Anime Quick Information
|Average Rating: 8.16|
Raz112 scored this with 9/10. Disagree?
This is the underground entrance.
Our foe is powerful.
If you are not fully prepared for what's ahead, you may lose your life.
If you want to turn back now, then do so.
Whether or not you're prepared to fight fear...
Whether or not you'll come with me...
Let your souls decide.
The first collection gets the series known as Soul Eater off to a flying and solid start - a prime example of Shonen at its finest and then some. Apart from introducing the protagonists and providing a fair amount of two-part episodic content, the first collection lays the groundwork for Medusa's grand plot. So the question is now: how does this plot play out?
Before the action gets into full swing, Soul Eater makes sure to provide some comedy for balance, with the kids taking their exams and Ox Ford visiting Excalibur. Then the foundations for the final stage of the plot are slowly put in place, beginning in the background. Death the Kid starts to play detective regarding something a foe said to him about a 'Kishin right next to us' whilst on a mission.
Meanwhile, Maka starts to suffer trust issues in part due to Medusa's effortless manipulation, while Stein plays devil's advocate with Medusa, leading to a very intriguing relationship as they seem to feed off each other, getting more and more suspicious, each forcing the other's hand and accelerating proceedings.
However, here lies one of the very few drawbacks of this collection: the payoff, or lack of it, so to speak. The final moments of the plot left me a little dissatisfied. Furthermore, the poignancy is perhaps undermined by the fact that it, maybe unintentionally, feels like an epic end to an anime series, when it is actually the end of an arc; meaning that the story must go on. This is further compounded by the fact that the powers that be - in this case Manga Entertainment, I take it - decided to assign thirteen episodes to each collection, so the discs don't actually end with the conclusion of this arc. Instead there are two more episodes which cover the aftermath and add a further splash of comedy to lighten the mood, as well as a whole dose of new characters ready to initiate the next arc of the series. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as what happens is perfectly understandable and legitimate, and the extra episodes provide a nice stepping stone towards the next collection.
Technical details are the same as in the first collection, though the differences in the quality of the voice acting of the two languages start to widen and hence gain attention. Giving the benefit of the doubt in the first collection, it's clear to see, or rather hear, that while the Japanese track is superb pretty much all round, the English track suffers from the all too common monotone reading-off-a-script syndrome, despite the involvement of some significant actors. Todd Haberkorn (Baccano's Firo) as Death the Kid, Vic Mignogna as Death Scythe and Chuck Huber (Yu Yu Hakusho's Hiei) as Dr. Franken Stein do pretty well, as does Troy Baker (Schneizel in Code Geass) as Excalibur. However, the Japanese actors just do it much better, with Mamoru Miyano (Death Note's Light) as Death the Kid; Maaya Sakamoto (Arakawa's Nino) as Chrona and Toru Ohkawa (FMA's Roy Mustang) as Death Scythe. The most telling comparison I found was between the two Deaths: Rikiya Koyama (Hajime no Ippo's Takamura) and John Swasey (FMA's Karl Haushofer). Koyama's voice is simply much more compelling throughout, with his zany expressions much more effective and funny, especially if you can enough understand Japanese to recognize the implications of his intonations. Swasey doesn't fare as well, though isn't helped with the slight changes made to the jokes to compensate for the translation between cultures, making them on the whole less funny. Another point worthy of note is an occasion where Death changes his tone, demonstrating the vocal ability and versatility of Koyama. Swasey doesn't do a bad job of this, but again it has less of an impact, hence the transition isn't as compelling or effective in the English dub.
That's not to say the English track is atrocious - not at all. If the Japanese acting has a fault, it's the annoying use of English in the enemies' spell-casting. Being animals, I understand why they're named as such, and that it adds to the cute factor, but hearing animal sounds/words such as 'wolfwolves' and 'ribbit ribbit' feels a bit weak. Having said that, I personally find the constant use of prepubescent American voices with no backbone just as annoying. However, it's only a small personal quibble; if the viewer can see the funny side, then it doesn't really matter.
There's a new ending theme in this collection, a move from moshing rock towards to a typical j-pop number which will no doubt appease fans of that genre, whilst generating more sales and providing some variety. I don't mind it myself, though I thought the rock song and credit sequence were a better fit at the time, complimenting the show's boundless energy. Nevertheless, it's a nice change of pace, and the girl's voice isn't half bad either.
The extras are very similar to those in the previous collection, including the often hilarious late show segments for each episode, as well as a rudimentary episode commentary and textless credit videos.
This collection finishes the first half of Soul Eater, with the main story being Medusa's plot, and the final battle during the night of the Anniversary Ball spans seven of the thirteen episodes available. With all the twists and turns we see a lot of action, some of which is very slick indeed, and a lot of drama, with this big arc coming to an end. Some may feel that there's a slowing down of pace. But this isn't necessarily a negative development, as these episodes are filled with revelations and tantalising battles: Stein vs. Medusa, Maka vs. Crona, Blackstar and Death the Kid vs. Free & Eruka, plus one more. If you're wondering about comedy, don't worry, it's still there, as is a little fan service to ensure that no one is forgotten or left behind.
All in all, a very worthy follow-up to the first collection, and more reason for you to watch and enjoy this delightful and refreshing show. Let's see how fast Manga Entertainment brings out the next instalment.
Screenshots (click to pop out)
|Score:||9 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Sun, 29 Aug 2010|
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