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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Manga Review: Soul Eater GN 20

Soul Eater volume 20
Author: Atsushi Ohkubo
Yen Press
192 pages
Kid has been freed from Noah's greedy clutches, but The Book of Eibon remains at large. Noah was a troublesome foe, but the vast knowledge contained within the book could itself be dangerous - and information is not all that lies in its pages... Meanwhile, Crona has resurfaced in Moscow, his madness and Medusa's maternal pressure having all but consumed the friend Maka once knew.
(Keeping this one short because, to be honest, there's not much to say about this volume. Not that it's bad or anything! Also, spoiler alert for some of the events in the first two chapters of volume 20.)
I'm so glad Soul Eater jumped out of the Book of Eibon, because out of it is where all the cool, interesting things are going on. We have Crona going on a black blood rampage in Russia, the Book manipulating events behind the scenes, Death the Kid questioning his own truth, and Soul's own madness leaking out with dangerous results.

It's a volume that doesn't stay still for long. People are busy forming their own schemes, going off on their own, or enacting plans for their manipulative abusive mothers. The battles are split between Crona and the Russians, Soul and his inner darkness, and Justin and Tlipoca. There's another fight at the end, but it's not a fight per se, it's more of a one-sided slaughter.
Of those epic fights, my favorite was actually about Soul. The series has really addressed his black blood, a remaining gift from Medusa, and has not shied away from showing the guy's inner conflict. It will always be a part of him, but it's up to Soul—and Maka—to control it.
The best chapter in this volume is the last one. It practically drips with blood, using a scribbled storybook aesthetic to bring Crona's childhood trauma to life. Having seen Crona flip between the 'good' and the 'bad' side during the length of the series so far, it will be interesting to see where Crona goes from here. They're obviously gone too far in the black blood but I have a feeling Maka and her invincible soul wavelength will bring them back from the shadows.
But be warned, this is a violent volume. The Crona chapters are especially filled with hacking and slashing and nightmare-grade imagery. It seems that Soul Eater has never been afraid of going in a dark direction, but this Eibon/Crona arc is taking the series to its darkest volumes to date. Luckily, Ohkubo has a good enough handle on it that it doesn't overwhelm everything.

In all, it's a bloody entertaining book that has me jazzed for the final act of Soul Eater. I can see Ohkubo setting up the board for the finale (which will be upon us in only a couple of volumes from now) and I'm enjoying the process.
Volume 21 of Soul Eater comes out from Yen Press later this month!