Soul Eater Vol. #1 - Mania.com



UK DVD Review

Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: NA
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: NA
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe/Japan
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £24.99
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Soul Eater

Soul Eater Vol. #1

Soul Eater Vol. #1 UK DVD Review

By Christopher Homer     July 28, 2010
Release Date: June 28, 2010


Soul Eater Part 1
© FUNimation

A good introduction to what at first seems to be a generic battle series turning into something much more interesting. 

What They Say
Maka is a Meister and Soul is her weapon. Literally. Every freak she drops and every soul he sucks down strengthens their bond. And when the Grim Reaper sends them into battle against the supernatural forces of evil, you know like, witches and werewolves and zombies? Yeah, they re a freakin lethal team. Owning the ghouls that lurk in the shadows is what they re all about, and fighting alongside their Meister/Weapon friends, Maka and Soul are totally the last line of defense against evil.

The Review!
Audio:
In a change, I decided to actually review both audio tracks by watching the first disc in Japanese and the second disc in English. The English track has a 5.1 Dolby Surround Audio track whilst the Japanese is the standard 2.0 Stereo Track. It's definitely the case of the English audio having a real power towards it compared to the Japanese track, albeit the Japanese track certainly isn't bad. There are no problems I found with the transition between audio and visual, though there was one moment in episode 4 in the Japanese that I found that the audio actually was missing when a clear subtitle line from Maka is shown. As this is a test disc, I assume the problem has been cleared on the proper ones and it was the only instance I found that this problem occurred.

Video:
The video had no problems, they were no glitches or slowdown, and linked in well with the Japanese subtitles - it's a very intriguing show to look at as the animation is very different, the art style is unusual and the animation is very free flowing. There are no transition problems and there are some great moments as it is shown in both wide screen and full screen format, and the way the colour scheme works in various scenes, it flows well considering that they have to go around the world so whilst the art style is unusual, the research was definitely done and is a worthy release.

Packaging:
There was no packaging for this test disc.

Menu:
The menu is very basic, with the opening song playing over a shot of Maka on the first disc with her scythe out on a dark background with the basic play all/episodes/set up/extras choices on white lettering. In what seems to be a common trend, the episode selection is only for the episodes itself, and there is no scene select option. The second disc is exactly the same except with a shot of Soul grinning.

Extras:
There are quite a few extras on this first collection of Soul Eater. On the first disc, we have an episode 7 commentary involving the director, and the English VA voices of Maka and Soul - it's another good introduction to how the Vas actually work as it is the first time Laura and Micah have met, how they were casted - Micah is quite fun as it is his first lead role and he enjoys recalling how he reacted when he got the part, they discuss some of their favourite parts - they seem to be quite fond of the music - and their other favourite characters.

On the second disc, we have the textless openings and endings, which are always nice to see, and a section called Soul Eater Late Show, which is basically the trailers for all thirteen episodes, introduced by Death himself. He delights in giving us as much of the fanservice moments as he can in combination with the action and comedy - with stand alone moments like showing artwork from the BONES studio, and other comments from the other characters (like DeathScythe changing his dialogue in one ep to make him seem even more lecherous than he already is). It's very comic, and lasts 20 minutes so it's surprisingly long for what are essentially mini trailers with a change of pace. So overall, very good extras on the first part of Soul Eater.

Content:
Soul Eater is a series I'm going into quite cold and only really knew the very catchy opening before watching. Turns out the show is a very fun experience, with some crazy characters, pretty good battle sequences and yet despite the very unusual art isn't as over the top as it appears�though there is still a good deal of craziness there.

We are introduced to the DWWA, an Academy basically to train mesiters and weapons to become one, to recover souls from evil humans which could turn into demons called 'Kishin'. And this academy is run by Death itself albeit a very comic looking Grim Reaper with oversized hands ready to give you his Death Chop. We quick cut to our two lead characters, Maka - a bad tempered young meister who is a weapon's based fighter, and Soul - her partner, a slobby looking boy who only seems to be interested in being "cool" who has the ability to transform into a scythe. The two have to resonate together - i.e. keep their souls in harmony to work together at the fullest. The story starts that they only need one more soul - a witch soul - to have collected 100 souls, enough for Soul to become a Scythe worthy of the Grim Reaper. However, due to a combination of a lying little cat witch who caused nosebleeds for poor Soul, the soul that he eats isn't a witches soul - and because of that, all of the souls they collected beforehand become forfeit, and have to start over.

The first three episodes are literally introduction episodes to the three main teams of the show. Whilst episode 1 focused on Maka and Soul, episode 2 introduces us to the assassin Black Star and his weapon, a female ninja kaleidoscope of weapons named Tsubaki. Whilst Soul is reserved and Maka is temperamental, here we have an assassin who can't keep his mouth shut, and a weapon who is very caring and skilled, and has to bail out her rather annoying master whilst still pacifying his ego. During this episode, he's upset when someone kills the mob he was going to take for himself, and the person in question Mifune is accused of upstaging him, the one thing Black Star hates most. It leads to a near one-sided battle where Black Star doesn't comprehend the skills of being quiet, but at the same time shows he has some incredible abilities which actually make him legitimately threatening. It does end up comically however and they are still searching for their first soul.

The third episode introduces us to Death's son, Death The Kid along with his two weapons, two cowboy like girls named Liz and Patty Thompson. Being Death's son means he goes on more dangerous missions - but has a very strange quirk himself that he's obsessed with symmetry. From his opening poses with the girls to worrying if the toilet paper was left symmetrical back home (and actually leaves the girl in a pharaohs tomb to go back home to check!). It does give a real Jekyll & Hyde impression when he returns, as he refused to attack the Pharaoh when he's inside the tomb because of the beautiful symmetry of the pyramid and his tomb but when he emerges and is not symmetrical, he utterly destroys him. It seems we've got three very unique teams to say the least, who all play a part through the rest of the disc.

The majority of the first disc then basically focuses on the teams getting tests at the academy (such as fighting a former teacher), and introducing other characters to interact with them. Some of the other characters are absolutely hilarious and really add a different aura to the other members. Maka's father DeathScythe/Spirit, for example, is a very powerful scythe who is in fact the weapon of Death himself but is also a lecherous middle aged man who spends too much time in the Chuba Capra's bar there flirting before being reminded that his wife is divorcing him, turning him to a quivering wreck. And his mentor Stein, who the Maka/Black Star teams have to fight as part of a passing grade, is a freak of nature who is obsessed with dissecting and even more amusingly a former mentor of DeathScythe, and when he becomes the teacher of Maka's group, it brings in a lot of comedy to say the least.

Things change when Death The Kid decided to enrol, and it brings in the idea of Soul Resonance, and how the teams are able to synchronize their souls together in fighting. Soul and Maka for example, suffer a defeat against the mysterious Crona, and the even more mysterious Medusa, who appears to be the main villain of the series - disguised as a doctor at the academy, who is researching black blood, and how it effects people. She managed to infect Soul and is studying him from her disguise as a doctor, but when Soul protects Maka from a death blow, it brings in many questions of the two's relationship and if they can truly become one with each other. It's quite intriguing how Maka worries about Soul, and then Soul worries about Maka but in different ways.

Other characters get their moments as well; Tsubaki in particular actually shines more than the egotistical Black Star, during their moment in the sun, where she confronts the demon sword Masamune, who turns out to be her own brother. And the episode when Kid and Black Star team up to find Excalibur, only to find Excalibur is even MORE over the top than the two of them combined - well, it just bares watching a few times - and see if you can't recovery from the laughter afterwards. It does balance out the comedy with how Medusa is planning her research and how she's using others who don't trust the academy to help her, but at the same time, people don't trust her either, and thus she has to showcase that she is pretty darn scary when needed to be...

The show itself is very entertaining, combined comedy elements with mostly great characters with an element of darkness that a subject such as collecting souls needs to have - and whilst the show made me laugh a lot, it always directed you back to the main plot very quickly, with some strong conversations between Maka and her father, as well as Tsubaki and her brother for example. Whilst most of the characters are fun, some of their quirks can be annoying - Death The Kid's obsession with symmetry is obviously a running gag, you do feel for the sisters to say the least, but sadly I just cannot get into how annoying Black Star is. His over the top loudmouth combined with his ego trips really did grate me, especially as he doesn't seem to have the true comprehension of what an assassin should be, despite his abilities. Thankfully Tsubaki is much more interesting and able to keep him in check just enough to avoid that team to be a disaster, both on the field and to the viewer. Lastly, our two leads Maka and Soul are very interesting, as their relationship seems to be the least straight-forward - Maka has issues with her father and then with Soul after he gets hurt, whilst Soul hides this cool persona with issues in his dreams and wondering how to keep in tune with Maka. It's a good way to introduce the series as there are plenty of questions still to ask, and so many questions unanswered as well.

In summary:

Soul Eater is a cluster of entertainment - combined action, characterisation, comedy and storyline all in one. Whilst the humour is on show with pretty much all the characters, from a Frankenstein parody to Death himself, the real crux comes from the three teams, mainly Maka and Soul. The character of Medusa gives them a foil to fight, albeit one they aren't aware of, and keeps the original idea of recovering 100 souls in the same limelight. Whilst some of the quirks of the characters range from hilarious to annoying, they don't ruin the first 13 episodes thanks to some good storytelling, intriguing art and comic timing. Recommended so far.

Features
English 2.0 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 7 Dub Commentary (with director Zack Golden, Laura Bailey voice of Maka, Micah Solusod voice of Soul), Textless Opening/Endings, Soul Eater Late Show

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV - Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers - Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.

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