inhabitants will have finally drawn to a close. It’s a bitter sweet emotion because I’ve been really loving watching this show these last couple weeks. All great things must come to an end I guess.

The first episode of the four on the disc was probably one of the weaker episodes of the series that I’ve watched so far and I was never really exactly sure what was going on. However, that’s ok because the second episode “Pierrot Le Fou” has been my second favorite episode of the series, only behind the 5th episode. It was a really cool departure from the norm for the series and the villain was quite effective, and overall the episode was just incredibly creepy. The third episode was  jet episode that almost played like something out of True Grit, and the last episode was a sort of hilarious urban western that introduced a new bounty hunter named Andy that took the cowboy thing way too far. It was really funny.

The music and art direction of the show have remained fantastic. The abandoned theme park scenes in the second episode were just amazing looking, and in the urban western episode, they did a really great job of evoking the sort of melodies and themes you’d expect from an Ennio Morricone score in a Sergio Leone film like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. When I finally finish this show, I will be moving straight into Neon Genesis Evangelion. It will be interesting going from the fun of this show to the never ending depression of that other classic. Should be interesting.

Score in Progress: A+

*SPOILER ALERT*

13 episodes in and I can safely say that Soul Eater is a more serialized program in the vein of Gurren Lagann than the more episodic nature of Cowboy Bebop. While this show has already had more filler moments in 13 episodes than Gurren Lagann had during its entire run (which was admittedly only 26 episodes), generally speaking there is an over all myth arc that each episode tries to carry forward. And while the first 7 episodes only gave me the slightest glimpse as to what that myth arc might be, after I finished the end of Part 1 of the show, I think I have a better idea where this at least initial arc is probably heading. So, yeah, there’s going to be some spoilers. Check out my first review for a spoiler free look at the show.

Basically, my last set of reviews ended with Maka and Soul getting their asses kicked by this dude (or chick, I’m not really sure) named Crona who was a meister whose weapon was living inside of his body in his blood, and the weapon is later identified as a demon sword. They were no match for Crona and were only saved by the intervention of Dr. Stein and Maka’s father, the death scythe Spirit. Crona was being controlled seemingly against his will by a witch named Medusa who I’m quickly determining is going to be the series first real Big Bad (she’s also the nurse at the school), and I’m not really sure if her motivations have been properly explained yet, other than this has something to do with the process by which a meister is turned into a kishin. Through an exposition heavy episode, we learn how exactly it is that kishin are formed, and it happens whenever a meister and/or a weapon use their powers to feed on human souls. We also got an episode devoted to better fleshing out Tsubaki’s back story, as well as a couple used to introduce some new villains to the story while still setting up Medusa as the big villain.

The art direction and general animation have remained fantastic and the story is definitely getting more interesting. Death the Kid and the mad scientist (yet still a hero) Dr. Franken Stein have emerged as my favorite characters on the series. There’s just something about Kid’s ridiculous OCD that is always entertaining, and Dr. Stein is  fun anti-hero/mentor type. The fight scenes have also improved, especially the one against the wolf/ice fighter Free in the last episode I watched. It looked pretty good. The characters have all received some power-ups of one sort or another since my last review so I guess it makes sense that the fights are getting cooler cause the ante has been upped so to speak. I’m probably going to finish the series completely unless at some point the quality just jumps off the cliff. I’ve been enjoying it so far even if it hasn’t been as good as Cowboy Bebop or Gurren Lagann.

Score in Progress: B