For quite some time now, I’ve been singing the praises of the animated version of Soul Eater while cutting down its manga counterpart despite both sporting virtually the same story. But even while sporting identical elements; there are clear cut differences that made the enjoyment gleaned from the two vastly different.
It’s rare that I prefer an anime to its manga counterpart, due in fact to something being lost in translation. Soul Eater is the opposite. Where the manga suffers in pacing and angular artwork, the anime rectifies by moving at a more digestible pace and polishing the designs.
At six volumes, the manga has shown its ability to improve with age. The character’s appearances are becoming rounder and more detailed while more care is placed on the plot’s development. Volume 6 is perhaps the pinnacle of the series’ growth thus far, with emphasis placed on the ramifications of the Kishin’s revival and a greater attention to detail in the art.
Amidst the race to save the city and the battles that ensue is the emotional drama reflected in Crona’s damaged psyche and Maka’s efforts to reach him. The series’ approach to fleshing out Crona and showing him in a more sympathetic light places a greater value on the character’s development rather than the battle going on. This works on multiple levels in setting up plot threads that can be picked up upon down the road as well as giving him an empathic link to Maka that should define their relationship in future volumes.
Still. This is a shonen series and the action quotient is high considering everything that’s at stake. The introduction of the Kishin makes for some grisly sequences that is overshadowed only by the gory fight between Meedusa and Stein. The significance of the action is a result of this being the conclusion of the first arc, and with tensions running high, it’s impossible not to be swept into the drama unfolding on the pages.
In all, volume 6 represents the series’ high point. The weight of the situation and the sincerity with which Crona’s character is developed allows it to crawl out from underneath the shadow of its shonen moniker and prove that beyond the ambitious concepts and overly stylized figures lies a series brimming with potential that is only now being fulfilled.