Pull yourself away from the Shippuden filler arcs if you can bear it, the fighting spirit of Naruto is alive and well somewhere else...as reimagined by Tim Burton and reanimated through the slick, round and colorful stylings of BONES' best. Well, no, Tim Burton was not consulted on the creation of Soul Eater, but after an opening that calls up imagery of a Hot Topic erupting in colonial Williamsburg, it certainly appears that way.
Soul Eater is old-school shonen, at its simplest and brashest level. Spunky and capricious youngsters, their slightly loopy but powerful mentors, and a staggering number of goals to surmount before facing a cackling baddy with dubious ties to the war-weary past generations of fighters. Along the way, our heroes must confront their adolescent feelings and resist temptation to cross over to the dark side for power. In the end, the day will be won, episode by episode, through the power of their bonds of friendship. If any of these refrains repulses the reader, they should run far far away from this gothic adventure, for it is oozing with all of them. Everyone else should definitely stay because this title's use of classic formula has a delicious sharp edge on it that slices in and hooks deep from the start.
Set in the fictional Death City, Nevada, Soul Eater's universe is a fully realized fantasy with architecture that skews and curves high overhead beneath a grinning moon with bleeding gums. Perspective warps grandiosely around bright, appealing locations in ways very similar to Ouran High School Host Club, although rather than bending the camera around purple-hued mansions, Soul Eater features dens of torture and expansive graveyards...no less pleasantly purple. Leaping around this stunning world are smoothly animated, immensely expressive characters with strong tastes in hip-hop fashions all, whether that take the form of chain jewelry or windbreakers and sweatbands. (Even zombies can wear jersey shorts sometimes!) All told, it's a morbid milieu, but it's unlike anything previously seen in how shamelessly abstract every element is, while never being tres gauche. It's an already eyepopping backdrop for some excellently choreographed action scenes. The concept of talking, metamorphosing weapons opens up a lot of opportunity for mayhem, and the only complaint to be had about each soul hunt is that they're over too soon. Each one is a creative, eclectic mix of wild designs and furious beat-em-ups.
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