Soul Eater NOT! ReviewAmy Hazel
Death City: a spectacular place brimming with lively citizens, wondrous events, a unique landscape and of course, home to the DWMA - the Death Weapon Meister Academy. The DWMA specializes in training young unique individuals to be the first line of defense in combating witches and other evil with intent to harm the world and its citizens. These students consist of those who can transform into weapons and others who wish to be the wielders of these weapons, called meisters and are then split into one of two classes: the EAT class (Especially Advantaged Talent) who become warriors of justice and actively take on combat missions and the NOT class (Normally Overcome Target) who wish primarily to control and master their abilities. While it may not be needed for an anime of this caliber, it certainly can't be denied that seeing a glimpse of earlier events isn't a fun notion. So bring it on, Soul Eater...NOT!
As not so subtly hinted at, Soul Eater NOT is a prequel spin-off of the well-loved and popular anime Soul Eater and takes place about a year prior to the action packed adventure featuring Maka, Black Star and Death the Kid. As a quick note to go ahead and get out of the way, the title Soul Eater NOT represents the series perfectly in a couple of different ways with the first being that this is not an exact cut-out of the main Soul Eater anime. It takes place in the Soul Eater universe, but the genre, art style, action and even overall feel are going to be different - so don't go in expecting the same Soul Eater...because it isn't. The second point of the title being that it focuses on the NOT students, where Maka and company are EAT students (though they do make appearances throughout the series which fans will absolutely adore). Now that that's out of the way, let's move on with the review!
Soul Eater NOT focuses mainly around a girl named Tsugumi, a halberd type weapon, and the two meisters she befriends named Meme and Anya. They are all part of the NOT class and the issue therein lies that a meister may have two weapons but a weapon does not usually have two meisters...and Tsugumi must choose between them and pick a partner. For the most part, it is a slice of life comedy where the girls encounter various unique characters throughout the school and city and find themselves in odd situations while usually staying blissfully unaware of the underlying evil lurking around them. Earning a glimpse of Soul Eater's original cast is a fun treat as well, though some characters definitely get more screen time than others by a fair margin and are hardly the main focus.
Probably the strangest concept of this anime to grasp is the overall flow and unity of it all. The first half remains perfectly in its slice of life bubble with a comedic school life charm, small mishaps in bullying and love and Tsugumi's problem with choosing a partner; but then the second half of the anime occurs and it takes that bubble and careens it straight into Death City's twisted laughing sun's face. A fun day at the city's market festival turns disastrous as a witch's undetected interference ends up causing a well-known side character and DWMA weapon student to attack random citizens, face off against Maka and Soul and slit her own throat in front of Tsugumi, Meme and Anya. This not only causes an emotional impact on the characters but starts transforming the genre of the anime itself from light-hearted slice of life to something more akin to what fans know Soul Eater to be. From that point on the show maintains its intensity for the most part through to the end but still bounces into bouts of carefree wonder that can seem a bit out of place. It is a strange feeling, and while I personally am fine with both genres and the mix of light and dark, I can also see it being jarring for many viewers - particularly those who may solely be a fan of one genre or another and the drastic change of pace halfway through the series could potentially turn them off from it completely.
Aesthetically, the art and music found within Soul Eater NOT isn't bad but it also isn't anything mind blowing. The opening and ending themes are very fitting for the series and the music found within accentuates the story quite well. The art style is far more soft and cute than what was found in the main Soul Eater series, and while many may be turned off by this fact, it is hard to deny that it fits this series perfectly. The only times the art style really threw me off was when viewing the original cast at times and that was simply due to the comparison aspect; even then, it wasn't necessarily bad, it was just different.
Overall, Soul Eater NOT is not a bad anime but it simply might not be what people are expecting it to be simply because of the Soul Eater title. Hardcore Soul Eater fans will likely be disappointed due to the change of pace, art style and action and slice of life fans will likely ditch when the second half of the show turns into a darker dramatic action fest - but it is what it is. Personally, I found it to be an adorable, fun anime that brought me back to the Soul Eater universe that I loved with a different perspective. It was 12 episodes worth of love for new characters, reuniting with old favorites, an inside look at the inner workings of the DWMA and a rekindling of my love for a franchise I haven't watched in quite a few years (and a cosplay I would love to pull back out again!). A prequel spin off of a beloved series is something to be taken with a grain of salt, but it is what you make it!
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
Just a happy-go-lucky girl working in the gaming industry and spending nearly all her spare time writing, recording music, working on cosplay, watching anime and horror movies, and trying not to obsess over getting that 100% completion rating on every game she touches.
About the Author: Amy Hazel
Bio | Email | Twitter | Facebook