Whilst the high impact release of the Asura is put down in favour of introducing a new villain and storyline, everything links in together as Soul Eater continues to be a very good experience.
What They Say
Set in the Shinigami technical school for weapon meisters, the series revolves around 3 groups of each a weapon meister and a human weapon. Trying to make the latter a Death Scythe and thus fit for use by the Shinigami, they must collect the souls of 99 evil humans and 1 witch. Soul Eater is an anime that centers around meisters and their weapons and their mission to collect 99 evil souls and 1 witch soul. Upon doing that the meister's weapons will become a Deathscythe, which is the highest title for a weapon. Maka, Soul Eater, Black Star, Tsubaki, Death the Kid, and Patty and Liz Thompson are the characters Soul Eater revolves around. Besides taking the time to gather souls these students of Shibusen defend Death City from some of the most powerful of creatures while still attending school and trying to become stronger.
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 continues to be a highlight whether it's simple effect based animation during Marie swallowing the snake potion or the whole battle between Maka's group and Mosquito. Very good.
There was no packaging for this test disc.
The menu is very basic, with the opening song playing over a shot of the Thompson sisters on a graffiti background whilst Disc 2 has the same background only with Death The Kid instead 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.
There are quite a few extras on this first collection of Soul Eater. The first disc this time contains the commentary for episode 30 with the fun trio of Cherami Leigh(Patty), Jamie Marchi(Liz), and Todd Hakenborn(Death The Kid) talk about pretty much their episode in the disc. Considering the way the trio acts in the series, the VAs share the same manic and comic relationship in the recording booth to say the least, whether it's saying the sun in the show has a striking resemblance to the Raisin Bran sun, or doing Harry Potter jokes, the trio certainly has their fun, and unlike previous commentaries, this one focuses a bit more on the episode itself rather than just themselves.
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 with some great comedy moments with the Late Show admitting they are now being reckless, like Maka doing impressions of the other characters, telling rather bad scary stories, and of course, a whole Excalibur Advert. Well, his legend did start in the 12th century'Lastly, we have the clean new openings and endings to the show, which is always nice to have.
With the big plot that Asura was released last disc, I expected a preparation arc or searching for him arc. In contrast, what I got instead was the fact bar the final episode of this collection he was barely shown/mentioned, and we got a new villain which linked to the final episode of the previous collection '" despite the downplay of the previous arc for the time being, the new arc does manage to give new back-story to the cast, and basically split off into 3 arcs themselves for me, and it still works very well.
We previous left Maka and Crona fighting against Giriko and his golem'which turns out to be Arachne, who we later find out is Medusa's sister. She's our new boss character by the looks of things, and only due to the intervention of new death scythe Justin (our priest character introduced last collection whose quirk is that he never takes his headphones off) manages to drive her away. She had been sealed for over 800 years after a battle with Lord Death, and along with Giriko and her own servant Mosquito, a small elderly man who as the name would imply, is a blood sucker, plot to bring down Lord Death. The way they try to do this is to find the legendary magic tools of Eibon, an inventor of magic tools.
The DMWA intend to try and stop them and thus, a battle between the two groups to claim the magic tools begins. Highlights include the surprising return of Mifune, the samurai from the first collection who was defeated by BlackStar, who is now on Arachne's side albeit with reluctance as more to protect the child watch Angela than any other reason (his rematch with BlackStar is a highlight), and the big battle between the DWMA and Arachnophobia, Arachne's group '" which has quite a few good battles with Sid vs. Mifune, giving some other students some background as the other top students Ox, Kilik and Kim also join to help out and it's nice to see that all of them are quite interesting characters in their own right (Ox we briefly saw in the past but now shows he's a badass bookworm combined with a one sided crush on Kim, who is a money maniac, whilst Kilik is friends with BlackStar with a mock rivalry), which culminates in the battle between Mosquito vs. Maka, Death The Kid and BlackStar '" as we get to see Soul's true power in that he can play music using his soul and able to soul wavelength with all three, increasing their strength and abilities several times over. Maka in particular seems to pick up an upgrade to her Witch Hunter skill called Genie Hunter, which she's only able to pull off here to defeat Mosquito's form. It all links in with both sides trying to get the magic tools, unaware of'
'the second major arc stemming from this, the return of Medusa. Her snake energies now inhabit the body of a small child. She intends to ruin both parties and get her revenge on both Stein and her sister. She does it by influencing poor Crona, who is finally starting to have a nice life at the DWMA mainly thanks to Maka and her group going out of the way to make Crona more comfortable. Just as Crona is starting to get happier, Medusa ruins it by confronting the poor child, and even though Crona hates her, can't refuse her orders. Crona basically gets involved in the subplot of Stein's continuing descending into madness, using his partnership with Marie to get her to drink a snake liquid which intensifies the madness within Stein. The two kickers for me here is that using Eruka in the magnetic field battle when the DWMA/Arachnophobia clash for the magic tool known as 'Brew' Medusa actually manages to get the magic tool whilst Arachnophobia get a broken one planted '" the interesting thing here is that because the DWMA think Arachnophobia have got it, they are going to use that to their advantage to scare them a bit, unaware that Medusa has the real one. The second is in the final episode of the disc, Crona confesses to Maka that the plot did involve him/herself (yes, I realize that Crona's gender is never discussed so it's hard to use pronouns for him/her') and as they decide what to do with Crona's, cue the cliffhanger.
The third arc is less personified but it still interesting that Death The Kid is investigating what his father has to do with Eibon, as he believes there is some conspiracy that his father is not willing to say to anyone. Death says to his trusted followers not to breathe a word that they have a magic tool look in their safe or mention about Eibon, and the fact that he brings in a known inventor from Oceania named Joe Buttataki doesn't help DTK's thoughts that there is something suspicious. He even considers to leave the battle with Mosquito's during the visual flashback sequence during the magnetic field battle when he seeing Eibon go in one direction and see what he's up to. With one more collection left and so much to still answer for, this could potentially be quite shocking.
The great thing about Soul Eater is that all three of these primary arcs all intermix well with each other so nothing is left out. Medusa is try to screw with both organizations, using Eruka and Crona to her advantage, whilst Arachne's back-story is actually discussed regarding why she was sealed and yet her spiders still lived on for her spying abilities '" she hasn't done too much yet in terms of battle (as Mifune, Giriko and Mosquito have done that bit for her) but she has that element of intrigue for sure. Our lovable main cast continue to be great '" Soul has to deal with his black blood and the demon inside of him which allows the group soul wavelength, whilst Maka wonders why she can't pull off the Genie Hunter again, but at the same time actually is a real sweetheart this arc to poor Crona, showing that she can be quite tender as well as her more violent self. Even BlackStar is becoming less annoying now, mainly due to the fact when he lost to Mifune he's begun doubting his own abilities and trying to get stronger '" character development for him, Death The Kid, and also the new students as well in Ox, Kilik and Kim seem to showcase that Soul Eater is drawing us in what happens. And yes, there's another Excalibur episode as well which is definite comic relief for all the serious stuff that happens this arc. You'll either love or hate him to say the least.
The only problem I had with this arc was the fact that it left at such a cliffhanger at the previous collection, and they barely mention that this all powerful Asura is hanging out, and very little seems to be done about it. Arachne does actually find it and get an 'audience' with him, but apart from that, the focus is now off the most powerful enemy to Death and rather to Arachne. Granted, it's mixed in with the magic tools arc, but it's not very well explained and almost seems a throwaway, like you expect it to return right at the end. In fact, if it hadn't been for the meeting with Arachne, the viewer may have even forgot about the Asura/Death battle from last time and the whole chaos that it could potentially cause. Also to an extent, a lot of the main cast seems to be a little bit more in the background from the villains '" whilst still prevalent, they almost seemed to be secondary compared to Arachnophobia in this collection.
Aside from that though, Soul Eater continues to be a top series. The characters are developing nice (including the newer ones on both hero and villain side '" none feel out of place and barely mentioned the new DeathScythes, Marie is a lot of fun and the Sid/Azusa/Naigus combo was pretty badass '" and poor Stein), the arcs all work well together, and you get the feeling that the payoff is going to be big.
Soul Eater Part 3 continues it's merry way, and whilst some of the major discoveries in Part 2 are not really developed onwards in favour of some new characters and a new plotline, it doesn't detract from what makes the series great '" a fun evolving cast, some great action sequences, and the continuing background of stories going as far back as 800 years. With one more collection to go, everything has to come together and so far, it's done a good job doing that. I look forward to the final collection with great anticipation.
English 2.0 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, Episode 30 Dub Commentary (with Cherami Leigh(Patty), Jamie Marchi(Liz), and Todd Hakenborn(Death The Kid), 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.