From the first three episodes, you’d hardly expect this show to garner any potential. The first episode focuses on a girl named Maka and a boy named Soul. The boy can turn into a weapon, which Maka wields to defeat evil people. Once Soul eats 99 evil souls and a witch’s soul, he can turn into the ultra-powerful death-scythe.
The whole story is a spoof on the typical “gotta catch ’em all” formula in series such as “Pokemon” and “Cardcaptor Sakura.” The two literally spend the whole episode trying to capture the soul of the voluptuous witch, because Soul faints every time she gets near him.
The second episode is an even loonier parody of Naruto, introducing us to Black Star. He’s a spiky-haired ninja who hardly collects any souls. If he ever quits bragging openly to his opponents, one day he’ll turn his female partner, Tsubaki, into a more powerful weapon. Someday, anyway.
The third episode focuses on Death the kid, a shinigami, or god of death. He wields a pair of girls, Liz and Patty, as twin demon guns. However, Death the kid suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He literally runs away from battle to make sure his room is completely symmetrical on both sides.
Based on these three “prologue” episodes, you’d think this series would turn out as a quirky comedy anime that only lasts about 12 episodes. Believe it or not, “Soul Eater” completely defies definition. Around episode seven and eight, two of the protagonists almost lost their lives in a fatal battle with a witch.
The two heroes, Maka and Soul, fight against the villainous warrior teenager named Cronos. The character possesses the Demon Sword, a dark weapon which forms out of Cronos’ black blood. Cronos fatally wounds Soul, leaving Maka in a state of shock.
One of Maka’s teachers rescues her in the nick of time. However, the damage was done. Maka now bears extreme guilt for putting her partner in danger. Worse still, part of Cronos’ black blood flows through his body.
You have to wonder how such a series remains this unpredictable. This is partly because the series was adapted from a manga which was supposed to only last one chapter. Yet, the character designs and the slapstick jokes turned this manga into an unforgettable classic.
After 12 episodes, I’m literally shocked by the depth of this bare-bones shonen anime. “Soul Eater” is an anime based entirely on battles, but the characters move around with insane acrobatics, dodging life-threatening blows with the greatest of ease.
The most surreal scenes involve battles played out in the characters’ minds. The power of the soul synchronization can literally enable characters to lose themselves in other peoples’ subconscious. These scenes tend to resemble the psychoanalytical scenes of Evangelion, but the animators pepper the drama with violent battles and surreal, out-of-this-world environments.
Best of all, the female hero, Maka, is a force to be reckoned with. She slices and dices her enemies as if they were paper dolls. She doesn’t even flinch when one of her teachers swings a tombstone at her.
But at it’s heart, “Soul Eater” is a sweet romance between Maka and Soul. The two main heroes have completely opposite types of attitudes. Maka is the overachieving bookworm. Soul is the laidback slacker. However, they hold immense respect for each other, especially in a touching scene in episode six. Their powerful companionship literally becomes the source of their powerful moves when they synchronize their soul power.
The series garnished plenty of attention when it aired on the Cartoon Network. Although it appears to play out like a conventional shonen show, it grows into a massive, epic series involving evil forces, black blood and dreamlike drama played out in the characters’ minds. As weird as this turns out, “Soul Eater” looks like a big contender for the best anime of 2010.
The first box set is available now on DVD. Stay tuned for a review of the second box in the upcoming weeks.
Image courtesy of photobucket.com