Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thoughts on Soul Eater

Experience: chapter 1 - volume 9; with knowledge of mid-chapters; currently reading the later arcs

Soul Eater is a manga that I want to love, but just can't.

The most impressive aspect of SE is also its most obvious: the art. Ohkubo's art may not be impressive in terms of detail but its style is nearly unrivaled. The way Ohkubo tells his story through his stylish art is a site to behold and has always been what attracted me to the manga. Ohkubo's character and monster designs are also very cool as well as scary, and they have only improved as time has gone on.

The other impressive aspect of the manga coincides with the amazing art: the themes. SE's main theme is madness, and it is the central aspect of the story throughout the manga. In fact, one could argue that the manga is more about the theme of madness than the actual characters. Regardless, the focus of the story around the theme of madness really gives SE a very unique aura to it, and gives the story a really original flavor.

However, SE has one central problem: the characters. The characters in SE aren't very compelling or interesting, with Maka and Crona being the exceptions. Sure, character like Soul, Black Star and Death the Kid have unique quirks that make them funny at times, but when it comes time for them to be compelling and emotional, it isn't very effective, because we haven't really connected much to the characters. Then there's Tsubaki and the Thompson Sisters, who barely get any attention and just feel there to be weapons to the meisters and not much else. Ohkubo does try to take time to give every character some development, but it doesn't always work out. In the end, Maka and Crona are the main focuses of the story, which coincides with the theme of madness, as they both represent the two sides of madness.

There's a lot to enjoy in Soul Eater, but its mainly for the art rather than the story, but that's not to say the story is bad. As SE got into its latter volumes (14 and on) the story gets more and more dark; comedy is a rare occurance and the situations get more and more grim. The end result is a big contrast to the earlier, more balanced chapters. This can be seen as a good or bad thing depending on who the reader is, but I found it to be a poor choice, especially for the character of Crona, who began as a dark yet quirky character, but soon became a dark and depressing figure.

In the end, I'm thinking about dropping Soul Eater, as it is becoming less and less enjoyable to read with each coming week. It's still a manga to be respected, as the art is better than ever and the themes of madness are still in full effect, but the characters never really improve and the dark tones make reading the manga kinda uncomfortable (at least me, who prefers light-hearted stories).

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