Spoiler alert: Post contains spoilers for recent events in Soul Eater's 21st volume and Soul Eater Not!'s third volume.
It's interesting to read these volumes back to back, as the newest volumes of Soul Eater and Soul Eater Not! share a bit of overlap between them. It's not just the usual crossover that appears between a main canon and spin-off, either. One volume introduces a character than another does away with.
Both series are currently dealing with black blood, madness, witches, and working in teams. But one is more serious in its approach while another one is much more humorous, and you can probably guess which series is which.
Soul Eater volume 21: Crona’s crimes have become too terrible to ignore, and the troubled youth is added to Shinigami’s list. Hoping to reach her friend first, Maka extends her soul perception ability to engulf the entire planet. But the sweep delivers even more than she had bargained for-the location of the Kishin’s hideout!
In this volume of Soul Eater, Maka is determined to save Crona, her best friend, but in searching for Crona, she finds the First Kishin - and the Kishin is in a very unusual, yet prominent place. It's the moon, y'all. The moon. It's ballsy - it's not like the blood-dribbling creepy faced moon is hard to look away from - but considering how up to this point it's been a regular and easily avoided part of the series' Halloween-drenched landscape, it's a brilliant move by the Kishin. Who would guess it?
A lot of this volume is split between DWMA's hunt for the Kishin and Maka's own hunt for Crona, as she wants to keep Crona from being killed by the Spartoi Unit now on the trail of Medusa's child. There's a lot of action, especially for Death The Kid and his sweet skateboarding tricks, and some depressing bits, such as the Thompson Sisters writing their wills before going off on the mission as well as a character death that doesn't mean much until read after the following volume of Not.
But it's obvious that Soul Eater is plunging straight into its final act, which will no doubt involve a showdown between Death and the Kishin as well as between Crona and Maka. Poor Crona is haunted by the burden of Medusa, who died at their very hands, and the levels of abuse Medusa put Crona through is obvious even after death. At this point, Crona is a more compelling antagonist than the Kishin, but it's the Kishin and his moon base who gets more pages.
Soul Eater Not! volume 3: The attack on Eternal Feather is a cruel reminder that there is very real danger out there for the weapons and meisters of DWMA. Tsugumi is more determined than ever to develop her skills so that she can defend her friends in the future. But the road ahead is filled with challenges…and silliness!
Meanwhile, in the same universe but in an earlier time, Soul Eater Not's cast deals with the fate of Eternal Feather-senpai, who despite how volume two ended, is actually not dead. Her not-death is dealt with in the first chapter with a hilarious back and forth between the girls and Doctor Stein. It's page after page of morbid visual gags and slapstick humor, and it sets the mood for the rest of the volume.
As the black blood/witches plot continues to bubble, Tsugumi and her team are more focused on working together and excelling in their Not classes. There's a lot of levity considering that Eternal Feather was attacked, there's a witch a large, and the DWMA has agents from both Eat and Not on the job. But since Tsugumi isn't directly involved, the series allows her to have some fun while stressing about school and becoming a better weapon.
Interspersed between the actual chapters are shorter, skit-filled chapters titled Soul Eater Jot! - like ideas for jokes Ohkubo jotted down and randomly put into comic form to fill space. Does this series really need filler at this early a point, though? A lot of the Jot! chapters are hit or miss and focus on more secondary characters, and I wish they had been spread out better than they were.
There's nothing wrong with jokes - I thought the lawn watering scene was cute, the opening chapter cracked me up, and Tsugumi teaching Anya and Meme how to play baseball was brilliant. But overall, it was too many fluff-based jokes, little actual substance in terms of plot. Hopefully volume four will return the series to the basics and the fact that Tsugumi still hasn't picked a meister partner.