Title: Soul Eater NOT!
Manga-ka: Atsushi Ohkubo (大久保 篤)
Publisher: Yen Press/SQUARE ENIX
Why? Because I *love* Soul Eater
Keywords: Soul Eater, creepy-Nightmare-Before-Christmas-cute, girls, people turning into weapons, deathscythes, shinigami, school life
Ding-dong! DEAD-dong! Class is about to begin, and you don’t want to be late on your first day of school! Join Tsugumi Harudori in the NOT class at Death Weapon Meister Academy, a school dedicated to training transforming Weapons like Tsugumi and the Meisters who will wield them. Many NOT (Normally Overcome Target) students aspire to join the elite EAT (Especially Advantaged Talent) class, but it may take Tsugumi some time to find her confidence—and a partner—at this crazy school!
Where *exactly* is Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA)? Why do some people turn into weapons? What other weapons are there? How was Sid before he became a zombie? If you were burning with these questions, then this manga is for you! I like to think of SEN as Soul Eater Lite, or Soul Eater School Days. The story takes place before the storyline of Soul Eater and focuses on Tsugumi Harudori, a good-natured, but unsure Halberd weapon who can’t fully transform and is having a hard time choosing a meister. Right now her choices are between Meme, a girl who can barely remember her name, but can remember to kick someone’s ass when necessary, and Anya, a well-to-do girl who wants to learn more about the common folk. Think of a tsundere Tamaki from Ouran High School. This series gives a more lighthearted, school comedy tone to the Soul Eater universe, where it focuses on the antics of the three girls and their interactions with characters both new and familiar. That’s not to say there isn’t any action; it’s a school where half the kids turn into weapons after all. Behind the scenes students and teachers try and figure out the mysterious traitors that attack in Death City.
The three girls are, though formulaic, still entertaining to read. Tsugumi is unsure, but has her brave moments and tries. Plus she turns into an awesome weapon so I hope to see some badass-ery from her later on. There is fanservice, but it’s not distracting, plus the manga recognizes it with Anya making comments about the high skirts and wondering why they have to wear them. Of course, fans of the main manga will enjoy the cameos. I loved the fact that Tsugumi adores Maka and enjoyed the little back story on how Kim and Jacqueline became partners. Sad to say I kind of squee-d a bit when Kid made a brief appearance and was being his OCD self. (I’m currently reading volume 18 in Japanese and I’m really freaked out at what’s happening with Kid right now.)
You can really see how far Ookubo has gone with the art after comparing the art in early Soul Eater art. I love his detail and use of space. I find in shonen manga panels can be tight and packed with background noise and action words, but Soul Eater almost has a minimalist look to it at times and it’s easier for me to take it all in and appreciate the art and detail.
The end of volume 2 ended on a sad and serious note so I’ll be waiting for volume 3. I think SEN is one of the few series where it can be read by both fans of Soul Eater and newcomers.
On another note, I really enjoy Yen Press’s publishing quality and like the direction they’re taking with manga-izing popular YA titles such as Gail Carriger’s Soulless and James Patterson’s Witch and Wizard. Keep it up, Yen Press!