Sunday, December 13, 2015

Soul Eater NOT! Review

Soul Eater NOT! Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the show Soul Eater NOT!. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

Soul Eater has been an ongoing pursuit for me over the past few years. I'm about halfway into it, and while I plan on finishing it someday down the road, I don't have any interest to do it now. While the animation is really good and the action can be intense, I have a slight issue with the characters. Even though I do like most of them, I find that they haven't really grown or matured that much as the series has gone on. Soul Eater is mainly saved for long car trips on the road for me, which actually works well.

I was surprised to find out that there was a prequel to the series written after that anime ended, and while the original manga was still going on, I was curious to watch it to see how it would fare, even when I saw nothing but hate for it due to it being nothing like Soul Eater along with animation problems. But then again, if you think about it, the title is very ironic. Soul Eater NOT! is pretty much everything Soul Eater isn't. It's more slice of life than action based, and it's lighter than its dark and edgy older brother.

So, after hearing mixed things about it later on and watching it with a dear friend of mine, did this series turn out okay?

It did actually. In some ways, I prefer this series over Soul Eater to be honest. We got some great character development from our main characters, which is a huge plus, and this show didn't stay light and bubbly for the most part. The last 3 episodes are the most dramatic and easily the best episodes of the show. Even though the story kind of kicked in a little too late and the animation was choppy, even on DVD, I still think this show was very good overall, and I'm happy I watched it.

Let's first talk about the story:


Tsugumi Harudori is a normal girl up until her leg transforms into a part of a weapon one day. Because of this, she transfers from her home country of Japan to the DWMA (Death Weapon Meister Academy) in order to find out how she can control her abilities. While there, she meets 2 girls who will be wielding weapons in the near future: Meme Tatane, a girl who normally forgets things past a minute of hearing them, and Anya Hepburn, a princess who ran away from her castle to escape her boring mundane life.

They attend the NOT class (which stands for Normally Overcome Target), which allows for students to harness their powers to make sure they are able to battle properly before attending the EAT Classes (which stands for Especially Advantaged Target). Also, Tsugumi is stuck on who to choose as a partner. Both have their strengths, and their weaknesses, but a weapon is traditionally supposed to have one meister. Or do they?

This series mainly has a slice-of-life format up until foreshadowing hints of a witch on the rise. Various people known as Traitors have been found, who are comatose-like and talk to the people fighting them about how good of a sleep they got. Shaula Gorgon, the youngest out of the Gorgon sisters introduced in Soul Eater (Medusa and Arachne), wishes to use her army of minions to corrupt Death City and make the students turn on one another. When the girls find out that one of their one was affected by her abilities, it's up to them to save her. But how will they overcome difficulties to rescue their friend and defeat Shaula?

Overall, the story for Soul Eater NOT! is mostly a mixed bag for me. While I think that this show did a good job with the slow pacing, at some times, especially when Shaula was first introduced, the main conflict didn't really pull me in. When it finally came to a climax in Episode 7, I started to pay more attention, but was thrown off by the next 2 episodes. But Episode 10 hit the right notes, and made the struggle between the 2 forces more apparent and more enjoyable. The last 3 episodes are easily the best out of the series, despite the scattering of subtle development of side characters throughout the show.

Though the Shaula business could have been a bit stronger in the beginning, I still had fun for the majority of the show. Soul Eater NOT!'s first thing in its favor was its dramatic tension towards the end of the series. There's problems that are put in Tsugumi, Meme, and Anya's way that feel very potent and not forced. Unlike Soul Eater, which manages so far to have a couple of moments that feel a little too over-dramatic and sour, and a really weird deux ex machina that came out of nowhere (in Medusa's arc). this series doesn't have that. Which is good for me. 

Overall, through the problems with the evil side of things, the show still was engaging and it didn't make me lose interest as it went on. The slice of life route actually worked well in most places, and I'm still not getting bored by it. Bonus! 

Our cast of characters will be up next:


Besides some new characters to even out the group, the show manages to sport little cameos of some beloved characters from the main series. Maka, Soul, Black Star, Tsubaki, Death the Kid, Liz (*high fives*), Patty, Sid (who winds up dead by the end of the series and the question of whether he lives or not isn't answered, though I think he was revived by the antidote), Mira, Ox, and Stein (:3) make recurring appearances in the series. Some do more than others, but its still quite fun to see them in the new animation style, especially if they are some of your favorites. 2 other characters from the first series, Kim and Jacqueline, are given more development in this series (though they haven't showed up where I'm at in Soul Eater) and are very good side characters.

Now back to the main section. Tsugumi will be up first:

Tsugumi's weapon form is that of a halberd with a dull blade, but she eventually grows a blade by the end of the series. Won't spoil why, but it's pretty cool when it happens. Tsugumi starts off the show being afraid of being a weapon, with little confidence in herself and in her abilities. After encountering Maka on the front steps of the DWMA, that kind of starts to change. Meeting Maka and seeing her abilities in a orientation demonstration, she starts to be a little more serious in her role as a weapon, and always strives to improve her skills.

She becomes friends with Meme and Anya after meeting them at orientation and when they fight off 2 creepy new students. Though she switches off between them during training, there will be a day where she'll have to choose just one. The pressure isn't put on her for most of the series until various moments, but Tsugumi has a hard time making her decision.

As a main character, I kind of liked Tsugumi. She has some great energy and a likable personality that made me root for her in most cases. Though she starts off a bit on the hopeless romantic side, that fades further down the journey, and she becomes much more dedicated to improving her skills.

My only issues with her is when she questions if she's really going to be useful to both of her partners. It's fine to mention it earlier on in the series, since she was still finding her place, but mentioning how useless she was in Episode 8:

C'mon Tsugumi! You've grown since a few episodes ago. Don't start to doubt yourself now! But thankfully she gets over that.

Meme's turn:

Meme's main personality quirk is that she typically forgets things. And by how often, let's just say pretty much all the time. She's commonly accidentally messing up some names, when events actually start, or just details in a day, One thing about her that makes Tsugumi and Anya jealous is her bust size, which they get envious over. Though she may not be remarkable outside of dream land, she is very good at martial arts, typically in her sleep. Known as Sleepy Fist, she only can perform it while asleep.

Later on in the series, we find out that Shaula had actually hypnotized her, which caused her memory loss, sleep walking, and oddball behavior. This was a little odd to hear at first, since I found it to be a little illogical going with the story, but it made sense the more I thought about it. It easily explained why Meme was always ditsy and able to master kung-fu while in her sleep. I thought that was just a quirk intended to be just that, but having it come from a witch was something I didn't expect.

Overall, Meme was my least favorite out of the main cast. Don't get me wrong, I think she can be pretty funny at points, but sometimes I got a little bored with her and how often her forgetfulness was used. I did like her sleep kung-fu though; that was pretty neat. And sometimes she's shown to be not as dense, mainly in 1 short of Episode 9, where she successfully regains the memories of a previous day.

Anya's last up:

Anya's actual name is Anastasia Yngling, and she is the princess of the Yngling family. She escaped her family's castle because she was getting bored with her royal duties. Due to her royal upbringing, she refers to most people as commoners, and gets fascinated by Tsugumi for being the most fascinating out of them. She compliments her on knowing so much about "poor people things" and gets jealous at Tsugumi and Meme's close friendship. 

Throughout the series however, she does become more grounded, often not referring to Tsugumi as being a commoner and actually developing a really close friendship with her. She also starts to like Meme as well, but I can assume not as much as she likes Tsugumi. She also gets very excited by random things. For example, a tanuki statue that she gets with her allowance and names Josephine. 

Anya is my favorite out of the main cast hands down. I honestly found her to be very hilarious with calling people commoners, and I was so proud of her for maturing in the show. Her talk about being a student of the DWMA and how she doesn't like to be treated as a child was my favorite moment out of the entire series. She became the most serious as the show went on, and I can't help but be really proud with her for that. 

Other characters include Shaula Gorgon, the main antagonist who is stylized like a scorpion compared to her sisters (who were inspired by a snake and spider respectively), Akane and Clay, 2 members of the NOT class who are actually EAT students who secretly work with Sid and are Anya's bodyguards, Kana, a fortuneteller who lives in the girl's dorms, Eternal Feather, a student whose unfortunate name was christened by Kim, Master, who runs the coffee shop Deathbucks, and Misery, the housemaster of the girl's dorm who has an odd obsession with Tsugumi.


The studio behind the animation for this series is none other than Bones. Besides working on the original Soul Eater, they worked on Fullmetal Alchemist and Noragami as well.

Compared to some of the other series I've watched this year, this series doesn't have great animation. Don't get me wrong, there's moments where it is very consistent and it benefits from that. But the quality overall, especially when it aired, dipped every couple of minutes and is noticeable every time it happens. Good news is that they cleaned up some of the worst animation that people were complaining about, but there's some things here and there that could have been fixed. Mainly odd hair positions and quality dips.

It does have a nice color scheme though, so that's a plus. But when it gets bad, yeah:

Though it's not the worst animation I've seen, it isn't really the best. Soul Eater was more consistent, and that's kind of a shame.


The score for this series was composed by Yuuki Hayashi and Asami Tachibana. The former is most known for contributing to Blood Lad, the first season of Diabolik Lovers, and DRAMAtical Murder. While the latter is most known for working on the scores for Haikyuu!, Aoharu x Machinegun, and Seraph of the End. Both of them also worked on Robotics;Notes together.

Overall, the score for this series was pretty fun. Like Yuuki Hayashi's other works, the score manages to do a nice job delving into the electronic feel of things, and gets pretty funky. Like other scores, it has a good balance between pieces that are light and dramatic, but has a really good style to it. Soul Eater also has an interesting style to its score, but like the overall aspect of this series, Soul Eater NOT!'s is definitely lighter.

As for the topic of audio, I decided to watch Soul Eater NOT! in its English dub considering that I've watched Soul Eater thus far in English and honestly prefer it over the Japanese. Some of the voices in Japanese sound a little off to me, and I'm not used to them compared to the ones in English.

It's not something I regret either, because the English dub for this series is pretty great. It has examples of some great acting from our recurring actors and guest appearances, and shows that Bryn Apprill and Alexis Tipton will keep on slaying until the end of time. From what I've heard of the Japanese, it's pretty good as well, but I still prefer English.

Highlights so far in the original Japanese are Saori Hayami, Mikako Komatsu, Kotori Koiwai, Ai Orikasa (because duh), Ami Koshimizu, Takahiro Sakurai, Chiaki Omigawa (her voice as Maka works better here), Kouki Uchiyama, Mamoru Miyano, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Akeno Watanabe, and Yuya Uchida. 

Highlights in the English dub are Bryn Apprill, Lindsay Seidel, Alexis Tipton, Alison Viktorin, Caitlin Glass, Jad Saxton, Elizabeth Maxwell, Ian Sinclair, Bryce Papenbrook, David Wald, Laura Bailey, Micah Solusod, Brittney Karbowski, Monica Rial, Todd Haberkorn, Jamie Marchi, Cherami Leigh, Kent Williams, Anastasia Munoz, and Chuck Huber.


I really enjoyed this anime overall. It does some things better than what Soul Eater has managed to do so far, such as character development for the main characters and the series being more entertaining overall. Though I wish the story didn't kick it as late as it did, and the animation wasn't as inconsistent, I think this is still a good series, and better than a few of some shows I've watched this year.

I recommend this series someone who has seen Soul Eater, or anyone looking for a light and bubbly series to cheer up a bad mood. Either works.

Score: 8/10


Good story.

Better character development than Soul Eater.

Good color style for animation.

Great score.

Near fantastic English dub.

Can be more entertaining than Soul Eater at points.


Some of the plot comes in a little too late.

Animation can be inconsistent.

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