The 3rd edition of Endings Without Context features Soul Eater, the first shounen series I’ve really attempted to write about here. This series which aired over a full year beginning in April 2008, is extremely popular (MAL rankings of 196 on score and 12th in popularity).
However, as is always the case with these things there is always at least one good reason I’m given to attempt these last episodes. The final episode has a bit of a horrible reputation. These were reflected in comments before hand which ran the spectrum from “I never finished it because I heard the last episode was shit” to “I liked the series, but that ending was shit.” With that in mind, here is what I made of watching the 51st, and obviously final episode of Soul Eater.
Immediately it was obvious that I was thrown into a final battle. This being shounen fair, I could fully expect the protagonist Maka to be on the verge of defeat several times before ultimately triumphing in the end. Ultimately that would turn out to be the case, but how well would it work out?
Let’s start with the antagonist, a completely overpowered character who thrives on fear named
Poplan Asura. He seems to be dominant when fighting and understanding how his opponent works. If he doesn’t understand, he’s on the backfoot. Why he doesn’t just blow away Maka when he has chance after chance makes no sense, but I digress. Given that need for understanding, the battle proceeds in 3 alternating phases.
The first is the Asura dominating Maka phase, which is most common as he’s clearly superior to her in every way that matters in a battle. The second, and most interesting, are the phases when Maka is on top. Those are brief moments, and they really seem to come from nowhere, but they do happen. Lastly, the bits of exposition explaining the battle or the characters involved.
So the flow of the episode would go something like this. Asura beats up Maka a bit and then explains why she can’t win. Maka then does something new in attack before Asura figures it out and beats up Maka again. Rinse, lather and repeat. Also, occasionally throw in lines from observers telling the viewer how special Maka is for good measure.
Of course, where this all falls apart is the ending. Asura freaks out because, god forbid she is stupid and continues attacking and also because he doesn’t understand the concept of courage. This allows Maka, having ditched her scythes, to channel her inner Kamijou Touma and punch Asura right in the face. After some posthumous exposition, Asura is fully Imagine Broken and the world is safe for another day following an explosion of light.
Needless to say, that makes no sense. It would mean everyone who had ever fought Asura was a complete coward. So if Soul Eater‘s goal was to destroy any integrity the rest of the cast had, it succeeded brilliantly. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were going for with this final battle.
As for trying to piece together the plot leading up to this episode, I can only really guess that Maka built up a bunch of friends and defeated bad guys that were gradually more powerful than the last. That’s how these shounen series work, right? To be fair, this last episode didn’t really leave much to work with as the battle was the focus.
Now onto the grades:
Character Development: A (for Maka) C (for everyone else) That remark about destroying the integrity of the cast in the conclusion; it pretty much applies here. There was no development of Maka in this battle, but there was negative character development for all of her fallen comrades.
Plot Comprehension: D+ Hell if I know what was going on leading up to this episode. I’ll push that up to a C- if it’s really generic shounen plot.
Unintentional Comedy: B That ending was just utterly farcical. It destroys any meaning the rest of the show, and series had in my mind. Also, I’m pretty sure Shaft would have been embarrassed at that low budget text freakout Asura had at the end.
Deus Ex Machina: Yes The world can be saved with courage and a well-placed punch to the face.
Sequel Potential: Yes Asura basically gave the sequel hook as he was being defeated. There will always be more minions for this cast to fight, until the manga stops being popular.