51 of 51 episodes seen
See, nothing can meet my standards now.
Soul Eater set the bar too high, so that the majority of shows out there just pale into nothingness in comparison. You may have gathered, but I really like this series.
Why do I like it? Let's go by category, shall we?
Soul Eater, for the first 30 episodes or so, has far and away the best story line of any anime I've ever seen. It really kicks in around episode 9 and hooks you so that you stay up till ridiculous hours going 'just...one more... episode...'
The first three episodes are largely exposition. The first episode sets the tone of the show and the other two follow suit, though not with as much oomph perhaps. After that, threads start to evolve which later all link into a cohesive whole.
Other people may be crying out that other shows have better stories, but I disagree. For example, people on this site seem intent on giving series' like "Noein" full scores on the basis of their stories. Er, I'm sorry, but how the hell did you actually follow that plot? My point is, just because something is outlandishly complex, does not make it genius. Soul Eater is smart, direct and gets to the point without episode long explanations of quantum mechanics.
That being said, even I - being enamoured with this anime - will admit that it loses focus post episode 28ish. The manga is incomplete, so the studio had to come up with their own ideas. They do relatively well, up until the final episode, which I won't be discussing because I'm sure it's been bitched about ad nauseum.
The art style takes some getting used to. You'll see. A lot of things have eyes and facial expressions which ordinarily wouldn't have eyes or facial expression. So trees... the moon... the sun... They become motifs in the show, which, although thematically inconsistent (particularly in the case of the moon) add a certain eerie charm. The art makes the anime extremely distinctive; this isn't a style that you are going to mix up with another shows.
You will get used to it, and will probably grow to find it irrisistably charming. I did.
I also prefer it to the manga's art, though I have not read the manga, only seen a few scans. I have aspirations to start a Soul Eater manga library one day (when I have money...), so I refuse to read it online now.
That little tangent aside.
The music is ridiculously catchy. Both intro's are worth listening to every time you watch an episode. I'm particularly attached to "Paper Moon", by Tommy Heavenly6. This is the second intro; be ready for the awesome.
And yes, the endings grew on my too. So... happy. "I wanna be", by Stance Punks. It's loud, it's fun and it makes me want to jump around on furniture.
The music in the episodes is also epic. It's worth looking up Blackstar's theme, "Never lose myself" both to listen to and for the sake of the lyrics. If you are having a crap day, there is nothing like mindless and unshakable arrogance to shrug it off. Repeat "I am invincible; there is no doubting it..."
Stopping briefly on the voice acting, can I please recommend that you watch this with English dubs? Seriously, it's the best cast ever. Laura Bailey is perfect for Maka and this is weird, but I think it's the way she screams. It's hard to describe, but please see episode 9 :P Micah Solusod is relatively new to the industry, but for me, he made Soul, Soul. And yes, you will get used to Blackstar being voiced by a girl. By the end of the series, you will have entirely forgotten. Respect to Brittney Karbowski.
Ah, the section I've been waiting for!
Soul Eater's characters make the show.
At first glance, they are all character stereotypes. Blackstar is sort of like Naruto on steroids, I guess.
Trust me, these characters aren't flats. Not even Blackstar. Frankly, I reckon he makes Naruto look a little cardboard.
Maka - Maka is a meister, meaning she uses a humanoid weapon (i.e. Soul) to defeat enemies.
Female protagonist... who can look after herself? Is it possible?
Maka is kickass. She's uptight and a bit of a nerd, but when it comes to beating up kishin (the baddies), no one makes it look cooler. She has something of a complex about boys, thanks to her adulterous dad. The relationship between her and her father, Spirit, is very sweet and generally highly amusing to boot.
Soul - Soul is a weapon (he can change into a scythe) and Maka's equal in coolness. Which is saying quite a lot. You get the impression that there is a lot of depth to him, which is sadly not fully explored in the anime. (For example, why does he object to being called 'Evans' by a certain red demon dude? It is his surname...No doubt this is fully expounded upon in the manga.) But Soul is still multi-faceted and interesting, despite the lack of concrete information. He is also a really nice guy, who - in a departure from anime stereotypes - would never cheat on Maka.
That's not to say they are a couple... But their relationship is probably what makes this show so watchable. You know they care deeply for and trust one another implicitly. It's a partnership as it should be: equal.
I'm not going to explore the other characters, because that would probably turn this review into a novel. I will state though, for concerned watchers of this show, that the Blackstar you see in episode 2 is the character you will see for the rest of the show. No, he is not going to get less loud and obnoxious. You'll just forget that he is those things.
This series was amazing for me, but the last episode did grate, obviously. Still, I don't think it's fair to degrade the whole anime based on this one episode, which frankly wasn't THAT awful.
So, despite this flaw, I can't bring myself to give Soul Eater less than 10. It was just so far beyond the league of the shows I saw after it. As a result, I am stubbornly giving a full mark.
And waiting patiently for the 'Brotherhood' version of the show.
12 of 12 episodes seen
You see, it's difficult to keep a harem theme going when the protagonist has already chosen the girl he wants to be with. The show however, attempted to overlook this, I suppose, in an effort to remain consistent. They've done this theme for three seasons, a fourth won't hurt. Wrong. Really, they could have stopped the other girls from chasing after Saito at the end of the first season. You know, when he kind of married Louise the first time?
I watched this season straight after the third one, which worked to its credit; I could tell the art had been amped up. It isn't amazing, but after season three began to disintegrate into bright coloured blocks of colour to represent faces and clothing, it was something of a relief. So art gets a 6.
Oh the story. Well, really, stories. There isn't one thread here; about six seasons worth of viable plot lines are crammed into 12 episodes. "What a cool idea, let's include that... and that... and that." For example, Louise is kidnapped and rescued within the space of two episodes, while a major villain is also destroyed, but not before bringing in plenty of back-story and a little romance. Breathe, people, breathe. That could have been a season right there. The whole production comes off as breathless and cheap as a result; there isn't enough time for emotional investment.
Additionally, emotion manipulation is taken to new and special places. If you've seen earlier seasons, you know that both Saito and Prof Cobalt kick the bucket. Well, sort of. Well, not really. Saito gets rescued by a fairy-elf-thing and I'm not even going to go into how the teacher evades death here. It makes the pixie-nonsense sound sensible. If you are going to kill off a character, please do not reincarnate them without a DAMN good explanation.
Which brings us to the elf-thing, named Tiffania. (I imagine some sort of play on Titania here). Yeah, it says ecchi in the genre. Yes, I know, I shouldn't complain. But I really, really, really loathe fan-service. Maybe cos I'm a girl and I can just see years of feminism going to waste. But I tolerate it; I understand that people like it, despite not quite comprehending why. But the same applies to fan-service as did to character-killing. If you include it, let it serve a purpose and if that's not possible, let it not be the focus of the show. Tiffania has boobs like "melons" and is the show's very own 'perv-object'. She doesn't do anything. Nada. She only makes Louise constantly voice the desire to have larger appendages and acts as an object for Saito to molest. Presumably for comic value. She's built up to be amazingly powerful, but only performs one lame memory-wiping spell.
The characters also have zero motivation to go fetch her from her forest dwelling. Originally, I assumed that dear "hime-sama" wanted her to bring back Wales from the dead. (Again). But she doesn't even ask for that! So remind me why everyone went looking for her...?
Well, I guess the princess had other things on her mind. Namely Saito. They were doing so well, I thought she and Tabitha might actually escape inclusion into "Saito's Pointless Harem". Nope. He's way to irresistible, apparently.
Finally, on the story front, just how many times did they have to pull EXACTLY THE SAME JOKE? You already know, the one where Saito accidentally grabs the boob of an unsuspecting female and Louise yells "Exploshan!". Cue falling pieces of building, etc, etc. Another point, more general - why is there a direct correlation in this (and many other) animes between the size of a girl's breasts and her level of stupidity? Has the brain tissue been sent to that region instead? Story gets a generous 3.
Oh the characters. Saito is generic, insert-yourself-here-average-anime-boy material. Complete with bluish, generic hair and never-say-die attitude, he's dead-centre bland. This season manages to make him dislikeable on top of that.
Why? He cheats. Again. And again. And again. So when he tells Louise for the millionth time that he loves her oh-so-much, it just doesn't hold water. But nevertheless, she forgives him. If he was so mad about her, could he perhaps try not to grope everyone else in the vicinity?
And Louise. Constantly requires Saito to save her and then, the nail in the coffin moment, admits (while naked) that she's "okay if he cheats on her". WTF. She should have dumped him properly the fifth or so time. Not to lay on the moral point to hard, but could the writers of this please try to portray women in a moderately less pathetic light? Character = 1.
It wasn't entirely awful. But it really requires you to turn off all intelligence in order to accept the bullshit it's shovelling down your throat.
12 of 12 episodes seen
That being said, it pissed me off enough to remember to review it here.
I watched the first series mostly because I saw it had Micah Solusod voicing the lead role. Hey, Soul (Soul Eater) was cool, so surely some of the coolness would rub off?
Which brings me to the sound of the series. I watched the english dub, and the cast was stellar. Big industry names were everywhere and it was a pleasure to play "guess-the-actor". However, this is just about where the good news ends.
The first series could be considered mediocre. Birdy was fairly cool, the shared-body spiel was mildly entertaining and the aliens were ugly. Fine. No problem. The second season was nothing like it.
I'm not sure exactly where the producers wanted to take this show. Where ever it was, it is a dark, dark place. Most of the ridiculous gore and hammy dialogue could have been endured, if they didn't bring kids into it.
Yeah, they were aliens in kid's bodies. Yeah, the person killing them had some sort of revenge backstory. I don't actually care. Watching this made me feel ashamed, unclean and morally bankrupt. They didn't die painlessly; they were mutilated and while they screamed and begged for mercy, the guy told them they deserved it. There should be lines, and for me, this didn't merely cross a line, it bulldozed it with a frikken tank. Where do people take a step back and go "no, this is wrong, we should not encourage the production of this sort of media"?
And the worst part was, this killer was actually supposed to be some sort of sympathetic character. Hell, he was the love interest!
Additionally, Tsutomu barely features after being built up as a protangonist in the first season. You are instead deluged with flashbacks and backstories, which, while explaining some of Birdy's history, had moments that were largely irrelavent.
The story ended up being quite predictable. Not to throw up too many spoilers here, but the aliens are going to get picked off one by one. Then there won't be any aliens left, which pretty much concludes the season.
The art was fine, till the last few episodes, where funding ran out and the art team made some creative decisions in the fight scenes that pretty much remove background, gravity and proportions from the show. For me, the show also lacked any sense of catharsis: it's clear that they way is being left wide open for another series. Which I won't be watching.
There was a lot of blood, a lot of screaming, a lot of Birdy being pathetic. I really wouldn't bother with this season if I were you. read more