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Soul Eater Not! Vol. #04 Manga Review

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Soul Eater NOT! Vol. #4
Soul Eater NOT! Vol. #4

The slice of life, slice of death continues.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Atsushi Ohkubo
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul

What They Say
Tsugumi Harudori is in love with life at DWMA, but she still hasn’t made a decision on whether to take Meme or Anya as her meister. Anya has delivered an ultimatum: Tsugumi must make her choice by Halloween–and the clock is ticking! Can Tsugumi make up her mind in time, and without hurting one of her friends? It’s a savage but super-fun life!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This volume of Soul Eater Not! continues in the same vein as the previous volume with short chapters of vaguely plot relevant events mixed with brief one or two page comics focusing on a joke with a punchline. If that wasn’t grabbing you in the last volume then it likely will continue to not do so.

The activities featured this time around include a typical day for the students, Meme’s sleepwalking/sleepstripping antics, Tsugumi’s bought with a fever, and her development as a death weapon. Peppered between that are shorts focusing on Kim and Jackie, Akane and Clay, and the other secondary characters who are featuring heavily in Soul Eater Not. The jokes ranged from genuinely funny to just strange.

What of the ongoing plot you ask? Well, Akane and Clay are still on the search for Shaula but have few leads. The real issue confronting Tsugumi is her hesitation in choosing between Anya and Meme as her meister. Her delayed choice is reflected in her weapon form lacking an edge. It’s a very strange problem to have, but we readers of Soul Eater know how important the connection between weapon and meister is. This decision ends up coming to an unlikely confrontational head by the end of the volume when Meme’s typical antics cause Tsugumi to snap at her.

The problem with Not is that the humor is very much more of the same from Soul Eater. That means that much of it is terrible puns which are forced with or without translation, mixed with overly pinup poses from the leads. The actual nudity can be funny, such as the sleepwalking chapter, but when almost every other panel is of boobs or butts it gets old fast. To make it even more awkward these are high school kids being drawn this way, and I have to keep reminding myself this is a series aimed at teens because it’s making me feel like a dirty old woman.

The other issue facing this series is that the trio of girls simply aren’t as multidimensional or interesting as the leads from the main series were. None of them really rise above their gag character traits. Anya is forever stubborn and haughty, Meme forever forgetful and ditzy, with Tsugumi being the boringly average girl. Meanwhile the established side characters are reset to zero on their character development scale, so you get the snarky Soul and annoyed Maka from the start of the series since this is a prequel, which is a nice detail the author remembered but they just weren’t as likable then either.

This volume ends with the usual antics from the author and his fictional bar, noting that the next volume is the last in this strange little side series.

In Summary
This lightweight entry in the Soul Eater universe continues along it’s meandering path of everyday life mixed with ample fan-service. The ongoing trouble of putting a stop to Shaula’s nefarious plans continues but takes a back seat to the girl’s interactions. It’s the smaller tragedies of life that effect Tsugumi, Meme, and Anya. Whether it’s a fever, sleepwalking, or the potential loss of a family pet, these are the problems average students face. Anya sets a deadline for the uncertain Tsugumi to choose a partner, and by the end of this volume she may have inadvertently made up her mind. Anyone looking for the hard-hitting battles and psychological warfare of Soul Eater will still have to look elsewhere. Readers looking for more bad jokes, more world building, and more appearances from their favorite Soul Eater characters, Not continues to provide.

Content Grade: B –
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: B +

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: November 18th, 2014
MSRP: $13.00