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Monday, January 20, 2014

I Wasn't Going To Complain About Soul Eater...

And then I realized that, no, I'm gonna complain about it. So here we go!

Apologies for those who like what direction the anime has been going in lately, because no. Naturally, I'm talking about the Toonami broadcast of Soul Eater and I haven't seen past episode 43, so no spoilers past that point!

It's no great secret that around mid-way, Soul Eater falls into that storytelling trap that all longform shonen anime series eventually meet at least once: the filler arc, where anime splits away from manga to make its own trail, usually to the consternation of its viewers (except for One Piece, who so far has had really good filler arcs, an exception to the rule). For Soul Eater, this comes around the point at which DWMA fight Arachnophobia for the magical tool Brew, about episode 36/37. And then things start going awry.

And it was perfectly fine. We meet Joe, see Black Star's self-doubt about his abilities, follow Death the Kid's quest to discover what his father Lord Death is up to, and watch the heartbreaking tale of a kid torn between friends and mommy dearest aka Crona. And the story cheerfully chugs along, with breaks to delve into Doctor Stein's increasing bouts of madness.

But it seems like once Lord Death openly declares their mission to destroy the First Kishin and Arachnophobia once and for all, putting every weapon and meister in the DWMA on call, that the story slows to a dead crawl. Entire episodes are dedicated to characters' internal angst and what little action there is can be reduced to the show runners positioning their pieces on the board for the final showdown. Maka and Soul squabble over their issues because the show has nothing else better for them to do or realize that their relationship has readily evolved past that point of arguing over every little thing.

Even Death the Kid's retrieval of a magical tool for his father is dull and nonsensical. He enters the lair without the Thompson twins, his primary weapons, because what - danger? Isn't that what his weapons are for? Even the 'shocking revelation' of the weapon's power is useless. Of course one of Eibon's weapons will be dangerous in the wrong hands. Of course one of Eibon's weapons will be extremely powerful - it's why every organization in the series is after them!

And it seems like the episodes all have the same ending. Episode 42 ends with a montage of Maka and Soul walking, Death in the desert, DWMA forces creeping into Arachnophobia territory, and a clearly out of it Doctor Stein lolling about in Arachne's chambers while she caresses the First Kishin's bandaged body (which, um, eww). How does episode 43 end? Pretty much the same damn way. Listen, I know that you should always hold fast to a good thing when you see it, but at least change it up a little bit so it doesn't become monotonous.

Let's say the final showdown takes two episodes, three at most, to take place. Right now, Soul Eater has eight episodes left. Even if Soul Eater's Arachnophobia versus DWMA melee takes all three episodes, that leaves six episodes of nothing but build-up. And since Death the Kid's (and now Maka's) doubt of Lord Death's ultimate plans can't possible be answered in that matter of time, I assume it will be a plot line left dangling in the wind at the end, along with Black Star's mission to surpass God.

The main infuriating thing about how slowly Soul Eater is moving in its final act is that a lot of these issues could be swiftly taken cared of if Lord Death merely explained his actions to Death the Kid and Maka, since right now they are the two people who could use it most. Instead, both of them are left to angst and grouse and spend most of their time feeling lost. At least Maka has finally realized that she can still save Crona, even if it took about four episodes.

It would be nice if Soul Eater resolved all of its issues by series end, as well as giving its secondary characters some nice meaty scenes before it's too late. I'd like to see Maka and Crona reunite and destroy Medusa, Black Star and Tsubaki master and use the Enchanted Sword Mode successfully against the enemy, Death the Kid confront his father about the reclaiming of Eibon's weapons, and Doctor Stein gain control of his sanity and break free from his madness. At this rate, I'll be lucky if half of my wishes get granted.

Oh, and a bonus Excalibur cameo would not hurt at all. He is the legendary sword, after all!