Anime Reviews

A tribute to Soul Eater 18

It’s been a long time since my last foray into Soul Eater. Too long, really. And it’s easy to forget just how fun it is, how exciting, how damn awesome.

I mean, there are certain things that will always stick out, launch it above other series, and these two episodes were no different. Consider the dark, gothic architecture of Shibusen. The landscape has a palpable character, the shade and colour emphasizing a constant, lively feeling. An emotional container for these bizarre eccentrics, this is a world I can feel a part of, along with these characters and their adventures, so colourful and thrilling.

I suppose I’m really just in awe of this show, as the bright sparks fly and the awkwardly dressed kids dance. In that moment. Memories. These episodes, in particular, just really capture that feeling for me, that transient, simple, joyful sense of being young and stupid. If just for a dozen or so minutes, it’s fun, and happy, and perfect.

Then Medusa attacks.

Sometimes it’s easy to take Soul Eater for granted because every episode is so consistently and stylishly animated. But like I said above, I’ve been away from this series for too long. When I finished these two episodes, I really had the urge to just race through the rest right there and then. But you see, I want to savour it, this feeling, this excitement. It’s wonderful, and rare.

Anime Reviews

Soul Eater 11

If you mess with Tsubaki’s stage…

I saw your trembling soul…

It has a nice scent.

Her brother fades.

This was the best episode of Soul Eater yet. An episode that’s sweeping, burning with feeling, with animation and character as a synthesis of the soul. Such anime is poetic, exciting and inspiring, such is Black Star and Tsubaki. I admire their loyalty, their affection for one another, that Black Star will take a beating for his friend, understands the strength of her spirit, and yet is close enough to know when to offer a hug. Tsubaki is shy; she isn’t often noticed and would rather take-on a little hardship to please another. That doesn’t mean she is arrogant or weak, but she needs someone around her to carry her along, to push her onto the stage, to support her. A friend, to support her trembling soul.

Though it’s something we’ve come to expect from Soul Eater, I have to say the animation in this episode was superb. Not simply in terms of the fluidity of movement, which ebbed and flowed in waves of animated bliss, but the art direction too. The use of colour, the gloomy clouds and rain overhead as Black Star is beaten to a pulp for his friend and anxiously awaits her return. The metaphysical battle against her brother, the dull landscape that transforms with her victory into a tranquil paradise of clear sky and sparkling blue sea. It’s absolutely evocative and vibrant, swings and shifts with the tone and mood of character. It’s lyrical anime, streamlined, perfect.


Ok! Let's do this in a cool way! Soul Eater!

There is no denying it; for Soul Eater and me, it was love at first sight. Bursting with an adorable “look-at-me” style and eccentric attitude, it’s probably the coolest looking anime I’ve clapped eyes on since Gurren Lagann. 6 episodes in and every single one of them has been weird and wonderful, just one surreal trip after another, and naturally, being such a shameless action junkie and all, I’ll never tire of seeing such beautifully animated battles. Considering its over-the-top, scythe-swinging choreography and fun-loving attitude, there’s no denying I’m extracting some immensely good, hot-blooded entertainment from Soul Eater, but still, and it’s important to note (because I know this is a big issue for some), this series is (traditional) shonen fighting anime. There, I said it.

It may look unconventional, but if you can’t enjoy the likes of Naruto, Bleach, One Piece or D.Gray-man, you won’t last long with this either. Soul Eater could be construed, at least at first, as a parody of those other anime; Black Star is probably the most blatant joke; he is a complete rip-off of the original noisy ninja, Uzumaki Naruto. But it’s clearly a loving parody, like Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle, because as much as it is knowingly poking fun at the cliched ‘shonen fighting’ anime, it obviously wants to be taken seriously as ‘shonen fighting’ anime too. Interestingly, this is another point of comparison with Gurren Lagann, because, early on, it was just as self-aware and over-the-top, being so referential of the mecha (super/transforming robot) genre. Starting a story with these archetypal ‘raw materials’ is very much akin to planting flower seeds and waiting for them blossom, as with every passing episode, the archetype, by virtue of its own experiences, takes root and grows into a unique personality. Already, Black Star is Black Star.

Soul Eater is, in many ways, very superficial. At this point, it has been looking great, the jokes are quite funny and the characters are likable, but there has been no real conflict. What I really love about a lot of my favourite shonen anime, like One Piece, is the heart-warming, strong bond of friendship shared by the characters, and we see, time and time again, that they will sacrifice everything, or die trying, to protect that bond. I’ve been looking for signs like that in Soul Eater too, something that suggests these relationships between meister and weapon amount to more than just plot convenience, and indeed, when pushed to their limits, I think there is definitely that kind of sentiment between Maka and Soul. I’m reflecting on a certain moment in episode 5, when the defeated Soul senses danger and covers Maka’s body with his own, growling “I won’t let you lay a hand on my Technician!” It just goes to show that there are deeper feelings there; that Soul Eater isn’t just parody and action, but has something quite inspiring to say about comradery and sacrifice too. I think that’s important, or at least, it is for me.