Review: Soul Eater

By Sophia Thomas

I grew up with two older brothers, both of whom were notably weebs. Pokemon games, Magic the Gathering, and science fiction replaced sunday morning cartoons in our household. Of all my brothers’ nerdy indoctrinations, the one that I by far loved the most was anime. The sheer variety of animation styles, genres, and series was enough to fully draw me in. I even ran a very embarrassing— and somewhat popular— anime fan account on Instagram in middle school. That changed when I entered high school, and deemed this part of myself too weird for the delicate social ecosystem of a rich public school.

I was rather upset when anime “became cool.” It had always been, to me at least. To this day, I resent the kids who made fun of me for posting admittedly cringe-worthy fan art on social media, yet now have changed their profile picture to some Naruto character because Billie Eilish did it or something.

At the very least, it is my duty as a veteran weeb and seasoned anime enthusiast to put y’all normies onto the good stuff. Starting with my favorite mainstream one on Netflix.

Soul Eater is a show revolving around the Death Weapon Meister Academy, a school created by Lord Death himself. Such a school was created to train and educate Meisters, artillery-wielding teenagers who collect the souls of deeply corrupt former-humans, and Weapons, human beings who can turn into weaponry for their meisters to wield. All of this is done using a soul-bond between the Weapons and their Meisters, meaning we as an audience are able to watch the protagonists become much more powerful in correlation to their relationships with other characters strengthening. It’s kind of beautiful.

The worldbuilding is effective and interesting, with lore and rules and plenty of hot takes on real locations in the world. Watching the son of the Grim Reaper obliterate the Pyramid of Anubis because of the evil mummies inside is both satisfying and oddly hilarious. As well as the setting, the lore and rules of this world tempt the audience to imagine themselves as either a Weapon or a Meister, and the consistency of the world built makes this both easy to do and fun to think about.

The animation is breathtaking, and the source of inspiration for at least one of my future tattoos. The show also features more than one supporting black character, and those characters are well animated without the application of racial stereotyping, something admittedly and disappointingly rare for anime. Soul Eater is just so, so pleasing to watch. And the soundtrack is really really cool.

I could sing praises of the worldbuilding and animation for pages, but my favorite thing about Soul Eater is the writing. In the beginning of the show, every character sucks— So much. While fun to watch, they’re incompetent and terrible. At everything. We get to watch them fail, then try to improve, then fail again. I love it. They never, ever win until they Git Gud. They don’t Git Gud until they meaningfully grow as people or address past trauma or communicate better with their partner. Along with every fantastical element of this anime is a real, human problem. The paranormal shortcuts backfire every time. The interconnectedness of personal growth and plot development makes the characters all painfully relatable, and the progress feels meaningful and authentic, and personal.

Overall, there is no reason not to watch this show.

Actually, there is one reason not to watch this show. The first three episodes kind of suck, but they’re not too long and all pretty important, exposition-wise. Just get through them, it’s worth it, I promise.

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