There aren't a lot of shows on the market that pop in just about every way. From characters to story, style, and design, Soul Eater is one of those rarities that has a lot going for it. The series has been popular both in Japan and in the States, and though it's been released on DVD FUNimation has put together a Blu-ray release. Is this latest set worth picking up?
Soul Eater comes from the manga of the same name by Atsushi Okubo. The show was produced by Bones and ran from 2008 to 2009 with a total of 51 episodes to call its own. FUNimation has collected the first 26 episodes for this Blu-ray release and has presented them on three discs.
Soul Eater takes place in a skewed version of our world. Death, as in the Grim Reaper, runs a school called the Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA), which is located in Death City. At the DWMA students learn to battle evil that would devour the souls of humans. In each case there is a Meister and a Weapon, which is basically a person with the ability to turn into a sword, scythe, gun, etc., that the Meister can use to fight with. Death isn't allowed to leave his city for some reason, but he sends his students across the world to do his work.
The show focuses mainly on the exploits of three teams of DWMA students. First off there's Maka and her scythe, Soul. They are more or less the stars of the show, but the other pairings of Black Star and his multipurpose weapon, Tsubaki, and Death the Kid (Death's son) and his sister guns, Patty and Liz, share the spotlight. She show more or less focuses on one or two of the characters going off on a mission in order to collect souls to become a Death Scythe, which is basically a weapon that Death himself would use in combat.
Early in Soul Eater the adventures are largely episodic with one mission after another that features some monster of the week. Eventually the world opens up a bit as other characters such as Stein, Sid, Blaire, and Spirit are introduced. They take on more of a support role status, but they get more involved towards the end of this installment with a powerful climax.
Eventually it becomes clear that there's more at work here. A villainous witch named Medusa steps forward and uses her own son as a test subject for her invention called Black Blood. With this concoction she intends to release an extremely old evil that resides beneath Death City, but in order to do that she has to work her way into the DWMA. Before long the whole city becomes embroiled in a massive battle that pushes the students to the limit of their abilities.
The story in Soul Eater is definitely one of its strongest points. Every episode has something to add to the grand scheme of things, and as the intensity ratchets up things get truly epic. Add to that an incredibly varied and memorable cast of characters, some of the most intense action seen in years, and loads of humor and you have the makings of a show that belongs in everyone's collection. The series is the real deal and comes highly recommended in just about every way.
Soul Eater is presented on Blu-ray with a full 1080p output, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and AVC encoding. The show looks as good, if not better than, it ever has. On DVD the series looked solid enough with vibrant colors and sharp lines, and the Blu-ray is even more of the same. The stability of the image and quality of the video makes this one a worthy upgrade over the standard definition release. There are still some parts where aliasing and color banding can be noted, but these moments don't detract from the overall experience.
Dolby TrueHD tracks are available for the English 5.1 dub and original Japanese 2.0. Personally I prefer Soul Eater in Japanese, so the 2.0 track worked just fine enough for me. Sure the soundstage was a little limited, but the English track doesn't offer much in that regard anyway. The quality of both tracks, however, is crystal clear and all around solid.
Extra features on this set are decent, though nothing too extraordinary. Trailers and clean animations are the lighter inclusions, while a Soul Eater Late Show and two episode commentaries help flesh things out a bit. These were included on the DVD release of the show so expect much of the same if you're double-dipping.
Soul Eater is a must own kind of show. The series is a blast from start to finish and there's hardly any downtime what-so-ever. If you haven't seen it before you'll want to pick the show up regardless of if it's on Blu-ray or DVD. Please keep in mind that the picture quality is slightly better in the Blu-ray and it's actually a worthy upgrade over its standard definition counterpart. Either way, consider the series highly recommended.
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