Wednesday 9 April 2014

First Impressions: Soul Eater Not!

Soul Eater Not!

It seems Captain Earth isn't studio Bones' only heavy hitter for this anime season, as this Spring also sees the return of one of their more popular titles. Soul Eater Not! is a comedy spinoff of Soul Eater (obviously), based on the manga of the same name. When I began watching the original Soul Eater I liked it a lot, but unfortunately being one of the shows based on a (then) ongoing manga series the story progressively suffered more and more as it went on. The Soul Eater Not! manga is also currently ongoing, so will this show end up suffering the same fate? Either way its time to make a long overdue return to Death City.

Tsugumi Harudori seems like an ordinary high school girl, until one day she discovers she has the ability to (uncontrollably) transform into a weapon. It isn't long until she's transferred to the Death Weapon Meister Academy (or DWMA for short) and meets two Meisters - the spacey Meme Tatane and rich girl Ana Hepburn. After a short scuffle with some delinquent classmates, Tsugumi's potential as a demon halberd weapon is completely unlocked, but she is left with a difficult decision - who does she pick as her partner?

Soul Eater Not! doesn't have an amazing opening sequence like the original did to do the talking for it, so instead it has to solely rely on the first episode itself. And as far as they go, this one set things up pretty nicely. Sure Tsumugi and Meme currently feel like they could have walked off any high school anime, but Soul Eater's supernatural setting is serving as a good blockade to ensure that the show hopefully doesn't become too formulaic. I'm also quite into the idea of a friendship triangle, since I have absolutely no idea where they're going to take it. Obviously the three of them are going to all be the best of friends by the end of it, but that doesn't change the fact that Tsumugi still needs to pick a Meister. If it were two weapons and one Meister then the answer would be more obvious, but doing it this way spices things up.

Then of course it wouldn't be a Soul Eater spin-off without cameos, something which Not! isn't going to painfully draw out. With the exception of Liz and Patty (who, given the comedic nature of the series I'm willing to bet will be showing up sooner or later), all of the main protagonists of Soul Eater showed up in the first episode - ranging from background cameos (Death the Kid) to 30 second speaking roles (Black Star and Tsubaki) to something a little more substantial (Maka and Soul). Sid also makes a welcome return, and mention of Medusa suggests that the show takes place during Soul Eater's first arc. I just hope they manage to squeeze Excalibur in there somewhere...

So while I don't feel there was anything particularly standout about the first episode of Soul Eater Not!, the trademark anime high school genre combined with Soul Eater's unique setting and brand of humour could make for some interesting viewing. It's quite clearly never going to have the serious edge that the original had, which is fine by me as it means there's significantly less chance of the whole thing going south at the end of it. The new characters seem like they'll be fun, and seeing the old cast again even for those few minutes made me realise that deep down I had missed them. Especially that nightmare inducing sun.

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