Soul Eater: Neurosis on parade

Soul Eater isn’t great, but definitely isn’t forgettable.  It is the characters that make all the difference. You either love them or hate them,  and you’ll either think of Soul Eater as having a cast of really colorful personalities, or really annoying personalities. Otherwise, it is pretty mediocre. Don’t get me wrong. It can be fun to watch. It has some interesting concepts. The story is nice and simple, the battle sequences can be neat, and it has a unique visual style . However, it is essentially a passable action anime; it takes a common formula, and give it enough tweaks to keep it from being too generic.

But those characters.

Soul Eater is the story of a group of students training at the Death Weapon Meister Academy; a combat training facility formed by death himself to combat witches and soul-eating creatures called the kishin. The students train with their weapon partners, people who transform into magic weapons, battling kishin with the goal of having their weapon partners eat 99 kishin souls and one witch soul in order to become powerful “death scythes”. Attending the academy is Maka Albarn, who is partnered with a scythe named Soul. She is the daughter of a legendary meister and a death scythe. Black Star is the last of a line of thuggish assassins and partnered with Tsubaki, who can transform into multiple ninja-type weapons. Death the Kid is the son of Death, and uses twin guns Patty and Liz Thompson. Together, and separately, they go on various mission for the DWMA, trying to collect kishin souls until the witch Medusa manages to release the original kishin, Asura; a former comrade of Death’s with a desire to drive the world into madness to eliminate fear forever.

The meisters and their weapon partners are then dragged into the conflict between the DWMA, Asura, Medusa, and another powerful witch, Arachne, in order to prevent the world from being blanketed in madness.

Of the things Soul Eater has going for it, the idea of living weapons is the most interesting. Having your weapon be your literal best friend is pretty cool. I enjoyed the show’s art style as well. It had a rather well-defined, creepy visual vibe somewhere between The Nightmare Before Christmas and Nippon Ichi’s Disgaea series. The battle sequences are pretty smooth, especially when they get going. Something else I though was neat is the use of some well known monsters as characters, both minor and major. Medusa’s magic involves snakes. A strong meister named Stein is a take on Dr. Frankenstein. Jason Vorhees, Al Capone, and Jack The Ripper make appearances as kishin. Soul eater also ends. I like shows that end. It has a story to tell, and it tells it. The meisters and their weapon partners must deal with fear and doubt in order to defeat the witches and Asura. Cut to credits.

Then, there are the characters. Soul Eater is basically made up of characters they usually limit to one per series. The characters you wish would just shut up and get over it. The characters that are so loud and obnoxious, you wish they would get killed. Maka is a brilliant meister, but she is in a state of constant consternation. She can’t make decisions. She can’t handle failure. She’s pissed her dad cheated on her mom. Black Star is constantly screaming (literally) about being the best, being a big star, and surpassing God. Death the Kid is a perfectionist, and degenerates into a quivering pile (in the middle of fight) when he can’t get things just so, or enrages at the sight of imperfect symmetry. Corona, who makes an appearance later in the series as Medusa’s child, “can’t handle” any sort of social interaction, and despite becoming a member of the DWMA, reluctantly continues do his mother’s bidding and then agonizes over it for five minutes.

The weapon partners are thankfully more adjusted. Patty is a big goofball and Liz is a pessimist. Soul is calm and collected on the outside, but fears losing himself if he lets his emotions go. Tsubaki is a wallflower, and makes the perfect partner for Black Star because she seemingly has no desires of her own other than to see him succeed.

Yes, these characters help convey the underlying story of the series, but they are so often over-the-top with their issues, it is hard to deal with.  Whether or not you can enjoy Soul Eater essentially becomes the question of whether you like these kinds of characters, or can at least deal with them. If you don’t or can’t, you’re not going to like the series.

I was able to make it through all 50 some episodes, probably because I see all anime characters like this, in a way. I am generally annoyed by anime characters in general. I hate internal dialog , for one. I also hate listening to characters moan about being weak, dumb, and unattractive. Usually they moan during an internal dialog sequence. There really wasn’t much else the Soul Eater characters could do to put me off that most anime characters already don’t.

If only the show was as cool as this video makes it look.

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