Working for the Grim Reaper himself can’t be the easiest job now can it? Which is why he founded a school to… wait… Death runs a school? Sounds a bit iffy for my tastes.
In fact, when I first heard about this show a couple years ago, I wrote it off completely. But having arrived in Region 1 land (and my mailbox) I decided I could at least open it up and take a peek at an episode or two of Soul Eater… I mean, even if I didn’t like it, Bones has made some of my favorite shows, so it won’t be that bad… right?
Soul Eater has packaging that is the norm for Funimation: Two thinpak cases in a soft cardboard box. I like the art choice for the front cover, along with the colors used for the background along with a spray paint motif. It sorta makes the picture ‘lift’ a bit, and having the show’s logo be sideways is a nice touch to allow a nice large logo image. The back has a description of the show and a list of extras that is accurate to what is contained on the DVDs. The paper insert in each thinpak follows the same motif: Character art and show logo vertically on the front, a group shot on the back that you hold the case sideways to view, and on the inside a wide art piece along with an episode list on a color bar at the bottom. The font the episode titles are written in is a bit small, but I can understand having them be small at the bottom so that it doesn’t cover any of the art.
The menus in Soul Eater are quite good. The main menu uses the character art from the front of the inserts and also uses the spray paint motif from the box. Sub-menus also keep the spray paint motif, and the episode selection menu even has a little surprise in that the selector highlight is the episode number. It’s a fun little touch to add to the menu.
Like I said above, so it won’t be that bad right? Well, that is true, because Soul Eater is awesome. I’m inclined to say after finishing the first volume that it’s one of the best shows we will see in 2010 (if not the best.) I honestly haven’t had this much fun watching a show in a long time. Maka and Soul are partners that hunt after evil humans. When people go evil, their souls become demon eggs. Maka fights, and Soul turns into her weapon, a scythe. When they capture a certain number of evil souls (and one witch soul) Soul will turn into a Death Scythe, a weapon for Death himself. And like I said, they go to school at an academy he founded to train Meisters (the one who fights) and their weapons. The first three episodes of the set are actually a prologue used to introduce us to the world and the main characters. Each team has one prologue episode focusing on them, the first episode being Maka and Soul. The second episode focus is on Black Star, a loud mouth who loves being the center of attention, and announcing himself to his enemies, and his weapon partner, Tsubaki, who can switch between various weapon forms, and has the patience of a saint to deal with Black Star. The third episode introduces us to Death the Kid, son of the Grim Reaper. While being one of the more skilled meisters, he has a significant problem. He has obsessive compulsive disorder. And his is very specific. He needs symmetry in his life. If things are off even a bit, he goes nuts, often leaving his weapon partners to fend for themselves while he wanders off to fix the symmetry. Yep, he has two partners. Liz and Patty, two sisters who turn into twin pistols (there’s that symmetry.) There are plenty of other characters, but those are our main characters to watch out for, although the extended cast includes the Grim Reaper himself and a small stack of inherently likable characters. You’ll meet Dr. Franken Stein, who has one of the more amusing entrances you’ll see. You will even get to meet the mighty sword Excalibur.
Soul Eater is amazingly entertaining. It has well done fight scenes, great comedy, and an interesting story. After watching this set, and knowing Adult Swim has a few unannounced shows, I find it almost a guarantee that Soul Eater will be one of them. I can’t find enough good things to say about the series. This is a show everyone needs to watch as soon as they can.
The video on Soul Eater is quite good also. It gets a clean 480p encode. There are rare occasions of visual noise, but most of these are in high energy scenes, and not likely to be noticed while watching the show unless you have your face up near the screen or are looking very hard for them. There are rare occasions of line stuttering also, but once again, this is very rare. Overall lines are generally clean and crisp, and colors rank as some of the most vivid I can recall seeing on a Funimation DVD. Overall a top notch (if not perfect) encode.
The audio is quite good also. English gets a 5.1 Dolby track at 448k and Japanese gets a 2.0 Dolby track at 192k. The only thing worth mentioning here is the English track has a bit more of an ‘oomph’ to it. There isn’t anything wrong with the Japanese track, but there definitely seems to be more bass on the English track, when the opening theme is playing you can feel it in your chest a bit. Good audio track either way though.
The dub may actually be one of my favorite dubs of all time thus far. Every character sounds fantastic. The only character I was iffy on at first was Black Star, but once you realize his personality, the voice matches perfectly. Everyone does a fantastic job, and one of the newer voice actors, Micah Solusod, likely will quickly gain more leading roles if his performance as Soul is anything to go by. Definitely a dub worth listening to, and I’m going to restate my belief that this dub will likely end up on Adult Swim soon.
The show even has a few extras. First up is a single episode commentary. The commentary has dub director Zach Bolton, Laura Bailey (Maka), and Micah Solusod (Soul.) Up next we have the standard clean intro and outtro. I quite enjoy the intro, which is a high energy song by T.M. Revolution. Last up we have the Soul Eater Late Show. There is one of these for each episode of the series, which adds up to basically a full episode’s worth of ‘content.’ These are silly shorts that reuse footage from the show, often promising that the next Late Show will be ‘good’ and have small jokes relating both to the episode they are paired with and the series as a whole. They also feature small pieces of artwork and photographs by the cast and crew which is both fun and strange to see sometimes (photograph of someone’s omelette in an extra…bit weird…) The extras aren’t in depth, but they are definitely more than we expect from most anime releases.
I’ve said it numerous times in the review thus far but once again, this is a fantastic show in every way. It’s funny, it has action, it has well written characters. I really don’t have anymore to say about the show because I can only repeat myself so many times. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of the better selling anime titles of 2010, and is likely the first truly great show released this year.
Show: A+ (A fantastic show all around, I can’t recommend it more.)
Packaging: B+ (Nice packaging with an interesting motif, but nothing special.)
Video Quality: A- (Good video quality. A few flaws pop up, but I don’t see them being noticed to often during watching, especially when upscaled on an HDTV which will hide some of those artifacts.)
Audio Quality: B+ (Good quality audio all around. The English track has a bit more punch to it.)
English Dub: A (A truly great dub that is well cast and well acted by everyone involved..)
Extras: B (More than we expect on most anime DVDs, but nothing mind-blowing.)
Overall (not an average): A+ (The show is fun, through and through. Any minor problems the disk may or may not have based on each person and their ability to notice flaws gets wiped away watching Soul Eater, because the show is just that enjoyable. Absolutely a must see.)
Gallery and copyright information under ad. All caps are lossless PNGs taken in MPC-HC, feel free to request more. (Caps are sized 853×480 so as to display properly on computer monitors, they were modified to this resolution via Photoshop CS4 as MPC-HC takes screen captures at 720×480 on the disc. Having the caps be 853×480 makes them appear at the properly intended aspect ratio.)
This show was reviewed using a screener in retail packaging.