Soul Eater, Vol. 18

By Atsushi Ohkubo. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine Shonen Gangan. Released in North America by Yen Press.

Soul Eater is an ensemble cast, but as with most ensemble casts, some characters are more lead than others, and so Soul Eater really stars Maka and Soul. Throughout the series we’ve seen the growing closeness between the two, and the confidence that they now have. Which is why the chapters on Envy and Sloth that they both go through are so traumatic. It’s such a shame that Maka, deep down, really has these issues with her. Of course, Maka is all of us, and you can never quite get rid of that core of self-loathing, no matter how much confidence you have. Luckily, Maka has Soul to snap her out of it.


As for everyone else, the Lust chapter actually plays out a lot faster than everyone thought, once the basic ‘what if they all changed sexes’ gag is done. Naturally, the more repressed a person is, the longer it takes to change back, which gives us an excuse to watch Tsubaki and Liz be humiliated. Gluttony, Wrath and Pride are excuses for character-based humor, as Black*Star and Patti pig out and we have to deal with the return of the most annoying sword in the world, which even Liz can’t wield in order to save Kid. (There’s some amusing 4th wall breaking here, as it’s noted that Black*Star screaming at Excalibur is buried in the gutter of the book.)

Speaking of 4th wall breaking, the art itself undergoes a change in the Sloth chapter, fitting in with what Maka and Soul are going through. This is probably the most disturbing part of the book, as Giriko shows up and threatens to rape Maka using extremely crude language, which (being in an existential crisis) she just sits there and takes. Luckily, Soul is there to come to her rescue, and she’s able to supposedly kill Giriko, though this may prove trickier than they expected. “People don’t explode when you kill them!” Is this meant to be another commentary on shonen tropes?

And then there’s Kid. We’ve had his obsessive-compulsive disorder used for humor for so long that it’s a bit jarring to see it be so serious now. And, truth be told, it’s a great way to get Kid to turn to the side of evil – point out that the best way everything can truly be symmetrical forever is to make everything become nothing, the empty symmetry of nonexistence. It’s chilling. Luckily, we have the one man whose ego is so big that facing off against something like this is nothing, and the cliffhanger sets us up for the big fight between Kid and Black*Star. The first time they fought, Kid wiped the floor with him, but I suspect things will go differently this time.

Soul Eater is slowly makes its way towards a big confrontation, but the journey is also fun, and this continues to be one of the best shonen titles out there.

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