Thursday, December 4

Death Becomes Them

It's like Harry Potter... with SCYTHES.

What is it with entertainment and its fascination with DEATH? There are quite a lot of movies, comics and anime that have a big focus on the Grim Reaper, the Great Beyond, Davy Jones' Locker and What Have You. Meet Joe Black, Death Note, Bleach... maybe its an unconscious way for us to be desensitized towards dying. I mean, if Death was a hot albino Goth chick, you wouldn't be that afraid now, would you?

Anyway, such matters aside, my latest anime fixation is yet another title that deals with death. Soul Eater is an action anime based on the manga by Atsushi Okubo and produced by Studio Bones and Square Enix of Japan. It's all about the adventures of students of the Shinigami Weapon Meister Vocational School, or Shibusen for short. Think of it like Hogwarts, complete with gangs of young students and oddball teachers... but instead of wands and brooms (although you might find such wizardly things around), you're more likely to find them swinging katana or even brandishing high caliber firepower. Shibusen specializes in the training of humans who have the ability to turn into weapons(!) and the ones who will actually wield them in battle. Their targer- other humans who are so evil that they have been turned into demonic beings known as the Eggs of the Demon God. As the story goes, any such Egg-head has the capacity to eventually turn into the Demon God, or Kishin, himself, and lay waste to the world. To prevent that crisis from happening is the ultimate goal of Shibusen, it's headmaster Shinigami (a comical Grim Reaper Himself) and the three groups of heroes upon which the series revolves.

The main heroes of Soul-Eater are the members of three groups of Weapons and Meisters (Masters). Maka Albam seems to be the main heroine; a long-legged, cute and over-achieving young girl whose specialty is using a nasty scythe. Her weapon parter is Soul Eater Evan, or Soul for short, a spiky-haired and spiky-toothed teen for whom being cool is top priority. Maka and Soul seem to be total opposites (she's serious and driven, he's cynical and laidback), but they're a pretty good team particularly because they care for each other selflessly.

The second team is the ninja duo of the Meister Black Star and his walking Ninja Arsenal, Tsubaki Nakatsukasa. Black Star is yet another spiky-haired shorty, albeit a ninja warrior of great potential power. Unfortunately he's also got the world's biggest ego and he can't seem to resist announcing to the world his entrance before diving into combat, often with disastrous results. Though he can make even Naruto cringe, he's inexplicably likeable, and no one can resist the cuteness and undying patience of the lovely, long-suffering Tsubaki.

Finally, there's the team of Death the Kid and his twin pistols, Liz and Patti Thompson. Death the Kid, or 'Kid' is, literally, Shinigami's son- the fruit of the Grim Reaper's loins. He's dignified, slick, mannered and... possessed of the most severe case of Obsessive Compulsive disorder ever. Totally consumed by the idea of symmetry, just seeing anything uneven or imbalanced can send him into convulsions. Thankfully, his two Weapons, the ditzy Patti and the level-headed Liz, can usually reign in his bouts of disorder depression. Despite being technically a God of Death himself, Kid has decided to slog it along with the other student Meisters of Shibusen to hunt down evil souls and keep the Kishin from reemerging.

Soul Eater is a pretty funny, often light-hearted show with some pretty impressive art and animation quality, fluid action scenes and some wild characters. The world is a wacky mix of fantasy and reality, a stylized battlefield where Meisters and their Weapons hunt down evil souls based on real world villains (Jack the Ripper and Al Capone have already been found and Eaten) and do battle with mysterious and powerful witches dedicated to causing chaos in the world. But deep down, it's also about teen angst, growing pains, friendship and family. With Scythes.

So if you're looking for a cool action anime title to get into, you may want to check out Soul Eater at your local anime dealer.