THE ONLY reason I can imagine this coming about is that Atsushi Ōkubo was sitting at his drawing desk thinking: “I need something new to sell to this anime studio. Soul Eater was popular – what made that popular? A distinctive art style that looks like it was taken straight from Tim Burton’s imagination, fun characters, great humour and amazing battles. What was Soul Eater missing though?… I know! A boring love/friendship triangle that drags on way too long and takes up most of the story.”
Apologies if that sounds mean but I don’t know why this anime exists. I’m not sure what it’s trying to achieve. It’s not that it’s bad per se it’s just dull and unnecessary, andwhat’s worse is that it comes from an anime that was so fun to watch. I loved Soul Eater – I thought it did everything right and to hear that a new series was being released that shared the same world left me excited. Sure it was different characters, but maybe these characters will also be fun, after all he did create a load of unique and interesting characters in the original series; he can do it again, right? Right? Oh my no.
Soul Eater Not takes place about a year before the events of Soul Eater. The story follows Tsugumi Harudori as she discovers that she is, in fact, a living weapon. Shortly after she is transported to the DWMA where weapons and meisters are taught and trained. If you’ve seen Soul Eater before this will all make sense to you, if you’re new to the series you’re in luck because the whole series will explain everything again. Really though, don’t start with this series, go straight to Soul Eater.
At first the series seems promising – everything is huge, strange and so foreign to her, perhaps the weapon transformation is a metaphor for coming of age which I could see working. Although that potential passes as soon as she makes friends with Meme Tatane and Anya Hepburn, two meisters who she just can’t decide who to partner with. That’s it. That’s the whole story. Oh, well, there is this side plot about an evil witch using mind control magic to take control of the DWMA students causing major chaos and ultimately weakening the DWMA forces against witches. I mean, if you can call that a story, but let’s focus on the important stuff like WHICH MEISTER WILL SHE CHOOSE?! Because that’s all the series thinks you care about.
Why was this series created? To pander to the female demographic? Is that necessary? I mean, you have Maka who was a pretty badass and strong fighter to begin with, you also had Tsubaki and the Thompson twins – hell there were more main female characters than male ones – and it wasn’t like they were generic, only-there-to-show-boobs characters either; they were fun and stood out as their own characters! In Soul Eater Not you’ve created three characters who appear in every slice-of-life anime, and an issue which I can’t see any woman relating to. As if teenage women are going, “Aha! Well, I can only choose one best friend to work with for the rest of my life, good thing I have this anime to watch!” What’s worse is that the two male characters Akane and Clay were the only competent fighters, not because they were the only good fighters but because they were the only characters to do anything until right at the end!
What’s frustrating is that there are glimpses of a promising series trying to break out. Some parts are genuinely funny: Tatane’s drunken boxing while she’s asleep is particularly enjoyable. There was also an unexpected but welcome surprise with an episode about a girl struggling to accept that she’s gay, or at least attracted to her fellow classmate. Although at about Episode 10 the series surprised me when it started to actually become enjoyable. Well, enjoyable compared to what I’ve seen so far, so nowhere near as much as the original series. Unfortunately, it picks up far too late, and only lasts until the end – three episodes’ worth.
Atsushi, if you really want to make a slice-of-life anime, that’s fine. If you absolutely must set it in the Soul Eater universe, well, who I am to tell you what to do with your own property. Just, please, at the very least, make it about issues that people can relate to; the foreignness of a different culture – that was good! The struggle of the girl accepting her sexuality – that was also good! So why did you drop them within the episode? There were quite a lot of relatable issues that he picks up but never does anything with.
At the very least I thought it would have been fun to learn more about the Soul Eater characters, but they very rarely make an appearance and offer next to nothing. Every time they pass through they always seem to doing something much more interesting than what I’m currently viewing. The only characters who make any kind of impact are the Thompson twins who are completely and utterly unlikeable here, and Dr. Stein who – to be fair – is very entertaining and awesome as always.
The only reason I can think of to justify this series’ existence is to appeal more to women, but if that’s the case they’ve shot themselves in the foot by replacing the fun, strong and exciting women with these generic dull stand-ins.
If you’re a huge Soul Eater fan you’re probably going to watch it regardless – just prepare to be bored through a great deal of it. Or perhaps there’s something about slice-of-life animes that I’m just not getting.
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She chooses both, because why make difficult decisions? They both fight using her as a weapon and it looks incredibly awkward.