Soul Eater

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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
Kucziczu's avatar By on 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
roriconfan's avatar By on Nov 21, 2012

A show about a bunch of crazy kids chasing witches and turning to weapons under a mad looking sun. Oh my…

Soul Eater (SE) is one of the few times a perpetual on-going shonen anime didn’t turn to a complete travesty. It starts dynamically, has very good pace and development to the most part and ends before it becomes dull because of repetitiveness and stale progress. Ok, chances are it eventually WILL become all the above if they ever remake it like they did with Full Metal Alchemist (FMA), because its themes in the manga run dry from a point on. But let’s leave this for the future and if they ever do it; this is about the current adaptation.

SCRIPT
The reason I mentioned FMA is because just like there, the story in the anime splits away from the manga, because it was running out of material to adapt. As weird as it felt, I definitely prefer this method to slowing down the pace of the show and inserting a million ridiculous filler episodes. Hear that Naruto and Bleach? That was your downfall. It is actually interesting to see how the directors try to provide their own version of the story instead of lazily following others or writing pathetic plots. It is also interesting to see how they attempt to wrap it all up within the allowed episodes. So did they do a good job? Well… not so much. Just like in FMA, the anime original story feels messy and confusing, with some parts feeling rushed and silly. The last episode for example is, amongst the people I chat with, the most hated ones in existence for the lame way everything ended. Nice try you guys but… really, that sucked. Although that was expected of studio BONES, since it’s their trademark to have a storyboard that makes no sense.

As for the rest of the story, I can only appreciate its fast development, liveliness, and core themes. The actual line of events is still very juvenile and a thing all aspired scriptwriters should NOT get pointers from. Although each arc provides further insight to the story and its cast, the way everything initiates is plain silly. Something like “Hey guys we need villains so let’s make one appear out of nowhere.” Somebody does not know what foreshadow is in here or is it just me?

It is not exactly a bad thing the target audience will mind, but it does make you wonder how competent the witch hunter organization is, if Arachnophobia could roam around unnoticed for centuries and how they were just thrown in the story, because Arachne needed an army of mooks to slow down the final battle. Even if you follow the story in the manga, you see the exact same thing happening with the later villains. It is also very hard to accept how Shinigami was powerful enough to bind himself to the city just to keep Ashura there trapped, but as soon as Ashura escapes, he leaves the city without a problem with Shinigami unable to leave it. How the blazes does that even work, or what was the point of it, if it doesn’t work both ways?

Anyways, the storyline is weak and the first thing the viewer should not mind much. Better focus on the characters and how they think and interact with one another; a thing which I adored. The core theme of the series is cooperation, as teams are made of the ones turning to weapons and those using them. It also requires harmonic resonance between them so their battle prowess will be at its best and later there are several well excused ways to improve even further this concept by introducing chained resonance with others, evolved forms through collection of evil souls, even unlocking hidden powers through age and experience.

To be honest, the in-laws of how everything works is like a videogame, where you gain experience through battles, gather souls from defeated enemies to unlock new forms, and even have synchronized motions or button-mashing with your co-player for extra boost in damage. All that are present in other shonen series as well but never before were they presented so well excused.
- Naruto is also about its characters learning to work as a team, so one covers the other in battle, yet that didn’t prevent most of the character to be quite useless in most battles, and always having the bigshot amongst them to do all the work alone.
- Dragonball had the concept of cooperation late in the show in the form of Fusion Dance, but it never went beyond dancing in the same way as your partner and making it seem all too easy.
- Then there is also Elemental Gelade where people turned to weapons as well, yet the plot and the setting were terribly simple to matter after awhile.
* SE just owns them all.

CAST
Furthermore, each character is both crazy and with a dark past of sorts. Although to the most part they will be acting as idiots, when the time calls for it they will reveal some really creepy sides to themselves that practically excuse their personality of being as such. Also, unlike most shonen who do very little to develop their characters, SE constantly shows internal monologues, their fears and hopes, and even reflects all that in their progress as fighters. So character development and leveling up are chained together. This is no Final Fantasy, lol. You also don’t improve by constantly fighting or training; it always happens by opening up to others, accepting them as they are, and working as a group mind. It is all very interesting and nothing alike Naruto or Bleach, or Dragonball, series with hundreds of characters who barely matter or develop.

Anyways, even if one does not notice the above, he will still love how stupid and crazy they all are. Being extreme makes them very easily memorable. It may go overboard at times and cause unnecessary complications during battles but it is still great to see how each one’s crazy antiques are affecting the course of battle and it’s not just super attacks between emotionless drones. It makes every battle chaotic and more unpredictable too. They are also not that straight-forward either, as many of them have a secret agenda, some get exploited, some get betrayed, some get disappointed and go mad. Special mention must be given to Excalibur, a character completely unimportant to the plot and practically filler material, who is so obnoxious that you just love to hate him.

The second thing that was done great in the show is the overall atmosphere. The world looks plain crazy like its characters, with a goth motif being present everywhere that further emphasizes the mood of the show and makes it more memorable. Many shows have very generic-looking settings and become forgettable just for that but SE with its mad looking moon and sun, as well as the scull themed palace with the lit candles, plus the several allusions to occult and famous names from mythology and history, help to further give a unique identity to the show.

PRODUCTION VALUES
Quite good to the most part. Aesthetically, it looks and sounds insane and humorous, with a huge array of twisted goth backgrounds, as well as numerous uses of darkness, fish-eye perspective and zoom to insane facial grimaces. The battles are also full of energy and passion, a constant change of angles, and motions, vibrant body poses and lots and lots of screaming (in a good way). Acoustically the soundtrack is very catchy with rather memorable dynamic songs. Voice acting is good I guess, although some characters can be more annoying than funny. Maka sounds weird, Black Star is irritating, Soul has too adult tone of voice for his age, etc. Nothing terrible but I have heard better.

LEGACY
Later on, the quality of the show starts to drop and we get lazy drawings and sloppy motions, plus the later songs are not as good. Combined with the sloppy anime original storyline, that hurts the overall feeling but never too much to ruin it all. In all, SE is a very good fighting shonen thanks to its aesthetics and good pacing. It has its share of problems, mostly the silly storyboard and the quality drop in production values, but it still remains a very entertaining anime for the fans of the genre.

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2 (eye-catchy)
Character Figures 2/2 (memorable)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (smooth for a tv series but drops in quality later on)
Visual Effects 2/2 (whacky)

SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)

STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 1/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 1/2 (sometimes silly, sometimes makes sense)
Conclusion 1/2 (solid but weak)

CHARACTER SECTION: 9/10
Presence 2/2 (whacky)
Personality 2/2 (silly but well founded)
Backdrop 2/2 (everyone has some)
Development 2/2 (everyone gets some)
Catharsis 1/2 (solid but weak)

VALUE SECTION: 8/10
Historical Value 2/3 (quite famous)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high, if you skip some silly episodes)
Memorability 4/4 (extremely whachy to the point of forever remembering it)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 8/10
Art 1/1 (looks great)
Sound 2/2 (sounds great)
Story 2/3 (rather basic and has its issues, but overall ok)
Characters 3/4 (they are very good for their roles)

VERDICT: 8/10

6/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
9/10 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
PrincessJustPeachy's avatar By on Mar 15, 2016

This is certainly a fun anime. It has its charmingly creepy way of sneaking up on you and you just loving it. The characters are dramatically different and unique, sometimes a bit complicated. It's a very unique storyline and idea, nothing Ive ever come across again. Its just a ball of fun and even drama and its quite humorous. Certainly the anime for someone who enjoys action, adventure, and comedy.

9/10 story
8.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9/10 overall
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