Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Soul Eater
Part Four


Starring (voice): Chiaki Omigawa, Kouki Uchiyama, Akeno Watanabe and Chieko Honda
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available: 27 December 2010

Feisty teenager Maka Albarn is a Weapon Meister and Soul is her human weapon, capable of transforming into a razor sharp scythe. As students at the Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA) their study habits couldn’t be any more different. But in the battle against the supernatural forces of evil they’re a lethal team.

The die is cast. Medusa’s treacherous gambit propels the DWMA into a final confrontation with Arachnophobia, who are amplifying the psychic field generated by the villainous Asura’s disturbed mind with the intention of driving the whole world mad. Meanwhile Death the Kid’s suspicions mount regarding the covert activities of the DWMA and his father, Lord Death; Stein discards both his sanity and his lifelong friends; and all hope for success lies on a precarious new power that Maka can barely control.

Soul Eater’s finale could have been a lot worse. The previous DVD set was afflicted by inertia, caused mainly by the awkward transition from the original writer’s material (which is still being released as an ongoing manga by Square Enix) to an anime writing staff keen to wrap up the storyline within fifty episodes. The fourth and final set is comprised entirely of material unique to the adaptation, and while it’s doubtful that any viewer could claim that the results are satisfactory the story has enough action and humour to buoy the inconsequential plot and character arcs.

The cracks show at every turn. Maka and Soul are barely developed as characters, a weakness that cripples any sense of closure at the finale. They are awarded a status that they simply do not deserve; Maka has none of the bravery that the other principle cast members attribute to her (she spends most of the series gazing at her navel); while Soul is more character design than character. Stein’s character arc is also mishandled badly. On paper he is one of the most fully realised and morally complex of the main cast; in practise his crisis of sanity is debilitating only when the plot requires.

Soul Eater’s has no idea how to handle this subtext. Mental illness is dismissed with insulting ambivalence; only Crona’s arc has anything approaching the ring of truth. Elsewhere this thematic material is used for effect and discarded as soon as it is inconvenient. Soul exhibits no outward signs of being overrun by his inner demon; Stein makes a miraculous and instant recovery; and even Asura’s psychic contagion is forgotten in the final few episodes. The common denominator in each case is the need for that character to engage in whichever fight sequence is next required of them. Perhaps the NHS should consider trading Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for swords and scythes.

When the series sticks to its strengths - action and humour - it’s as enjoyable as it ever was. Black☆Star is so determinedly moronic that he becomes absurdly inspirational through the sheer force of his one-dimensionality (you could call this the Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann Effect). Almost every scene in which he features is terrific. Likewise Lord Death, a character whose unlikely comedic potential is mined at every possible juncture and whose battle against Asura provides the final volume’s greatest action sequence. These moments help keep the series’ head above water, preventing it from descending into complete mediocrity.

Adapted too soon, with too little original material and consequently beset by terminal structural problems, Soul Eater is a mess of ideas, designs and images that are employed better elsewhere. It is redeemed only by its infectious idiocy. It’s Exhibit A for prosecution arguments in favour of waiting two or three more years before starting to animate popular manga. But I fear that my voice is inaudible beneath the clattering clamour of Studio Bones’ cash register.


Seth Cooke

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£14.99 (
£14.99 (
£21.99 (
£17.97 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.