Soul Eater

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ThePatches's avatar
Feb 7, 2010

Story

Let's talk for a moment about pacing. Pacing is the rate at which a story progresses; the speed at which the plot develops can make or break any narrative effort, but appears to me to be an acute issue in anime. The deft, non-linear approach of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats. Conversely, the plodding half-formed yarn of Aoi Hana withers when almost nothing happens (even by the statue-speed standards of yuri romance, that anime fails). Of all anime, shounen shows tend to embody the worst practices of uneven storytelling: Dragon Ball Z is so ponderous that the remastered Dragon Ball Kai manages with 1/3 the original's air time; Naruto, an otherwise fun and action-packed romp, stuffs its final EIGHTY episodes with filler. EIGHTY--and don't even mention Bleach. Then, comes Soul Eater. The series' tight, energetic approach stands out despite the show's heavily derivative feel. Fifty-two half-hour segments rarely yields as satisfying experience overall. Especially in this genre.

That said, Soul Eater offers little original to anime as far as its story goes. A special school devoted to training warriors? Naruto. A virtuous organization of supernatural fighters trying to prevent humans from turning into demons? D.Gray Man. And the writers stuffed the cast with tropes borrowed from well-known horror works. Mad Doctor? Check. Zombie? Check. Werewolf? Check. Witches? Double-check. In the end, the series' execution sets it apart from its copycat foundations. After a brief set of explicit introductions, the story gets on the rails to placing the its child protagonists outside their comfort zones. The powerful cast gets more in over its head with each passing episode, which helps maintain tension in the anime and adds to the believability of the villains' repeated escapes.

If the viewer stops to think about the story, things start to unravel a touch. The twists and turns of the series' second half are hardly surprising, and the simple fact that the faculty leaves the fate of the world to a group of students seems implausible at best. BUT Soul Eater's plot lacks adequate breathing room for these doubts to ruin the experience. As each entry snaps seamlessly into the one that came before, even the over-the-top climax makes perfect sense when it arrives in context. However, the breakneck pacing paints the show into a bit of a corner, and the final episode comes to an end in a manner so disappointing and abrupt that it borders on impressive. In retrospect, however, the sting of the dismal finale fades--the juddering mess only comes as a terrible shock because everything that precedes it fits so tightly together.


Animation

Soul Eater sports a stylish look ripped right out of a Tim Burton movie. The dark background palette, unnatural angles, and stark scenery set the mood perfectly for the horror themed show. But moreso than the overal art direction, the details bring the effect home. Whether it be the creepy, anthropomorphic sun and moon, the graveyard feel of Shinigami's room, or the subtly concave perspective in Soul's mind, the animators spare no opportunity to add character to every environment. Consequently, every location feels like an organic part of the anime's world. In addition, the three primary leads maintain the series' feel by embodying the three pillars of goth style: Maka in her plaid skirt, dark greatcoat and tie; Black Star decked out in zippers and steel-toed kicks; and Kid in a plain black suit. Just like in the backgrounds, little touches like the stars on Black Star's shoes, or Kid's skull bolo-tie and rings give the characters a concrete feel that seems to say "personal style choices" instead of "designed by an artist"; these considerations extend into the villains' wardrobes as well, from Free's canine facial features to Arachne's preponderance of spider symbolism to Eruka's spotted cheeks and amphibian eyes (am I strange for finding her cute?).

In the end, however, the quality of a shounen anime's visuals depends on its action sequences, and here Soul Eater delivers with mixed results. When the series wants to, it offers up kinetic action that feels fluid and engaging. However, the overly-dramatic angles cause more than a few issues with characters deforming and also results in more than a few instances of still-frame posing in each conflict. The little details again help the effort along, whether it be the lithe motion of Medusa's Vector Arrow or Black Star's Shadow Star, or the variable forms of Crona's Black Blood.


Sound

Gusto. That describes the Soul Eater audio in one word. Each episode starts with one of the two solid opening themes, and ends with one of the fantastic endings. While in this reviewer's humble opinion, Diggy Mo's "Bakusou Yume Uta" stands out as the best, the fourth song, "STRENGTH" fits the mood of the series best--its mournful strains form the ideal compliment to the darker content at the series' end. In between the OP and EDs of each episode, the hard rock soundtrack matches the gothic visuals to a "T", making use of guitars to communicate emotion in places normally reserved for pianos and strings.

Strangely enough, no one voice actor stands out above the crowd, because everyone turns in a solid performance--unusual for a shounen show. While the series' protagonists bring nothing remarkable to the table, the rouges gallery and side characters provide ample opportunities for interesting voice work. Koyasu Takehito (Excalibur), Uchida Yuuya (Franken Stein), and Koyama Rikiya (Shinigami) all bring texture and humor to the otherwise straightforward proceedings.


Characters

Since a good deal of its material appears derivative, Soul Eater goes to great lengths to set apart its characters from their source material. For every "been there, done that" entry like Mifune (samurai bodyguard--how novel!), the writers supply a quirky member like Joe Buttataki. The construction of the cast demonstrates an acute sense of self-awareness that helps to carry the whole effort. At its best, the show sinks deeply into self-parody in pursuit of originality with the horribly OCD yet undeniably cool Death the Kid, the painfully peculiar Excalibur, and the font of fan-service, Blair.

Too add some extra oomph to the series' less original characters, Soul Eater peppers its cast with interesting interactions and relationships which help add dimension to each person. From Black Star's friendly rivalry with Soul to the creepy sexual tension between Stein and Medusa, the show bristles with tiny moments of interplay that either brighten plot-related pauses in the action or ice the delicious combat cake with moments of development. Much like the stylistic enhancements in the visuals, these interpersonal moments help the actors in the anime feel like whole people and less like typical shounen protagonists.


Overall

With a good ending, Soul Eater would have jumped from "good" into "great" territory. While the show borrows heavily from other works, its execution and verve carry it off as a memorable shounen series. Unlike its brethren that tend to cut costs and pump up the episode count to maximize revenue, this anime maintains a focused agenda for two action-packed seasons, and that helps its cause. Anime like this one raise the bar for "average" by demonstrating how even a derivative effort can engage and entertain. If you're interested in seeing how fun action story with a real end and sense of urgency comes together, check this one out; You won't be disappointed.

7/10 story
8.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
8/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar
Nov 21, 2012

What I always liked in Soul Eater (SE), was its ability to be one of the few fighting shonen where the power of friendship means something. Fights are all about cooperation, the characters need to have harmonic resonance in order to maximize the efficiency of their attacks, instead of getting random power ups because they want to protect their worthless in battle friends, or some shit like that. (aka Fairy Tail)

And even the cooperation part has a lot to do with the mentality of its characters. The biggest conflicts they face do not have to do with super strong opponents they can defeat only with raw power. They are about facing your inner demons, surpassing your fears, and accepting your fighting partner despite his eccentric behavior. All those are reflected in their progress as fighters, and make Soul Eater to be a lot more about internal struggles instead of generic bad guys who want to rule the world. (aka Dragon Ball)

That doesn’t mean the battles are boring, since they are actually full of dynamic motions, constant change of camera angles, and of course lots and lots of screaming. The soundtrack is adding a lot to the experience with its catch BGM, although voice acting was a bit hit-or-miss. Maka sounds weird because her voice actress was inexperienced, Black Star is trying too much to sound like Naruto on sugar rush, Soul sounds too adult for his age, etc. It’s not bad, but I have heard much better performances.

It’s also one of the few shonen with a very distinctive setting. Most of them are mundane but this one looks like a never-ending Halloween party. The scull motifs, the creepy looking moon, and the mostly dark color palette make everything to feel like they are in a constant state of paranoia. Combined with camera gimmicks, such as fish-eye perspective while zooming in to insane facial grimaces, and you get some wonderful aesthetics.

It even starts right away with the action instead of spending a dozen episodes in a slow build up where the kids meet each other in school and do basic training or something. (aka My Hero Academia)

Unfortunately, just like it happened with the older Full Metal Alchemist, the anime goes into original material in its second half and loses a lot of its nuance. We get lazy drawings and sloppy motions, plus the later songs are not as good. It felt a lot more mainstream by that point and had a very anti-climactic ending where the unstoppable final boss gets defeated with a single punch.

It’s one of those series that need a remake eventually, although I am not sure it will make a difference, since whatever hype it had, died instantly when the anime ended. I can explain it as the themes running dry, or later bad guys not being as interesting as the first ones. And I have to admit that the story is not very engaging beyond the internal conflicts of its characters. The plot is very basic and almost random in how it introduces more evil organizations that up until then were completely hidden, despite the good guys constantly monitoring the whole world.

Arachnophobia felt like a lazy way for the good guys to have an army of evil minions to defeat, just for delaying the final battle. It is also very hard to accept Shinigami binding himself to the city, just to keep Ashura trapped, but when Ashura escapes, he leaves the city without a problem with Shinigami still unable to leave it. What was the point of it, if it doesn’t work both ways?

Basically, the show suffers from the same issue as Bleach. There is no sense of long-term objectives, other than dealing with ephemeral threats. Even when there is a clear final boss they need to defeat, said boss is not even present for most of the duration, making him distant and uninteresting. And when he finally makes his move, despite the build-up he gets, he is defeated with a single punch. (insert One Punch Man joke, here)

Leaving the weak storyline aside, it has good pacing to the most part, hardly any filler, and ends before it becomes unbearable. This is something very few shonen have managed to do over the years, without becoming a travesty of bad pacing and fillers ala Naruto.

6/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
Otaku108's avatar
Dec 22, 2009

Honestly, I tried to watch this one because it was rated rather highly and people I've heard talk about it had good things to say but frankly, there was only one character that didn't get on my nerves completely and the rest of the show was completely pointless, repetitive, and idiotic.

There didn't seem to be any real story to it so I'm frankly bemused as to how it got 50+ eps. Perhaps it did pick up after a while but 6 eps into a show and it couldn't hook me, more over it annoyed me, kinda gives me the impression that the rest of the show isn't going to be worth my time. Especially at 51 eps...

The animation was interesting for it's uniqueness but it wasn't to my liking and I wasn't able to really enjoy the style.

The characters, as I stated before, annoyed the crap out of me and one was an obvious spoof on Naruto, aka a boisterous noisy ninja.

The sounds were even worse, I dunno why but they seemed to like to make highly annoying and loud noises randomly to the point that even I, someone that rarely pays much attention to this part of anime, got annoyed and turned the volume down. Bad sign.

Overall, I couldn't finish it, I couldn't even get through the 6th ep all the way before I just closed the window and went to find something else to do. I'm sure there are lots of people that would absolutely love this show, namely the same ones that probably loved One Piece, another show I wasn't able to get into for pretty much the same reasons.

*side note: I wasn't able to put a 0 for story so I left it blank instead*

due to a kind of overwhelming response to my review, mainly negatively toward the fact I didn't finish it I'm going to start disregarding posts. I repeat that this review is merely my opinion, it has no basis in public views, thoughts, or feelings. if you have a problem with this review, then take it up with admin for allowing -user- reviews that can be made on a uncompleted viewing.

I still thank everyone for the interest they've shown in this review and trying to defend a show they liked or a particular viewpoint they believe in. If you check out some of my other reviews you might see how I do reviews normally and that this one is by no point a true full review in my standards.

?/10 story
5/10 animation
2/10 sound
2/10 characters
2/10 overall
Kucziczu's avatar
Jan 7, 2016

Welcome to the world of Soul Eater. World similar to ours, in which the human soul adopts the material form, where witches are plotting against the world order, and at night the city streets are not safe for people. Luckily neither witches, or demons are not unpunished - they are exterminated by trained graduates and pupils of Shibusen school. Shibusen is well known educational institution with its seat in Death City, was formed by the god of death, Shinigami to prevent the return of Asura - the god-demon (Kishin), whose the appearance of brought long ago death and destruction. One way for his re-awakening is to devour right amount of innocents human souls and transformation in to Kishin egg (tamago no Kishin) Shibusen students, usually working in pairs, they have their hands full of work, because some parties wish to change the world order and call the next wave of terror and madness is no shortage of ...

 The main characters of the anime are students of the Shibusen school. Maka Albarn is a teenager, her mother is Champion Weapon and father - Spirit-kun - is an actual Shinigami's weapon Death Scythe. A friendly, full of empathy girl, best in class, if necessary throws a mask of lowly schoolgirl and replace it with an absolute determination.Her partner is Soul Evans, who in a battle takes the form of a scythe. He wants to be seen as a cool guy, but as it happens in life, not everything is going as he planned.Above all, he puts the protection of the life of his Master, so sometimes he had to pay dearly. But he never regretted his decision, and proved that he is a trustworthy comrade.

 Another pair is Black Star and his weapon - Tsubaki Nakatsukasa.Black Star is the last surviving member of the clan "Stars?", known for its big cruelty.The boy has skills of an assassin, which allows him to also fight with bare hands, hitting a wave of his soul in opponents.Has delusions of grandeur, impatient, arrogant and unreasonable.Each fight treats like a show, where only he can be a star.This volcano of energy trying to control Tsubaki - an oasis of peace.Her delicate nature contrasts with what she can present during the battle.And you must know that she hides a whole arsenal of weapons, and even a shinobi won't be ashamed to have this.Shuriken and smoke bomb is only part of the transformational possibilities of this girl.An interesting fact is that, in contrast to Maka, Tsubaki can cook well. 

 The last team in combination of the main characters is a trio: son of Shinigami, Death the Kid, as well as Thompson sister's.Liz and Patty, because of them mentioned, they quite unusual siblings.Although not identical, but rather noticeable, after the change they are twin identical pistols.Characters siblings also different.Patty reminiscent of an autistic child who does not quite understand what's going on around.Contrary to appearances, saved in this way life not once the other two.On the other hand, Liz is the epitome of mature cynicism.Her weakness is the fear of ghosts, and disgust against all abominations.Their Master, Kid, is a walking perfectionist-pedant.Everywhere looks for symmetry, and where it does not exist, is attempting to inject by his own.However, to achieve complete peace of mind Kid disturb the fact that he is asymmetrical.

In addition to the main characters are also many not less important figures.We have already mentioned several times Shinigami, which, despite the name, has humor and awakens sympathy from the first meeting.There is also a Spirit who suffers from mania of paternal sensitivity to his daughter "Maka".There is also crazy professor Franken Stein with a big screw passing through his head. There is also a lot of bad characters, including witches, or Kishin - The Demon God.

In the world of Soul Eater are "weapons" - people who have the ability to change into a real, deadly weapon: a scythe, gun, hammer, handy flamethrower, katana, or whatever it may be used as a weapon. At first glance, there is nothing special, they look and act like humans.What's more, each weapon has the possibility of promotion to a higher level of power and become a Death Scythe, which can be used in the fight by a Shinigami. But in order for that to happen, it must be under one requirement - a pair of master-weapon must collect 99 evil human souls and one soul witch.But it is not as simple as it looks, especially as punishment for errors made during the last part is extremely perverse and witches are very powerful (mostly) and sly.

I loved the presentation of the characters, especially the relationship between them. Their attitude toward each other is a beautiful example of the ability to cooperate with another person, friendship and confidence in partner, although sometimes really annoying antics of some individuals, deserving in this case only decent hit by one of the nearest heavy object.Because of the way the master interacts with weapons, consisting in practically "merging" with the soul of a partner, any misunderstandings, dissensions and conflicts must be resolved and explained practically Immediate. It protects the audience against long minutes filled with feeling sorry for themselves, the world and life in general.Not been forgotten about such fine detail as character development. As you progress through the storyline, placing further threads and events, turns out that everything has an effect on the characters, their behavior, their interaction with the environment. And then even the most annoying character, or even the harmless-looking, shows something more than earlier You expect.

You should also mention one detail - the main storyline does not start right away. In early episodes spectator gets acquainted with the world of Soul Eater and its heroes (each team gets its own episode).

Gradually, the characters are introduced relevant to the later storyline:

We meet among other things, a mad scientist, Dr. Frankenstein; Death Scythe - current Shinigami weapon and at the same time ... Maka DAD (lol);sexy Blair, who appears in the least expected moments and Shibusen medical personnel Medusa. And, I would forget. There is also one character, allegedly comedic - Excalibur.

Creators managed to create a really interesting story, attracting the viewer, sometimes touching, sometimes terrifying and thrilling to ... yeah.However, not until the last minute.Here I have the greatest sorrow to screenwriters, they wasted a great potential and a chance to break away from the schematic, and However they went along the line of least resistance.Admittedly it was in the end a couple of scenes that caught behind the heart, where it was getting warmer in the heart, but really could be nicer to close story in a different way. However, despite this, I believe that the story in terms of "design", voltage grading and combine seriousness with lighter topics, is one of the best that I met.

Rising to graphics, bearing in mind an earlier aspect - story, I came to the conclusion that it is an anime which evokes extreme feelings.Either you love this anime or not. Expressive, but murky, character design and building, not for everyone it must fit.Allegedly it does not reflect the climate that should have the Japanese productions, but I did not notice this...Attract attention especially grotesque Sun and Moon, which I consider to be some of the best visual aspects in the anime.

Music is properly executed supplement in this series.During the fighting we get strong tones, that gradually take on the psychedelic properties, which is easy to understand, when you can feel the atmosphere of anime.Worth paying attention to opening theme and ending themes, full of energy, which are not boring.

I do not recommend the series only to those who can tolerate only typical, beautiful, young ladies with big eyes or handsome men.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8.8/10 overall
KakashiHatakeLove's avatar
Aug 9, 2016

This was the first anime I ever watched, so it will always be special to me. After I originally watched it all the way through, I introduced it to people as my favoirte anime of all time. Now, however, that spot has been taken by another. But I digress... Soul Eater was excellent. The bizarre atmosphere is truly enthralling and the story itself is pretty freaking cool. The idea of humans transforming into weapons and having other humans wield them just fascinates me. I think that this is a good anime to introduce first-timers to.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
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