“A sound soul dwells within a sound mind and a sound body”
The quote that begins every episode of Studio Bones produced anime based on the manga by Atsushi Okubo.
Soul Eater is mainly set in the Death Weapon Meister Academy or DWMA for short. Some students are weapon meisters while others can transform into the weapons their assigned miester wields in a combat to collect the souls of human beings that have turned to evil. The souls of evil humans have become eggs of the demon Kishin and the DWMA exists to stop his resurrection and the spread of his madness into the world.
Now that you know the basics, lets get to the nitty gritty
Soul Eater is an amazing and very bold anime concept-wise. The show has this Halloween and monsters theme to it that works well. Classic horror character archetypes are used and freshly re-imagined, for example The Grim Reaper, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Witches and so on.
The aim of the show? well DWMA Students and their weapon partners must go out and fight evil human souls, upon defeating the evil human, the weapon partner will consume (yes literally eat) the evil soul. After consuming 99 evil souls the Meister/weapon pair must then kill and consume the soul of a witch, this causes the weapon to evolve into a Death scythe, a weapon fit to be wielded by Lord Death himself and the only weapons that can stand a chance against the Kishin.
The show has this stylized look to the characters and background that gives it a unique, bold and somewhat cartoonish feel. Take a look at the sun and moon for example:
Even Lord Death himself has a wacky and cartoonish look, although its his choice to adopt this method of clothing so as not to scare the young meisters and weapons.
The Stylization works very well and the amazing Studio BONES animation is the icing on the cake. Speaking of animation, this show has near perfect animation, as is to be expected with a BONES produced anime. The character motions are very fluid and the action scenes are simply amazing, this being an action anime and all this is what is to be expected.
This is where Soul Eater shines the most, the characters in Soul Eater are phenomenal. I was pleasantly shocked at how much I resonated (no pun intended) with the characters. Each character is interesting, well developed and realistic especially the three main weapon Meisters and their weapon partners. Coming into the show, I had assumed I was going o hate Black Star, be neutral towards Maka and love Death the kid, after the show I was in love with Black Star, frustrated by Maka and still in love with Death the Kid but to a lesser extent than I expected.
The characters are a well rounded and diverse bunch, from good girl Maka to borderline psychotic, dissection obsessed professor Franken Stein. You will come to genuinely fall in love with or feverishly hate some of the characters in the show. The first villain introduced is Medusa, a cold, calculating and cruel witch who sinks to disgusting lows -posing as the school nurse, taking over a little girls body and subjecting her own child to horrific experiments- to reach her nefarious goals.
Perhaps the most compelling character in the entire show is Crona, Medusa’s gender ambiguous child. I was intrigued with Crona from the moment he?/she? was initially introduced. Crona’s storyline is nothing short of heart breaking, having suffered through horrible and inhumane -even for a witch- experiments and scenarios from his/her childhood. It all serves to make you sympathize with Crona and hate Medusa even more. Simply put, Medusa is a nasty bitch, I despise her with the passion and ferocity of a thousand exploding suns. From the moment Medusa was introduced, I looked forward to her death. When put into a foreign situation -anything stemming from a warm hug to a stab in the throat- Crona always says that he/she doesn’t know how to “deal with it”. I’m not surprised, seeing that Medusa put locked Crona in a dark room since Crona was born life. If anything, the writers succeeded in making me HATE Medusa.
Other characters that shine include zombie Sid, who acts as the kids teacher and advisor, Dr. Franken Stein, the kids mentor and also the best meister to ever graduate the DWMA and of course Maka’s estranged dad (who she hates for cheating on his mom) Spirit or Death scythe as he is usually called, seeing as he is the most powerful Death Scythe.
Besides the characters, this is where Soul Eater shines but it is also its biggest fault. The story in Soul Eater is great, the plot arcs are intriguing and it moves at a satisfying pace. The first 3 episodes act as individual introductions to our 3 main Weapon/Meister pairs and after acquainting us with them the real story begins.
As you know, the goal of the story is for each Miester to collect 99 evil souls and 1 withes soul so as to turn his or her weapon into a Deathscythe and prevent the resurrection of the Demon god Kishin. Thanks to Medusa and her minions Erica Frog and Free the Wolfman, the Kishin is eventually resurrected and now the gang must stop the Kishin. its pretty simple really, but it gets a lot more intriguing later into the series when we are introduced to The Book of Eibon, a magical book that holds the key to thousands of magical spells and blue prints created by a magician known as Eibon. Blue prints to a magical tool known as Brew, a tool which might help the DWMA defeat Kishin or might help the evil witch Arachne (older sister of Medusa) in her war against Lord Death and the DWMA are discovered and a war is started between the two sides for the acquisition of Brew.
Now here is where the show fucks up badly, as you know Soul Eater is adapted from a manga and the manga is still on going, it hasn’t finished yet even as of this review. Studio BONES decided to adapt the manga into an anime regardless and divert from the manga’s solid storyline about three quarters through the 51 episode anime and create their own bullshit ending. It was practically an ordeal getting through those last few episodes, I kept fidgeting and squeezing my face, forcing myself to watch it, it was brutal to watch such an anti climactic ending to a great show. I was frustrate d that all the intriguing storylines being built from the beginning of the show -Soul being infected with Crona’s black blood, Dr Stein slow descent into Kishin induced Madness, Black Star’s rivalry with Samurai Mifune- were being butchered to death. Studio Bones doesn’t do on going anime, they only do 25-50 episode shows (the most they have done is 64 episodes for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) so it was to be expected that they would eventually divert and create their own rushed ending. They did the same thing with the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime and when the manga was over they made the Brotherhood anime series which followed the manga storyline perfectly. I hope to God they do the same for Soul Eater, until then I’ll read the Soul Eater manga, I’m very intrigued by the storyline and curious to see where it is headed.
The main draw of a shonen anime is of course the action. Not once does this show disappoint when it comes to action scenes. The fights are creative and intense and the BONES animation is pitch perfect down to the last detail. The characters have amazing and varied weapons and abilities to help them in their fight against the Kishin and the evil witches, the eye candy is just great. I don’t need to say anything else, you WILL NOT be disappointed.
Soul Eater is a great anime from start to almost finish, the only weak point being the last few episodes. Up until that it is an awesome roller coaster ride of action. The show is primarily an action anime but it has great characters as well. I was expecting the typical superficial anime with shallow characters, the only reason I even watched the show is because it was produced by Studio Bones, but what I got was a great action anime that isn’t pretentious and doesn’t take itself too seriously unlike other action anime out there. Soul Eater, is a great anime, held behind by a horrible ending but if you can get past that, you will come to appreciate the show as a whole. If you have decided to watch the show, I highly suggest you watch it all the way to the end and then continue reading the manga from the chapter where the story diverts. If you don’t watch this show/read the manga, then you are nothing short of a FOOL! (inside joke you’ll understand after watching the show).
Video preview of the show below