Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Soul Eater (2008-2009)


When the witch Medusa seeks to free Asura, an evil being who nearly destroyed the world over 800 years ago, the Death Weapon Meister Academy, run by Death himself, must band together to stop them. At the heart of the tale lies Maki, her scythe partner, Soul Eater, Black Star, his multi-weapon partner Tsubaki, and Death the Kid, the son of Death, and dual pistol partners Liz and Patty.

Being a male fan of anime is a bit of a tricky thing. There's really two contingents to the categorization of shounen (male oriented) anime. On the one hand you have your shows like Death Note, Code Geass, and Cowboy Bebop. Style, action, and strict story telling with some comedy. While on the other hand you have your Naruto and One Peace (which I think combine for about 1000 episodes by now). High comedy, episodic, with action, but mostly ride in the realm of absurdest comedy.

Soul Eater is a show that generously borrows from all of the previously mentioned, and manages to create something that's refreshingly original, if not blatantly copied. It's opening 3 episodes are exactly what you might expect. Episode 1 - intro for Maki. Episode 2 - intro for Black Star. Episode 3 - intro for Death the Kid. Covering each of the character quirks, and building the world they live in along the way. To be fair, it's safe to warn you that the early episodes of this show are just wow, out there. It's quick paced, frantic, and absolutely hilarious. But not in a I can't stop laughing now, but more of a, wow I can't believe I'm still laughing, way. But, fear not, as the series progresses it straightens out, and narrows its focus down to a single plot line that is constantly taking shape.

Still, until the latter half of the series, the characters are really at the heart of everything. They're fun, well developed, all with their complimentary character quirk. Black Star's ego, Soul's cool obsession, Death's need for symmetry. These can be fun, but only if you're open minded. While at the same time, the supporting cast, including Death, Dr. Franken Stein, and the like, also offer lots of fun, well rounded, characters for us to get to know. It's style isn't necessarily anything new, but it keeps it refreshing, fun, and most importantly, entertaining.

Not to mention, the music. Soul Eater wonderfully blends punk rock, with a bit of rap and melodic rock vibe, into the series. These opening and closing themes, often interspersed throughout the fight scenes, are some of the most fun I've had listening to a series music in quite some time. It also marks one of the few times where I really felt bad if I didn't sit through both opening and closing credit sequences. You can check out one of the opening themes above.

It's not until Soul Eater hits the final stretch, and deviates from the manga, that the show really gets on a bit of rocky ground. Not that I would say it's bad, as it's one of the few animes who actually ties up most of its plot points. Rather, it feels a bit rushed. Especially the epic final battle (and I do mean epic). The constant action backs off a bit on the characters, and it leaves out a bit of the heart that was so well on display early on.

The finale works best when it really dedicates itself to the action. The fight sequences are incredibly exciting, and are seldom, if ever, repetitive (something that often plagues an action anime series). Working in the favor of the various characters that have been established throughout the series. The few throw-away characters, and couple of incredibly annoying ones, seem hardly noteworthy in retrospect.

Soul Eater is ultimately the kind of show you just sit back and enjoy. I was moved through a wide array of emotions throughout the series, and really grew to care about the show's many unique individuals. At times it can lean towards over the top, but it's always best intentioned. And even the drawn out episodes always felt like it had something more to bring. For any anime, that's an important thing to have.

Despite a few bumps towards the end, Soul Eater is a thoroughly enjoyable show, if you can adapt to its goofy approach to things. Its dedication to its humor and characters is respectable. And that it does it with great care, and attention, to what makes them who they are is highly admirable. All of these help make Soul Eater the much beloved series it has become. One with mass appeal, and the strength to do what it does best.

2 better thoughts:

Alex said...

Wow this sounds incredibly awesome, and right up my alley! The fact that there's a character called "Death the Kid" and he has a need for symmetry (something I really relate to) is enough of a draw, but the promise of absurd humor and good music is a big plus! I'll have to get through this one over the summer. Great post!

Univarn said...

@Alex Thanks! I think this show might work for you. It's one of those rare shows where the first few episodes really let you know if it's going to work for you or not. When you get the chance to watch it, let me know how it goes!

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