When 14-year-old Tsugumi discovers her ability to transform into a weapon, she decides to enroll at Death Weapon Meister Academy, or DWMA. There, she hones her skills, and practices with other weapons and the meisters who wield them.
I have difficulty putting into words my utter disappointment in this show. I watched Soul Eater years ago and really loved it. When I heard that Soul Eater Not! was coming out I was not expecting good results. I even had a friend of mine warn me not to expect Soul Eater when watching this show. Even then I was still disappointed. Story: The story follows a young weapon new to the DWMA named, Tsugumi. She finds and befriends two other meister students: the ever forgetful Meme and the Royal Anya. We witness these girls lives in a new academy... and that is 85% of the show. A vast majority of the episodes are dedicated to watching these girls grow pumpkins, get work, eat in the cafateria etc. It's all about their everyday lives. This might be more interesting if the characters weren't boring and flat (which I will get into in the character section.) There is a primary conflict in the show as well. A witch is planning her strike on Death City. However, there are only three characters who, for a majority of the story, are involved in this plot. But yet, the audience only gets bits and pieces of the serious information at a time before its back to the three girls working in a maid cafe. We get enough information to realize that there is a diabolical plot afoot and then we get to watch the girls have tickle fights for the other 20 minutes of every 24 minute episode. Why are we following these girls? They aren't doing anything important for the story as a whole for the first 9 episodes. This show ultimately chose to follow the wrong characters around. I am not sure why Akane and Clay (the characters primarily involved with the diabolical understory) are not the main characters. Give us the best perspective of the conflict. However, I might be more forgiving of this part of the story if the evil villain was interesting at all. This villain was utterly boring. I won't spoil the evil scheme for you but it's a scheme I have seen in a hundred other stories. It's not original and, at least for me, it wasn't interesting. Animation: There aren't problems with the animation per say. Occasionally we would get some awkward movements that needed some fixing but it’s actually solid animation. My key problem is that it's not unique. When I saw Soul Eater there was no mistaking its animation. The characters were proportionally odd and they were always striking these bizarre poses that looked like a mix between a graphic novel and a Looney Toons episode. To be honest I loved that animation. It had a lot of flavor and expression to it. This animation is good but it doesn't have its own flavor. It feels like the DWMA was dulled down. Any time they were walking around the school I couldn't help thinking how average the inside of it looked. I honestly kept forgetting that it was the DWMA. There was none of the life that I have seen in these settings before. Furthermore, all of the new settings were just as boring. The girls work in a cafe. It's an average looking cafe. The girls stay in a dorm. It's not a particularly interesting looking dorm. That's my problem with it. It's not bad. It just didn't bring back any of the life from the old series nor did it try to reimagine the show in a new light. Sound: I never want to hear any of these songs again. They fit the new slice of life feel of the show just fine. I was just irritated by all of them. The voice actors that we had to listen to the most, likewise, came off as whiny. Characters: This section frustrates me more than any other. I am going to start with the protagonist, Tsugumi. This character is as interesting as a bowl of sugar. It's overly sweet and not that interesting to watch. She is a 14 year old girl who can't make up her mind but tries her best at everything. That is all there is to her. And worst of all, the show seems to commemorate this indecisive quality from her. She is almost never forced to make a choice beyond "I am going to try my best." It's pretty irritating. Anya is very little beyond her "I am royalty and you’re a commoner" attitude. Half of her dialogue is a joke to that effect. Meme is an excuse for boob and panty shots with severe memory loss. The useful characters in the story are Akane and Clay. Even these two are severely underdeveloped. Clay is a responsible ditz. He is about one step up from Meme in regards to functionality. Akane had more potential as a character. They even added in some interesting information about his family that implied some fascinating possibilities... but who needs interesting bits of plot when we can watch girls clean a pool?! Now, here's the big question. What happened to all the characters from Soul Eater? Are they in the show? Answer: Yes, but not in a great way. We do have some of the old characters come back as secondary characters like Maka, Sid, Liz, Patty and Ox Ford. I actually liked seeing more from some of these characters especially since I thought many of them were the people that needed more development in the original series. The rest of the old characters feel like one liners. Black Star comes back to shout "Yahoo!". Soul comes back to argue with Maka and be a little pervy. Death the Kid enters to make yet another symmetry joke. Ha... ha... we've never heard that one before... (add all of my sarcasm). If you want to watch this show, don't watch it because of Soul Eater. However, I don't think it even stands well on its own as a slice of life anime. It's too torn between trying to fit into the Soul Eater universe and being a slice of life. In the end, like Tsugumi, it couldn't make up its mind and was pretty disappointing.
You don't have to watch Soul Eater before you see this series. Maybe you're better off if you don't. Because it's best if you treat them both as stand alone series. It's unfair to expect another Soul Eater. This show should be appreciated and assessed as its own unique show, because it's not Soul Eater. It even says so in the title. The problem is that it's been miscategorized as an action seinen. This is mostly slice of life. The animation style is vibrant and joyful. The girls are drawn similar to K-On. There are lesbian and romance themes. Action takes a back seat. This isn't a cute girls doing cute things. It's a cute girls doing awesome things show. Cons: A few plot holes. There could be more character development.
I understand why so many people are upset with 'Soul Eater Not!", one thing is the vastly different art style, the new characters, and the fact that it's a slice of life anime, I loved it myself. I thought that all of the characters were great even the new ones, I liked that it gave more background on established characters and the Soul Eater Universe, and I think it was great as a slice of life/world building anime, Soul Eater Not! was a good idea by Soul Eaters creator because it gave a way to introduce things to the readers/viewers that the characters in the orginal Soul Eater would have already know, this is my first Slice of Life anime and I think it was great. So many people compare this to Soul Eater yes this was the follow up and yes it doesn't have as much action but thats not the purpose its to give people more information on the background behind the world of Sould Eater which couldn't be done in the first series as it wouldn't make sense. From what I've seen its polarizing if you love it you love it, you hate it you hate, no changing either side and no one in the middle, so many people wanted another action packed Soul Eater with the same characters and I know why, I just think Not! is just as good as the orginal.
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