Soul Eater 9, 10, 11
Summary: Soul Eater has been having very dark nightmares, a fact which Medusa secretly attributes to his blending with the blood of Ragnarok. Meanwhile, Sid-sensei makes Black Star clean up all the books in the library. Instead he ends up reading manga until Kid shows up to get a book about a legendary sword called Excalibur. Maka and her father have an awkward moment out on the balcony, while Black Star and Kid go in search of the sword. Inside the cave they find a moody fairy who flies off when they ask about the sword, but they find it anyway. Both Black Star and Kid are able to remove the sword, but then it turns into a weird little creature. A very egotistical little creature. Who makes very little sense. In fact, he has such a crummy irritating attitude that the boys end up just leaving him behind.
In the next episode, Shinigami-sama gives Tsubaki the task of defeating the demon sword Masamune, which is in danger of becoming a kishin. She and Black Star go to the village of Hari to look for it. The villagers see Black Star's tattoo and believe that he's part of a clan sent to kill them all. Black Star is the last remaining member of his clan, a group that ended up taking human souls and being destroyed by Shibusen. The demon blade shows up in the village and attacks a young boy, taking him over. Black Star fights him, demonstrating all sorts of weird techniques like controlling his victim's shadow. When Black Star gains the upper hand and detaches the Demon Blade from the kid, Tsubaki takes it and melds with it. She ends up inside the weird world of the Blade, an entity who is actually her older brother.
While Tsubaki battles her brother in his own world, the villagers, seeing the damage done, blame Black Star and begin to beat on him with sticks. Tsubaki ends up in a tough position, her soul being absorbed by the minute, but Black Star begins to remember how they met. The Demon Blade manages to stab her through the heart and nearly absorbs her soul, until she stops being so agreeable and thinks of Black Star, releasing her inner self and getting her desire to fight back. Though she's stabbed, her brother's soul is released. Finally she exits the sword, and though she tries to hide her troubled feelings, Black Star won't let her. When they return, they reveal Tsubaki's new sword form, though Black Star isn't powerful enough to weild it yet and faints.
Thoughts: The first episode of this batch was really just a comedic interlude, so there's not much to say about it other than it introduced an annoying mascot character who I'm sure is going to end up showing up from time-to-time to annoy us all.
I have to admit, though, I was really very surprised at how good the latter two episodes were. I noticed that Black Star was the technician of choice for these episodes and I was expecting something extremely obnoxious that I was going to have to force myself to watch, but he was, I must say, pretty tolerable in his own way here. It really was Tsubaki's "stage", though, as Black Star would say. The episodes focused on her and the aspect of her personality which has always kind of bothered me - the fact that she doesn't seem to harbor any conflicting opinions of her own. I dislike a pushover (probably because I'm kind of a pushover, funny how that works), and so it was kind of interesting to see that character trait almost become her downfall while Black Star's "big" personality was partly what saved her. While I still don't like him as much as the other characters, it's interesting to see how well the two balance each other out and make it into a major plot point.
In general, I think what this show has been doing well is creating comraderie between the leads. Whereas a lot of shows along the same vein tend to create a lot more competativeness and tend to get a battle tournament vibe after a while, I'm hoping that won't happen here. It seems like any time another member of the Shibusen "team" is in trouble, the others are all rooting for them to do well which I think is really nice to see.
Once again, I'm pleasantly surprised at how the more recent episodes have been very entertaining, and I'm hoping that this is a show that'll do its story and then not fall into the filler trap. I'm not looking to watch a Bleach, and with 51 episodes I think the story can stick to a few core arcs and maybe culminate into something really good. And hey, if it can make me at least tolerate a character that I once completely loathed, something must be going right.
Soul Eater Episode 7-8
Summary: Maka and Soul travel to Italy for an extra-curricular activity - taking out an assassin. Within minutes, Soul finds himself threatened by a huge street gang, though they're taken out easily. There's a frightening woman flying in the night sky, and she seems to be controlling someone - or something - inhabiting the body of a strange boy named Chrona in a cathedral on the surface. After dispatching the assassin, Maka senses a group of agitated souls coming from said cathedral - the gang from earlier. They go to investigate, and find that the humans have all vanished. Only Chrona is there, and Maka realizes the other soul, the soul of his weapon, is inside his body. It reveals itself and then becomes a sword. Maka's blows can't pierce his body, however, because the weapon is in his blood, which is able to solidify. Soul defends his technician against the blows, which turns out to hurt his physical body quite a bit.
Just as Maka is about to receive a blow from the evil sword, Dr. Stein, weidling Death Scythe, her father, knocks Chrona back. The battle resumes, and Stein reveals why he's called the best technician ever to graduate from Shibusen. He needs to be careful, since ever drop of blood shed by his enemy can turn into a weapon. Stein is able to use his superior technique to get rid of Chrona, but then the real person behind the whole matter is revealed - a witch with a colossally-evil soul who hid that soul with a special protection technique. After collecting Chrona's body, she flies off, leaving the others to collect Soul and bring him to the infirmary. Stein reveals to Death Scythe that Soul Eater's injury might be cursed with the black blood of Ragnarok. When the doctor comes in to check on Soul, we find out that she's none other than Medusa, the witch, who's posing at a teacher at the school.
Thoughts: Now this is the type of thing that I've been waiting for from this show. This two-episode arc was not only creepy, the animation was again top-notch and even the music, some gothic choir, was appropriate and really added to the mood of fighting in the cathedral. And, though I'm not going to fault our main characters, it was also really nice to see some experienced adults in on the fighting this time around. Now we know just how powerful an experienced technician can be when coupled with a weapon with whom he shares a good soul resonance.
Admittedly I was a little surprised to find out that there's a very powerful enemy in their midst, but I suppose what better place for a witch to hide than right out in the open where no one would suspect her. I think she'll really be a force to be reckoned with as the series progresses, though all we really know about her so far is that she seems bent on reviving this particular evil weapon. A fine goal for any baddy, but I'd like to know what her particular motivation is, if there is one (which there should be unless the writing's a real piece of crap).
I peeped ahead and noticed that the next few episodes appear to be Black-Star-centric, which is not really the best news I could hear, but I understand that not every arc can be Maka-centric, even though all the best ones seem to be.
Soul Eater Episode 5-6
Summary: Our heroes are forced into having a supplementary lesson, which entails facing Dr. Stein, the best technician ever to graduate from Shibusen. While he initially comes across as being rather incompetent, he's truly a force to be reckoned with, since he can amplify the wavelength of his soul without carrying a weapon. Death the Kid watches as the other technicians get pummeled, and goes to help, though he can only do so by adding himself to the roster of Shibusen students. It turns out that Stein was only just testing them, and once Maka uses her special technique. Stein is actually pretty amused, in a sadistic way about being able to play with them. To add insult to injury, Stein returns as their new homeroom teacher.
Then, it's Death the Kid's first day at school, but because of his OCD he's late by three hours. When he, Liz and Patty arrive, they find themselves face-to-face with the team of Soul and Black Star. When Black Star destroys the lateral symmetry of the school, the fight is on. Tsubaki, Maka, and Dr. Stein go outside to observe the fight. Stein uses the opportunity to teach Maka more about soul wavelengths. DtK demonstrates his considerable power, but is taken down when he realizes that Soul was able to cut his hair a bit, causing his body to lose symmetry. Maka is troubled that she's unable to see Shinigami-sama's soul.
Thoughts: These two episodes have probably been the most "shounen" so far, at least in that they're both very battle-focused and they've been introducing new characters from what will probably end up being a fairly massive cast. I have to admit I was a little bored with them, but I think it mostly had to do with the fact that neither fight ended up being particularly serious, especially the fight between the male characters in episode 6. If I'm watching a fight, I prefer for there to be an actual, palpable sense of danger, rather than feeling like a bunch of silly boys are rough-housing in the backyard where their mommy can't yell at them to stop. Again, it's a shounen genre show, and so it's to be expected, but the least I could ask for would be a little more drama.
A useful thing provided by these episodes was the explanation of soul compatibilty and how that affects the partnership between a weapon and technician. Something like this had to be expected - it would be kind of fail if the characters could easily pull off all sorts of complicated attacks right away in the series. As we saw in episode 4, the bond between Maka and Soul can be a little touchy, and they still have trouble pulling off more powerful moves. What I'm hoping is that they'll cover her difficulty in trusting him (since her father's actions have made it difficult for her to trust men, obviously) and how they work to mend that bond and grow into a great team. Not all dudes are ecchi perverts, after all (just many of them - jk).
I hate to say this, but Black Star has a long way to go before I can give a damn about him as a character. Right now I could definitely live without him. He's like my little shounen nightmare, and the reason I don't watch more of these shows because he fits into the archetype of "brash, stupid, loud wannabe hero", which makes the hair on my neck stand up. I'm not really saying get rid of him, but give the boy some dramatic development so that he can settle down and grow up. Just saying.
Soul Eater Episode 4
Summary: Soul starts off his "cool" day by being caught in a compromising position with Blair. At school, their substitute teacher is Maka's womanizing father, Death Scythe. And to top it all off, Soul, Maka, Black Star, and Tsubaki are all called to Shinigami-sama's office, where he lets them know that they're in for some special lessons, due to their seeming inability to collect souls. They need to go to the cemetery and deal with a bit of a zombie problem - one of the former Shibusen teachers has been turned into a zombie and has been attacking students. If they don't manage to get the job done, they'll have to drop out of school.
They encounter Sid-sensei in the local graveyard and battle it out. He insists that they'd all enjoy their lives more as zombies, since the fear of death is no longer an issue. The technicians of course all disagree and fight for their lives. Maka and Soul attempt to use a special soul wavelength technique which fails mostly due to their inability to stop bickering for more than a few minutes. Black star is finally able to trap Sid using Tsubaki as a snare, and the technicians proceed to find the man responsible for this - a certain Doctor Frankenstein, the strongest technician ever to graduate from Shibusen.
Thoughts: Since the intros are now complete, we begin to get to what may be the real meat of the story. And of course it's decidedly shounen, but with the special ingredient that has made this show fairly refreshing for the most part so far - unique design and at least one set of central characters who don't completely suck. I can take or leave Black Star since he's probably the most annoying of the main characters and has a decidedly stupid flaw (not being able to shut the hell up), but his companion, Tsubaki, and the duo of Maka and Soul have enough potential that they'll carry me at least a few more episodes in before I ramp up my (probably unreasonable) expectations of where this show should go. You know what I would like? I would really like for Maka's daddy betrayal issues to become an actual issue in the show. Which they very well might, considering that they touched on them quite vividly in episode 1 and I feel like they should have an effect on the soul-wavelength stuff that seems to control the big attacks the technicians can do.
Though I'm sure at the very least all of them will learn how to be themselves and ganbarimasu and learn the meaning of true friendship in the end. Yes, I'm cynical. Your point?
I noticed a slight drop in animation quality this episode, which isn't surprising considering how high the standards were in the previous episodes (especially episode 1, which I've re-watched probably three or four times already). Not that this says a whole lot because the fight scenes, which are really the centerpiece of the show, were still nice-looking and all. I noticed a couple of repeated shots, though, which is something that I haven't noticed for a while in anime. Probably because I haven't watched a show like this in a very long time. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
Looks like the mysterious Doctor Frankenstein gets his intro next time, so I'll look forward to that. Also, more Death the Kid, spreading is OCD love across the world.