The Kishin is out in the world and Medusa is angling to be a huge problem in everyone's side as life in Death City continues on.
What They Say As students of the Grim Reaper at Death Weapon Meister Academy, Maka is a Meister and Soul is her Weapon - literally. When they take on the supernatural forces of evil, Soul transforms into a razor-sharp scythe and Maka wields him in battle. He gets deadlier with every defeated soul he consumes and each victory strengthens their bond - but Maka, Soul, and their classmates might not be ready to face the darkness headed their way.
After 800 years, the witch Arachne has returned to spin a web of wickedness, leading an army of ghoulish minions in a war against Death Weapon Meister Academy. As demons from the past rise amid betrayal and madness, Maka and Soul are definitely in for the fight of their lives. But, hey - luckily for the fate of the world, they're a freakin' lethal team!
Contains episodes 27-39.
Soul Eater gets a solid bilingual production from FUNimation with what they do with most of their shows in offering the original Japanese track in stereo at 192kbps and the English mix done up in 5.1 encoded at 448kbps. The Japanese track is really quite solid overall as it has a fair bit of directionality across the forward soundstage and a number of really good moments of depth and placement as the characters move about and are set up at different levels. The English mix, while debatable when it comes to casting, is good when it comes to the technical elements as it takes what you have in the core and expands on it by adding more clarity as well as a bit more volume. Both tracks of their advantages and weaknesses but they're solid and come across well with no problems such as dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing from 2008 to 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This collection features thirteen episodes spread across two discs in the standard seven/six format, which works well since the second disc has practically another episodes worth of material. Soul Eater has a very distinct visual design to it and it looks very striking throughout, but more so when it uses the vibrant scenes within Death City and with Lord Death himself. The more basic areas of the city have a more realistic look at times and a somewhat duller color palette much as the rest of the world, but it all shows a good amount of detail and blacks are handled very well. There isn't a lot of noise here and gradients/banding is very, very minimal overall as there's been a lot of progress over the years with how the shows are animated.
Soul Eater gets the standard FUNimation package design with a thin slipcover that houses two clear thinpaks for the two discs that make up this set. The slipcover isn't as busy nor as bright as the last one but it looks good, particularly with the logo that's done sideways. With that on the left, the character artwork on the right stands out well with the mixture of burgundy and white that makes Death the Kid stand out all the more. It's a bit busy overall in the background but feels more muted than the previous ones that had a lot of bright orange for example. The back of the slipcover is much darker overall with a black background for the top half where there's the summary and a breakdown of what features are available for the set. The rest is given over to some good pieces of artwork of several of the characters as well as a few shots from the show that add to its otherworldly nature. The strip along the bottom of the back is a bit awkward as its done in a gray which makes it hard to read the soft whitish-gray text for the production information. The technical grid itself is kept to the bottom of the slipcover where it's clean and very easy to read.
The thinpaks inside are really well designed with striking colors and character pieces. The first volume has Death the Kid looking all cool and serious against a pinkish orange background while the logo takes up a good bit of space along the right. The second volume Patty and Liz together where they look pretty good with the contrasting facial expressions as they're set against a full on pink background. Each cover looks really nice with basic but appropriate character designs and a good sense of color and visual design to make it stand out. The back covers are done sideways where it has several of the core cast of characters together, either posing or in a bit of action scene which looks good but doesn't stand out too highly. The reverse sides of the cover have more character pieces as well as an gray strip along the bottom where they name the character on the front as well as the episode numbers and titles for that volume. No show related inserts are included in this release.
The menus for Soul Eater follow a familiar patter by taking part of the cover artwork, such as the character artwork for their respective volumes, and using that as its central piece. The background isn't a bland piece though but rather something that almost feels more like graffiti with colors, paint flecks and a big version of Lord Death in the background for example. It has a decent loop of upbeat instrumental music to tie it all together though it doesn't fade out well as it feels like it should get more upbeat instead of wind down. The logo takes up a decent sized spot of real estate along the lower left with the menu navigation included underneath it which is simple and to the point. Submenus load quickly and the layout is well done, especially for the extras on disc two as we detail next.
The extras for this release are pretty nice and actually feel like they have some weight to them. The first disc has a commentary track for one of the episodes with the English creative team talking about the show while the second disc has the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences and more. There are thirteen episodes of the “Late Night Soul Eater” segments which run about 90 seconds each. FUNimation set these up well by making sure you could pick them out individually but also click a play all feature to see various kinds of random silliness and artwork related to the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The third segment of Soul Eater brings us another thirteen episodes of the series as events follow the release of the Kishin and the changes to how Death is approaching how to deal with it. The arc that finished out just a bit before in the previous set had a lot going on with the Kishin getting out into the world and Medusa managing to slip away at the last second as she's now taken over the body of a young human girl. That alone is worth the price of admission to see her slowly turning into her old self in this pint sized form and freaking her “mother” out by doing so. With the Kishin out, Lord Death is working through the changes he wants to make in order to deal with it and that has a lot of people returning to Death City to carry out his plans.
The set covers two real main tracks of thought here when it comes to the story, though there are some subplot moments that kick in and a little standalone material. Having yet another entire episode given over to Excalibur isn't a surprise and it's one that works well as Hero manages to take on the sword because he finds himself capable of dealing with the thousand rules that Excalibur has for anyone who wants to wield him. Hero's rather fun during all of this as he takes the abuse and seems to love it in fact as he will do anything he's asked. You almost think that Excalibur is surprised by this at times as he can't believe that Hero really will do these things, but it makes for another amusing episode involving the strangest of characters in the series.
When it comes to the main storyline, the two arcs are pretty good and they obviously get tied together as the main goal. The first is that while plenty of Death's subordinates are dealing with tracking down the Kishin and figuring out how to deal with it, Stein is tasked with working with the DWMA students so they can handle things should they come in contact with it. The idea that works well that Stein has is to work with the core students and their weapons to try and teach them about soul resonance. Not the resonance they each have with their weapons already to varying degrees, but resonance as a group that will give them even more ability to deal with the bigger foe that's now waiting out there. With the difficulties we've seen in getting the two person teams working together, it's obvious that a good deal of the set will deal with the issues of a team going through it. Maka in particular is singled out as she has real trouble coping with the way some of the others are, notably Black Star, and almost gets the boot herself for not understanding the real circumstances of the exercise. While it is a fairly obvious progression from the start of the training to the results, the results do make it very worthwhile since it ties into Soul's inner dialogue involving the piano in his mind.
The other main thrust is the lengthy arc that deals with Arachne as she starts her plans now that she's been freed after 800 years. With her past history with Lord Death, she's intent on making up for all that lost time and opts to acquire the Magic Brew along with whatever Magic Tools she can find, since several are in the hands of Lord Death. What's intriguing about Arachne outside of her design is that we have an episode where the story shifts back in time eight hundred years and we get to see what happened with a very different Lord Death and the destruction of the pyramid where the Magic items were at. With the DWMA kids able to see this past through a portal that puts them there but unable to change anything, it's really interesting to see these little changes for some of them and how some of the key moments from the past occurred. It's a more creative flashback sequence since it places the modern characters firmly in it even if they can't interact with it. Arachne in particular continues to be an interesting character since she has a lusty design and a poisonous personality but she has legitimate reasons for her desire to make good on the promises she's made for revenge.
With another thirteen episodes of the series, I'm still finding myself to be fairly ambivalent about the show. The creative aspect of it with its designs and pacing overall is good but the stories still haven't full grabbed me and about half of the cast can be really annoying at times. Some of the fun moments this time around involves Excalibur, which surprised me, and Death the Kid as he plays the serious student role as he tries to figure out what his father is up to as Lord Death won't give out the truth easily or willingly. That kind of exploration of what's going on is interesting since it has him doing research and teasing out little nuggets of information that does help explore the setting and characters of the series. But something about the overall storylines, while decent and interesting, just haven't been compelling. It seems to be a bit too unfocused at times and with too many little diversions along the way to draw your attention. Similar to the first two sets, I don't find it to be bad, it's just sort of there and would be a lot less interesting if not for the very detailed and specific design elements.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Soul Eater Late Show, Episode 30 Commentary (Todd Haberkorn, Cherami Leigh, Jamie Marchi), Textless Songs
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
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