Soul Eater Not! – 11-12 [END]

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“This show doesn’t need yet another beta protagonist. I’m going for the harem route!”

Soul Eater Not! finishes up with 2 action packed episodes featuring Shaula finally making her move to take over Death City on Halloween and Tsugumi and her 2 meister roommates rising up to the challenge. Though not without faults, this was a relatively strong finish to an inconsistent show

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Stupid Sexy Shaula

So Shaula’s big plan was basically initiating a zombie apocalypse in Death City, where she gets to control the zombies. Not a bad plan, all things considered, and a good way to use Death City’s skilled and powerful meisters and weapons against them. I’m still not clear on just why she wanted to take down DWMA so much and what her endgame was, but at least it gave us an excuse to see Maka and other EAT students fighting.

In fact, there was a bunch that happened in these last 2 episodes that I thought the show could have set up a lot better in prior episodes. For example, the Thompson sisters finally did something meaningful by driving Tsugumi to catch and bring back Anya, but was that really enough of a payoff after the show spent an entire episode+ on them? Similarly, what’s the deal with Kim and Jacqui? The show spent an entire episode bringing them together, only to split them apart a few episodes later, and now they’re on good terms again. Not to mention Kim being a witch like Shaula, which never came up as she stayed firmly in the background.

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Just **** already, you two. Or not, break up if you want to. Just make it interesting, for god’s sake!

That setup time could have been used for other things, such as Tsugumi learning to fly in her weapon form after resonating with Anya. Maybe some classroom scenes showing that flying form as something she was working on. It’s more satisfying if the special ability the main character gains at the end is the culmination of something that she was working on the entire time, rather than something pulled out for convenience.

But such complaints aside, the final episodes worked. Anya more than any character actually had a personality throughout the series, and her hard-nosed take-no-shit attitude was a delight to watch, both with her handlers and with Dr. Stein, whom I love seeing as the master troll. There was plenty of action, most of it good. Admittedly they were all very short and relatively unimaginative, but they had fine animation and choreography. The finale delivered some good ones involving our main 3, as Anya battled Meme on a rooftop and Tsugumi joined in to get a quick smooch in to deliver the antidote.

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These fights were too short, but Tsugumi taking on Meme and her chainsaw was badass (click Anya for stitch).

Unfortunately, the action took a huge step down when things mattered most. The main 3 fighting against Shaula was sluggish and boring; that’s the best they could do for showing 2 martial artists passing a human weapon around? But the worst part was when the melee battle turned into a projectile one, and our main 3 did some utterly pointless dance before getting onto Tsugumi in flying halberd form, then successfully dodged the rain of energy Shaula was throwing at them while making no apparent attempt. Seriously, is Shaula blind? At least show Tsugumi bobbing and weaving to avoid her attacks! And of course it came down to a classic Kamehameha who-can-shout-louder battle at the end. After all the pretty martial arts the show featured, it came down to just pushing really really hard. Snore.

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Um, why?

Also, Tsugumi copping out and declaring both Anya and Meme her meisters is bullshit. Yes, I saw it coming, and you probably did too, but it’s still bad and trivializes the stress Tsugumi experienced thinking of choosing one or the other. What does the DWMA administration have to say about this? 2 weapons for 1 meister like Death the Kid with the Thompson sisters makes sense, but I’m curious about their policy on 1 weapon for 2 meisters. That said, the way they got there was pretty great, in Tsugumi resonating with Meme. I’m sick of these power-of-friendship-overcomes-brainwashing battles as much as anyone – I’m pretty sure the regular Soul Eater had at least 1 such battle – but god damn, I loved that it was just Tsugumi singing to Meme. It reminded me of another bit from the main series when the eponymous Soul Eater was playing piano in order to enable some super resonance with Maka and the other characters I think.

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Series End

Soul Eater Not! was an odd beast. I went in thinking it would be an alternate universe version of Soul Eater in which Maka was still the protagonist, but at a fluffier, lighter Death Weapon Meister Academy, but what I got was a prequel/side story featuring all new protagonists. And while it certainly was lighter than the regular series, it never went full cute-girls-doing-cute-things, constantly finding ways to remind us of its surreal and violent setting of Death City, Nevada. It rarely shied away from pulling out an action set piece, the kind we might have seen in the original series.

But the show never focused enough on the fighting to be an action series the same way the main series was. That’s unfortunate, because what action there was was very impressive at times, while the story ended up very messy, a jumble of characters and motivations and conflicts that didn’t quite come together properly. Early on, it looked like Jacqui and Kim might become major supporting characters, but their story was dropped, and they only made token appearances at the climax. Same goes for the Thompson sisters.

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Kim’s ax kick is always nice to see, at least.

The time spent on those side characters would have been better spent fleshing out the main trio of Tsugumi, Meme, and Anya, and the dilemma Tsugumi had in choosing one of them as her meister. There could have been some real drama here: Tsugumi struggling with her feelings for both girls and the meisters trying to rationalize their desire to beat the other with their love for each other. We could have seen them in the class room, each of the meisters taking turns wielding Tsugumi and trying to prove why she deserves to be her partner more than the other one. Despair and bitter jealousy at seeing the other one pulling off something new with Tsugumi, hope and triumph at one-upping that with her own special connection with Tsugumi. It could have been amazing to watch and would have made Tsugumi’s “decision” in the final episode actually seem meaningful.

Instead, we barely saw them in the classroom at all, and any rivalry between the meisters pretty much boiled down to Anya getting tsuntsun over Meme getting too close to Tsugumi. That’s a terrible waste of these characters on whom, by the way, I still don’t feel I have a great grasp. Tsugumi was generic shiny girl while Meme was generic forgetful girl and Anya was generic sheltered princess girl.

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We really needed much more of this before the ending.

Soul Eater Not! was passable. Despite a script that both was poorly paced and didn’t develop the characters sufficiently, the action was good enough to be its saving grace. That said, this is a show I couldn’t in good conscience recommend to anyone. It rarely had that quirky charm of the original series and was content just to be another generic friendship-is-magic show. I didn’t regret watching it, but there are plenty of shows out there that do the same things but better and with more personality.


A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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11 Responses to “Soul Eater Not! – 11-12 [END]”

  1. skylion says:

    I have to agree with you on all counts. It just seemed like they didn’t know what kind of story to tell to satisfy everyone.

    But it was a fun little lark. I really grooved on the OP and ED, two of my favorite pieces of music from the Spring season.

    • lvlln says:

      I did like that OP by the Dancing Dolls a lot. Very bouncy and fun. It reminded me a bit of kz/livetune, who’s done some anime stuff like the C3-bu OP.

      • skylion says:

        …another one of my favorites…

      • Wanderer says:

        You liked the OP, but you didn’t get the message? The OP itself tells you the story of Tsugumi, Anya, and Meme. Tsugumi was never intended to choose one or the other, no matter what people were trying to push her towards. The message the show was telling us; the message the OP was telling us; was for them to defy tradition.

        we won’t be satisfied with the routine future
        we were born to make a new history come true
        there is absolutely no absolute thing in this world
        this road goes on forever as long as we won’t give up

        From the beginning this show hasn’t been about Tsugumi growing together with one girl, but growing stronger with both of them. Because of both of them. This isn’t a “we didn’t want to choose anyone so we had her choose both” cop out. This is the choice the story was aiming for from the beginning.

        • lvlln says:

          I don’t ever see lyrics in the OP as having meaning that supersedes what’s in the actual show itself, especially when the lyrics are fairly generic about fighting routine like in this case. If the lyrics were more specific about the circumstances, we might have something.

      • Highway says:

        It should have reminded you of kz/livetune because that’s who wrote it, proving that any group will sound like Claris if kz/livetune writes the music.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Series grading, Soul Eater Not is averagely passable with a nice cast and good action. Among its apparent flaws, the pacing is a weakness I find myself stressing upon. The entire Shaula incident would’ve been put to better use if brought up right in the middle of the series instead getting pushed towards the end. A weak setup leaving her with pretty much no lasting effect, she was made into a rather forgettable antagonist.

    • lvlln says:

      Oh yeah, Shaula could’ve been so much more. Her character design was fantastic, from those yin-yang eyes, the scorpion-tailed hair, to her simple yet sexy black school uniform. A waste of a role by Ami Koshimizu who is always great to listen to.

  3. Highway says:

    I liked it. I like the light action mixed with slice of life stuff, and thought this was a good example of that. Also, I agree with Wanderer that the point of the worry on Tsugumi’s part, especially, was about fitting into the one meister per weapon paradigm that she ended up breaking, so that wasn’t a cop out ending. If viewed solely as a ‘I can’t pick either of you, so I pick both of you’ thing, it would seem that way, but when framed against the ‘system’, it becomes a much more radical solution.

    • lvlln says:

      But it wasn’t framed “against the system.” This whole plot point was barely developed at all, and one has to really reach with extremely generous interpretations to make it seem not a cop-out.

  4. Overcooled says:

    Tsugumi picking both really was bullshit. What a terrible cop-out! The whole point was that she had to get over herself and pick one. And when she was wielded by both of them it looked so, so awkward…Having 2 weapons like Liz and Patty can work. Having 2 meisters…not really.

    But eh, overall NOT! was okay. It was entertaining and cute with a few hints of actions every now and then to keep things interesting. Definitely makes me miss the original Soul Eater though.

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