Soul Eater NOT! Review

souleaternot

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!

OVERVIEW

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.)

VERDICT

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!

26 thoughts on “Soul Eater NOT! Review

  1. As a fan of the original, I wasn’t much of a fan of this one. While being a different style of story telling altogether, I just couldn’t get into it. I am okay with the “cute girls doing cute things” premise, but what fell flat for me was that “NOT” was so clumsy and heavy handed in it’s fan service. The constant boob talk, the yuri undertones, and basic fan service elements just seemed very pandering and not well executed. I didn’t hate the show. It had some alright elements. It just wasn’t very good.
    Good to see your perspective as someone who hadn’t watched Soul Eater though.

    • The online comments I have read seem to mirror your assessment of the show. I think viewers would have preferred seeing twelve more episodes of the traditional Soul Eater over this prequel. For the few people out there who haven’t seen the original this show may tempt them to check out the first series. Based on the cameos I suspect the main characters of Soul Eater are more varied than NOT’s heroines.

      • True. And what people like about any series varies widely.
        I liked the Soul Eater series. It wasn’t without it’s flaws to be sure. As as art style goes it is one of my favorites by far. I love the look o the original Soul Eater.

  2. Interestingly, I was able to get over several of my problems with Soul Eater after comparing it to Not. Yeah, Soul Eater failed at a lot of things, while Not really didn’t, but that’s mostly because soul Eater tried a lot of things and took a lot of risks, while Not was just a boring slice of life romp with the barest facade of an obligatory plot and villain stapled to it. It gave backstories to two of the side characters from the original series, so I guess it has that going for it.

  3. I am an avid fan of soul eater, and when I came across this review, I was delighted to hear that there was a spin-off series of it. All of my fond memories of the show came rushing back to me.

    Great job on the review, though I have not yet seen the anime your article did a great job at informing me on the show without giving away any key plot components.

    • Thanks for the kind words If you loved the original you may not care for this prequel, as it is tonally quite different. Some of the comments on this review sum up what fans of the franchise seem to think of NOT. I have no attachment to the original so I think I was more forgiving in my assessment.

      • I believe this is similar to the spin-off of a certain magical index, a certain scientific railgun, if so then I am most likely going to relish it.

        While it significantly differs from the original anime, I found that by the end of a certain magical index I was seeking for anything in the universe of it, so anything dealing with it was good enough for me. I came to genuinely appreciate the spin-off even though it was just a husk of the original; it allowed for different perspectives of people in that universe. So I feel like I am going to come to a similar conclusion when it comes to Soul Eater Not.

    • I see what you did there! Even if you dislike the series you should watch it, as you strike me as a sucker for punishment. You have after all read 54 volumes of One Piece in quick succession πŸ˜‰

  4. So you watched NOT before the OG . . .interesting. I’ve never heard anyone do that before. Well, glad you seemed to think it was okay. I know SO many people abhor it. If the conversations are reminiscent of Railgun’s, then perhaps it is something up my alley.

    • In theory watching a prequel first should work, although it does mean that the cameos don’t have the full impact on me. Railgun fans may disagree with me, but I saw some similarities between the two. Aside from the students with powers thing it has that “stop with the jokes and give us some action already” vibe to it.

  5. Glad you liked his one in the end. πŸ™‚

    As I said in my review, I found much of the references and cameos in NOT easier to appreciate having seen the original Soul Eater series, but if newbies are inspired to check it out from watching this prequel then that is a boon to the franchise.

    I’m probably in the minority here but a couple (not all) of Bleach filler arcs were actually quite good – the Zanpaktou Rebellion for start was a cool one! If you want to point the finger at a show with terrible filler then Naruto is the one you are after… πŸ˜‰

    • Yeah, that tends to be the thing with prequels. Even though the story technically takes place before the original the creators expect viewers to be acquainted with the franchise already and use it as an opportunity to flesh out the mainline characters.

      I have watched all of DBZ and bits of Bleach and One Piece. Lesson learned I have avoided Naruto because of my intolerance to bad filler. Getting review copies must be a double edged sword for you. Freebies are nice, but you are then duty bound to cover every Naruto box set that comes out.

      • Actually One Piece is one of the rare examples of the filler being so good it barely notices as non-canon. The writers seem to have a very acute knack of matching the show’s vibe whilst being able to drop seamlessly into the middle of an arc.

  6. I haven’t seen Soul Eater yet but I plan to. But security in masculinity aside, I think I’ll pass on this one. Any and all variations of cute girls being cute and doing cute things tends to grate on my poor nerves. I guess I’ll somehow cope with missing out on the venom-spewing, brain-washing witch…

    (And yes, please give us more Attack on Titan already, Wit)

    • Some “girls doing cute things” anime can be alright. After a tough day at the office lighthearted shows that aren’t deep on plot can be nice and relaxing. I can certainly understand why they wouldn’t appeal to everyone though.

      February 2017 is when the new AOT is supposed to come out, so not much longer to go! If I wasn’t such a lazy reader I would have read the manga already and would have some idea if the upcoming story arcs are worth the wait.

    • How come? Was the anime not faithful to the source material? Did they perhaps rush things?

      I like marathoning a series so waiting a month between chapters would be painful. There have been a few mangas that I dropped due to the gap between translations being too long. Shame, I have probably missed out on some good stuff due to impatience.

      • The anime did change the source material, and the animation was inconsistent. While waiting between chapters I would often forget, missing several months of chapters.

  7. The comparison to Scientific Railgun is apt. Do you think you’d every return to this series or is it just a one off?

      • Makes sense, and it can be daunting but some of my favourites have 50-100 odd episodes. Soul Water is definitely worth investing in πŸ™‚

  8. I really enjoyed Soul Eater, so I am wary of this but I will one day watch it. Thanks for the share ^w^

    Also, I have nominated you for the sunshine blogger award over on my blog! Your blog is epic πŸ˜€

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