Soul Eater: The Meister Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 14, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Atsushi Kubo’s “Soul Eater: The Meister Collection” receives its HD treatment with the first season (all 26-episodes) on Blu-ray. And it definitely outshines its DVD countepart! Featuring a lot of humor and action-packed battles, with its unique style and presentation plus its unique characters, “Soul Eater: The Meister Collection” is highly recommended!
Images courtesy of © Atsushi Okubo/Square Enix. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Soul Eater: The Meister Collection
DURATION: Episodes 1-26 (650 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English
RATED: TV 14
COMPANY: Showgate/Sentai Filmworks
RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2011
Originally created by Atsushi Ohkubo
Directed by akuya Igarashi
Series Composition by Akatsuki Yamatoya
Music by Taku Iwasaki
Character Design by Yoshiyuki Ito
Art Director: Norifumi Nakamura
Sound Director: Kazuhiro Wakabayashi
Director of Photography: Yohei Miyahara
Anime Production: BONES
Featuring the voices of:
Chiaki Omigawa/Laura Bailey as Maka Albarn
Kouki Uchiyama/Micah Solusod as Soul Eater Evans
Yumiko Kobayashi/Brittney Karbowski as Black Star
Kaori Nazuka/Monica Rial as Tsubaki Nakatsukasa
Mamoru Miyano/Todd Haberkorn as Death the Kid
Akeno Watanabe/Jami Marchi as Liz Thompson
Narumi Takahira/Cherami Leigh as Patty Thompson
Toru Ohkawa/Vic Mignona as Death Scythe (Spirit)
Rikiya Koyama/John Swasey as Shinigami-sama (Lord Death)
Yuya Uchida/Chuck Huber as Dr. Franken Stein
Chieko Honda as Mari Mjolnir
Emiri Katou/Leah Clark as Blair
Houchu Ohtsuka/Barry Yandell as Little Demon
Houko Kuwashima/Luci Christian as Medusa
Junko Noda as Mira Nygus
Keiji Himeno/Sonny Strait as Ragnarok
Maaya Sakamoto/Maxey Whitehead as Chrona
Masafumi Kimura/Kent Williams as Sid Barett
Michiko Neya as Arachne
Takehito Koyasu/Troy Baker as Excalibur
Toshiko Furukawa/Chris Patton as Asura/Kishin
Maka is a Meister and Soul is her Weapon. As students at the Grim Reaper’s Death Weapon Meister Academy, their study habits couldn’t be more different. But in battle against the supernatural forces of evil, they’re a freakin’ lethal team.
That’s when Soul transforms – literally – into a razor-sharp scythe, and every defeated wicked soul he sucks down makes him more deadly. That’s when Maka unleashes the merciless slayer within, wielding her partner and dropping monsters. Seriously. Monsters. Like the witches, werewolves, and zombies that lurk in the shadows and feed on the souls of the innocent.
Every freakish ghoul Maka and Soul take out strengthens their bond, and fighting alongside their fellow Meister/Weapon classmates, Maka and Soul are the world’s last line of defense against evil.
In 2003, mangaka Atsushi Okubo created his Japanese manga “Soul Eater”. Published by Square Enix, the manga had several one shots and eventually serialized in Square Enix’s “Monthly Shonen Gangan”. The manga went on to receive an English translation in 2009, several video games on various consoles but in 2008, the series received its anime adaptation by Bones and shown on TV Tokyo and featured a total of 51 episodes. FUNimation released “Soul Eater” last year on four DVD volumes and now, the series gets the HD treatment with the first 26-episodes on Blu-ray known as “Soul Eater: The Meister Collection”.
“Soul Eater” is directed by Takuya Igarashi (“Ashita no Nadja, “Ojamamo Doremi”, and many “Sailor Moon” episodes), series composition by Akatsuki Yamatoya (“Blue Dragon”, “Fullmetal Alchemist”, “Inuyasha”, “To Love-Ru”), character designs by Yoshiyuki Ito (“Fullmetal Alchemist”) and music by Taku Iwasaki (“R.O.D.”, “Gurren Lagann”, “Getbackers”, “Persona – trinity soul-”).
“Soul Eater” is a series that focuses on a group of students who attend the Death Weapon Meister Academy in a place known as Death City in Nevada. The school is run by the Shinigami known as Death and human wielders train with their weapons which are known as meisters.
The meisters and their weapons collect various souls that they are assigned to, but at times, the missions are quite difficult, challenging and can be deadly. And if they do not collect the correct soul, by the rules of academy, their soul collecting is reset to zero.
The main characters of “Soul Eater” are:
- Maka Albarn – One of the primary characters who is dedicated as a scythe meister of the demon scythe known as Soul Eater (Soul Evans). She and her partner Soul Eater want to collect 100 souls in order to make Soul Eater into a Death Scythe and surpass her father Spirit, who she doesn’t get along with. She cares about her partner Soul.
- Soul Eater (Soul Evans) – Maka’s partner and a cool person who loves to eat souls and crazy about sexy women with big boob. He and Maka tend to argue quite a bit but he is loyal to her.
- Black Star – A very egotistical young ninja/meister who thinks he is the best there is. He is the sole survivor of his Black Star ninja clan and is partners with Tsubaki. He is very athletic and very persistent but at the same time, sometimes his emotions get in the way and thus prevents him and his partner from collecting souls.
- Tsubaki – Black Star’s partner and is a “dark arm” weapon. She can turn into various ninja weapons and in human form, very calm and quiet girl.
- Death the Kid – The son of the Shinigami and partners with Liz and Patty Thompson. He is a powerful fighter but is obsessive compulsive about things being in symmetry and that everything must be balanced in his life. This obsession also affect his focus.
- Liz and Patty – The weapon partners of Death the Kid. They can turn into guns. The eldest Liz tends to bicker with Death the Kid but is often scared while Patty is always cheerful. These two can wield each other if needed.
- Shinigami (Lord Death) – The founder and head of Death Weapon Meister Academy. Often secretive and playful.
- Spirit Albarn (Death Scythe) – The weapon of the Shinigami and also the father of Maka who is divorced from her mother and is often drunk and messing around with women. All he wants is his daughter’s attention but she doesn’t give it to him and thus it makes him depressed.
- Dr. Franken Stein – The mad scientist of the Academy. Always wants to research and dissect things. Also, a three star meister who can fight.
- Crona – The child of Medusa who was forced by Medusa to become evil (even though she didn’t want to) but with a mean weapon named Ragnarok and being locked in the dark, she now becomes the ruthless enemy of DWMA.
“Soul Eater: The Meister Collection” features episodes 1-26 on three Blu-ray discs. Here is an episode listing featuring spoiler-less summaries:
- EPISODE 1 – Resonance of the Soul – Will SoulEater Become a Death Scythe? – Meiser Maka Albarn and her partner Soul Eater need one more soul in order for Soul to become a Death Scythe. Will they accomplish their mission?
- EPISODE 2 – I Am the Star! The Big Man is Showing Up Here? – Black Star and Tsubaki are sent on a mission. Will they collect their first soul?
- EPISODE 3 – The Perfect Boy – Death the Kid’s Magnificent Mission? – Death the Kid and his partners Liz and Patty go on a soul-hunting mission inside a pyramid.
- EPISODE 4 – Engage the Witch Hunter! A Remedial Lesson in the Graveyard? – Because Maka, Soul, Black Star and Tsubaki have not collected a soul, they must take a remedial class.
- EPISODE 5 – Shape of the Soul – Enter the Ultimate Meister Stein? – Maka, Soul, Black Star and Tsubaki take on Dr. Franken Stein.
- EPISODE 6 – The New Student – Kid’s First Day at the Academy – Will it be an Entrance to Remember? – Death the Kid enrolls at the Academy and Soul and Black Star decide to go against him.
- EPISODE 7 – Black-blooded Terror – There’s a Weapon Inside Crona? – Maka and Soul go on a mission but they encounter another young meister named Crona.
- EPISODE 8 – Medusa the Witch – The One Who Possesses a Great Evil Soul? – The aftermath of the battle against Crona and Ragnarok.
- EPISODE 9 – Legend of the Holy Sword – Kid and Black Star’s Great Adventure? – Black Star and Death the Kid go on a search for Excalibur.
- EPISODE 10 – The Enchanted Sword Masamune – Break the Soul Possession – Black Star and Tsubaki are sent on a mission to collect the soul of the demon blade Masamune.
- EPISODE 11 – Tsubaki the Camellia Blossom – What Lies Beyond the Grief? – Part 2 as Tsubaki takes on Masamune.
- EPISODE 12 – Courage that Beats Out Fear – Maka Albarn’s Great Resolution? – Medusa continues her infiltration of the Academy, while Maka wants to become stronger.
- EPISODE 13 – The Man with the Magic Eye – Soul and Maka’s Diverging Soul Wavelength? – Medusa sends Free, the werewolf to kill Maka and Soul.
- EPISODE 14 – The Super Written Exam – Heart-Pounding, Reeling, and Restless. You’re Kidding!? – The students of the DWMA must prepare for a big test but a few decide to resort to cheating.
- EPISODE 15 – The Soul Eating Black Dragon – Scaredy-Cat Liz and Her Merry Friends? – Kid, Liz and Patty investigate the Black Dragon.
- EPISODE 16 – Fierce Battle Aboard the Ghost Ship – The Hell Inside My Head? – Kid vs. Crona and Ragnarok.
- EPISODE 17 – Legend of the Holy Sword 2 – Wanna Go Drinking, Gambling, and Playing? – A story about Ox Ford and his encounter with the legendary sword Excalibur.
- EPISODE 18 – The Eve Party Nightmare – And So the Curtain Rises? – Medusa and crew begin their attack on Death City.
- EPISODE 19 – The Underground Battle Commences – Break Through Medusa’s Vector Arrow? – Lord Death talks about the threat and the origin of Asura. Meanwhile, the battles begin!
- EPISODE 20 – The Black Blood Resonance Battle! – A Small Soul’s Grand Struggle Against Fear? – Maka and Soul versus Crona and Ragnarok.
- EPISODE 21 – May My Soul Reach You – A Dry Heart Inside Unbearable Isolation? – In order to fight Cronus, Maka allows madness to consume her.
- EPISODE 22 – The Seal Shrine – The Immortal Man’s Tricks? – Kid and Free continue their fight but Kid gets some help from Black Star.
- EPISODE 23 – Dead or Alive – In the Rift Between Revival and Dazzlement? – Stein and Medusa fight to the death, while Kid and Black Star take on Free and Eruka.
- EPISODE 24 – The Battle of the Gods – Death City on The Verge of Collapse? – Asura attacks Death City and Lord Death is forced into battle.
- EPISODE 25 – The Death scythes Convene – Stop Dad’s Staff Reassignment!? – With Asura now free, Death summons the Death Scythes. Spirit fears that because he was unable to protect Death Scythe, he will be demoted.
- EPISODE 26 – The Exciting and Embarrassing Trial Enrollment! The DWMA New Lifestyle Support Fair Is open? – Maka and Marie try to help Crona with her new surroundings at DWMA.
“Soul Eater” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is an HD-native anime series.
When I first watched this anime series on DVD, I said that this was a series that needs a Blu-ray release. It’s a colorful anime series and because of that, “Soul Eater” looks much more vibrant than its DVD counterpart.
I did notice banding though, as the series does feature a lot of red. So, it’s not entirely perfect but still I noticed that the painted backgrounds and the details are much more evident on Blu-ray vs. DVD and once again, the colors really pop in HD.
With mangaka Atsushi Okubo inspired from Tim Burton and David Lynch films, “Soul Eater” is anime series that features many vibrant colors but also uses minimal detail. Character designs are quite simple and not detailed nor are they shaded, but the art backgrounds are detailed and colorful and thus enhance the look of the character designs.
Typically, I’m not a fan of anime series that feature minimalistic character designs but in the case of “Soul Eater”, because of its Burton-esque flavor, Okubo’s world around these characters is brought to live in animation and for the most part, the quirkiness and creative style works for this action-driven anime series.
As for the series, the anime is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and Japanese Stereo. Voice acting on both the Japanese and English dub is well-done but of course, the action scenes are much more pronounced audio wise for the English dub.
In terms of the lossless audio track, while I do prefer to listen to the lossless Japanese soundtrack, the fact that the English soundtrack is 5.1 and since I watched the original DVD’s on Japanese, I watched the series on Blu-ray via the English dub and the dub is fantastic and the use of the surround channels is more evident. But if you prefer to watch anime in Japanese and have a modern receiver, you can easily sent your receiver to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.
Subtitles are in English.
“Soul Eater: The Meister Collection” comes with a few special features. Included are:
- Episode 7 Commentary – Audio commentary by Zach Bolden (ADR Director), Laura Bailey (voice actress of Maka) and Micah Solusod (voice actor of Soul). The voice talent talk about working on “Soul Eater” and enjoying the series.
- Episode 23 Commentary – Audio commentary by Vic Mignona (Death Scythe), Chuck Huber (Dr. Stein) and Lucy Christian (Medusa) talk about watching the fully rendered episode and hearing the other voice talents voices. Also, what they love about the show.
- Soul Eater Late Show – (43:25 minutes) Featuring episodes 1-26 Japanese promo/teaser spots for each episode. That range from opening and closing theme, naughty-like teasers, bumper art galleries to character-based goofiness. Each promo spot lasts around a minute and a half each.
- Textless Opening Song – “Resonance” by T.M. Revolution
- Textless Closing Song – Featuring the Textless Closing Songs “Style” Version 1 and 2.
- Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.
“Soul Eater” is becoming a pretty awesome action/comedy anime series. This latest volume is pretty cool because it’s more action-driven as Medusa and her group begin their attack on the DWMA. And where the first 12 episodes were somewhat lighthearted when it came to the action scenes, things get a bit more darker with this series.
Especially some of the enemies, as one enemy who looks like a thin, frail man….has the ability to stretch his skin to attack. In some way, it’s kind of a disgusting character to watch as it’s mannerisms of fighting was unlike a character I have seen before. Typically stretching characters ala “Fantastic Four” Mr. Fantastic or Justice League’s Plastic Man look cool when stretching and fight in battle but this character of Free is just disgusting to watch as he just stretches out skin from his arms and each hit smacking their enemies with such force.
The storyline with Crona is quite interesting as well because you feel bad for her character and what Crona had to put up with. The battle between Medusa and Stein is also awesome to watch. Having reviewed the series previously on DVD, I can tell you that series gets even better, so you definitely want to stay tuned.
As for the Blu-ray release, I was quite impressed because I though the DVD was colorful and it looked good but watching it on Blu-ray, the reds and yellows pop and colors are absolutely vibrant. As mentioned, I did see moments of banding but for the most part, this series definitely looks way much better than its DVD counterpart. Especially having to see the detail on the painted backgrounds much more. Audio is very good but only the English soundtrack gets the DolbyTrue HD 5.1 treatment. But both Japanese and English voicework is awesome and FUNimation Entertainment did a great job for the casting of the English dub version.
And also, how happy I am that this series does come with special features. It’s one thing to have the commentary tracks but it’s great to have the “Soul Eater Late Show” content included as well!
For those who appreciate what Tim Burton was able to do for his own dark films can easily appreciate the twisted, dark world created by Atsushi Okubo. The look and feel of “Soul Eater” is quite different from any other anime series that I have seen and that’s a positive. Sure, character designs may be a bit minimal without the usual shading and detail that people expect from an anime series, especially from Bones. But I really dig the character designs because it’s fresh and different from what I’m usually seeing and for the most part, it works.
Overall, “Soul Eater: The Meister Collection” was an enjoyable, action-packed anime series which left me wanting more! I look forward to the next Blu-ray volume!
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