Caitlin, Vrai, and Dee come to the end of their Soul Eater rewatch and talk about the controversial anime-original ending and their thoughts on the series as a whole!
Date Recorded: February 21st, 2021
Hosts: Caitlin, Vrai, and Dee
0:07:55 Anime ending vs manga context
0:14:23 Kids vs adults
0:24:10 Madness and evil
0:37:33 Baby’s first cosmic horror
0:43:03 Gender dynamics
0:49:19 Igurashi, shonen, and shojo
0:51:56 Shilling blu-rays
0:53:52 Dee mangaloguing
1:03:28 Final feels
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee, one of the managing editors at AniFem. You can find most of my writings on my blog The Josei Next Door, and you can also hang out with me on Twitter @joseinextdoor. And I am joined today by fellow AniFem staffers Vrai and Caitlin.
VRAI: Hey, I’m Vrai. I’m the managing content editor at Anime Feminist. I also do freelancing. You can find me on Twitter @WriterVrai, or you can find the podcast where I talk about trash media @trashpod. And this podcast is so weird that, since the last time we recorded and now, I caught the plague. So that’s how I’m doing.
CAITLIN: And your voice cracked. That’s exciting.
DEE: Sounds like you’re feeling better.
VRAI: It’s just a full experience.
VRAI: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something.
DEE: I’m glad you’re feeling better at least, because I’m sure that was scary.
VRAI: By the time this comes out, I’ll be great!
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, that’s true! This will coming out like—
CAITLIN: [unintelligible beneath crosstalk and laughter]
VRAI: [crosstalk] These episodes are really awkward.
DEE: Yeah. Five months from now.
CAITLIN: Anyway. Hi. Yes, it’s my turn. Hi, I’m Caitlin. I’m the technical editor at Anime Feminist, as well as a reviewer at Anime News Network and, as of now, also an editor at Anime Herald. That’s a recent development as of this recording, but it won’t be recent when this episode comes out.
DEE: True story.
CAITLIN: You can also find my Twitter @alltsun_nodere, or you could hang out with me on Discord by becoming a patron and joining the Anime Feminist Discord.
DEE: An excellent sneaky plug there. Well done.
DEE: [Chuckles] And so, this week we are finishing up our re-watchalong of Soul Eater. We’ll be covering episodes 40 through 51, which takes us through the finale. This part is very dense. A lot happens. So I thought I would attempt to do a quick recap, and then as I started putting bullet points down, it got Escaflowne levels of “This happened and then this happened and then this happened.”
The gist of it is: the DWMA storms Baba Yaga Castle, where Arachne and the Kishin are holed up. While that is going on, Stein succumbs to Medusa’s temptation and wanders off to hang out with her, so Crona and Marie go after them to take down Medusa, who’s still a threat, and also to try to rescue Stein. Maka finds out about all this, really doesn’t like the way they’ve decided to go about doing this, so she decides to go after them so she can help Crona. Which ends up being an extremely good call, because they probably would have died without Maka there. Crona does get badly wounded protecting Maka, but at the end of the day, everybody who we like makes it out alive, Stein is brought back from the brink, and Medusa is defeated.
Then we focus back in on the fight against Arachne in Baba Yaga Castle. Black Star goes up against Mifune again and he wins, but Mifune lives and Angela gets to go with them and it’s very sweet. Kid brings back a magical artifact that allows Lord Death to manifest his desire, so he turns the entire fricking city into a giant robot and he coffee-table-flips Baba Yaga Castle, and it’s very good!
DEE: And then he captures the Kishin briefly, the two of them throw down, but Death gets hurt protecting Kid from the Kishin. The Kishin wanders off, kills Arachne, goes into full kaiju mode, puts up a protective barrier, but our plucky trio of heroes make it through before the barrier goes up. So they face off against the Kishin.
Soul’s Black Blood finally comes back to haunt him, but it’s okay: Maka saves his life. Kid and Black Star get cool fight power-ups and weaken the Kishin but don’t destroy him completely. Maka and Soul come back from their soul journey and go up against the Kishin. Nothing works, nothing works, nothing works. But that’s because the only thing that can defeat fear is courage, so then Maka punches the Kishin in the face, and it’s also very good.
They defeat the Kishin and peace is restored. There’s some key differences, like, again, the witch Angela and Mifune end up coming back to the school. Crona appears to be living with Maka and Soul. There’s a weird shippy moment where Spirit and Stein light each other’s cigarettes in a suggestive manner. So make of that what you will.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Whoa!
VRAI: [crosstalk] It’s super gay!
DEE: So make of that post-credit twist—not post-credit; it’s during the credits—scene as you will. But the kids get to go back to being kids and playing basketball in between saving the world. And it’s a nice, peaceful ending. A bit open-ended, but order is restored. Balance is restored to the universe. So that is my “quick” (quote-unquote) recap.
This stretch is fun because 90% of it is anime-original content. If we have time, we’ll go a little bit into… I did get a hold of the manga, folks at home. And I read it all in between the last time we recorded and now. So if we get time, I might talk a little bit about some of the differences and things that go on there.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Thank you, cold weather.
DEE: Yeah, I mean, what else was I supposed to do? But pretty much, actually, from last episode 39, where Maka goes after Crona, from there to the end, it’s 90% completely original. The anime staff decided they were going to write an ending and they wrote an ending.
This is the part where we get into general feelings. The first time through this, when I watched it in college, I thought it was okay. Watching it this time, I think it kicks ass and I’m pretty here for this finale here. But I know you guys didn’t have quite the same experience I did.
CAITLIN: No. It pulled me back in by the end, but I kind of bounced off a lot of the stuff eight episodes… Last three episodes: great. Yeah, yeah. Sorry. Having to do math in my head: very difficult. You know, as a woman, I cannot… [Chuckles]
DEE: Wow! Okay! [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Anyway, no.
VRAI: We’re just letting that lie!
DEE: This has been the final episode of the Anime Feminist podcast. We have been canceled.
DEE: Anyway, Caitlin. So, you had a hard time with this stretch, but the finale, you liked. Is that what you’re saying?
CAITLIN: Yes. Yes. That is a good way to sum up what I was saying. [Chuckles]
VRAI: I think I’m between you guys. There were a couple of things that didn’t land for me. Which, it sounds like Black Star’s arc is just like that. I have some quibbles with Kid’s arc being cut a little short, more than anything. But honestly, all of the Crona and Maka stuff really hit for me, so I call it a net win. And honestly, all this felt pretty new to me. I’m kind of starting to suspect I didn’t finish the last 10 episodes or so the first time I watched the show.
DEE: Oops! You got to the part where Crona and Maka hugged it out and you were like, “Well, that’s the end.” [Chuckles]
VRAI: That’s the end. Show’s over.
CAITLIN: You know, I think that’s a perfectly solid decision.
VRAI: [Chuckles] But yeah, I really liked the ending. The last stretch overall and the ending-ending, which kicks ass and is very Escaflowne-ish, which I guess is our hot take.
DEE: Is: “Soul Eater is just Escaflowne”?
CAITLIN: I mean, that’s what you get when you—
VRAI: No, that the anime ending is Good, Actually.
CAITLIN: Escaflowne is what you get when you hand a shounen concept to a shoujo director and so is the end of Soul Eater, because Igarashi, who usually does shoujo anime, was the one calling the shots at the end.
DEE: Yeah, up until that point he had. And again, I am coming at this from a slightly different perspective since I was— In a perfect world, I could have watched all of the anime and then read the manga. But there was no way that that was going to work with the timeline that we were on, so I was doing them concurrently. So, the anime does a really good job of pulling the threads that are floating around in the manga and solidifying them. But I probably do have that extra context that was just getting shoved into my head as I was going through this, so we may be approaching this from slightly different perspectives just because of that.
And I would not say this is a perfect ending. I think there is some messiness. I think there are definitely some places where the staff went, “There’s no way we can wrap up every single character in a nice, tidy bow, so we’re just going to try to hit the big points and get everybody to a place where they’ve had this arc and then we can put a cap on the show.”
CAITLIN: Do you think it’s fair to say that it’s kind of like with the Utena movie, where it’s very different but watching it with the context of the original helps you understand the context of what’s going on?
DEE: I would be very hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend the Soul Eater manga to folks, so I’m not sure I would agree with that comparison. I think that the manga expands on some stuff as far as lore and background and technicality-type details—
CAITLIN: And clowns.
DEE: And clowns. …That can fill in a little bit of the stuff that the anime just doesn’t have time to really get into, I guess. But again, I might be wrong here because we might all be on the same page about this stuff. I was just saying, going into it, if I accidentally end up pulling something where you’re like, “Well, that wasn’t even in the anime,” I’ll be like, “Well, crap, sorry.” That’s all I meant.
I mean, it sounds like Vrai and I had similar experiences, so I don’t necessarily think that the manga is necessary to an appreciation of this finale. I just meant that my context was different, not that it was better or worse. Just different.
VRAI: Yeah, I didn’t read the manga. I did, after I finished watching the anime and formed my feelings about it, read up the wiki summary of how Crona’s arc went in the manga, and it did make me very angry.
DEE: Crona gets done dirty.
VRAI: So that’s where I’m at.
DEE: My thing with the Soul Eater manga is parts of it are… It was an easy read. Parts of it are pretty fun. There’s some good stuff with Kid. I guess skip ahead 30 seconds if you don’t want any spoilers, folks at home.
The one thing the manga does that I really wish the anime had been able to do is they really get to dig into the fact that the witches aren’t actually evil. And by the end of the story, one of the big plot points is that they form an alliance with the witches and start to have cross-cultural exchange and stuff. And one of the kids in the class, Kim, who’s on the B-team with Kilik and Ox, actually is a witch, and that becomes a plot point going forward.
DEE: And I think the anime kind of gets to touch on that with the fact that Angela and Mifune come to the school and that’s okay. There’s clearly a willingness to bridge that gap at the end of the anime. But I do like that the manga gets to really dive into the fact that there is social change at the end of the story. And the anime… I get it: there’s no way they had time to do that on top of everything else.
That is the only thing in the manga that I’m really glad they got to. Everything else in it is kind of disconnected, and it doesn’t hit as emotionally as the anime does. It frequently feels like Ohkubo goes, “I want to explore this thing,” so he comes up with an arc and they go to a fantasy place and they fight it for a couple of rounds, and he goes, “Okay, I’m bored,” and then just goes “And they got over it” and moves on. [Chuckles]
And that’s kind of my [audio cuts out] with a lot of the character arcs from the manga… And that’s why, like, if Crona is the main reason that you got into Soul Eater, don’t read the manga; you’ll just be mad. If you’re not that dedicated to Crona and your library has the manga and you’ve got a couple free weeks, it’s a fine way to spend your evenings, reading a volume or two. I would not say you have to go out and buy the whole thing or even that you have to read it. It’s not bad, but it ultimately felt kind of weightless, and the last chapter is hot garbage. So, I prefer the anime significantly.
CAITLIN: Yeah, Jared has been feeding me bits and pieces, mostly just things that he thinks are funny, like the true origins of Excalibur or clowns.
DEE: Oh yeah, there’s a lot of lore that shows up in the manga that, like a lot of lore in anime and manga, is maybe not entirely necessary but at the same time kind of interesting. Ohkubo clearly had an interest in Lovecraftian cosmic horror, which you see in the anime, too. But there’s a lot of talk about the Great Old Ones, and that’s what Excalibur is: is a Great Old One. I get what you meant, Caitlin, when you said that Excalibur was to anger as the Kishin is to fear, in that he causes it in other people. That is Excalibur’s existence. He is the force from which anger emanates into the world, because he is maddening!
DEE: And that is pretty good. But again—
CAITLIN: That’s pretty funny.
DEE: I think it’s much tighter in the anime. I think the anime does a really good job of grabbing onto the main emotional threads and pulling them forward in a way that I really like. Overall, I’m pretty happy with this.
And I would like to stop talking about the manga, because that’s not what this podcast is about, and talk about what happens in these episodes.
So I had this divided up into subjects, and I wanted to leave it up to you guys what you wanted to touch on first, though.
VRAI: I guess Kid maybe, because you framed it in the notes here, talking about the various kid characters and their relationship to authority, and I feel like Kid is the one that let me down on that front most. Not because I think it’s not a workable arc (and maybe this works better in the manga, where it has more time) but because that’s the point where I really felt the anime going most like, “Fuck, fuck, we’re out of time.” Because he ultimately comes around to “Okay, my dad was right and I shouldn’t have doubted him.”
And I don’t think “Sometimes adults hide things from kids to protect them” is necessarily an unworkable theme. But I think that shift comes so suddenly when he delivers the Key after his entire arc of suspicion of authority figures and specifically structures of authority, that it feels a little bit like it’s denying his questions up till that point, rather than just it being not quite the case, if that makes sense.
CAITLIN: Right. I agree, because I think that Soul Eater has a fairly unique way of handling the kids-to-adults relationships. I talked about this a little bit before, and I feel like a lot of anime and manga being aimed at young people has this position of “Adults are so cynical. We are teens. We’re different from adults. We are excited about life and idealistic. And I don’t want to be a corrupt, rotten adult.” Whereas Soul Eater takes a very different tack of: kids and adults have different understandings of the world, and a lot of times the adults are taking care of certain things because the kids can’t handle it. I feel like that informs a lot of how the last bits of the arc are handled.
And I think with Kid and Death, it wouldn’t have been terrible to be like, “Yeah, sometimes the adults in your life did something messed up.” I feel like everyone has that moment, when they’re teenagers or even younger, where they realize that the adults in their life that they’ve trusted have done something that they find repulsive, like a moment of disillusionment. And Soul Eater just… it has the moment where it could have done that and had a slightly more complicated relationship between adults and children and a slightly more nuanced message, and it’s like, no…
DEE: I disagree that— I agree with you guys that Kid’s arc is truncated to the point where there’s definitely some missed opportunities there to dig into what is going on between Kid and his dad. In the context of the fact that there are many, many conflicts between the older and the younger generations in this story, and especially in this past stretch, I think Kid’s story works as a piece of a bigger whole, and I think that the whole is actually pretty nuanced.
Because you’ve got Crona and Medusa, which is a story of an absolutely toxic, terrible adult figure who Crona needs to get away from; but then you also have people like Mifune and a lot of the authority figures who Maka has looked up to up to this point, where they’re well-meaning and they think they’re doing what’s best. They’re not evil. Not every adult is a terrible human being, right? But sometimes they are wrong. Adults can be wrong.
In Black Star’s arc with Mifune, a lot of what Mifune is warning him about is true, but what Black Star argues is “I don’t have to just choose between these two paths; I can find another one. You don’t see it, but that’s what I’m going to try to do.” And then with Maka, she disagrees with them about their decision to let Crona and Marie go off by themselves, which ends up being a good call. And then at the end, the way to defeat the Kishin isn’t all these special techniques that the adults thought would be the way to do it. It is a more core, emotional response.
And so I like that the series doesn’t— I think so often, especially with young adult coming-of-age type stories, you either end up in the camp of “Oh, the kids are such fools, they should’ve just listened to the adults,” or, far more frequently, “All the adults are terrible. Look at all these terrible adults.” And I like that Soul Eater takes this more nuanced perspective where we do have these terrible adults like Medusa, but then we also have these adults who are doing their best and are flawed or wrong, or even Maka’s dad, who sucks, but he does want to be a good dad to Maka. He’s just a terrible husband, which we’ve talked about in past episodes.
And so the way that I think Kid and Lord Death fit into that conversation is that there’s that third angle, which is: sometimes the adults are right, too. Sometimes they do know what they’re doing. And Kid has, throughout the story, other than his anxiety spirals where he thinks he’s garbage, he has a very clear-cut, black-and-white idea of what the world is supposed to be like. And when it looks like things aren’t fitting neatly into that mold because of Eibon’s connection with the witches, he starts to think that that means that “Well, we must be evil, too. If we’re in any way connected to Eibon, we must be evil. My conviction is very strong.” I think Kid is a little bit full of himself when he’s not anxiety-spiraling.
And so, I think it’s nice to have one of the characters’ arcs be more about questioning your own… because we’ve all been teenagers. I think we’ve all had those days where it felt like “I’m right about everything, and everybody else is an idiot”—
CAITLIN: I still have those days.
DEE: —against the days of deep insecurity, where “I’m wrong about everything and I’m such a fool.” And so I do—
CAITLIN: Also those days.
DEE: I wish they had been able to spend a little more time with Kid and Lord Death and that arc, but I think having him in contrast to the other characters allows them to have a very balanced, nuanced, overall look at those tensions between generations and what can come of that.
VRAI: Yeah, I see what you mean, and I think it works in a lot of ways overall. I do wish that they had picked a different adult to do that story with, because Lord Death is the big authority figure who represents the system, which kind of makes it into “The system is okay, actually,” unintentionally. Because I think that your read on it is absolutely what they were trying to do, and it’s a good thing to do to have that wide spread of stories. Just something about choosing those particular characters didn’t quite click for me. But like I said, the last stretch overall, I think, jells together.
CAITLIN: Yeah, I think it would have worked really well to do a thing where Death was like, “Yeah, I did partner with someone I shouldn’t have and it was a mistake,” or even, yeah, just having a longer arc with it.
DEE: Didn’t they kind of do that with Eibon, though? Because Eibon ended up falling in with the witches because he was trying to save a loved one and ended up creating this extremely powerful weapon that could be used for good or evil depending upon your intentions.
DEE: I do agree with you, Vrai, that having it—
VRAI: Yeah, I think the stuff with Eibon gets there, yeah.
DEE: Yeah. I do agree with you, Vrai, that having it be the overriding authority as the one who had everyone’s interest in heart at the end and had a good reason for not telling them what was going on… I do agree that it undercuts the message about challenging authority. But I think the fact that Maka also goes completely against Lord Death’s instructions and ends up being right at every step of the way—I think that helps.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah. Fair.
DEE: I think that helps balance out the fact that, no, Lord Death is not always right. He screws up a few times in here. And honestly, I think his unwillingness to really hear what the— It’s not that the Kishin is right, but they have that whole episode where they scream philosophies at each other and Death isn’t even willing to consider… God, it’s so freakin’ shounen. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: It really is!
DEE: Death isn’t even willing—
CAITLIN: It got real shounen.
DEE: It got gloriously shounen for a while there. I’m still thinking about the Giant Mecha Death City.
CAITLIN: Yeah! That was wild.
VRAI: It was good.
DEE: But I think that that is a flaw of him: is his unwillingness to even engage with any of that during that conversation. And it kind of leaves him open in a way that the students, especially Maka, who is more willing to engage with the concept of fear and accepting it, is able to overcome in a way that I enjoy.
Which possibly brings us into a conversation about fear and madness and order and whatever Soul Eater means by those concepts.
VRAI: I really felt like the anime was trying to right that ship at the end there with, yeah, like you said, the long philosophy tennis shounen battle, which is… I can’t say anything about it besides it’s the most shounen thing I’ve ever seen.
VRAI: But then at the end, it does have that dialogue between Ashura and Maka where it’s not that madness is this insidious thing that will take you over without constant vigilance. It’s that these are two states that everybody contains and they’re both natural and it’s just a matter of how you deal with that, which is something that I don’t think the—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Within you there are two wolves.
VRAI: They’re both gay.
VRAI: You are gay.
CAITLIN: Within you there’s a Maka and an Ashura.
VRAI: [Chuckles] I feel like that really was doing its best to bring those potentially ableist undercurrents that the show has at times into line, into more of a “this is a meditation on human existence” kind of thing. And I applaud its heroic efforts.
DEE: [Chuckles] Me too, honestly. Again, the thing I like about this final arc is, despite everything that happens and the fact that I do think a lot of the individual stories are a little bit rushed… I think Kid’s is rushed. I think when Maka dives in and saves Soul, I think they rushed through that a little bit with the hope that, “Well, we’ve built up a lot of stuff up to this point, so we don’t have to spend a ton of time on this.”
VRAI: A little bit, but that whole Soul hugging thing is so my shit. It’s so my shit with this genre.
DEE [crosstalk] It’s potent, right? It’s very Igarashi, the “I’m coming to you and I’m going to give you a hug and it’s going to be okay because we’re going to support each other.”
But I think that with all these different little pieces, it’s able to form a coherent whole thematically. And then I think a lot of the characters get some nice arcs, as well, in there.
But yeah, Vrai, I just kind of wanted to bounce off what you were saying about how they show madness and order as these two opposing forces. And I think the deeper you get into it, the more you realize that by madness, they’re talking more about impulse, like pure id, almost, as opposed to order, which is this idea of authority and communal good, but it can also tie into empathy a little bit. And so, I like that the show leans into this idea of… For me, because I’ve studied more Eastern philosophy than Western philosophy, because I’m weird—I mean, you know, for a white kid in the Midwest…
CAITLIN: It’s very coastal of you, Dee.
DEE: [Chuckles] No, I was just gonna say that for me what it reminded me of was this sort of Buddhist philosophy that is contrasted a bit with a lot of Christian philosophies. And again, these are big umbrella terms I’m using and not every sect agrees with them. But this idea of sin has to be… “Sin,” quote-unquote… Harmful thoughts, they have to be stamped out and they can’t even exist within your brain or there’s something wrong with you, right? As opposed to, in a lot of Buddhist theologies, there’s more this idea of: well, no, the more you fight it, the worse it’s going to get. Just accept that this is a thought you have had and then you can move on from there. You don’t have to be in constant struggle with it.
And I think that Soul Eater touches on that a little bit, especially in Soul and Stein’s arcs, but I think we also see it with Black Star and Maka to an extent, which is… Marie tells Stein, when he’s like “I don’t know how to fix it,” she’s like, “You don’t have to fix it. You can just accept that it’s a part of you, and that’s okay.” And then kind of the same thing happens with Soul, where he eats the little Black Blood demon. He gets out and he’s like, “You know, I’ve been trying to fight you as if you’re not a part of me, but you are a part of me. So, nom-nom-nom.”
VRAI: Oh, that’s such good shit.
DEE: I like the way the show engages with the idea that there’s going to be kind of a raw emotionality and impulse within everybody, and that is normal. And it’s not even inherently a bad thing, because there are moments throughout this arc where the characters are able to utilize that quote-unquote “madness” to get shit done, as long as you’re also able to maintain self-control, right? It’s the idea of: feelings can be very powerful and they can be destructive, but when you direct them in the right way, they can also be extremely constructive and positive forces, which is kind of Maka’s whole thing. [Chuckles]
VRAI: And once again the Escaflowne vibes are strong.
DEE: [Chuckles] But I liked the focus on balance and acceptance that comes through in this final arc, because I know that we’ve been engaging with that concept of madness off and on the past few weeks, and it’s like, “What are we supposed to do with this?” And I think it came together in a healthier way than it definitely could have. So, I was overall pretty pleased with it.
CAITLIN: I really liked the not-super-subtle visual symbolism after Soul has mentally… not overpowered, but gotten a handle on the little demon guy. I mean, the demon was never super large, but he was person-sized before. But then once Soul’s able to look at him and see, “Oh, you’re small. You’re a part of me, but you’re like a small part of me.” And then he eats it, which is like he’s internalizing it and he is accepting that this is a part of him, it doesn’t define him, and it is so much smaller than all the other, more important things.
VRAI: Yeah, it feels like a more successful version of the thing they were doing with Crona and Ragnarok, basically.
DEE: Yeah. I was gonna say, it ties in kind of nicely to that same idea with Crona and Ragnarok. And I do like that the demon gets enormous right before Soul gets swallowed, kind of the idea of: it’s as big of a threat as you make it out to be in your head. And so, Soul being willing to accept it and not see it as this huge, looming force that he must be constantly vigilant against, it’s really nice imagery of that ability to deal with your own inner demons, I guess, in very literal terms.
CAITLIN: Right. I’ve been doing meditation lately, and one of the things is… You have these thoughts. These thoughts are a part of you, but they do not define you. See them, accept them, and then move forward.
VRAI: Yeah. It’s a really useful mentality for everything from if you’re somebody who lives with intrusive thoughts, which I do, to even just the fact that, certainly as Western viewers, our culture doesn’t really allow a lot of space for fear and anger and grief. And the acknowledgement that sitting with those feelings is good is nice to see, and we are only just starting to get that, I think, in American media aimed at younger audiences.
CAITLIN: Just like that really good Steven Universe episode.
VRAI: It was good.
CAITLIN: Which was directed by… (shit, why am I…?) Imaishi.
VRAI: Oh, yeah, that was the Imaishi episode, wasn’t it? Cool. Anyway…
DEE: [crosstalk] Which one is this? Oh, okay. I didn’t know if we wanted to get into it.
VRAI: No, sorry, it was the…
CAITLIN: The meditation one.
DEE: Oh! Yeah, yeah, yeah.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Mindful meditation.
VRAI: It’s got mindfulness in it, yeah.
DEE: Yeah, because Steven’s just not letting himself feel his feelings. He’s just locking them down, his more negative emotions. Isn’t that the concept in that one?
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah. Yeah.
CAITLIN: So, basically, it’s the same thing as we’re talking about!
DEE: Yeah, exactly. No, I think that is a good comparison point, for sure. So, yeah, I do think the anime staff did a nice job of finding those threads that were there but maybe hadn’t gotten pushed on as much as they needed to, and gone, “Okay, how are we going to tie this together into a thematic whole that is also a healthy message for our teenage audience?” And I think for the most part they did a pretty good job with it.
VRAI: I do think at the end of the day, the anime staff was the most invested in Maka and Crona, but so am I, so it’s fine!
CAITLIN: I mean, that’s fair. That’s kind of the core relationship.
VRAI: Yeah! Oh, I care about them so much!
CAITLIN: You’d think Maka and Soul would be, but…
CAITLIN: It’s more Maka and Crona, I feel like, are the strongest throughline.
DEE: Yeah. I would absolutely agree with that.
VRAI: I will say, people are so mad—to this day, legendarily mad—that that wasn’t a kiss when Maka goes in to rescue Soul at the end there. And I’m like, “That would have ruined the scene. What are you talking about?”
DEE: I really like that—there are ships in the show; I think there are a lot of them—I like that ultimately this anime has no romance in it unless you want there to be romance in it. Even Stein and Marie, which is probably the closest thing to a couple that we kind of get, with the hug and everything, even in that scene, Stein refers to her as his friend. [Chuckles]
VRAI: It’s nice!
DEE: And they’re not presumed together in the end credits or anything. And I think in some ways that makes those arcs… I don’t want to say “better” because I don’t want it to sound like romantic love can’t be powerful and important. But I think so often in stories like this, we get this idea of, like, “And then the man was saved with her love; her romantic love from her love heart.” [Chuckles]
And because this sidesteps that, it feels more like stories just about supportive communities looking after one another and accepting each other. And, you know, Maka dives in and saves Soul, but then when they come out, Soul protects Maka, and so there’s a little bit of a balance there between the two of them that I like.
VRAI: I mean, if anything, the more explicitly romantic relationships in this show are the most toxic ones. There’s Spirit being a shit husband or Medusa’s possessive relationship to Stein where she kind of, sort of, mockingly refers to him as a lover, or the fact that Ashura potentially realizing he might have romantic feelings for Arachne is why he kills her.
CAITLIN: There was some oedipal stuff going on with that.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah. That’s another one of those moments where I’m like, “All right, I think the endpoint you got to here works towards what you’re building towards, but I’m not sure you’ve earned this. But you know what? We’re moving on.”
DEE: Look, they only had a few episodes. They had to get rid of Arachne somehow.
VRAI: We’re moving on!
DEE: [Laughs] How else was the Kishin supposed to turn into a kaiju for Black Star and Kid to fight?
VRAI: We need a kaiju and this is how we get there! It’s fine!
CAITLIN: By the way, Ashura’s got a voice.
VRAI: Oh, I watched the last couple episodes dubbed, so most of his stuff was whoever-the-hell. So I actually didn’t… Who was he in the Japanese track?
CAITLIN: I believe he’s voiced by Tohru Furukawa. [Types on her keyboard] Let’s see.
DEE: Okay. What did you mean by “He’s got a voice”?
CAITLIN: So, Ashura is… doot-doot-doo… Toshio Furukawa, who is an old-school voice actor. Also known as Piccolo?
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh! All right. [Chuckles] That’s cool. That’s cool they got—
VRAI: All right, so he’s got one of them there deep, sensual voices.
DEE: —kind of a veteran…
CAITLIN: Yeah. He’s in a lot of… Oh, he’s Ataru! From Urusei Yatsura. So that just tells you how far back he goes.
DEE: Mm-hm. Yeah, so he’s been around.
CAITLIN: Yeah. In English, he is Chris Patton.
VRAI: Who is fine.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, he’s fine. Yeah, I—
VRAI: I was watching the dub for the kids, honestly, who are all really solid, especially by the end.
DEE: They really are. I was curious at the end because I felt like the Kishin’s voice was kind of underwhelming for the character. I thought he’d have a really creepy voice. But I switched over to the Japanese track and he kind of doesn’t in the Japanese track either. Which…
CAITLIN: No, he’s got kind of a smooth voice.
DEE: Which, I kind of like that because of the sort-of ending twist, almost, where Maka tries to exorcize him and it’s like, “Well, no, fear actually isn’t evil. It’s just a normal part of being a person, so you can’t exorcize fear. It’ll never actually go away.” Which I think kind of ties into the show.
And Vrai, you might be able to speak more to this just because I know you have a background in horror and you know more about that Lovecraftian cosmic horror. But it feels like the show is playing on that a bit with these existential dread forces that you can’t defeat, you can only keep at bay. Do you think I’m reading that okay?
VRAI: No, no, no! Yeah. That’s definitely a thing in cosmic horror, but it’s certainly a more optimistic take than the genre usually does because it’s—
DEE: Oh, I would agree with that.
VRAI: Yeah, because cosmic horror is usually about the uncaring nature of these things that will crush you or that you will go mad from seeing. Not to say that there’s not reconstructive cosmic horror that is in this same vein about how you have to work with it because otherwise it will kill you. But yeah, no, I really like that, too, because, yeah, it’s definitely part of that. Words good. Wow, I am “words good” today.
DEE: It’s okay, it’s okay! I was gonna ask, have you read much New Weird fiction that was kind of coming out in the early aughts—a little bit before Soul Eater—at all? China Miéville’s the big name from that, but Gaiman played with it a little bit as well.
VRAI: I read a lot of Gaiman. I’ve got Miéville literally sitting on my shelf that Dorothy got for me to read, but I haven’t, sadly, yet. But no, I love weird fiction when I have a chance to read it.
DEE: Yeah, I was one of those people who… And I think this is true of a lot of folks. I hadn’t touched a Lovecraft book until I realized that a lot of the stuff I was reading was inspired by Lovecraft, and I was like, “Oh, I guess I should go back and try some Lovecraft.” Which I did, and he’s not a very good writer. So, the stuff that was inspired by him is inevitably better. But I was gonna say a lot of the—
VRAI: He’s a racist old shitstain, but, you know.
DEE: Yeah, he is. But he’s dead now, so it’s not like he can make any money off of his works.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Hooray!
DEE: But anyway… [Coughs] Anyway, sorry, what I was gonna say is a lot of the New Weird sci-fi fantasy subgenre engages with, I think, a lot of the stuff that Soul Eater is—and I know Ohkubo himself clearly has read a lot of that style of horror, just based on the manga. But I feel like the anime drew on that, as well, in terms of… The New Weird tends to ride this line between being like that sort of cosmic dread, fatalism of the old stuff, of the original Lovecraft, and then taking a more optimistic bent of: yes, this is a thing that is part of existence, but we also have… basically, relationships with one another can help us keep the dread at bay.
And I think it’s neat the way Soul Eater is engaging with that. And it can almost be used as baby’s first modern cosmic horror story if you wanted to use it as a jumping-off point for that conversation, I think, which I liked.
VRAI: Yeah. And visually it’s got that aesthetic without being too intense or upsetting, I think, if you’re more sensitive to horror, especially body horror.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, there’s some good creepy shit in here, but…
CAITLIN: I know that the aesthetic is very inspired by Tim Burton.
VRAI: That tracks.
DEE: Mm-hm. I could see that, yeah.
CAITLIN: When I was reading up, that was one of the big things that he cited as his main inspiration.
DEE: Yeah, and I would say Tim Burton is a little bit more inspired by the more gothic-type trends, but I think that over the years the two have kind of woven together in some ways, and I think you can see that with Soul Eater.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah, narratively Burton isn’t very cosmic horror, but he’s got that spindly Victorian gothic look that often gets used for cosmic horror art.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, I would say his narrative style is a little bit more in the vein of gothic supernatural than cosmic horror. But again, I think he’s had such an impact on that particular strain of fantasy that you start to see it weaving into other things over time, as well. So yeah, you can totally see that with Ohkubo.
VRAI: I also think there was just a subset of authors from the ‘90s and 2000s who got real into whenever a Tim Burton wave hit Japan, because Kazuki Takahashi based a lot of his costumes on Edward Scissorhands, so this is just where we live.
DEE: Hey, it’s a good aesthetic. [Chuckles] It’s a good-ass aesthetic. I don’t blame people for getting very into it.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] ‘90s, Tim Burton? [Makes chef’s kiss noise]
DEE: Mwah! [Chuckles]
DEE: Okay, okay, bringing the conversation back around. Sorry. Vrai, were you going to say something?
VRAI: [crosstalk] No, no, yes, yes. No, I was also going to attempt to ring us back in. Going on!
DEE: No, no, it’s all good. The final point I wanted to ask you guys about is… You know, we’ve talked week to week about Soul Eater. It’s a shounen, but it’s a shounen with a female lead character… and how it handles the gender norms and the gender dynamics. I wanted to get your thoughts on how you thought this last stretch went.
VRAI: I really liked Maka and Marie’s arcs in this last stretch. Once again, it jumps out to me how the subtitles did this unintentional thing where the good characters gender Crona and Medusa does not, which I honestly think was truly unintentional, but it sure is interesting.
DEE: It was, yeah.
VRAI: I do think there’s a lot of… it’s a little more obvious in this last stretch that Tsubaki has nothing to do except be supportive of Black Star, and Arachne is [audio cuts out] reduced to giving the Kishin headpats, and Medusa is really leading into that whole “being Stein’s lover” thing.
CAITLIN: Does Tsubaki ever get anything else to do in the manga?
DEE: No. [Chuckles]
DEE: Sorry, no.
CAITLIN: They got her arc just right out of the way.
VRAI: We got that pesky arc done in the first six episodes, and then she was good.
CAITLIN: We took care of the quiet girl.
DEE: We do find out that she’s secretly the horniest member of the team.
CAITLIN: Well, that’s not surprising.
DEE: But I don’t think that counts as a character arc, so…
VRAI: [Chuckles] But Blair is there in a way that was fine, for a change. She help.
DEE: I sort of appreciated that the second the anime was no longer beholden to the manga, not a spot of fanservice touched the screen! Like they were like, “Oh, wait, we don’t have to do fanservice? Hell yes.”
VRAI: [crosstalk] It was good.
CAITLIN: I did enjoy her just being like, “All right, I’ve got a job,” and just getting her hostess friends to go and “help”… uh… RJ?
DEE: [crosstalk] Coffee Snob Joe?
VRAI: [crosstalk] Help support the— BJ.
DEE: BJ, yeah.
VRAI: Yes, I remember him because his name is funny because I’m puerile.
DEE: I always think of him as Joe because he loves a cup o’ joe.
VRAI: [illuminated] Ah!
DEE: So deeply does he love that cup of joe.
VRAI: He finally got his cup— I’m a sucker for ending flashforward cards. And they were freaking good.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, like while the credits are running?
CAITLIN: Yeah, he got his coffee that made him dance.
VRAI: His coffee.
DEE: The Rumba Coffee shop reopened, and peace was restored to the world! I’m glad Joe got a nice ending here.
DEE: Pretty much everybody did, which I liked. Did you guys notice…? Oh, I was gonna touch on this with the cosmic horror element earlier. Did you guys notice in the end credits there is a Medusa snake hanging out with Eruka and Free?
DEE: Yeah. So, during the end, when they cut to everybody off doing their own thing and they show that the witches aren’t gone for good and there’s still gonna be magic forces out there—although you kind of get the sense that Eruka and Free are just gonna hang out, now that Medusa’s not ordering them to do evil things, which I do love…
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] You know what? Good for them. They deserve it.
DEE: I genuinely love that they’re like, “Medusa’s dead! Let’s peace out! We didn’t actually want to be involved in this anyway.” But yeah, there’s a snake on the tree at the end, Caitlin. And so, they’re looking off into the distance, just chatting or whatever, and then in the foreground you see a vector-arrow-covered Medusa snake circling a tree, and it’s like oh no!
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Oh, I did notice that. I just forgot.
DEE: Which, again, I think ties into this idea that—
VRAI: Let these nice kids have a nice time!
DEE: Yeah. I think it ties into the idea of: you’re not necessarily going to be able to 100% destroy all the bad thoughts and negative emotions or even shitty adults in your life. Sometimes they’re not gonna be 100% gone. But you can still move on. It looks like Crona’s living with Maka and Soul, which I thought was really cute.
VRAI: [moved] I love that for them! I love that for them!
DEE: I really think the anime did a really good job with Crona’s arc. Like I said, the manga does Crona real dirty, so I appreciate that Crona gets a happy ending—
VRAI: [crosstalk] I hate!
DEE: —and is able to kind of move on from, really, a terrible childhood. And again, I think the optimistic aspects of this finale were really good.
And it sounds like you guys were also with me on the fact that the ending kinda ties some shounen and shoujo tropes together a little bit, in terms of… The thing I really like about the ending is there’s all these surprise power-ups and special techniques, and there’s even that buckwild final-arc twist that always shows up in a shounen where it’s like, “Maka’s got weapon blood in her, and now she’s got blades!” and you’re like, “Oh, shit!”
And none of that actually matters. None of it worked.
VRAI: No, it’s about feelings! I love that. I love that shit.
CAITLIN: Yeah, it’s about the social links that she’s formed with…
DEE: The people around her and…
CAITLIN: She’s formed her social links with Crona and Soul, which, even when things are terrible, give her the power to stand up to the evil through the power of her social links.
DEE: I just love that idea that we’re fighting the embodiment of fear, so you can’t defeat fear just with a fancy technique or… Even when the weapon thing happens, she’s unconscious, right? It was an attempt to stop feeling fear and it doesn’t work, because the only way to defeat the embodiment of fear is to accept that the fear exists and then push through it, which is courage.
God, it’s just such a perfect ending. And then she punches him in the face and it’s so good. [Chuckles] It’s just so good.
VRAI: It’s so good!
DEE: All Maka needs is her fist.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] That scream was chilling, too.
CAITLIN: When she screams, it’s like, [in a spooked tone] “ooh!”
DEE: But I think there’s this idea that—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] To think that people were shit-talking her voice actress at first.
DEE: How dare. How dare. She’s great. I mean, in English she’s great. I’m sure she’s good in Japanese, too.
VRAI: She is. They’re both good.
DEE: Yeah. What was I trying to say? Oh, but I think Igarashi is one of those directors who… Because his later [work] is like… he does some mecha shows and right now he’s doing Bungo Stray Dogs, which is a seinen. I think he’s one of those directors that genuinely enjoys the big, bombastic elements of both shoujo and shounen.
And I like that, given the chance to make an anime-original series finale here, I feel like he ties those elements nicely together. Because we’ve talked in the past about how a lot of the time the big finale in a shoujo series ultimately comes down to feelings, right? It’s about emotions, and it’s like “inner strength” is really what it’s going for.
But honestly, that’s what a lot of shounen come down to, as well! It’s like, “The support of my friends got me here.” And they’ll tag on a fancy-pants special technique that they learn at the 11th hour to make that happen. But it ultimately comes from that same place of emotionality and feelings and supportive community and all that great shit that I love about manga and anime! And so I think that Soul Eater basically saying, “Yeah, it’s all kind of the same thing,” I really appreciate that about it.
CAITLIN: Shounen and shoujo are… People try to talk like the demographic that they don’t prefer is like, “Oh, it’s all so illogical and emotion driven.” It’s like, no, they both are. They both are and that’s fine because it’s aimed at teens.
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh, yeah. Absolutely they both are.
CAITLIN: Teens are emotionally driven a lot of the time.
DEE: Even if it wasn’t, I still think it’s great. I mean, there’s kind of that joke that the thing that screwed up Star Wars was when they decided that Midi-chlorians… to try to explain the Force. You don’t have to explain it. It’s magic. It’s emotions. That is the point of these stories: is to literalize intangible things.
And I love that about… I mean, that’s one of the things that drew me to this genre. And the things that bother me about shounen are definitely not that. It’s, you know, the fanservice or the sidelining of the female characters. Which, blessedly, Soul Eater has some fanservice but after the first three episodes it’s extremely minimal, and it does not sideline its female characters. In fact, it centers them in the foreground, especially in this final arc with both Maka and Marie as the hero/rescuer-type characters who come in to save the day.
So, I’m glad we did this rewatch, Caitlin, because I got to reevaluate Soul Eater, and it turns out I like it even more than I thought I did to begin with. So it’s great. I’m probably gonna buy the Blu-ray now.
VRAI: Same! 25 bucks is a good price.
CAITLIN: Ooh! It’s 25 bucks now?
DEE: Is it? Where?
VRAI: On Rightstuf?
DEE: Hell yeah, I’m gon’ get in on that. Last time I saw, it was under 40 and I was like, that’s a really good deal for 51 episodes. But if it’s 25, gimme! Sorry, folks at home.
VRAI: [crosstalk] It’s like 26, but yeah.
DEE: Folks at home, by the time you hear this, the sale…
VRAI: [crosstalk] This will all be cut.
DEE: Yeah, that sale won’t be there anymore. But it’s okay.
VRAI: I’d always kind of loosely referred to this as my favorite battle shounen of the 2000s, and now I am more comfortable in that statement.
DEE: I think that’s fair.
VRAI: Which, in fairness, I don’t watch a lot of battle shounen, but…
DEE: Yeah. It’s definitely… This and Fullmetal Alchemist are my top two from that time period, I would say.
VRAI: Oh. That’s true. FMA is good.
DEE: But ultimately… I mean, FMA doesn’t treat… When Soul Eater is shitty to its female characters, like with the fanservice and stuff, it’s worse, but when Soul Eater is good with its female characters, it’s better. So there’s a balance there. We definitely—
CAITLIN: For a while, Fullmetal Alchemist was kind of a feminist darling on Tumblr. It’s just like, no, it’s…
DEE: [crosstalk] There’s a lot of discourse.
CAITLIN: Yeah. There sure is.
DEE: We definitely don’t have time.
VRAI: [crosstalk] I always feel like I can never have an opinion on FMA just because… Yeah. I really only care about the ‘03 anime and I just never engaged with the manga or Brotherhood, which I’m sure are fine, but I don’t care.
DEE: Someday maybe we’ll do an FMA thing.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk, chuckling] Maybe we’ll do a watchalong some other day.
DEE: There is no universe where we’re going to get into FMA discourse at the end of a perfectly nice Soul Eater podcast.
VRAI: I assume we’re gonna have like five to ten minutes of cut to go for, so tell us a little bit about good and bad shit from the manga, Dee. You mentioned they did some interesting things with Kid, and also I just want to know if the shit with Crona is in fact as bad as it is in summary form. Because if people want those manga spoilers to save them from having to go look that shit up, might as well tell them.
DEE: That’s fair, that’s fair. Yeah, there’s some good stuff with Kid in terms of… Again, some of it’s lore related, and you see it at the very end of the anime where, when his three lines connect, Death’s mask cracks, and then his three lines disconnect and everything kind of goes back to normal. When Kid comes into his own as the next Shinigami, there can only be one Shinigami, so Lord Death will disappear, basically. And that is a building plot point for the second half of the manga.
In the manga, his lines connect gradually throughout the story, and in the final fight, the third one connects and Lord Death turns into dust. And there’s very much this focus on the younger generation taking over from the previous generation and doing things differently, because Kid was the one who orchestrated the witch alliance and he’s now kind of in charge of Death City. Which, again, I think the anime, based on where the characters were, there was no way they could get to that point. But they do definitely touch on the fact that there is going to be some slow, steady change as these two generations keep coming into conflict with each other and moving forward.
There’s also kind of a cool arc with Kid where they really engage with his ideal of perfect order and the fact that that in itself is a form of quote-unquote “madness,” because essentially what perfect order is is nothingness: everything ceases to exist. And he spends a volume being like, “That’s what we need. I just have to eradicate everybody.” And while Black Star has no character development after the stuff that happens in this stretch of episodes we saw in the anime, he does have a nice moment there where he dives in after Kid and brings him back from the brink and reminds him of the fact that balance and shades of gray are important and that the actual concept of true order is toxic in the same way that the things Kid’s been fighting against are also toxic.
So, again, this idea of balance between impulse and logic comes into play with him, as well, in a way that I think forwards a lot of the themes that the anime digs into here at the end, as well. So, Kid’s arc is pretty neat as far as him coming into his own.
There’s some pretty good stuff with Maka and Soul in terms of they both have insecurities about being worthy of being the other one’s partner and supporting each other, and that gets touched on periodically throughout the story.
VRAI: I assume the super special weapon powers were an anime invention.
DEE: Oh yeah, Maka’s not actually a weapon. That was the anime going, “We’re gonna fool you into thinking this is our big final shounen power-up, but it’s not. It doesn’t matter.” Which I still freaking love!
VRAI: [crosstalk] Which I love!
DEE: I think that is so good! It’s such a nice little meta twist.
But yeah, no, Crona gets fucked over! So, instead of Crona running off into the desert and Maka chasing after them and bringing them back to Death City, Crona just vanishes? Maka figures out that Crona might still be working with Medusa and wants to talk to Crona about it, but before Maka gets the chance, Crona’s just gone.
And the next time we see Crona, they have been completely brainwashed into not even remembering who Maka is. Basically, Medusa did a bunch more experiments with them and the Black Blood, and they’re murdering whole towns under Medusa‘s orders. And after basically getting their Black Blood powers to maximum, Medusa gives them a hug and says, “I’m so proud of you.” And Crona snaps at the fact that this person who’s been abusing them since childhood, who has never said a nice thing to them, finally said, “I love you and I’m proud of you,” and murders Medusa, which was apparently Medusa’s goal the whole time, because that would mean that Crona was complete as the ultimate force to devour the Kishin and change the world or whatever. So Medusa dies by Crona’s hand.
Crona snaps further because they killed their mom and decides they need to basically become the Kishin because I guess it’s the only way to stop from feeling these feelings, I guess? It’s not clear.
So they go to the Moon. Everybody goes to the Moon. That’s where the Kishin is, by the way. The Kishin’s not with Arachne. That’s anime original.
VRAI: Kishin’s on the Moon. All right.
DEE: Yeah, Kishin’s on the Moon.
VRAI: [crosstalk] No dogs. Got a Kishin up there.
DEE: Yeah, no dogs, but one Kishin. So they go to the Moon and they fight on the Moon.
DEE: It’s shounen ridiculous but kind of fun. There’s a big, extended fight on the Moon.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] And that’s where the clowns come from.
DEE: Mm… I don’t really get where clowns come from, to be honest. There are clowns in the manga. I’m not sure where they came from. So Crona devours the Kishin and then talks to Maka and Maka gets through to them. And then the Kishin devours Crona, but then Maka goes inside the Kishin and finds Crona within the Black Blood, and they talk. And Crona basically says, “I’ve done way too many horrible things to just be forgiven and be able to go about my business,” which at this point is true. In the anime, I think the number of horrible things Crona has done is more easy to make up for. By the end of the manga, Crona has murdered villages. It’s pretty bad.
VRAI: That’s a lot. That’s a high body count. Yeah.
DEE: So basically, they realize they can’t defeat the Kishin because the Kishin is the embodiment of fear, and fear will always exist, so all they can do is trap the Kishin. So Crona volunteers as tribute and creates a big Black Blood sphere to encircle the Moon.
And the manga essentially ends with… Kid takes over Death City, Soul becomes the last death scythe because he eats Arachne’s soul when he and Maka defeat Arachne halfway through the series. But they are never going to eat another witch’s soul because they have an alliance with the witches now. So he’s the last scythe. And Maka makes a promise that eventually they’re going to go back to the Moon and see Crona again, but as far as we know, Crona’s trapped in the Moon with the Kishin for the rest of eternity.
CAITLIN: And everyone is obsessed with boobs now.
DEE: Oh! Yeah! So, because Crona longed—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Heh, boob [unintelligible].
DEE: Well, Crona longed for a loving mother, which manifested in the form of a preoccupation with breasts. And this was emanating from the Moon. And so all the meisters—specifically the meisters—all the meisters become obsessed with boobs. So I guess Maka’s bi, kind of, by the end?
VRAI: [sighing] I…
DEE: Kind of? But it ends with the same comedy assault bullshit that started the series, so it’s like, “Oh, good. I’m glad to know that after all this character growth and everything, the boys are still assaulting the girls. Awesome.” It’s a shitty final chapter, honestly.
And there’s this big, epic Moon fight, right? And it’s pretty good. I felt like Crona got done dirty, but I think the promise that eventually they’ll go save Crona… I was like, okay, I guess I could kind of live with that.
But the final chapter, which is basically just a bunch of fanservice and groping shots and Black Star is still hanging out with Tsubaki when she’s in the bath and she hates it… It’s not like they’re siblings and it’s just like, “Oh, come on. You’re in my… You know, you should probably do this elsewhere.” She’s genuinely upset.
Oh, that final chapter is just bad. It tries to go back to doing that ecchi stuff that it did in the first chapter, but by this point we have grown past that, kids, and really leaves a sour taste in your mouth. And overall, I just found the manga to be kind of weightless.
So, anime better. Maka punch Kishin in face.
And I mean, Maka still has a lot to do in the manga’s final fight. She’s the one who gets through to Crona, and then she’s the one who basically delivers the final blow with her scythe. And it’s a team-up effort, the same thing. Kid and Black Star land some really good blows and help out, and it’s a group fight for sure. So, the basic beats that are in the manga are in the anime and then all the bullshit isn’t there.
So, again, other than the stuff with the witch alliance, other than that, that’s the one thing I’m sad we didn’t get in the anime. But otherwise, you don’t need it. It’s fine.
So that’s the manga, Caitlin and Vrai.
VRAI: All right, the mystery is solved.
DEE: Vrai, you asked, so you just got my 10-minute summary.
VRAI: [crosstalk] I asked!
DEE: My 10-minute Soul Eater manga summary. Peter, I’ll give you discretion on how you want to cut this one together.
My request is that we try to end on a positive note that centers the conversation we’re having, which is the anime. That’s what we’re here for. And overall, it sounds like we all had a pretty good time with this one, yeah?
VRAI: Yeah. I don’t know that I’ll revisit it again anytime soon, because it’s long.
DEE: It is.
VRAI: But God, I love Crona so much. They’re probably one of my top 20 anime characters, period. I love them.
CAITLIN: I might rewatch the last few episodes, just so I could watch it with Jared.
CAITLIN: Because he had to work when I was watching them.
DEE: Aw, you should then, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, Crona’s great. Maka’s great. It’s a good cast. I love Kid. Again, he didn’t get to do as much as he could have, but that’s okay. And… fun show.
Okay, I’m just rambling at this point. Should I play us out, team?
VRAI: Play us out.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Play us out.
VRAI: We did it. Good job, team.
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