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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Confessions of a Soul Eater Fan, Tomar Uno

Not sure if Soul Eater tankobon cover
or album art for their new mixtape.
Spoiler alert: Post contains spoilers for Soul Eater volume 23 and Soul Eater Not! volume 4.

Reading the two different Soul Eater series via Yen Press' English releases so far - the parent series, Soul Eater, and its shoujo-esque sister series of a prequel, Soul Eater Not! - I keep finding that, comparing releases, I'm enjoying the NOT version more than the EAT version. And that is kind of weird! And possibly controversial, since Eat! is a spin-off with seemingly few fans.

The main sticking point for readers is the wide difference in tones between the two series: Soul Eater is a darkly Gothic/Tim Burton series with demented themes and artwork; Soul Eater Not! lives in the same Burtonesque series but earlier in the timeline, and is much more fluffier and brighter than its original form. The main drama in Soul Eater is the war against the First Kishin, the mad Chrona launching themselves onto the Moon, and the strained relationship between DWMA and the witches. The main drama in Soul Eater Not? Whether or not our heroine Tsugumi will find a meister partner for her weapon and whether it will be Anya or Meme.

And yet, I - who effin' loves how dark and dramatic Soul Eater has gotten, and how far it's gone from the original, boring story of mindless soul gathering by DWMA students - wish there was more Soul Eater Not! to read more than the original series. Unfortunately, both series are nearing the end of their run; Soul Eater ends at volume 25, its spin-off at volume 5.

Look at the colors!
Soul Eater Not!, even with its own drama subplots, represents a need to break away from the unending doldrums the characters of Soul Eater find themselves in. Which is not to say that the Soul Eater series is being unnecessary depressing: Chrona's mental breakdown is well warranted as is Maka's worry over Chrona, Death the Kid's stress over the DWMA/witches meeting, and Lord Death over the future of DWMA itself and if they will be able to contain and destroy the First Kishin once and for all.

But wow, that is a lot of darkly drawn drama to plow through, even in one book. There isn't much of Ohkubo's signature humor to offset the mood. What little humor that can be found is from the unintentional laughs of Death the Kid's facial expressions when he is thrown loop after loop during the fight against the Kishin's infinite army of monsters. Seriously, he makes the best faces.

Compare this to Soul Eater Not!, which between the main trio of Tsugumi, Meme and Anya has a lot of humor and only a handful of dramatic dollops, especially at the tail end of the book when Tsugumi truly starts confronting her lack of a definite DWMA partner. It also helps that the main chapters of Not! volume 4 is broken up by several omake chapters, which act as small character moments and the gag imagery which Ohkubo is known for.

So yeah, if I had to go back and re-read these two volumes? I would jump on Soul Eater Not! first thing. Hey, man, I'm a college student - again! - I don't need the extra drama from seeing my faves Maka and Chrona lose their minds while Death the Kid pulls hilariously dramatic faces in the middle of fights. I'd rather read Happy School Shojo Ai Time in the DWMA as a breather. And that's okay!

PS: Seriously, Chrona, you okay? Someone get this sweet summer child a vacation from the human race before they blow it up.

PPS: I guess 'Confessions of a Soul Eater Fan' is going to be a series? I don't know when 'tomar dos' will come up, though!