Story & Art by Atsushi Ohkubo
Translated by Amy Forsyth
Lettering by Abigail Blackman
Cover Design by Phil Balsman
Edited by Tania Biswas
Soul Eater is well-beloved in the anime and manga community, and it’s easy to see why. With an action-packed story and memorable cast, the series left a strong impression and served as a gateway series for many. Now, Square Enix Manga & Books is giving fans a new way to experience the series with Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition. This premium release compiles the manga into beautiful hardcover books, and it may be the best release of the series so far!
Soul Eater takes place in a world where grim reapers known as Meisters and Weapons battle against corrupted souls. At the Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA), students learn to fight together in Meister-Weapon teams to achieve the most powerful weapon: a Death Scythe.
Soul Eater has an interesting start, dedicating its first three chapters to different Meister-Weapon teams: Maka and Soul, Black Star and Tsubaki, and Death the Kid and the Thompson sisters. As it turns out, these three stories are one-shots that Atsushi Ohkubo wrote prior to Soul Eater’s publication, but they effectively work as a prologue for the series. You learn about the motivations of each Meister and Weapon and the dynamic that they have as a team. When the setting shifts over to the DWMA in later chapters, the characters all converge and interact with each other. Seeing Black Star and Soul mess around is an absolute joy, and it creates a playful tone for the series. Soul Eater ensures that readers will be invested in its story by the end of the first volume and it’s a glowing success.
Soul Eater’s focal teams only scratch the surface of the series’ large cast, and there are still plenty of memorable characters beyond it. The DWMA headmaster Lord Death has the biggest presence, being the main point of contact for the students during their missions. Lord Death’s outlandish appearance and upbeat personality make him stand out as a leader, and you can tell that he genuinely cares about those under his guidance. Dr. Stein is also introduced in the latter half of this volume, and he’s an absolute joy. His sadistic humor and over the top mannerisms make him feel like the series’ wild card, and his interactions with the DWMA students are thoroughly entertaining. Soul Eater understands that having a strong cast is essential, and its character diversity successfully captures your attention.
Even in his early work, Ohkubo has a very distinct art style. Soul Eater has a surreal design, fully immersing readers with its abstract architecture and horror-inspired environments. The series also has a diverse range of character designs, which allows each of the cast members to feel unique even as the story broadens. Unfortunately, one of Ohkubo’s worst habits is still evident in early Soul Eater: fanservice. There are several instances where female characters are drawn in compromising positions for the sake of comedy. It doesn’t ruin the manga by any means, but it’s an aspect of the series that may turn off some readers. Overall though, Ohkubo’s artwork provides Soul Eater with a strong identity that many will find appealing.
One of the biggest draws of Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition is the quality of the book itself. This first hardcover volume is 1.5 times longer than the original release from Yen Press, providing readers with even more content per volume. The Perfect Edition also uses a higher quality paper stock and includes the series’ color pages, which further enhances the reading experience. Moreover, the manga’s translation has been updated from the Yen Press release, and the lettering has been completely redone. Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition is the definitive release of this series and a fine addition to any collection.
Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition is a great starting point for new fans and a must-buy for returning ones. The series still holds up incredibly well, and the enhancements made to this release make it feel like an entirely new experience. Maka, Soul, and the gang are back, and I’m excited to see their adventure unfold once again.