Whilst the silly elements of the first part do have their part in this set, the series takes a real turn for the kickass with the release of Asura, and Death has to bring in the troops whilst Maka and the gang have to adjust to a real change of pace.
What They Say
This release from the surreal anime series SOUL EATER includes episodes 14-26 of the series, following the story of Maka and Soul, two students at the Death Weapon Meister Academy - taught by the Grim Reaper himself. Outwardly, the two have nothing in common, but when it comes to fighting evil, they're the perfect team.
As what is becoming standard in my set reviews now, I decided to actually review both audio tracks by watching part of both discs in Japanese and 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, and no glitches through the linking between subtitling and audio.
The video had no problems, they were no glitches or slowdown, and linked in well with the Japanese subtitles, and it really showcases very well considering the change of pace - it's a good looking show on it's own, so it needs a good transition, and fortunately this release gives it justice - 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, the battle scene between Asura and Death in particular was very eye-catching and how smooth in transited. A very impressive release.
There was no packaging for this test disc.
The menu is very basic, with the opening song playing over a shot of Tsubaki on a pale skull 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 Black Star looking menacing.
There are quite a few extras on this first collection of Soul Eater. Both on the second disc, we continue with the Soul Eater Show which as basically as the previous disc, trailers for all thirteen episodes on this set, again seems to mock up some of the fanservice moments (like Tsubaki in the bath) '" it's very funny as for example, the first one has Stein marking the exams, but instead is marking the animation staff in their performance, and the second one has Death The Kid complaining why noodles are expensive (Death The Kid skewers society!) '" there are even some live action segments as well, and the one where they introduce Excalibur as a new hit music sensation had me in stitches. We also have the textless openings and endings again, but we have a new one for the ending, as we get two endings as there was a special animated one for episode 21 which features Maka and Crona becoming friends.
The other big extra is the dub commentary for episode 23, featuring Vic Micnogna (Spirit/DeathScythe), Chuck Hubert (Stein) and Luci Christian (Medusa) commentating on the episode where the three of them fight. They don't really talk about the episode itself much, the three together however are definite comic gold '" Chuck in particular seems to be a fan of the show, whilst Vic and Luci seem to enjoy saying subtle (and not so subtle) innuendo throughout the commentary. It's not really an informative piece, but just a lot of fun to listen to.
Soul Eater Part 2 starts off basically continuing a lot of silliness that the first part had, but then hits us with the main plot that was also alluded to in the first part, and runs away with it '" turns the show into something more dark and sinister and into something that you want to crave for more.
The first four episodes basically continue a bit of fun and episodic nature with little bits of the plot intermixed in. We get Maka and the gang preparing for a test, with Maka wanting to reclaim top spot, whilst we get humorous ways that Soul and Black Star try (and fail) to cheat, with Kid failing to even put his name down due to the lack of symmetry, and DeathScythe's 'present' to his daughter adding more fuel to the fire of their already turbulent relationship. We then get a little background on the Thompson sisters and how they became teammates with Kid when they go on an investigation of a ghost ship '" this brings back Crona and Medusa into the story as Stein is definitely suspicious of Medusa, still pretending to be the school nurse and how she's using the Black Blood in her quest. However, before everything gets serious, we also get another episode involving Excalibur, as former top student Ox wants to right a thesis on it. Once he finds him, he gets a lot more than he's bargained for'Excalibur is a fine mix between amusing and annoying. Fool.
After that however, the plot hits hard and fast. The DWMA are having a party celebrating the anniversary of the founding of the academy, when Medusa makes her move to launch an attack on Death City. Her plan is to release the Kishin hidden below the DWMA known as Asura, a former partner of Death himself, and the aura of madness. Medusa wishes to use the Black Blood to control Asura, using Soul/Maka as guinea pigs first of all, and they manage to trap Death inside the academy before escaping. However, Stein is able to use a soul wavelength to send himself, and our main group underground to chase after them. Stein hatches out a plan to stop Medusa '" by using their quickest (Kid) to head them off at the pass, use BlackStar to deal with Crona who can manipulate his soul wavelength against him, with Maka to assist Kid when she catches up.
Most of the set then basically revolves around trying to stop Medusa's group before they can release Asura. A lot of twists and turns happen though '" Maka for example was still smarting about her defeat to Crona and wants to fight him herself despite BlackStar being a better match. Her ability to understand wavelengths doesn't work well against Crona, which basically leads to an interesting sequence when we get a dream that Soul/Maka share inside them with an apparent demon representing the black blood, trying to control them. To defeat Crona, the two relent and send Maka into madness, making her extremely powerful. These scenes are fantastic to watch as you see the psyche of Soul/Maka and how Soul has to struggle to avoid slipping into madness, and just how Maka battles against Crona and herself, but still using the power to defeat someone she previously had no hope.
The other fights are good as well '" Stein/DeathScythe vs. Medusa was bloody and brutal, as it's literally on edge to the final moment, whilst Kid dealing with Eruka (frog girl) and Free (immortal werewolf) and trying hard not to slip into madness himself as apparently getting closer to Asura sends you into madness. BlackStar comes to help and it appears he's immune to the madness simply due to his personality, so when he crushes the syringe contains the Black Blood being injected into Asura, the good guys appear to have won. However, in a twist that caught me off guard, even BlackStar was affected and his victory was actually an hallucination '" and the kishin Asura is released.
Death manages to free himself, and the past between the two is briefly mentioned before another fantastic fight sequence (albeit brief) is shown, but because Death doesn't have a weapon (used currently by Stein), Asura is able to escape and plans to spread madness to the world. This leads to Death summoning DeathScythe's from over the world, which includes Stein's old flame Marie, a very strict woman named Yumi, and Tezca, a religious looking man who seems more interested in listening into music. They basically are trying to make the kids go back to their lives, and take missions as before, with the final episode leaving with a cliffhanger dealing with a new threat, and aided by a surprising new friend'
The strength of this show now we are into the main plot intensifies everything. The action sequences between Stein/Medusa, Crona/Maka, and Death/Asura were fantastic, as this show switches from silly to serious in a heart beat. Granted, there are still elements of humour and a bit of episodic nature (Excalibur part whilst hilarious was pretty much pointless). However, the reason why this part was excellent was that along with the action sequences, a lot of background story is explored. The Black Blood plotline is expanded, the fear of Asura is really hit home as well, but for me, the biggest plus was the characterisation of Crona. Crona's past is established and just how the Ragnarok really screwed up with his life, and the fact his mother was in fact Medusa and how she treated him really shows why he became what he is. He just wanted a friend, and fortunately Maka was there even after a bloody battle. Seeing Soul and Maka's relationship during that battle as well was fantastic as Soul literally brings her back from madness which allows her to show Crona it can be done, and allowing her to befriend him.
Stein also really comes along, as there are hints that he's been affected by the madness from Asura. His battle with Medusa shows that his psyche isn't one of the mad scientist, but it's going to be interesting to see where the plot goes with this, especially with the addition of Marie to the cast, who obviously has some sort of past with him. The only weaknesses I found with the content were basically that BlackStar is still annoying, and despite his improvement during the battle with Eruka, he still wants to make me throttle him. Kid is still amusing with his symmetry fetish and we got a little about how he met the Thompson sisters, but sadly not enough as it was only brief and he's kind of downplayed, which is a shame as he shows hints that he's not O.K with what his father is keeping hold from him. On the plus side, DeathScythe is absolutely hilarious '" especially when he thinks he's going to be replaced and his reaction when Maka actually wants to go out with him on a daddy-daughter date. So yes, there are still some good elements of comedy to mix out with the incredible action and back story sequences we get, and with Asura released '" hopefully the next arc will showcase more of how he became what he is and how our heroes are going to sort this out with the bringing of the new DeathScythes.
Soul Eater Part 2 continues from where Part 1 one left off, only up the ante and hits full throttle with the Black Blood storyline and the release of Asura. Combining fantastic action with surprisingly deep back story, with some of the best animation I've seen, Soul Eater is slowly becoming a top show and you just want to know what's going to happen next. So many questions were answered, but now the madness is spreading and new questions are being asked. Let's hope we get some answers as I want more of this show right now. Very recommended.
English 2.0 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, Episode 20 Dub Commentary (with Vic Micnogna, voice of Death Scythe, Chuck Hebert, voice of Stein, and Luci Christian, voice of Medusa), Textless Opening/Endings, Soul Eater Late Show
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.