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Review: Soul Eater (Vol. 11)

Soul Eater (Vol. 11)

Manga-ka: Atsushi Ohkubo
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2012

Synopsis: “Arachnophobia has taken the offensive and spreads the Kishin’s madness throughout the world, using “BREW” to threaten anyone who stands in their way. In the wake of attacks at home and abroad, DWMA sends its top students to quell the madness and gather information wherever they can. But the madness is spreading much quicker and is stronger than they had anticipated. When confronted by an incarnation of the Kishin’s madness itself – the sinister Clown – will Maka and Soul fall victim to its manipulations?”

Volume eleven of Soul Eater picks up right where volume ten ended, with the DWMA on the defensive under Arachnophobia’s assault. The first chapter focuses exclusively on dealing with Stein, who is the main suspect in the murder that ended the previous book. It’s filled with good use of emotion and shots without dialogue, though it is at times not the easiest narrative to follow. This only increases when most of the other chapters in this volume are solely dedicated to focusing on Maka and Soul, which leads to some disconnect in the volume as a whole. While of course these chapters were originally published in a serialized format, I still do prefer for a volume to have some sense of unity, which this one definitely does not.

That said, it is nice to see Soul Eater take a bit of time to focus on Maka and Soul, since they are arguable the main characters of the series. And it’s also good to see DWMA continue to act smart, as the school’s students are used very effectively to deal with the smaller threats, leaving the stronger meisters free to focus on Arachnophobia’s main attacks. Meanwhile Arachnophobia continues to show they are worthy adversaries, as their strategy for using BREW proves quite challenging for DWMA to fully counter.

Unfortunately, while the concepts involved in this storyline are solid, the execution of said concepts often devolves into a jumbled mess, mainly because of confusing storytelling during the appearance of the antagonist of these chapters, Clown.

The concept behind Clown is a very good one: he is madness incarnate and as such, his attack is more psychological than physical. Unfortunately, there is just too much going on around him, which makes the confrontation difficult to follow.

While this main showdown is occurring, there are two little side stories going on as well. One involves Death the Kid and his obsessive compulsive disorder. The other focuses on Blair that cat as she … does some stuff. I really didn’t get any more out of it than that. There are big concepts involved here and big concepts often work best when the structure around them is kept as simple as possible. Lose that simplicity and the execution really falls apart. The two extra storylines, most likely there in an attempt at comic relief, end up being disruptive and unnecessary. Without them, I think the volume would have been much improved.

The volume’s saving grace is the fact that this story with Maka is not the end, a fact which also makes the initial chapter feel less out of place. While the final storyline is a bit lacking in the emotions department, it does have quite a few good twists and turns, particular as it sets up the final cliffhanger.

All and all, this is not the best volume of Soul Eater. There are lots of good ideas in here but they are not executed to the series’ norm and thus I found myself struggling at times to figure out what was going on and why I should really care. The volume also did not have nearly enough of the main villains, who are always one of the series’ greatest strengths, but when they did appear they made their presence known. On the strength of the ending, I am looking forward to volume twelve but I am hoping that it will be written and drawn in a much less chaotic and more effective way.

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Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes

Victoria K Martin

About the Author:

Victoria Martin has been a manga fan every since university, when a particularly evil, enabling friend introduced it to her (as well as re-introducing her to anime as well). Seven years later, she has quite the collection of books on her shelves, mostly shoujo/josei but with some others as well. She's always looking for the next series to love and cherish and religiously re-read for years.

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