Alright, let’s just get right down to business, and in that spirit, I’m going to give my final thoughts first today! Soul Eater NOT! Why? Because I can’t think of an actual intro.
Soul Eater NOT! continues to be an entertaining little side show, only slightly bittered by having to sit between fond memories of the original, and anticipation for Repeat Show (or Soul Eater Brotherhood, or whatever they end up calling it). Especially when the show unwittingly demonstrates that the Soul Eater universe is at its best when it’s shonen, not slice-of-life. Although, despite a few missteps, the slice-of-life can actually work. It’s still charming in and of itself, but it’s main appeal continues to be the first two words of the title. So, there’s your recommendation. If you’re still debating whether it’s worth your time, go of an watch it. There’s a bit of something for everyone. If you’re curious why I think these things, stick around for a bit 🙂
First off, the meaning of “Not” in the title is explained. The DWMA has two types of students (well, 4 if we include that weapon/meister thing), NOT (or Normal Overcome Target) students, which are the the majority, and the group the original series focuses on EAT, or Especially Advantaged Tallent. Kinda forced those acronyms, but whatever, no one’s going to remember what they stand for anyway. If it’s not clear, our lesbian threesom are in the NOT catagory.
Though the show often seems to switch between NOT action and EAT action, or at least the slice-of-life and shonen genres. Which is probably it’s greatest strength. The slice-of-life works as engaging filler for the most slow paced shonen show ever. Because when I tune in for each new episode, I’m showing up for that thin thread of plot stitched every now and then through the fabric of moe girls making friends in middle/high school. But while I’m there, I honestly do enjoy the characters and their episodic vignettes. Though some of what holds it together is a little too slice-of-life-y.
The most annoying example of this is when the girls had to get part time jobs on short notice, and somehow did. It took them one day, and I’ve been searching since February. It’s stuff like this that ruins slice-of-life anime for me; when events become less like a empathetic depiction of real life, and more like Haruhi’s list of things to do over the summer.
And this particular job shows a bit of cultural dissonance. Sure, the store is very-nearly-but-not-quite-close-enough-to-sue named after a normal coffee shop we all know. But if Atsushi Okubo ran Starbucks, apparently he’d make it a maid cafe. You can’t set your story in the United States, then make Japanese puns and have cosplay cafes. At least, not until that long awaited day when I can go out for lunch and be served by a cute girl dressed as Faye Valentine (in fact, Starbucks, you should learn a thing or two from this show!).
Anime relationships are complicated. You’ve got your love triangles, love rhombuses, and even the occasional love decatetrahedron. But, ladies and gentlemen, we may have just found the first fourth dimensional love shape!
Of course it’s all just a lie, because if that sketch were accurate, it would mean some relationships in this show would be something other than lesbian ones. The lesbianism, well it’s not gotten any better (or it has, depending on your point of view). Just, look at this.
Literally every female character (other than the ones from the original Soul Eater has been in some kind of romantic scene with another girl at some point. And you know what? I don’t mind it. It hasn’t been quite prevalent enough to be distracting, and unlike cheaper forms of fanservice, it engages me with the characters’ emotions and development, and not just their bust sizes or sexy bishie low-cut pants.
So, I’ve said that the characters hold the slice-of-life majority of the show together, let’s take a look at some of them.
Tsugumi’s character’s not going anywhere, but she fits the role well. I’m surprised by it, but a slice-of-life protagonist and a shonen protagonist are fairly similar, and Tsugumi has to be both. Being extremely friendly in an of itself fulfills the s.o.l. part, and the why she uses it and her perseverance to turn around would-be-villains also helps her as a shonen character. The downside is, developing that perseverance is the only developement her character gets. By episode 4 she’s already been through at least three arcs about her lack of confidence. And each time the resolution has been that she has to work hard and be diligent to improve her skills. It’s like the writers think their audience is a bunch of Memes, and every episode we have to be reminded, “This is the character growth she’s going through. Got that through your thick skulls yet?!” And I want to reply, “Get this through your thick skulls!” punctuated with bullet.
Speaking of Meme, her… boobs… why?! They’re like something out of a bad hentai; I’m not even exaggerating. Look at this!
This is supposed to be a middle schooler, people. Other than that, she’s basically the same idiot comedy relief character she was in episode one. Nothing much to say.
Anya is pretty much the same, except in her case, her bust seems to have gotten smaller. She’s still cool, but gets more tsundere scenes than fight scenes.
While the main cast is fairly disappointing, the show offers a variety of comparatively complex supporting characters. Also there’s Kana, who’s cute and reads fortunes.
Probably the most interesting in this group is Kim Diehl, or the Witch of the girls dorm, a nickname given to her because I guess the writers’ “B” key was broken so they went with “W” instead. As first she seems to just have an unfriendly nature, but it’s later revealed that she intentionally pushes people away to help keep something about herself secret. What really sells this, I think, is that after however many years she’s been at the DWMA, avoiding making friends, she’s managed to convince herself that she just doesn’t want any. But I feel like, so far, the resolution to this arc has been incomplete. Kim’s made friends, but we haven’t gotten a chance to see how she feels about that or if she even really does want them. She was effectively forced into her new friendships in the first place. I wish this would be fully resolved before the series is over, but I doubt it will be.
On top of that, there are two more notable characters on the slice-of-life side, Liz and Patty. That’s the same Liz and Patty as we’re used to seeing Kid’s grip, blasting away at baddies. In the original show, these two got the short end of the stick. They were the least developed characters of the group, not because they were boring, but because they’d already gone through their development. They were kids, thrown out into the streets of Brooklyn, and then rehabilitated with the help of Kid. But NOT! is set prior to their entry into the DWMA. Here they’re on probation, with a ways to go before they help save anybody. And I like that.
Meanwhile, on the shonen end of the show we have Akane and Clay, two ex-EAT classers. Akane is by far the more interesting one. A descendant of starclan who instead of running from his past, decided to use the skills he was taught by the clan to help people has a meister. He’s also Tsugumi’s lieutenant Halkeye. Wait, scratch that, he’s just a passive aggressive teenaged esper.
These two characters are probably the most important ones in the show, as they’re at the head of the reason I keep coming back, the shonen side plot. It’s still not very developed, so I can’t say much on it, but it’s interesting, and I want to see where it goes. And if I’m gonna enjoy all the slice of life stuff along the way, all the better.
Don’t Lose Your Way