After the high energy of the last volume, these chapters slow the pace down. Here, we’re introduced to some new characters before a new battle gets going.
In the opening chapter, Shinigami summons some grand weapons of the Earth’s continents (also revealing that DWMA is situated in… Nevada, for some reason) and informs them of Asura’s escape. Only half of the grand weapons can make it out to DWMA. He tells the weapons in attendance that Asura is too afraid to act quickly, which should buy them some time to figure out his next moves. After that, we get to know a few new characters.
There’s Marie, a weapon who oversees Australia, is fixated on getting married so she can retire early and is sort of a klutz. She gets paired with Dr. Stein, as Shinigami wants Spirit to stick close to the DWMA campus. The hope is that Marie’s personality and essence will help Stein, as the battle with Medusa infected him with some of the madness the characters endured in the last battle. The hope is that she’ll gradually purify him.
After Marie is Azusa, who oversees East Asia and Oceania, who has an interesting ability to see things incredibly far away. Azusa doesn’t do very much in this chapter, but I appreciate her progressive ideas – she doesn’t get why Marie is so intent on settling down, as it’s an “obsolete” way of thinking, and is actually wowed at Marie’s ability to continue working despite her age. Which I guess is relative? Marie doesn’t really seem that old…
After those two is Justin, head of Western Europe and a priest. He can read lips. That’s all for now.
In the next chapter, the kids help Crona out. Shinigami decided Crona is going to attend DWMA with the rest of the gang, so Maka and Marie try to show them around. It was really cute. Crona’s a great character who’s been horribly broken by Medusa, and it makes me so happy to see Maka try to help them get out of it.
The next chapters see Maka, Soul, and Crona head to a village in the Czech Republic to look into a phenomenon of violent golems. It introduces us to Arachne, a new antagonist, too. The fight in this chapter isn’t nearly as exciting as the last volume’s multi-chapter, multi-party battle. That said, it was chilling in parts. The demon weapon that they encounter is a chainsaw, and there are several parts where he comes mightily close to harming the kids. It was uncomfortable – the prospect of kids being brutalized is particularly gruesome. Arachne is a cool villain, too – she’s able to break herself down into hundreds of spiders and can spy on multiple people at a time. I’m intrigued and want to see some more from her.
I’m interested to see how the new villains tie in to the older ones. I thought it was weird that there was seemingly no connection between these new foes and Medusa’s menagerie. For all the time I spent waiting for Soul Eater to establish a conflict, the worst thing it could do is revert to an episodic structure. I hope it doesn’t end up going that route. After this volume, I doubt we’re in any danger.
Soul Eater is written and drawn by Ohkubo Atsushi and was serialized in Square Enix’s Monthly Shonen Gangan from 2004-2013. It was later collected in 25 volumes. It has been licensed in North America by Yen Press, who released all 25 volumes between 2009 and 2015. Check out Yen Press’ page on the manga here.