First of all, if you are reading this and haven't checked out the original Soul Eater yet, then I recommend that you stop right there and check out the original Soul Eater first. Why do I say that when Soul Eater Not is a spinoff and not a sequel? Because Soul Eater Not is everything that Soul Eater could have been, but was unable to capitalize on due to focus on plot: a school life/slice of life comedy.
Have you ever wondered what the daily lives of Shibusen students would look like? Well I personally haven't because Soul Eater was sufficiently awesome, but Ookubo Atsushi disagreed
with me and created this. Technically a prequel to the original Soul Eater, Soul Eater Not seems like a slower pace, more comedy/character centralized manga with less focus on plot and more focus on the daily lives of Shibusen students. It takes place long before the Kishin shows up when Medusa is still the school nurse and Sid is still human. It can be seen as background information, explaining details like "Where does Maka and Soul get the money to support themselves?" and "Where does Kim live?" There is a slight continuity issue them mentioning Kim is a witch, but that can be taken out of context.
The story follows a new character, Halberd Tsumugi (Yes her family name is Halberd, the bane of cavalry,) who is a new student at Shibusen and has to become accommodated to Death City. Since we were introduced to Maka and her merry band of friends when they were already well on their way to becoming full-fledged Meisters and Weapons, Soul Eater Not provides new insight into life at Death City by starting the process from scratch. It seems to be written at a much slower and more relaxed pace than the original Soul Eater, and takes place earlier than its parent story, during times that were much more peaceful and mundane for Death City.
The characters of Soul Eater Not are just as varied and unique as our mains in the parent story. Our main protagonist Halberd Tsumugi, is a meek, shy weapon girl who attends Shibusen yearning for a school life surrounded by bishounen. She quickly meets two meisters: Anya Hapburn, our resident type-A tsundere Ojou-sama that should be voiced by Kugimiya Rie, and Tatane Meme, our resident big-breasted klutz who may have a few secrets she has yet to share. Both of them want to become her partner, and the story has not progressed far enough to indicate the nature of this conflict.
Soul Eater fans can be relieved by that the design and artwork is completely up to par with the original Soul Eater. For those of you who don't know what that means (go read Soul Eater already), Ookubo Atsushi uses rather abstract and warped and wicked artwork. The recurring visual themes include faces on inanimate objects, skulls, eyes, and other gothic themes. The backgrounds and buildings are always awesome to look at, which are styled with a sort of wicked Halloween sort of theme. Where Ookubo Atsushi's talent really shine is his ability to draw faces, especially contorted faces twisting with agony. He can draw a myriad of different expressions that are quite different from the generic Japanese moe faces like >_< or ^_^.
Overall, Soul Eater Not is a good manga to try if you have read the original story. In my personal opinion, I think Oobkubo Atushi got a little bored or stuck while writing the original Soul Eater, and began publishing this just for a change of pace.
Questions, comments, criticisms and compliments are welcomed whether you found this review helpful or not.