Soul Eater (manga)
Soul Eater (Japanese: ソウルイーター Hepburn: Sōru Ītā) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Atsushi Ōkubo. Set at the "Death Weapon Meister Academy", the series revolves around three teams, each consisting of a weapon meister and (at least one) weapon that can transform into a humanoid. Trying to make the latter a "death scythe" and thus fit for use by the academy's headmaster Shinigami, the personification of death, they must collect the souls of 99 evil humans and one witch, in that order; otherwise, they will have to start all over again.
Cover of the first Japanese manga volume featuring Maka (right), Soul (bottom-left) and Blair (top-left).
|Written by||Atsushi Ōkubo|
|Published by||Square Enix|
|Magazine||Monthly Shōnen Gangan|
|Original run||May 12, 2004 – August 12, 2013|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Takuya Igarashi|
|Produced by||Aya Yoshino
|Written by||Akatsuki Yamatoya|
|Music by||Taku Iwasaki|
|Original network||TXN (TV Tokyo), AT-X|
|Original run||April 7, 2008 – March 30, 2009|
|Soul Eater: Monotone Princess|
|Released||September 25, 2008|
|Soul Eater: Plot of Medusa|
|Developer||Namco Bandai Games|
|Publisher||Namco Bandai Games|
|Released||October 23, 2008|
|Soul Eater: Battle Resonance|
|Developer||Namco Bandai Games|
|Publisher||Namco Bandai Games|
|Released||January 29, 2009|
The manga is published by Square Enix and was first released as three separate one-shots serialized in two Gangan Powered special editions and one Gangan Wing in 2003. The manga started regular serialization in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan manga magazine from May 12, 2004 to August 12, 2013. The manga has been licensed for distribution in North America by Yen Press. The English translated version of Soul Eater is serialized in Yen Press' Yen Plus manga anthology magazine starting in July 2008, and the first manga volume was released in October 2009. A manga series that runs alongside the main series, titled Soul Eater Not!, began serialization in Monthly Shōnen Gangan on January 12, 2011.
A single drama CD was produced on August 31, 2005 which came bundled with an art book. A 51-episode anime adaptation produced by Bones aired on TV Tokyo in Japan from April 2008 to March 2009; Funimation licensed the anime series for North American distribution. An action-adventure video game by Square Enix for the Wii was released in September 2008, and an action video game for the Nintendo DS was released in October 2008. Another action game was released in January 2009 on the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable.
Soul Eater is set at Death Weapon Meister Academy (死神武器職人専門学校 Shinigami Buki Shokunin Senmon Gakkō)—"DWMA" (死武専 Shibusen) for short—located in the fictional Death City in Nevada, United States. The school is run by Shinigami, also known as Death, as a training facility for humans with the ability to transform into weapons, as well as the wielders of those weapons, called meisters (職人 shokunin). Attending this school are meister Maka Albarn and her scythe partner Soul Eater; assassin Black Star and his partner Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, who can turn into weapons such as a kusarigama, shuriken, and ninjatō; and Shinigami's son Death the Kid and his pistol partners Liz and Patty Thompson. The goal of the school's meister students is to have their weapons defeat and absorb the souls of 99 evil humans and one witch, which will dramatically increase the power of the weapon and turn them into "death scythes", weapons capable of being used by Shinigami.
Shortly after the start of Soul Eater, Maka and Soul Eater face off against the witch Medusa, who forces her child Crona, meister of the demon sword Ragnarok, to collect non-evil human souls and begin the journey to transform into a kishin (鬼神), an evil god. Medusa and her cohorts attack DWMA with the intention of reviving Asura, the first kishin who nearly plunged the entire world into madness before being sealed beneath DWMA by Shinigami. Despite the combined efforts of Maka, Black Star, and Death the Kid, Medusa's group successfully revives Asura, who leaves to spread chaos around the world after a brief battle with Shinigami. However, Medusa is seemingly killed by meister and DWMA teacher Franken Stein in the process, while Crona surrenders to the DWMA and goes on to enroll there and befriend Maka.
As a result of Asura's spreading madness, Medusa's older sister Arachne comes out of hiding after 800 years. Arachne reforms her organization Arachnophobia, which poses itself as a serious threat to DWMA. Shinigami calls in death scythes from around the world to aid in the fight against Arachnophobia. During this time, Medusa reappears with her soul in the body of a girl, and forms a truce with DWMA so they can annihilate the threat of Arachnophobia together. The DWMA students and Medusa's entourage infiltrate Arachnophobia's headquarters where Maka defeats Arachne, only for Medusa to betray DWMA, possess Arachne's body, and brainwash Crona into rejoining her. Meanwhile, Death the Kid is captured by Noah, an artificial construct created from the Book of Eibon's Tables of Contents. Following this, Maka finally succeeds in turning Soul Eater into a death scythe. The duo become part of the newly formed meister unit Spartoi along with their friends, who rescue Death the Kid and defeat Noah (Greed), though a new Noah (Wrath) is created by the arcane power of the Book of Eibon thanks to its Tables of Contents.
While DWMA searches for Asura's whereabouts, Crona resurfaces in a city in Russia, destroying it and killing the death scythe stationed there, finally being taken by insanity after killing Medusa. Maka is ordered by Shinigami to hunt down Crona, and while searching for Crona with her powers, she inadvertently discovers Asura's location on the moon. The DWMA launches an attack on the moon to take down Asura, just to be repelled by his Clown armies. Maka and the others manage to take the upper hand helped by the witches after Death the Kid successfully convinces them to establish a temporary alliance, but the situation gets even more chaotic with the interference of Crona, who absorbs Asura's body before being overtaken by him. In the end, Maka, Kid and Black Star, along their weapons, return Crona to their senses, defeat and imprison Asura in a decisive battle on the Moon and return on Earth, with Death the Kid becoming the new Shinigami in place of his deceased father and establishing a peace treaty with the witches.
After the end of his first manga series, B.Ichi, Atsushi Ōkubo created a one-shot story called "Soul Eater" published in Gangan Powered. Japanese readers were so fascinated by it that Ōkubo created two other one-shots called "Black Star" and "Death the Kid". Since the results were high, the editor of Gangan Comics asked Ōkubo to create a series from his one-shots which became the introductory chapters to Soul Eater.
In an interview, Ōkubo stated that the series was greatly inspired by ideas from Tim Burton's animations, and by concepts from Harry Potter. Ōkubo also stated he made the hero (or heroine) of the series, Maka, a female to differ from the traditional male hero found in most shōnen manga. He also said the series' title, Soul Eater, was intended to refer to Asura and his desire to eat innocent souls, and not to the character, Soul. Ōkubo has explained that, when he began Soul Eater, he already had the plot and details like the DWMA fully formed and shared with his editors. He thought too many manga had characters who were developed through flashbacks, which he considered too clever. Therefore, he decided to develop his characters in the present rather than referring to their pasts, and to focus on "action and momentum," so he could "write freely."
Soul Eater began as a manga series written and illustrated by Atsushi Ōkubo. The manga initially began as three separate one-shots serialized between June 24, 2003 and November 26, 2003 across two manga magazines published by Square Enix: first in the summer 2003 special edition of Gangan Powered, followed by the autumn 2003 special edition of the same magazine, and finally in Gangan Wing. The manga was serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan manga magazine between the June 2004 issue sold on May 12, 2004 and the September 2013 issue sold on August 12, 2013. Square Enix compiled the series into 25 tankōbon volumes released under their Gangan Comics imprint in Japan between June 22, 2004 and December 12, 2013. The manga has been licensed by Yen Press for distribution in English in North America. The manga was initially serialized in Yen Press' Yen Plus anthology magazine; the first issue went on sale on July 29, 2008. The first English volume of the manga was sold on October 27, 2009.
Another manga series which runs alongside the main series, titled Soul Eater Not! (ソウルイーターノット! Sōru Ītā Notto!), began serialization in the February 2011 issue of Monthly Shōnen Gangan sold on January 12, 2011. Soul Eater Not! is licensed by Yen Press, and it is released in English simultaneously. The first tankōbon volume was released on September 22, 2011, and as of July 21, 2012, two volumes had been released.
A drama CD was released on August 31, 2005 by Square Enix titled Soul Eater (Vol. 1): Special Social Studies Field Trip (ソウルイーター(Vol.1)特別社会科見学 Sōru Ītā (Vol. 1) Tokubetsu Shakaika Kengaku). The CD came bundled with an art book and a script of the CD dialogue. Of the cast used for the drama CD, only Black Star's voice actress Yumiko Kobayashi was retained for the anime voice cast.
A 51-episode anime adaptation was directed by Takuya Igarashi and produced by Bones, Aniplex, Dentsu, Media Factory, and TV Tokyo; Bones and Aniplex were responsible for the animation and music production respectively. The scenario writer was Akatsuki Yamatoya who based the anime's story on Atsushi Ōkubo original concept. Character design was headed by Yoshiyuki Ito, with overall art direction by Norifumi Nakamura. The anime's conceptual design was done by Shinji Aramaki.
The episodes aired on TV Tokyo between April 7, 2008 and March 30, 2009, and two animated specials aired on May 29 and June 1, 2008. The episodes aired at later dates on TV Aichi, TV Hokkaido, TV Osaka, TV Setouchi, and TVQ Kyushu Broadcasting Co. The anime was regularly broadcast Mondays at 6:00 pm on TV Tokyo. The official Japanese website of the Soul Eater anime series announced that each episode would air in two versions: the regular Monday 6:00 pm version and a late-night Soul Eater Late Show version. Special footage was added at the start and end of the commercial break; the next episode preview was different from the regular version. The dual broadcast of this supernatural action series was billed as the "world's first evening and late-night resonance broadcast." The "resonance" term refers to a story concept in which the characters, such as the heroine Maka and her living weapon partner Soul Eater, achieve maximum power by synchronizing their souls. The first DVD compilation volume was released on August 22, 2008 with the first three episodes. The second DVD compilation volume was released on September 25, 2008 with episodes four through seven. Each DVD volume was released in monthly intervals. The anime was licensed by Funimation, who released the series in four half-season DVD box sets starting with the first volume in February 2010.
MTV Portugal premiered Soul Eater on February 1, 2010. In the Philippines, Soul Eater aired in a Tagalog version over the cable channel Hero TV from April to June 2010. The anime made its North American television debut when it aired on the Funimation Channel on September 6, 2010; it aired on Adult Swim's Toonami block in North America from February 17, 2013. The series is being rebroadcast by TV Tokyo under the title Soul Eater: Repeat Show (ソウルイーター リピートショー Sōru Ītā Ripīto Shō) as of September 30, 2010, featuring new opening and closing themes. It was broadcast in Italy on Rai 4 between September 2, 2010 and September 8, 2011. An anime adaptation of Soul Eater Not! aired in 2014.
Three Soul Eater video games were produced. The first, Soul Eater: Monotone Princess (ソウルイーター モノトーン プリンセス Sōru Ītā Monotōn Purinsesu), is an action-adventure video game exclusively for the Wii and developed by Square Enix with Bones. It was released on September 25, 2008 in Japan. Two characters that appear in the game, Grimoire (グリモア Gurimoa) and Ponera (ポネラ), are original characters designed by author Atsushi Ōkubo; Ponera is the titular Monotone Princess and Grimoire is known as Noah in the manga. A soundtrack called Shibusen's Treasure "Campus Broadcast Music Complete Works" (死武専秘蔵「校内放送楽曲大全」) was released as a pre-order bonus CD. This game is only compatible with Japanese Wii systems. The player has the option to play as any of the main characters: Soul Eater, Maka Albarn, Black Star, Tsubaki, Death the Kid, Liz, and Patty. This game also reveals two never before seen characters.
The second game, Soul Eater: Plot of Medusa (ソウルイーター メデューサの陰謀 Sōru Ītā Medyūsa no Inbō), is an action game produced by Namco Bandai Games for the Nintendo DS and was released on October 23, 2008. Despite being created by two different companies, there are similarities between the Nintendo Wii game and the Nintendo DS game. It is a third-person hack-and-slash game.
The third game, Soul Eater: Battle Resonance (ソウルイーター バトルレゾナンス Sōru Ītā Batoru Rezonansu), is a fighting game developed by BEC and produced by Namco Bandai Games for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, and was released on January 29, 2009. This game follows the story line of the first 24 episodes of the anime series and allows the player to engage in the training and battles the characters experienced first hand. Along with new costumes and items, the player gets to experience the minds and wardrobes of each playable character.
Six pieces of theme music are used for the episodes: two opening themes and four closing themes. The first opening theme is "Resonance" by T.M.Revolution for the first 30 episodes, and the single was released on June 11, 2008. The second opening theme is "Papermoon" by Tommy heavenly6 from episode 31 onward; the single was released on December 10, 2008 by DefStar Records. The first closing theme is "I Wanna Be" by Stance Punks for the first 13 episodes and the 51 episode; the single was released on June 4, 2008. The second closing theme is "Style" by Kana Nishino from episode 14 to 26; the single was released on August 13, 2008 by Sony Music Entertainment Japan. The third closing theme is "Bakusō Yume Uta" (爆走夢歌) by Soul'd Out's Diggy-Mo from episode 27 to 39; the single was released on November 26, 2008 by Sony Music Entertainment Japan. The final closing theme is "Strength" by Abingdon Boys School from episode 40 through episode 50; the single was released on February 25, 2009. The anime rebroadcasting features two additional opening and closing themes. The first opening is "Counter Identity" by Unison Square Garden, released in autumn 2010, and the first ending is "Ao no Kaori" (碧の香り) by Yui Makino, released on November 10, 2010. The second opening is "Ai ga Hoshii yo" (愛がほしいよ) by Shion Tsuji, released on March 9, 2011, and "Northern Lights" by How Merry Marry.
The first character song maxi single sung by Chiaki Omigawa (Maka) and Kōki Uchiyama (Soul) was released on August 6, 2008 by Aniplex. The second single by Yumiko Kobayashi (Black Star) and Kaori Nazuka (Tsubaki) was released on September 3, 2008, and the third single by Mamoru Miyano (Kid), Akeno Watanabe (Liz), and Narumi Takahira (Patty) was released on October 1, 2008. Composed and produced by Taku Iwasaki, two CD soundtracks have been released for the Soul Eater anime series. Soul Eater Original Soundtrack 1 was released on August 27, 2008 with 20 tracks, and Soul Eater Original Soundtrack 2 was released on March 18, 2009 with 22 tracks by Aniplex. The theme song for Soul Eater: Monotone Princess is "Soul's Crossing" sung by T.M.Revolution, and is included on the "Resonance" single.
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Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Charles Solomon ranked the series the sixth best anime on his "Top 10". Jacob Hope Chapman of Anime News Network describes the series as "dark but lively, visually imaginative, explosive great fun."
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- Manga official website (in Japanese)
- Anime official website (in Japanese)
- Soul Eater at TV Tokyo (in Japanese)
- Soul Eater: Monotone Princess video game official website (in Japanese)
- Soul Eater: Plot of Medusa video game official website (in Japanese)
- Soul Eater: Battle Resonance video game official website (in Japanese)
- Soul Eater anime at Funimation
- Soul Eater (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia