99 problems but a witch ain’t one
“Soul Eater” is a comic with such a bizarre premise that I am still surprised it is as entertaining as it is. A bunch of young kids are training at the Death Weapon Meister Academy (which is located in Nevada, USA for some reason…), in pairs of “meister” and “demon weapon.” The “demon weapon” kid transforms into a weapon that is wielded by the “meister,” who hopes to collect the souls of 99 evil humans and one witch in order to transform their “demon weapons” into powerful weapons known as “Death Scythes” capable of being wielded by the Grim Reaper himself.
The series began when creator Atsushi Okubo drew the one-shot story “Soul Eater” for in Monthly Shônen Gangan in 2003, which was popular enough to be followed up by two more short-stories in the same universe, “Black Star” and “Death the Kid.” Response was good enough that Okubo was asked to create an ongoing series in 2004. The three short stories and the first chapter in the ongoing series were collected in Soul Eater, Vol. 1.
Because volume 2 is really where the ongoing series begins, there is a lot more story here and less character introduction. We are thrown into the action with the first few pages as Maka and her demon weapon Soul Eater and Black Star and his demon weapon Tsubaki are sent to collect the soul of Franken Stein, a mad scientist obsessed with operations. Franken Stein’s soul is so powerful that everyone considers this a suicide mission, but the four kids are determined to pull it off.
Later, Black Soul and Soul Eater are convinced they would become more powerful if they teamed up instead of working with the girls Maka and Tsubaki, so they challenge Death the Kid and his twin Thompson girls to a duel. Finally, a new and dangerous threat arises with the appearance of the witch Medusa and her son the meister Crona and his demon weapon Ragnarok. Crona is a rouge meister, collecting the souls of non-evil humans to feed his demon weapon, and must be brought down.
Things move along at a quick pace in “Soul Eater,” which works well because it keeps you from realizing how silly the whole thing is. The whole “kids transforming into weapons” -thing is pretty weird, and you can’t help but think that they get the raw end of the meister/demon weapon deal. But Okabo manages to infuse some login into this, talking about the resonance between a meister and his/her weapon, especially in the story with Black Star and Soul Eater attempting to form a team.
The art and character designs in “Soul Eater” are very much in the Square Enix style, with Cloud Strike hair-dos popping up. Some of the characters, like Soul Eater himself, are hip-hop style while his meister Maka is a pure Japanese school girl complete with plaid mini-skirt and pigtails. This isn’t a fan-service heavy series, but it doesn’t shy away from it either with some of the girls, particularly Tsubaki and one of the Thompson twins, being quite top-heavy.
“Soul Eater” is still ongoing in Japan, and is currently up to volume sixteen. Even though the series is downright bizarre to the core, I have the feeling that Okubo will keep it exciting enough that I will enjoy the ride.