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Monday, April 14, 2014

Manga Review: Soul Eater GN 17

Soul Eater volume 17
Author: Atsushi Ohkubo
Yen Press
192 pages
The enemy of my enemy is...still my enemy?! As the madness of the Kishin continues to threaten the world, Noah and Medusa race to find Asura and ally themselves with him. With Noah reliant on demon tools and Medusa on her experimental black blood, DWMA must devise ways to combat both evils while trying to seek and destroy Asura themselves! (Source: Yen Press)
Atsushi Ohkubo, you lewd manga-ka you. Somehow, in the middle of the struggle to rescue Death the Kid, fight Crona, and destroy the First Kishin, you managed to make a pivotal volume teem with enough fanservice to make Maka's father blush and spurt blood. And while it's not to the point of overwhelming the whole thing, it can at moments blur what is going on at this point in the series. The DWMA is being pulled in multiple directions as it fights to survive, and it'll be up to Maka and her crew to keep it together.

In this volume of Soul Eater, the confrontation between Crona and Black Star reaches a conclusion while at the same time Medusa takes on turncoat priest Justin Law. After the dust settles, DWMA sets its sights on rescuing Death the Kid, who is still being held hostage within Noah's copy of the Book of Eibon. Luckily, they've found a way to reach Death - but the journey to reach him may cost Maka and her team their sanity.
The best part for me was the Crona/Black Star and Medusa/Justin throw down, which I'll touch upon next. But there is a ton of fan service in this volume. The prelude to discussing Kid involves several female witch characters acting as hosts for Lord Death and his associates, turning Death's office into a sexy club. It's a shame, since the witches are important parts of Death's plan to rescue his kid - but his initial efforts to bring order to his own meeting gets lost in blushing faces, boobs pressed up against arms, and innuendo galore.
The first level of the world of Eibon's book involves switching the characters' physical sex characteristics, bringing even more 'whoops boobs!' moments and a problematic view on sexuality that I wish would wash away from my brain. Like, suddenly male-bodied Maka is attracted to breasts? And female-bodied Crona doesn't? Dude. Ohkubo-sensei. Sexuality and gender and sex are not exclusive to each other!
But really, the big highlight is the battle at the opening of this book. It offers a dark view of Crona's psyche, which has been manipulated by Medusa to the point that Crona does not even remember Maka, their best friend during their years at the DWMA. Crona has truly forgotten who they had become and it is going to take more than Black Star's usual brash attitude to bring them back to their old life. Maka, save Crona!
On the other side, we see how Justin and Medusa's abilities stack up against each other, and the result is delightfully explosive. I loved seeing Justin's manipulation of madness in order to combat Medusa's black blood-based abilities. May we get more rumbles like it in the near future!

It looks like the travels through the Book of Eibon will be a trippy one with a great psychological edge, pulled Maka and Soul and others through themselves in order to rescue their classmate. But it'll be a damn shame if any more time gets wasted on this distracting fanservice nonsense. I don't mind magically induced genderbending – that's one of my favorite fandom tropes – but in a story arc like this, it detracts more than adds to the story. At least it's still fun.