Manga-ka: Atsushi Ohkubo
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: August 2012
Synopsis: “With Doctor Stein unable to carry on, Maka, Kid, and Black☆Star enter the magnetic field to take up the mission and locate the tempestuous demon tool known as Brew. Time is quickly running out as the three face off against Mosquito, struggling to harmonize their wavelengths within the magnetized vortex. They’ll be lucky to escape with their lives, let alone the demon tool!”
When last we discussed Soul Eater, the series was visually impressive, but plot-wise had too much obvious filler. Volume ten is another piece of that same plot line, and likewise is mostly rising action, but it works better as for the most part actions and development feels much weightier this time round.
Atsushi Ohkubo continues to impress with his art and ability to put together a thrilling visual story. A highlight of this volume in particular is a two-page spread that is made up of only textual narrative, with white boxes appearing on a pure black background. I’ve seen this technique before and have always enjoyed it, since it really emphasizes the mood and emotion of the text, especially in a book that has such strong visual elements overall. All the full page illustrated panels continue to shine, each capturing the mood and emotion of the scene well.
Another strong element in this volume is the main cast. The story in this volume touched upon a great number of these characters and gives them each moments to shine. There is a particular emphasis early on with Soul, who has to face a big moment in his development. The importance of this moment is conveyed both in dialogue and through the art and is a highlight of the chapter it features in. Unfortunately, this development isn’t touched upon on again in this volume, which does detract from it when the story is looked at as a whole.
There is also good development for the main trio of Maka, Kid, and Black☆Star (as well as their respective weaponry). A great amount of emphasis is placed on learning to work together as a team, rather than as individuals, which is a good way of having characters become stronger without having them learn yet another power (admittedly there is some power involved with the teamwork but the lesson goes beyond its use). Even more notable in this volume is the fact that the group, even while working together, doesn’t win every battle. This is always refreshing to see because it makes the characters’ journey more challenging and their likely end victory that much more meaningful.
Another strong part of the volume is how smart all the characters are. DWMA recognizes very quickly that there is a traitor in their midst and immediately take steps into looking into it. And the villains have plans in place in case their other plans fail. In a world full of so-called “idiot plots,” it’s always good to see characters who don’t have to sacrifice their intelligence in order for the story to continue.
Finally, a new character is introduced, BJ, and is immediately developed enough for the readers to care about him. While admittedly this is partly done through relying on familiar tropes, the fact that it’s effective cannot be ignored.
There is a lot of good in this volume. The plot events that unfurl feel like they matter and there are so many character moments that even the ever-grating Black☆Star becomes tolerable. The only real problems in the volume are right at the very beginning, where multiple stories are intercut with each other too quickly, becoming confusing. Fortunately after the first chapter it’s all strong.
It’s not much of a secret that shounen series aren’t generally my thing. However, my experience with Soul Eater has been a positive one and between some good character and story moments, paired with exceptional art, I can actually see myself starting to collect this series in full (or at least Soul Eater Not). This series just has a really unique and special style to it, that makes it shine above the rest.
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Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes