Soul Eater

Reviews

ThePatches's avatar By on 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
Otaku108's avatar By on 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
Revinorebi's avatar By on Jan 29, 2015

I watched 16 episodes of it,and it bored me to death.I thought this anime was serious like Akame ga kill or Akuma no Riddle,but noo! It's stupid and silly.

8/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
1/10 characters
2/10 overall
Cenimoran's avatar By on Dec 28, 2010

Soul Eater is, to me, a tale of disappointment--and I'm not referring to the any statement the plot makes on this subject. The series itself squanders its otherwise great potential. It could have been a unique, brilliant anime...instead, it is merely mediocre.

 

Story-

The plot is nothing to write home about. There's some high-school age students enrolled in a special academy. Not a whole lot original in that. There's an evil force out to destroy the world. Yeah, seen that before, too. And of course, this evil force--the Kishin--has to be stopped. In terms of pure plot progression, the story is fairly predictable. Even when it tries to throw in a little sense of betrayal, the tension remains relatively low. The writers have an annoying habit of injecting comedy into what should be tense scenes. An example of this is a crazy "mecha" (I use the term loosely) battle between Lord Death and Mosquito near the very end of the series. Its ridiculous. It's also at a point in the plot that should be most serious of all. The true strength of this series did not lie in its story, but the atmosphere.

This brings me to my next point: the unique feeling that the show has in the beginning, and then loses. This could have been one of its greatest qualities, had the developers capitalized on it. Allow me to elaborate: the show feels quite "Halloweeny," for lack of a better term, and it is thrilling. The world has a creepy (though not frightening) charm, which, as AnimePlanet reviewer "ThePatches" said: "(feels like it is)...ripped right out of a Tim Burton movie." This extends to more than animation, which is why I am including it here.

The finale is awful. If you are looking for an epic battle with evil, don't get your hopes up.

Animation-

Character designs were mostly pleasing to me and seemed creative. Combat is fluid and vivid, at least until the end of the show. At that point it isn't really given a chance to be dynamic (think "boom, boom, big death laser"). The color scheme is very good, except in one fight between the Kishin and Lord Death near the end. The blue skies and white clouds kind of offset the mood there.

Sound-

Music was good, if not terribly memorable. The openings and closings I initially disliked, but they grew on me with time. One comment: two of the English voice actors are terrible. The first one is for Black Star. The VA should have had a much deeper, more mature voice--actually having a teenage boy do it might have helped. The second is the Kishin's VA; again, an instance of sounding too young. The Kishin, madness incarnate, should have sounded sinister; instead, he just seems whiny.

Characters-

The Kishin was a great disappointment to me. He was portrayed as a young man, with a voice matching this in the English version. For someone who is supposed to be the epitome of insanity, he seemed quite...mundane. I could rant for a long time about things I would have done differently with this series--portraying the Kishin as more of an omnipresent force, perhaps--but I will restrain myself. He is simply a weak villain.

The protagonists are bearable, though Black Star got on my nerves at times. A few of the villains introduced in the first half of the show seem to fade away into unimportance near the finale: I'm looking at you, Free.

Conclusion-

Soul Eater is a solid anime; it is not the best, and if you are a bookworm/plot critic like me it will leave you frustrated. I would still probably recommend that you watch it.

 

Update (6/18/11)-

Upon looking back at the series as a whole, I have decided that my previous score (5/10--average) was too harsh. Soul Eater is an enjoyable, if somewhat flawed show that I give a full recommendation to.


 

5/10 story
7/10 animation
6/10 sound
6/10 characters
6/10 overall
PoeticHorrorShow5287's avatar By on Dec 16, 2013

I thought this anime was pretty awesome. I loved the characters, especially Kid/Stein/Spirit/Excalibur/Soul/Crona/Everyone...They were well thought out and funny. I found there to be a bit too much filler for this to be an absolute favorite of mine, but its still up there pretty high. It took me about half of season one until I really got into this and even then it was hit and miss. I thoroughly enjoyed season 2 though and was watching episodes back to back to see what would happen. The only problem was that when the season ended, the story arc stalled and I think thats why season 3 was a let down. I was bored during some episodes and the plot was running thin. However, the final season was a blur of awesome action violence, great overall plot arcs and emotions so it bumped this one back up for me. The final episode was hit and miss (and cheesy), but the fourth and second season arcs were so fucking cool. I love the characters and the voice actors and the personality quirks. A nice blend of action, humor, and imagination which, unlike the kishin, I'm glad to experience.

Overall, a fun and exciting ride with some bumps along the road. 7.5/10

Watched dubbed. All of my favorite voice actors are in it.

P.S. The music was perfection in this one.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
7.5/10 overall