Anime Review | Soul Eater NOT! Complete Series Collection (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 16.10.2016

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Soul Eater NOT! Complete Series Collection (UK Rating: 15)

While the original Soul Eater series followed the students of the Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA), made up of "Demon Weapons," those who can transform their bodies into weapons and the students trained to use them, the Meisters, NOT! is a prequel to the original. It follows Tsugumi Harudori, a 14-year-old girl who wakes to find her death weapon powers have awakened and that she can transform into a halberd. She, too, enrols in the DWMA, but is enrolled in the junior "NOT" class where the students live a much more peaceful life, learning just to control their powers. The students quickly find life in Death City is more dangerous than they hoped as a witch with a sting in her tail brings a new threat to the class and Tsugumi's new friends. This complete series collection from Manga Entertainment contains all 12 episodes in both English and Japanese and is out for release on 17th October.

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It's appropriate that the story is based around characters in the "NOT" class instead of the "EAT" class students. NOT students are dedicated to learning and mastering their abilities while EAT students are dedicated to combat. The show itself is certainly more a slice-of-life style story compared to the shonen action of the original. Most of the series is made up of Tsugumi living out her day-to-day life, making friends and adapting to living at the school. Tsugumi is a daemon weapon and so needs to find herself a Meister to wield her, and while she initially fantasises about how all of the male students would fight and clamour to become her partner, she actually ends up torn between two different female Meisters who both want to be paired up with her.

This trio is the heart of the story. Tsugumi is a pretty unremarkable and forgettable protagonist, but her prospective partners are interesting, at least. First up is Meme Tatane, an always happy girl who suffers from memory problems, not only unable to remember her past, but also often losing pieces of her short-term memory. Secondly there is Anya Hepburn, a rich and spoilt blonde haired princess who has trouble understanding the new "commoners" in her life. The supporting cast has some interesting characters, especially a girl named Kim who actually turns out to be a witch, but this plot thread really doesn't get enough time to develop. Being a prequel to the original series, some of the best characters in the supporting cast are actually from the original who cameo throughout the series.

The original Soul Eater captured a cool gothic Burton-esque style aesthetic, filled with memorable characters. Black Star was an anime ninja cool enough to give Naruto a run for his money, Maka rocked a stylish plaid skirt with trench coat combo, and there's no-one quite like Death the Kid. The kids of DWMA, the faculty staff, and the villains all shared some superb and memorable designs. The character designs of NOT are quite pedestrian in comparison; simple looking with little to make them stand out, that is with the exception of the antagonist of the series, a witch named Shaula Gorgon who has a penchant for scorpions.


 
Unlike many anime adaptations of manga series, NOT! doesn't just adapt the first arc of the story and leave the following arcs in hopes of a second series, instead taking the entirety of the story and cutting huge swathes from the middle, removing tons of plot points and even entire characters. There's much more to this story in the manga and the complete collection is available in five English volumes. Any who enjoyed this series would be wise to pick these up from Viz Media.

As with most Manga Entertainment releases, this collection comes with the usual trailers and clean opening/closing, but there are also some extra features - two episodes receiving commentary tracks with directors and voice actors from the show and there's also a special feature entitled "Soul Eater Whoops." A familiar bonus for movies, this is something of a gag reel as the English dubbing team's flubbed lines are played over the show. It's surprising how well this works and delivers more funny moments than the actual comedy in the show.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Just like the protagonist here, every aspect of Soul Eater NOT! feels… average. The soundtrack and voice acting in both English and Japanese are serviceable, the visuals are okay, and the story is entertaining. All in all, it's enjoyable enough and definitely worth watching for fans of Soul Eater, but, sadly, it just cannot live up to its predecessor.

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