Often times things with big problems begin with smaller problems, and Soul Eater is no exception. For all the problems this series has, one thing that bugged me a lot more than most of the faults was the fact that at the beginning of the show Maka and Soul are shown to be an unstoppable force, and yet not to much later they basically shout the fact that they need to improve on every level from the rooftops. I know that seems like a minor problem, but they never address the inconsistency of it. Still, even with all the faults it has, Soul Eater is genuinely enjoyable and incredibly fun.
Soul Eater is about this academy wherein kids learn how to become hunters of evil spirits, but it becomes something more as the series progresses. More on that later. The set-up itself, while not entirely original, is made interesting enough and is a great backdrop for what the series is really about; the characters. It has a great diversified cast, most of which you will grow to love. Each of them has their own personality and quirks that help make them more likeable. The heroes especially come across as some form of awesome, and most are very well characterized and have actual character arcs and evolve beyond the typical cardboard-cutouts of more boring, uninspired, shonen series. Though this also applies to some of the villains as well. The reason I'm being incredibly broad here is because if I actually described why each character is good we'd be here all day. However, there are two good characters I want to talk about. I know a lot of people hate on Excalibur, but I actually find him really enjoyable. The degree of quirkiness he possesses is just too fun to hate. This is probably one of the few examples of pulling off a deliberately annoying character without them actually being annoying. The concept of Excalibur is hard to hate because there's no point in taking the piss out of something that's already taking enough piss to fill up a water tower. At least, that's how I think of it. The other good character I'd like to talk about is Crona, an embodiment of what makes the good part of the cast of Soul Eater. At first, I didn't like Crona because he (I'm going to refer to Crona as a guy, both for the sake of the review and for the fact that that's the gender I perceive him as) wasn't characterized well at all. I remember saying at the time that it would take a ridiculous amount of development for me to change my mind, and to my surprise that's exactly what I got. His problems, struggles, and emotions are well-developed and well-characterized. It makes for an incredibly good character
I've mentioned that I don't like some of the cast as well. That's the thing about the characters of Soul Eater, whenever the aren't making interesting, fun, and amazing characters, they make characters that are incredibly horrible. Medusa being the biggest offender. Not only because she's evil for no good reason besides being a villain for the show, but also because her motivation keeps changing and can't keep a consistent bland villain type. She also comes back unnecessarily comes back after the show had already replaced her. This is also why I don't find Eruka Frog and Free particularity good either. Arachne, Mosquito, and Giriko all make for better villains, so there's no reason they needed to come back, especially Free. Free already made one reappearing act (being mysteriously unfrozen after he was left behind in the first episode we see him in) and making two makes him seem not likeable. Even if they didn't come back for no reason, both of them are still kind of bland. The other two characters I hate are Little Ogre and Ragnarok. Both of them are annoying and Little Ogre is completely unnecessary. Still, most of the cast is good enough to make up for these mistakes they tried to pass off as characters, but it defiantly would be better without them.
Now, let's come back to the story. As it progresses, it becomes an easier target for criticism. The basic set-up it has is all needed to be a great story because it needed to just play second fiddle to the characters and awesome fight scenes. However, at one point it drops the fiddle, takes out a bass, and insists on playing "Another One Bites The Dust," "Feel Good Inc." or anything by Primus. That kind of confusing metaphor means that the story tries to become the focus of the show instead of the characters, with little success. Whenever it tries to get deeper than it needs to be it becomes incredibly stupid and more often than not not worth it. A good example of this is when they try to make us question the legitimacy of the school and it's Headmaster, Shinigami. You could see where it was going from 50 miles away and it ended up not worth any pay off whatsoever. I feel this show has the opposite problem that Kampfer has. Kampfer needs a deep interesting story-line that it barely has, and Soul Eater barely needs a plot, but tries to have a deep and interesting story-line. Still, I will say I like Kampfer's story more than Soul Eater's, if only because I feel sorry for Kampfer and this is the only area it can compete with Soul Eater. To it's credit though, Soul Eater keeps the great characterization and great fight scenes while the story is busy embarrassing itself. As for the ending that everyone's down on, I thought it wasn't that bad. It was a return to form by being simple good vs. evil with no gimmicks behind it, besides awesome fight scenes. Basically, the story should have stayed in the background instead of trying to hog the spotlight, because it didn't do well in it.
The music for Soul Eater is really interesting and fun to listen to. It's fast-paced during the action scenes, ad more complex during moments of characterization. The theme songs are great too, except for the first end theme, which sound like taking a fully decorated Christmas Tree and trying to shove it in your ear. The second end theme isn't all that great either, but it's head and shoulders above the first one. As for the voices, the sub is better than the dub, for a two word reason: Brittney Karbowski. Her Black*Star voice is annoying as hell, and too effeminate for him. Most of the dub is alright though, the biggest improvement being Kent Williams as Sid because he emotes more, but the sub version is genuinely better. The art of Soul Eater looks very stylized and worth every cent it used on production. It looks incredible and unique at the same time.
Overall: Soul Eater is an anime with a mostly hit, sometimes miss cast of characters. The hits among the cast make the show worth watching, along with the fight scenes, most of the music, and the art. It also makes it unique in flavor. Sure the story breathes with ts mouth open, but eventually you just learn to ignore its attempts to compete with more story-heavy anime. 8.4/10
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