What an aptly titled anime. This series is just like the original Soul Eater… Not! That’s what Soul Eater fans would exclaim because, aside from the supernatural school setting, this series feels like a radically different show. Or so I am told, as I have yet to watch Soul Eater – mostly because I have an aversion to Shonen properties that run for over fifty episodes. We can blame Bleach’s limitless amount of filler for that. The way Bleach dragged things out made me want to down several litres of the aforementioned chemical disinfectant. Studios should refrain from animating episodes until the source material has sufficient chapters to adapt. I do however reserve the right to whine endlessly in the interim. It’s been three years already Studio Wit, give us more Attack on Titan already!
Soul Eater NOT takes place at the Death Weapon Meister Academy, which teaches pupils how to battle against witches (because Dorothy’s escapades have taught us that soluble magic users are bad news.) The DWMA’s students are categorized as Weapons (who are humans that can transform into um weapons) and Meisters who brandish said shape shifters in combat. NOT’s protagonist is a young lady named Tsugumi Harudori who has enrolled at the academy after recently discovering that her legs have a nasty habit of involuntarily morphing into halberds. Tsugumi wishes to learn how to control her powers, although her first term is plagued with doubts. Not only does Tsugumi miss her old tranquil lifestyle, but she also feels inferior to her more talented classmates.
Despite her lack of confidence Tsugumi is in great demand with two Meisters, named Meme Tatane and Anya Hepburn, vying for the right to become her official partner. Anya is a shopaholic princess who is weary about being pampered by servants and therefore decides to move abroad where she can mingle with commoners. Meme is a capable fighter who we learn in episode one can literally kick your ass in her sleep. The contest for Tsugumi at times resembles a lesbian love triangle, although the show’s fifteen-age rating denies us any steamy moments. Yuri fans looking for smut will have to make do with a dream sequence featuring a near kiss between a flamethrower Weapon and the pink haired bully that she has the “hots” for (no pun intended.)
My rating for Soul Eater NOT is three stars. It’s a well-produced “cute girls doing cute things” series from Studio Bones, which reminds me a little of Scientific Railgun as it’s based in an institution populated with superhuman kids. The banter between the show’s leading ladies is the thing I enjoyed the most. Anya likes fraternizing with regular folk, but her tsundere instincts compel her to act like a haughty royal. Meme’s absentmindedness made me chuckle on occasion, as she will routinely forget what she did five minutes ago or even her own name! I’m glad an explanation is eventually offered for her memory deficiencies, because for a spell I was worried that she may be suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s.
I am uncertain how NOT will be received by fans of the original Soul Eater, as stylistically they are two very different shows. Soul Eater fanatics may enjoy the cameos that offer insight into the origins of Sid, Kim, Patty and Liz, but the lack of action may not sit well with them. NOT is first and foremost cute and fluffy entertainment. If I didn’t know better I would guess that writer Atsushi Okubo wanted to make a K-On clone, but had to affix the profitable Soul Eater label on the cover to appease his editor. Those insecure in their masculinity need not worry though, because this prequel’s dozen episodes aren’t all girly. The finale for example has the heroines tackling a witch who uses venom to brainwash victims. High schoolers afflicted with the poison become aggressive and function on little to no sleep… they are just like any other teenager then!