Story & Art by Atsushi Ohkubo
Translated by Abigail Blackman
Cover Design by Phil Balsman
Edited by Tania Biswas
While the first volume of Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition served as an entertaining introduction to the main cast, Volumes 2 and 3 see the series come into its own. Maka and Soul’s relationship is a major focal point, allowing the series to delve into their insecurities. What makes this especially compelling is that the duo’s struggles stem from their desire to support each other. Soul wants to protect Maka at all costs, but in doing so he disregards his own safety. Conversely, Maka doesn’t want Soul to place himself in harm’s way, but she also feels that she lacks the power to stand on her own. While Maka and Soul have good intentions behind their resolve, it causes them to distance themselves from each other and weakens their bond as a team. The fights throughout these volumes help to reforge their friendship and support their weaknesses in a healthy way. This creates a resonance between both characters, which in turn helps convey Soul Eater’s themes of friendship and perseverance.
One of the biggest additions in these volumes is the introduction of the series’ first major antagonist Medusa and her disciple Crona. Medusa is a powerful witch that is plotting against the DWMA. Under the guise of the DWMA’s nurse, Medusa is able to stay close to the meisters and weapons of the academy, pretending to support them while undermining their efforts. Medusa’s unique position makes her an immediately interesting villain, as while readers are fully aware of her danger, most of the cast initially view her as an ally. Seeing her true identity be slowly revealed is one of the most entertaining parts of these volumes, and the fall out of it will be incredible to see.
While Medusa schemes discreetly throughout most of these volumes, Crona is involved directly in the action. Crona wields the Demon Sword Ragnarok, a powerful weapon that has been infused into their own blood. Despite dwelling inside one body, Crona and Ragnarok are constantly at odds. While Crona is shy and easily frightened, Ragnarok has an unhinged and violent personality. In this way, Crona and Ranarock serve as the antithesis to the traditional meister-weapon relationship, with their power being fueled by their own discord. This also makes Crona not only a frightening enemy, but also an interesting and unpredictable obstacle that Maka and Soul must overcome.
Visually, Soul Eater’s art still looks a bit rough in these early volumes, but Ohkubo’s gradual improvement is fully evident. This is especially true during the various action scenes, where the paneling is starting to feel more intricate and detailed. This allows for character movements to feel more distinct, while also providing a greater sense of space during scenes. Maka and Soul’s fight against the Free in Volume 3 showcases this particularly well, as the battle spans across a large bridge but the transitions between panels never feel abrupt. Looking back at Ohkubo’s progression as an artist is quite insightful, and it will be interesting to see the further development of his style in later volumes.
Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition Volumes 2 and 3 are a solid read that showcase the action and character dynamics that have made the series so well-loved. There’s a clear artistic and narrative improvement from the first volume, and it bodes well for the quality of the later portions of the series. I’m looking forward to collecting more souls with my favorite DWMA students!