Soul Eater: Good Resonance, Bad Resonance


Death the Kid understands my pain in trying to write this post.

For whatever ineffable reason, I have found it extraordinarily hard to actually sit down and write things about Soul Eater. I really don’t know why this is. It’s not because I hate the series–I like it, it’s a ton of fun, especially 10/11 and 14 (for entirely different aspects of the word “fun”), I enjoy watching it, and I really can’t think of anything it’s really doing wrong that would merit this. It might not be giving enough material for a post in the vein of previous posts, and, not wanting to flood the otakuhedron with any more senseless, aimless posts than I already have (read: most of them), but that’s not because such elements aren’t there–10/11 masterfully demonstrated the strengths of the series, and I honestly want more episodes like that. (I haven’t watched 16 as I write this, by the way, and I’m really hoping for 15/16 to be for Death the Kid and Patty/Liz what 10/11 was for Black Star and Tsubaki)

The strength of the series, and the direction it’s taking, lies in the concept of the resonance between the meister and the weapon. (I don’t even know how many times this has been said) When it comes to Black Star and Tsubaki, for instance, they have a high rate of resonance–partially because they honestly really do trust each other with their lives. Black Star is, of course, an annoying git (a lovably annoying git, but an annoying git nonetheless), and Tsubaki is annoyed and aggravated by him at times near constantly, but–and here’s the thing–she understands him. Part of Black Star’s personality is due to his family’s past as a cadre of feared, evil assassins, and he’s trying to overcompensate for past wrongs by shouting a lot and being really dumb. And Tsubaki understands this. Way back in the second  episode, we had the infamous accidently-peeking-into-bath scene with Black Star who (unsurprisingly) does not really seem to understand that when peeping in on a girl, however unintentionally, it is not the wisest thing in the world to scream really loudly. Tsubaki instantly chastises him–not for peeping, mind, but for screaming. It might be that she harbors a secret desire for Black Star deep in her heart (the doujin author’s route), but more likely (and less of an indication that your mind is in the gutter) is that she doesn’t get mad at him for peeping because she understands him so well that she was fully aware that he wouldn’t do something like this on purpose for his own titillation. In a sense, they’re probably the most idealistic couple-like group in Soul Eater–for a relationship to last, there must be mutual understanding and mutual acceptance between the two.

By contrast to the mutual faith of Black Star and Tsubaki stands Maka and Soul Eater, who seem to be plagued by their own shortcomings. They both realize that their shortcomings are their own, but, at the same time, they also take out their own frustrations with themselves on each other. I’m not even entirely sure that both of them know that they both feel too weak to be of use to the other–remember the “resonance training”? They were told to tell the other person’s worst weakness to each other, but they argued and bickered instead–not because they don’t like each other, but because both feels inadequate, and thinks that the other is just waiting for them to catch up. It’s a difficult situation that they’re both handling differently–Maka by beating herself up over such things as letting Soul Eater take a blow to protect her, Soul Eater by, well, making a deal with a jazz-loving imp-thing that exists in his head, as a result of contact with Ragnarok. They both want to be strong, but rather than grow strong together (as Tsubaki and Black Star seem to have) they’re trying to go about it independent of each other, which is the very opposite of what “resonance” means, hence why they aren’t very good at it.

Death the Kid and Patty/Liz…well, I don’t know yet, nor can I make a guess. I’m hoping it’s in 16 or shortly thereafter, but I’m pretty sure it’s coming.

I do think that, if I had to fault Soul Eater on one thing, it would simply be that it’s trying to spread itself too thin (at the moment, anyway). That might be because I haven’t really watched/read One Piece or something similar, though. It’s very good at being a hilarious comedy, and it’s very good at the characterization and general dramatic storytelling that I’d expect from a good shounen anime, or a good anime period. I’m just not sure the balance is right, as it may be shooting itself in the foot by being too silly, and inviting consideration of it as just a silly wacky show, which would mean missing out on the dramatically important elements. I think I can make this claim, since even the act of writing this post required a shift from “oh Soul Eater, you so silly and wacky” to a more “normal” mode of thought for me. Which shouldn’t be that hard, really. And for all I know, as the series progresses, it will get progressively more dramatic. Or more comedic. Or something.

One last note on resonance: it is seriously the best-produced T.M.Revolution song ever. I didn’t like his material in the SEED franchise too terribly much, and I’m not a big fan of abignon boys school, but, man, resonance is awesome.

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4 Responses to “Soul Eater: Good Resonance, Bad Resonance”


  1. 1 rroknedaj 24 July 2008 at 9:13 am

    I agree with your whole post but I agree much more with your statement that resonance rocks. IT DOES! =D

  2. 2 coburn 25 July 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Your Soul/Maka vs Tsubaki/Blackie comparison is spot on, and that episode with the resonance test was probably the closest we’ve come to an unadulterated expression of the dramatically honest side of the show.

    I like the way that “good” resonance is a harder path for some than others – and that some people are more tempted to succeed through self-destructive means. In general I think the partnership emphasis adds a layer of complexity and drama that isn’t present in fighting shows where people triumph through pure self-belief.

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