Read Soul Eater collection Reviews Online.
First thoughts: When I saw one the first scenes that had a moon with a fixed grin (grimace) dripping blood, I thought “What on earth am I getting myself in for here!” To be blunt, Soul Eater is tough one to put one’s finger on — is it a comedy; is it a school drama; is it about teamwork? Well, yes and no… As this is the first 13 episodes of 51, it is still early days. The first few episodes introduced the main characters — and a rather diverse and “off the wall” bunch we have here. The next few episodes developed the individual characters as they head off on tasks. The main characters introduced so far operate in teams: Maka and Soul Eater; Black Star and Tsubaki; Death the Kid and the sisters Liz and Patty. As meister and weapon/s respectively they have to work together and acquire 99 evil souls plus a witch before the weapon can evolve to the next level. What we see is that the teams don’t always work well as individuals have traits that can grate on the other, such as Maka being overly uptight and earnest, while Soul Eater is laid back and everything must be “cool”. Black Star’s impetuous nature (and if you didn’t think Naruto was obnoxious enough, I’ve found a new champ here) is offset by Tsubaki’s very accommodating nature. Death the Kid has a paranoia about symmetry and can fall into a deep funk if something is even slightly out of kilter; while his weapons (Patty and Liz) are sisters but are not identical — which causes him grief from time to time. What we also see is a growing bond between meister and weapon, to the point where one will risk their life for the other. Personally, I was dubious about this series but found that once I had gotten over the slightly haphazard first few episodes, the story began to flow a lot better and I actually got to the point of enjoying the interaction between the characters and the beginnings of what appeared to be some decent character exposition and development. Much of the story revolves around the main characters so far; but the cast is growing rapidly and some hints about a growing tension between the DWMA (Death Weapon Meister Academy) and other forces yet to be introduced give this series some potential.
Visual presentation: The disc is produced in a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen format and the transfer looks solid. Parts of the show are computer rendered, such as the exterior shots of the DWMA, and they appear obviously so. Character designs are not your generic “run of the mill” one, yet they look weird — particularly the portrayal of Death, ugh!; with Tsubaki, arguably, looking the most “normal” of the lot so far. I’d guess the designs are consistent with the original manga, so that may well be the reason they look the way they do. In short, the visual presentation has not appealed to me with the designs either looking a little rough around the edges (particularly the characters) or too stylised.
Audio: Primary listening was in the original Japanese dialogue. This collection has both English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital audio tracks. For me, the voices met expectations but were generally unremarkable — nothing too special about how the actors executed their parts. The music was adequate, again nothing special, but the use of the detuned recorder adopted where something stupid or awkward happened did get on my nerves (which was probably the intention).
Extras on the discs included clean opening and closing tracks; the “late show” which included extra footage not shown at the original early evening broadcasts (presumably a bit on the mature side); commentary for episode 7; and trailers for other Madman titles.
Bottom line: If I saw this on the shelf in the shop it would have stayed there; and I wouldn’t have bothered with this one on the basis of the trailers I’d seen earlier (in fact I skipped them) after seeing the character designs. I guess I could get used to the character designs and situations if I focus on the unfolding story, which was actually growing on me. I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt and hope that the next collection will expand on the character development and impending conflict. Middle point of three stars.