Soul Eater is a relatively famous anime based on a manga written by Okubo Atsushi. Now, it is from Bones studio. So far the only reviews I’ve done of their stuff have been Darker than Black, Fullmetal Alchemist and Wolf’s Rain and while that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to like this it does bode well. Let’s take a look at Soul Eater and see if the trend of quality continues.
Soul Eater follows a group of students at Shibusen Academy, a school that trains living weapons and their masters. The goal of the students is to collect 99 souls from evil humans and a witches soul to advance the weapon to the level of a death scythe, but that’s interrupted by a conflict with witches who are experimenting on using souls of regular humans to create a demon god called a Kishin. One big problem with the story in this anime is that the death scythe setup ends up getting dropped pretty quickly and ultimately serves no purpose to the plot. It’s just clumsy writing. I’m told that it serves a purpose in the manga, but it is a problem with the anime. The biggest issue though is that the end is pretty rushed. The series has a lot of subplots and most of them just get hurried resolutions that don’t have a satisfactory payoff. The final fight scene is just lazy, which leads to an anti-climactic ending. That being said, there are a lot of good elements to the series. It has a lot of creativity and the series maintains a good blend of humorous and semi-serious moments, for the most part. A lot of the subplots start out pretty strongly, even if they kind of fall apart towards the end. There are some really stupid action elements towards the end, but I’m pretty sure they’re intentionally stupid for the sake of humour and they are pretty hilarious, particularly Death City’s transformation.
The characters range quite a bit in quality. The main cast works pretty well, but a lot of the side characters get one or two personality traits or, like Maka’s dad, get used for the same types of jokes whenever they demonstrate any kind of personality. It especially becomes a problem toward the end when several characters get introduced and ultimately have very little impact on anything. Why are they even here? Still, there are a lot of interesting characters in this. Maka, Death the Kid, Tsubaki, Crona, and so on.
The art in this has a very bright and vibrant style. It kind of reminds me of a cel-shaded game, actually. Which certainly isn’t a bad thing. The backgrounds look nice, but the character designs fall a bit flat. The noses just look bizarre and the eyes look pretty blank most of the time. Which can lead to some awkward moments where you don’t know what emotion they’re trying to express. Although you can usually tell from the context. Also, like Katanagatari, this is a series that tries to have fan-service in spite of an art style that doesn’t lend itself to it.
The cast in this is pretty strong. Miyano Mamoru, Omigawa Chiaki and Nazuka Kaori all give strong performances. The biggest issue with the acting is that there’s quite a bit of exaggeration. Particularly from the over the top characters like Black Star and Patty. The music mostly works effectively, albeit not spectacularly.
The yuri factor in this one is kind of difficult to measure. Why? Because there’s a character named Crona, a great character by the way, who doesn’t have a stated gender. The series keeps it vague, always referring to Crona with gender neutral pronouns. I’m not sure how they manage that in the English version given the lack of English gender neutral pronouns, but I don’t want to sit through even an episode with the English cast to find out. The fact is that I’m going to have to give to different scores because of Crona’s ambiguous gender. If Crona is female, then the yuri factor is a 4/10. Largely because Crona and Maka seem to have a pretty substantial amount of sexual tension. If Crona is male, however, that would qualify as het and the yuri factor goes down to a 2/10. There are still a couple moments in the series, but nothing substantial.
Now we move on to my final rating. I’m giving Soul Eater a 7/10. Yeah, it has some issues, but at its core it’s a fun, energetic and creative series with some strong characters. If you can appreciate the goofier moments, you’ll probably have fun with it. Incidentally, my lowest score for a Bones anime remains a solid “7”. The only one I’ve reviewed since this was Heroman. I’m sure they’ve worked on something bad before, but I’ve yet to see it.