Maka is a scythe-meister whose skill is as fierce as her temper. Soul is her partner as well as her weapon. Together they are on a mission to hunt the souls of the corrupt, the process attempting to turn Soul into a death-scythe, the highest level of weapon there is. When they aren’t collecting souls, the pair attends the Grim Reaper’s Death Meister Academy where they, along with others, train for battle against the supernatural forces that would threaten the world.
Adapted from the manga by Atsushi Okubo, Soul Eater is a 51 episode series animated by studio Bones which started airing on April 7, 2008 and ended on March 30, 2009. Released by Funimation, the series embraces its shonen origins with flashy fights and themes of friendship. The first 13 episodes collected here are some of the most entertaining of any recent series with its outlandish characters and its gorgeous animation.
The series is littered with unique and over the top characters who are all the more enjoyable thanks in part to the show’s visual flare like Death the Kid whose unusual need for everything to be symmetrical often times drives him into violent rages and the loud mouthed Black Star, whose skill is matched only by his enormous ego. The Character’s designs are a bit cartoony, even Lord Death’s which makes it difficult to take him seriously as a supreme entity, but they add to the overall light hearted tone the series projects.
The visual style is complementary to the character’s off the wall personalities. Between making Death the Kid a perfectionist who constantly berates himself for having an unsymmetrical hair style to insanely powerful Doctor Franken Stein who prefers to fight his battles rolling around on an office chair while twisting a giant screw deeper into the side of his head, Soul Eater is never lacking in self-assured wit.
Despite maintaining a blithe mood, the plot does manage to squeeze in some serious drama like Maka’s issues with her father and Soul’s eventual corruption at the hands of lead villain Medusa. Other characters like Black Star’s weapon Tsubaki are allowed equal screen time to sort out their own issues that crop up later on.
The series takes on a sinister tone with the introduction of Medusa who serves as the main antagonist for this set of episodes. Blackmailing fellow witches and releasing immortal werewolves are only components to a much larger plan that has yet to be unveiled with Maka and Soul at its center. From there betrayals, bloods bathes, and behind the scenes conspiracies take center stage though that is not to say that series abandons its sense of fun. One shot episodes that feature two character’s quest for the legendary Excalibur are gut-bustingly funny as the end result will surely catch anyone off guard.
The Extras are bit beefier than the norm for anime releases. Included is an audio commentary for episode seven featuring the English ADR director Zach Bolten as well as the lead voices for Maka and Soul, Laura Bailey and Micah Solusod respectively. Also included is an assortment of clip segments titled the Soul Eater Late Show that are roughly a minute each. Trailers and textless openings and endings round out the set.
Though much of Soul Eater’s tone can be attributed to its darker nature, its roots are firmly planted in shonen conventions. With so many series following a similar pattern, Soul Eater stands out thanks to its unrelenting humor and otherworldly feel. Adding to that, Studio Bones knack for cinematic design and eye pleasing animation, Soul Eater is a winning combination on all fronts.