Anime Reporter keeps the Shinigami train going with Soul Eater manga Volumes 21-22.
As this series seems to do with great joy, Volume 20 ended with quite a few jaw-dropping twists, so anyone less than up to speed should check out an earlier Soul Eater review here.
As for the rest of us, we can march proudly onwards, safe in the knowledge that Darth Vader was Keyser Soze’s clone the entire time. That and the rather abrupt thing that happened with Crona, Medusa and a rather sharp implement. Things continue with much of the frenzied pace that they left off at.
Volume twenty one sees the junior agents of Spartoi having a hard time coming to terms with their newest mission. Maka, Soul and the supporting artists are given the unfortunate task of killing Crona, which seems to come as a massive shock to everyone despite Crona’s recent habit of mass murder and the fact that there was never really much of a reason to trust Crona (I’m not at all sure what gender I should be using). Indeed, despite the fact that all of the main characters, children included, are part of an organisation dedicated to killing people and taking their souls, everyone is just a little too hung up on the fact that Maka might have to kill her friend. This, of course, also following on the heels of several betrayals at the hands of long-time allies Medusa and Justin from within the organisation. It’s also worth pointing out that Maka’s friendship with Crona was something which Maka announced as a means of getting Crona to stop trying to kill her please, thank you very much, and Crona’s status as an ally lasted about a week. Really, the series spends just a little bit too much energy trying to remind readers of Maka’s strong bond with Crona, when it could have perhaps put more effort into convincing us of it in the first place.
The second, and long-awaited, plotline follows a team of meisters and weapons ready to take the fight to Kishin, who has just been located… on the severely creepy looking moon. There’s a lot of build up to this mission, but unfortunately, when it arrives, it becomes another example of the repeated battles which is the series is proving to be less and less imaginative with. Indeed, Death the Kid’s main antagonist for the majority of Volume 22 is a powerful woman who insists on stripping naked, revealing either some very strategically placed tattoos or some incredibly ornate underwear. Either way, her nudity is not only blatant, but also a major feature of the conversation throughout the fight.
We’re also treated to Stein once again battling with his insanity as he and several Death Scythes are also in the lunar fray. With Stein’s sanity issues being raised since almost the beginning of the series, it’s a little frustrating how slowly this and many other heavily alluded plot points are taking to bear any reasonable amount of fruit. Volume 22 features a lot of events and a lot of fighting, but not much in the way of plot advancement. Characters are moved around without very many consequences. It may also be a little frustrating for some readers who are not familiar with Soul Eater’s sister title, Soul Eater Not!, as many characters from this series are introduced to the story as major players with little explanation.
What’s more, the insanity and evil which Kishin is reportedly sending out into the world, is all too often being used as a means of “powering up” for the good guys as much as villains without any discernible consequences. Characters can fall prey to madness and then return to themselves very quickly, all the while assuring each other of how terrible this madness is and several seem able to harness it at will through black blood. This, more than anything, is what lets the series down. Factors such as Crona’s betrayal and the ogre inside Soul Eater’s subconscious were plot which implied a lot when they first occurred but have only dragged on without developing satisfactorily. Soul Eater ends as a series with Volume 25 and it’s going to feel like a bit of a cheat whether so many of the things teased early on wither away without consequence or only develop at the eleventh hour. The more Soul Eater presses on, the slower it progresses and the less that earlier plot developments seem to have mattered.
Soul Eater Volumes 21 and 22 move the plot forward by a few inches, reminding readers of the big bad villain with the incredibly vague evil plans before returning us to very much the same story in new locations. Volumes 21 and 22 are currently available in English from Yen Press media, though Volume 23 won’t be available until November 2014.
Plot Development: 3
Character Development: 3
50% – “Deflating” – Soul Eater gears up towards a final confrontation or two, but with another three volumes to go before the series’ end, things will need to pick up in speed and quality just to break even with how it started out.