Soul Eater, vol. 9

9780316071130_manga-Soul-Eater-Graphic-Novel-9.jpgThis volume features some more character-building for our motley crew.

Crona’s anguish kills me in the opening chapter. They’re forced to bug Stein’s lab so Medusa can get info from him and Marie. The intent is to weaken their resonance and further drive Stein into madness. It’s clear Crona doesn’t want to do it. The way Ohkubo draws the closing scene, of Crona clutching their knees, shadows cast over their body, with some fluid dripping from the ceiling, was truly chilling. To see Crona break into tears crushed me. My kingdom for Crona to have some stability.

Luckily, Excalibur came back to lighten the mood in the next chapter. We meet some rando guy who decides to pair with Excalibur as a way to one-up his classmates. It seems to be a good fit for a while – he has very high tolerance for Excalibur’s annoying shenanigans – but he later buckles for silly reasons. It marked the return of the epic Excalibur face, which is never a bad thing. Part of me hopes this enters some kind of meme canon, like a Shaft head-tilt. It’s so good that I hope it doesn’t get overused.

In the next chapter, Maka and Tsubaki bond. Maka is jealous of Black Star’s epic resonance since taking on Uncanny Sword from Masamune and bemoans his recklessness. Threatened with being kicked off the team, she runs away. When Tsubaki goes to comfort her, Maka understand the point of her lesson – that friendship doesn’t require you to know everything about a person. It picks at a more abstract concept. Tsubaki doesn’t say enough for this to be all that poignant, but I appreciate the sentiment here: as friends and partners in battle, the focus doesn’t need to be so hyper-specific.

The last chapter was a trippy battle within a cyclone. A lot was going on here, and some side-characters from a few volumes back got speaking roles for the first time in a while. I couldn’t keep anything straight. Stein and Marie went inside first and never reappeared, then some classmates starting fighting with Arachne’s clan, then Maka and co. finally jump inside the cyclone, see a past version of Shinigami fight Arachne, then they encounter Arachne’s butler, who reverts to a past form, and then he threatens a battle… all within a span of, like, 40 pages.  Most Soul Eater chapters are focused, so color me lost on this one.

The character-building chapters were good here, though not great as in previous chapters. That last chapter was an out-and-out mess. I hope that’s not a bad omen of what’s to come. Oh, well. All the other chapters were fun reads.

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.

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