Soul Eater Episode 1

Maka and her scythe, Soul Eater Evans, have to capture 99 souls and one witch’s soul in order to turn Soul Eater into a full Deathscythe. We join them as they are about to capture their 99th human soul. Acting as something of a greek chorus to these events are the Grim Reaper and his Deathscythe, Maka’s estranged father. You see, in the world of Soul Eater people turn into weapons, and the physical embodiment of death performs manzai routines with his scythe.

Yes, it’s another show that taps into kids’ love of personifying death. Is Yu Yu Hakusho the origin of this theme in manga and anime? Or is there something that came before that? I can see links to Go Nagai and Ishimori works in the general structure of these stories, but is there a predecessor to the whole teenage agent of the afterlife thing?

Director Takuya Igarashi does a really good job with the material from Atsushi Okubo’s manga. The story is fairly standard shonen fare, as is the humour. What Igarashi does is bring alive and embelish Okubo’s great design work. As with Igarashi’s Ouran Host Club anime, he takes the art and improves it for animation. The blacks are drawn out and exaggerated, and the colours made more vivid. Also the stand-up/manzai influenced comedy delivery that Ouran had is brought back here, making the most of fairly weak gags, and now it’s alongside the typically accomplished action scenes that Bones are known for. All in all it’s shaping up to be another slick, solid product from Bones.

AN ASIDE: I’ve seen the design compared to Tim Burton, but while that’s a fair comparison, I can’t help thinking there’s a more direct, if more obscure, reference to be made. The grotesque grinning moon and sun remind me of Ian Miller and John Blanche’s artwork, but I’m sure they are drawing on something too. While moons and suns with faces seem to be something wired into the human mind to see, I’m sure the actual nature of the grotesquery is a reference to something my ignorance of art history is preventing me putting a name too.