Death City is home to the famous Shibusen, a technical academy headed by the Shinigami–Lord Death himself. Its mission: to raise "Death Scythes" for the Shinigami to wield against the many evils of their fantastical world. These Death Scythes, however, are not made from physical weapons; rather, they are born from human hybrids who have the ability to transform their bodies into Demon Weapons, and only after they have consumed the souls of 99 evil beings and one witch's soul.
Soul Eater Evans, a Demon Scythe who only seems to care about what's cool, aims to become a Death Scythe with the help of his straight-laced wielder, or meister, Maka Albarn. The contrasting duo work and study alongside the hot headed Black☆Star and his caring weapon Tsubaki, as well as the Shinigami's own son, Death the Kid, an obsessive-compulsive dual wielder of twin pistols Patty and Liz.
Soul Eater follows these students of Shibusen as they take on missions to collect souls and protect the city from the world's threats while working together under the snickering sun to become sounder in mind, body, and soul.
#01: "Resonance" by T.M.Revolution (eps 1-30) #02: "PAPERMOON" by Tommy heavenly6 (eps 31-50) #R1: "Counter Identity" by UNISON SQUARE GARDEN (Soul Eater Repeat Show eps 1-13) #R2: "Ai ga Hoshii yo" by Shion Tsuji (Soul Eater Repeat Show eps 14-)
#01: "I Wanna Be" by STANCE PUNKS (eps 1-13, 51) #02: "Style" by Kana Nishino (eps 14-26) #03: "Bakusou Yumeuta" by Diggy-MO' (eps 27-39) #04: "Strength" by abingdon boys school (eps 40-50) #R1: "Ao no Kaori" by Yui Makino (Soul Eater Repeat Show eps 1-13) #R2: "Northern Lights" by How Merry Marry (Soul Eater Repeat Show eps 14-)
Soul Eater is about a group of students who attend a school for aspiring demon hunters, Shibusen. The story follows Maka, an scythe weilder and her partner, Soul, who transforms into the scythe she uses. Each hunter is paired with a partner who can turn into a weapon, and the two must fight in unison. The other main characters include Death the Kid, and his weapons Liz and Patty who become twin pistols, and Black Star, along with his partner Tsubaki, who has the unique ability to transform into several weapon types as a jack of all trades. These students as well as their teachers
now fight the various demons and witches who want to destroy Shibusen in order to take over the world without consequence.
This show is incredibly stylish, literally everything has a very cool vibe about it and really stands out from other similar animes. If FLCL and Bleach came together and had a love child, that child would be Soul Eater. The characters are all likeable and unique, even if they do follow the list of shonen anime stereotypes (loud kid who wants to be the best, check; quiet cool guy, check; self-depricating girl who holds much potential power, double check.) The adult characters are less stereotypical than the kids, which can make them more interesting to watch in certain episodes, however. Even if their personalities are familiar, there is enough unique and enjoyable about them that it never becomes a problem.
The fights themselves are very well animated and choreographed. They're all ridiculous and cartoony, but they are always visceral and exciting to watch. The progression is also very shonen in nature, with enemies that are way stronger than the heroes, and the heroes having to train to beat them and gain new powers, but again its so entertaining it shouldn't become a big issue. The fights are all about style and execution though, and if you keep that in mind and don't analyze them with rational thought, they all become very entertaining and exciting. The first 26 episodes are great flashy entertainment for anime fans.
I really wish I could stop the review at this point, and tell you Soul Eater is a really fun shonen series that fans of action anime should see. Now the bad point of the show, the entire second half of the series. Around the halfway point, Soul Eater changes from a lighthearted, entertaining fun action anime into a serious, melodramatic action anime. The story starts to take itself way too seriously, and the enjoyment of this anime greatly suffers because of this. When your anime is about people who transform into guns and swords who fight witches, it's kind of hard to take the change in tone seriously.
Soul Eater ends up losing most if not all of its charm because of this drastic and unnecessary shift in tone. All of the characters become whiny punks who sulk all day, and Maka becomes borderline unbearable as a main character with her melancholic attitude and constant bitching about how she's not strong enough to fight the main enemy of the show. All of this nonsense comes together in a final episode that is so ridiculous I would sound stupid if I tried to explain it in this review. Let me just put it to you this way, all themes the show was building up to this point are thrown out the window, the main villain turns into a gigantic pansy, and the logic behind the ending makes absolutely no sense in the grand scheme of the show. Oh, and it tries to copy Evangelion in ways that are so unnecessary and artistically nonsensical in the show that I laughed out loud when I first saw them in this episode.
What in the world happened to Soul Eater? What happened to this really fun, always entertaining action anime in the second half of the show? What is with all this ridiculous emo nonsense that gets introduced in the second half? How the hell could Bones, the studio behind Fullmetal Alchemist and Eureka Seven fail so badly at this show? I have no idea how to answer any of these questions. If you are going to watch Soul Eater, watch the first 26 episodes, and then stop. Otherwise, you are in store for one of the strangest, confusing, and most disappointing action animes ever made. Come on Bones, you are better than this.
Here we have Soul Eater, a shounen anime produced by Bones (Wolf's Rain, Full Metal Alchemist, Ouran High School Host Club) that came out in 2008. I've never read the manga, so this is based solely on the anime. Set in the fantastical Death City, Soul Eater focuses on the Shibusen Academy, where students both work together and compete in order to turn their partners - boys and girls that can turn into various different weapons - into world-class Death Scythes. My university pally and I blasted through all 51 episodes in about a week, if you don't count the days that we were too
busy to watch any. Let me tell you, this does not make for hard watching.
The first few episodes start off as prequels for the main seven characters - three 'Meisters/Technicians' and their 'Weapons'. These episodes are ones that I found to be somewhat disjointed, and to be honest I probably would have given up on the anime after 4 episodes or so if it wasn't for aforementioned pally. Swiftly afterwards, once the main characters start to interact together, I was hooked. And shortly after that when the frankly ingenious support characters were introduced and fleshed out, I was manic about it to the point where I was screaming in outrage at the screen if any other character DARED to so much as harm a hair on their heads.
Plot - [7/10] I wouldn't describe the plot as being either typical or particularly inventive. I will say, however, that it does dangle a standard premise in front of you for a good few episodes (in order for a Technician to turn their Weapon into the ultimate Death Scythe, they must collect 99 evil souls and then one Witch's soul; cue epic quest) and then almost entirely removes it for something much better - a pleasant surprise that, as I understand it, doesn't quite happen in the manga. While some elements of the plot remain unclear and somewhat incomplete by the end of the series, I ultimately felt that it didn't detract too much from my enjoyment. Bar the very last scenes, unfortunately, in which I was left starving for a bit more of a tie-up, or better yet, a follow-up montage in the ending credits. Still, I suppose that's what the manga's for.
Characters - [9/10] The meat of Soul Eater, with some big-name voice actors who really give the characters life. Firstly, we have Miyano Mamoru-san (Yagami Light of Death Note, Kiba of Wolf's Rain) as the symmetry-obssessed Death the Kid (an awkward-sounding name, I have to say, that belies a truly slick character); the ever-prolific and utterly fabulous Koyasu Takehito-san (Sakarazuka Seishirou of Tokyo Babylon, Zechs Merquise/Milliardo Peacecraft of Gundam Wing) as the Weapon Excalibur, who will surprise you in several different ways with his presence throughout the series; and Kobayashi Yumiko-san (Sarah McDougal of Love Hina, Dan Taichi of Prince of Tennis) as the headstrong Black*Star, to whom a nod must go for the most subtle yet engaging main-character development; to name a few. On top of these, Soul Eater showcases a surprising amount of young, new talent - notably, the voices of Soul (the title character) and Maka Albarn, the female lead who I unfortunately found to be incredibly irritating.
Let me make my point hard on this. Maka is hard-working and academically very smart, with a down-to-earth attitude that helps her to deal with her absent mother and womanizing father, who recently divorced prior to the start of the series. But (and oh, it's a big But) it doesn't last. Rather than character growth, we seem to have a case of the exact opposite as the series progresses. Maka repeatedly ends up making absolutely ridiculous decisions that can in no way be logically justified. As much as I don't like to use Naruto as a comparison, I think I have to. Maka's choices aren't a Naruto-style situation wherein Naruto makes sometimes-stupid decisions because of his raw emotions, because that's Naruto's character and way of life; plus, Naruto has (for the most part) the strength to back up his convictions. Maka, on the other hand, does not. Not only that, but she apparently doesn't learn from her monumental mistakes. And /then/ she'll bitch to the series' headstrong character Black*Star about how he acts before he thinks. Though, come to think of it, at least Maka isn't exactly a hypocrite on that matter because it's shown that she does in fact think about her actions before she carries them out, comes to the conclusion that it's stupid... and then does the wrong thing /anyway/. If it wasn't for almost every other character providing sustained interest and sheer compelling brilliance whenever Maka's off-screen, I think Soul Eater would fall far short of greatness.
Art - [9/10] And of course, there can be no characters without the visual art. While the quality of the animation itself is fairly standard shounen-style fare, the rating for this section gets bumped up enormously for originality. The designs of virtually everything - from the fantastically surreal moon and sun to the laboratory of the anime's resident Mad Scientist (who would have an entire paragraph in the above section if it wouldn‘t turn into an essay on why he’s such a /darn good character/ on both an emotional and a story-telling level) to the eyes of the later villains - positively shines with mouth-watering creativity. I could wax lyrical about the brain-melting inventiveness of the character designs all day. It's honestly worth watching for the artistic genius alone.
Music - [8/10] With the exception of the very first ending theme (which was painful, if I'm honest), I thoroughly appreciated each different ending and opening. They were well-chosen and fitted the style and feel of the anime well. The music used throughout the episodes themselves suited the atmosphere wonderfully - the fighting music was driving, the sad-scenes music was sorrowful and the cheery music gave the anime a smile. While it wasn't as memorable as, say, the music to Gundam Wing or Gintama, it did its job in style. Also in this section, I'd like to add that the song sung by the Weapon Excalibur made me almost die of Sheer Heart-Rending Joy.
Overall - [9/10] Easy to watch and a great mix of creepy, surreal and fun. Objectively, I'd give this a high 8, and then I'm going to take the liberty of bumping it up to a 9 for the downright enjoyment I experienced with this show. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Full Metal Alchemist or Gintama - or, for that matter, any shounen manga/anime - as well as anyone who enjoyed the quirks of such series as Ouran High School Host Club.
Soul Eater is one of the most unique anime’s I have ever seen in the sense of graphics and story. The graphics are ultra-high quality, along with very interesting anime cut-scenes. Soul Eater has a little taste of everything an anime should have – a first-class story, superior graphics, a modest bit of pervert, and a VERY interactive world. Camera angle and character motions are very musical, flow very well with each other, and so on - which is one of the biggest plus sides to this anime. The characters are very fun and surprising - which is a big part of
10/10 ~ Epic.
This review will be updated as the series progresses.
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Ultimately my main complaint about this series lies in this area. And I am going to be a little hard on it because of how much potential I saw that it could have had. I guess I should start by saying that what the story lacks is organization and commitment. Throughout the entire series, different conflicts would be shoved on the backburner right in the middle of their climax, the conflcts would be built way up and then fall flat within a single episode or two, and sometimes conflicts would be forgotten about all together without any resolve being made at all. It became
frustrating after being promised some huge development so many times only for it to either turn out to have no relevence to the story at all or just never followed through with. This applies to characters as well. There were several times where there were characters who took up whole episodes to be introduced and set up to do big things only to poke an uneccesary line every 20 episodes or so. I mean, I'm still mad about how this show handled Free and Eruka. Even the tone was a little flakey. It started out almost primarily a comedy but around halfway through almost stopped with the jokes entirely.
But with all that said, I want to point out the good things they did, because there were things done well. I've found that many shounen series are a little shallow, and use things like "cool action" as a crutch. While this series did utilize action, it definetly wasn't a crutch, simply because it didn't need one. The action and the traditional main story of a larger than life villian out to destroy was used effectivley as a medium and as dynamic for what the show was really about, which was the inner growth of the struggling main characters. There will be pieces of the story where you find yourself in an expressionist environment that represents one of the character's soul, where the character grapples with personal conflicts in impressionistic ways. I found these portions of the story to be very profound and moving. Through this process you develop strong relationships and understanding of the main characters and really makes you care about what they are doing and what happens to them.
The art and animation was truly great. It perfectly fitted the tone of the series as a whole and was furthermore customized to perfectly fit each character. Technically speaking, it was innovative and very fluid. I especially enjoyed the creativity shown in the design of pretty much everything. The characters, the buildings, the backgrounds, even the sky (you'll see what I mean if you haven't seen it yet) was drawn very cleverly and creatively. I could honestly say that someone could enjoy this series for its appearance alone.
As said before, the characters are one the series' strengths. I'm sure the fact that a lot of the story comes from character development helps. Each character has tons of defining personality and everything about them, from their appearance to their diction works together and makes perfect sense. What really set the characters of this series apart from others is the intimate introspection we are subjected to as a viewer. What I think this did for the viewer is that it gave a deep understanding of the characters and because we understood where they stood emotionally and what drives them, it made it very difficult to dislike them. The bad guys hardly got the same treatment, which was fine because that wasn't what this show was about. All we really needed to know about them is that they sought to hurt and destroy the heroes (although I would have liked for Asura to retain his crazy mindless monster role instead of turning into the cliche arrogant bad guy).
I hate putting a numbered rating for this because of how subjective it is. It really comes down to what you appreciate in an anime, and even still, it depends on what you are feeling like at the time. So I just put what level of enjoyment I found myself getting from Soul Eater. This series definetly fits a niche and provides easy-to-watch stimulation. Despite a good handful of deep moments, I don't know if a classy no-nonsense viewer would like wading through all the episodes to find them.
This anime could have been truly great, but all the extra, unimportant nonsense they threw in kept it from excelling. But still, if this fits your style, it'll definetly be one among the good ones.
Some characters are funny because of all the crazy antics they get up to. But others just have the right kind of physiognomy, which make them prone to pulling off some funny anime faces - intentionally or unintentionally.