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Soul Eater #4 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Friday, 28 January 2011 00:00
Soul EaterIt's the final instalment of Soul Eater. With Soul give in to his inner demon? Will Death be able to deal, well, death to the Kishin? Will Maka and Crona get to deliver some well-deserved comeuppance to Medusa? Read on and find out...

So far at least, Medusa's the model prisoner - although Maka's one hundred percent convinced that she can't be trusted. She's also holding her treatment of Crona against her, and would very much like to take out some of her frustration - if only she were allowed to. Death, meanwhile, is pondering what to do with her. A witch with her powers is a tricky thing, they'd already thought they'd killed her once before, so how to handle her now? With Dr Stein sinking deeper into madness every moment, though, and Medusa's thoughts embedded in his head thanks to Crona, Medusa may not be a prisoner for much longer. Arachne and the Kishin, meanwhile, face imminent attack by the DWMA. And I'm not just talking about its staff and students...

Lots of territory for the twelve episodes in this set to cover, then, as the series positively races towards its finale - and it's fair to say that some people get a little short-changed as the show attempts to tie up all its separate storylines in one go. On the plus side, though, that speedy pacing means that the battles - and there are plenty of them - positively whizz by. This is one release that won't leave you with a chance to get bored.

First up is Crona and Marie (with later help from Maka) versus Medusa and Stein. This is the big grudge match - Medusa's treatment of Crona and Stein means that both Crona and Marie have major reasons to positively hate her, and with Marie not fighting just for vengeance but also to get back the Stein she loves there's quite a bit a stake. Their problem, of course, is that Medusa is occupying the body of an innocent young girl, and however they deal with the world's most powerful witch, they somehow have to keep the girl within intact. Cue tactical difficulties. This battle also gives us another chance to get inside Stein's head, which is a strange and worrying place under the influence of the Kishin's madness and Medusa's snakes - this is probably the best part of the battle, while it lasts, as it's positively surreal in places and done in a way that makes the background art very important to pay attention to. A great start to the set.

Phase 2 is a little less subtle and psychological, as the DWMA takes on Arachnophobia, Arachne and the Kishin. This is where Death's search for the various Magic Tools comes into play, as he uses them to turn Death City itself into a giant walking robot - a scene that had me sniggering quietly to myself up to the point where it reached Arachne's hideout and "dealt with" the Kishin in a rather unusual style. At that point, I was laughing out loud. As ever where Death is involved, going over the top is the order of the day, and with Death's every move accompanied by Excalibur's trademark "Fools!" comment (he hitches a ride in the Death City control room, unfortunately), it's hard to take this part of the set seriously - and that's just fine, as the segments either side of it are serious. Too much angst / fighting / heartache is a bad thing, and the Death City Robot is as good a way of lightening the tone as any. It also comes at just the right time. Clever thinking.

But ultimately, it all comes down to the Kishin, Maka and Soul - or perhaps more accurately, Soul's inner demon, the little red dude, who's becoming a bigger issue (and, not coincidentally, just bigger) as time goes on. This has been flagged as an issue for a while - every time Soul has started tapping on his Big Piano o' Doom, there's been a possibility that Soul would lose control of himself. Here, that finally happens, and it's Maka who gets to pick up the mess - she's his partner, his friend, and the person who understands him the most, after all. The process is split up with scenes in the "real world", where BlackStar and Kid try to keep thew Kishin at bay on their own, and scenes that take part literally in Soul's head, where Maka tries to drag him back from being wrapped up in himself. Again, it's great stuff.

In between all this, there are short scenes and battles featuring the other DWMA students, and this is why the feel shortchanged. BlackStar and Kid, in particular are characters that we've spent a lot of time with over the course of Soul Eater (along with their partners, of course), but they're just given token missions here and necer really get the chance to shine on their own. It's all, ultimately, about Maka and Soul. Another problem is the number of times someone is apparently defeated, only to miraculously come back from the dead. This is the battle for the fate of the world, people, where even Death is just about ripped to shreds - but you know that there's no chance of the dead staying that way, and that sucks a lot of the suspense out of things. It's never a case of if the villains will be defeated, only when. Call me morbid, but when the stakes are as high as they're portrayed to be in Soul Eater, I like a little death added to the mix. As opposed to Death, who we already have plenty of.

With all that said, though, Soul Eater has turned out to be one of my favourite recent shows - very unexpected, given its origins. With a short run (compared to the likes of Naruto and Bleach, anyway) it's remained focussed throughout, with its sizeable cast all given their share of screentime and character development, so that by the time the final confrontation comes around you feel as though you know how they all tick. Characters are key to any series, and Soul Eater's are a great bunch. Add in a complex and multi-faceted story, and there genuinely is a lot to like about it - and this volume sees the series out with a suitable bang. Well worth seeing.

Rating - ****