The opening panel of this manga is a rear-end shot of a man in a leather thong bending over.
I just thought you should know that.
Most manga series feature a principle cast of one or two protagonists, and the cast is expanded with supporting characters gradually, in a linear fashion, as the story unfolds. Soul Eater features a pretty large principle cast which is thrown at the reader all at once. The cast is as large as it is because each hero’s weapon is also an additional character unto itself, which appears as a human and only takes form as a weapon during combat. One weapon meister even carries two weapons, so that’s a total of three characters required just so one guy can shoot his guns.
In light of that, how many Soul Eater characters does it take to screw in a light bulb? I shudder to think of it. I’d wager one for the light bulb, one for the stepping stool, one to do the proverbial screwing, and one ditzy witch attached to two humongous boobs included for self-explanatory reasons. So is that four characters? Or six? I lost count.
Getting back on track, volume #1 of this series is structured as three separate short stories – each devoted to a singular weapon meister and his/her weapon(s), followed by a fourth chapter where these characters all cross paths. All joking aside, this is a pretty clever way to present a story. The weapon meister/demon weapon partnerships offer a unique dynamic which would not be present with just seven individual characters thrown together. Granted, it’s often still just an excuse for female characters to dole out bruises when their male partners get nosebleeds peeping at other female cast members, but the partnerships still make things interesting.
For example, we’re used to every manga story having one bull-headed obnoxious shonen-type protagonist taking center stage – what’s supposed to happen when you tell a bunch of manga stories in a row, then put all those characters together at once? Can a single story really handle that many boys doing their dumbest at trying their best on a single mission? In all fairness Soul Eater is really not that shamelessly shonen and it’s actually the heroines (whether they be the weapon or the weapon meister) which end up driving things in this series. Of course whether or not that fact is just a sly method of maximizing the opportunity for cleavage and panty shots is up to you.
Um, yeah…so far Soul Eater is not bad. Atsuhi Ohkubo’s art is arguably more polished, rounded, and palatable in Soul Eater than in B. Ichi. Overall the series is more conventional and could come off a bit clichéd to the more jaded manga veteran, though this probably makes it more accessible to casual readers. There are a lot of characters to keep things fresh, and things move at a rapid pace to keep things from getting boring. Keep an eye on this one.
Story and Art: Atsuhi Ohkubo
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen