Fifteen Years is Long Enough: The ‘Soul Eater’ Anime Deserves a ‘Brotherhood’ Edition

Modern anime fans have a real good deal. So many of the major anime properties in this day and age are getting proper adaptations. Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, Bluelock, the list goes on and on (much like the final “season” of Attack on Titan), but the point stands that anime production studios are currently making faithful translations of the manga source onto the silver screen. Gone are the days of the endless filler of Naruto and One Piece (although, Boruto is one of the unlucky properties to have been cursed with even more filler somehow) as the anime had to constantly readjust to the pacing of the source manga. It was common enough that anime felt like it could meta-reference the way studios were forced to operate back then.

However, perhaps the most famous property that suffered from catching up to its source while it was still running is none other than Full Metal Alchemist. The saga of the Elric Brothers is one of the most iconic, beloved stories of the early 2000s. However, the first, original Full Metal Alchemist (releasing only two years after the manga started) quickly caught up and lead to what was unfortunately an all too common practice of gecko ending. Studio Bones, in an attempt to wrap up the anime in a reasonable manner, eventually had to go rogue, not unlike the final season of Game of Thrones. The story ended up faithfully translating the opening arcs of FMA, but ultimately diverged greatly from the path.

The original 2003 series never even mentioned Xing and somehow incorporated a portal to our world. While not awful by any means, it’s a pale imitator to the complex geopolitical alchemical conspiracy that the world properly knows as Full Metal Alchemist, and in a fortuitous twist of fate, a mere half decade after the Conquerors of Shamballa, the series managed to a get a full on remake with the same cast and studio and thus Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood was ushered into the world. It was a near perfect 64-episode run that properly translated the epic story and is now part of my yearly rewatch queue alongside Pacific Rim and rereading the Haikyuu manga.

Brotherhood was made under the assumption that anyone who was watching had at least seen the starting episode of the original anime, and Studio Bones accelerated through the original arcs so they could get to the introduction of Xing. Studio Bones also animated some of the best sequences in anime and maybe also multimedia as a whole. Brotherhood also holds the distinction of being the highest profile anime reboot, and I, for one, think there is another that should join its rank: Soul Eater.

Series background

Both the manga and the anime were contemporaries of FMA and similarly fell victim to the weird instinct of Studio Bones to make an original ending. This month marks the 15th year anniversary of the anime’s premier in April 2008. In a world where the Moon was a more sinister smile than the one in Majora’s Mask and Death himself is not able to do all of the reaping himself, Soul Eater told the tale of meisters and weapons working together in a school setting and ending up saving the world a couple different ways.

The world itself is still very much in the cultural zeitgeist, if only thanks to mangaka Ohkubo arc-welding Fire Force to be a prequel to Soul Eater. (Something that several of my friends have tried explaining to me several times. I still don’t quite understand how human combustion and going faster than the speed of light translates into people gaining the spontaneous ability to transform into a weapon, but that’s neither here nor there.)

I’m here to petition the universe to give Maka and Soul, Black Star and Tsubaki, and Death the Kid and Liz and Patty Thompson a chance to return back to the screen and tell the entire back half of the manga that the original anime didn’t get to tell.

Soul Eater – An Anime Review | One Rubbish Opinion
[From here on out, we’re talking heavy spoilers.]

The majority split happened right around the halfway where the anime covered the broad strokes of Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle. The anime went directly into a confrontation with Kinshin, the big bad of the series, and ultimately concluded with Maka being part weapon and defeating the embodiment of madness with courage in an ending that was conclusive if not moderately satisfying.

This leaves several arcs that among other things:

  • Give more screen time to Team Kilik, featuring Ox Ford and Harvar D. Eclair, Kilik Lunge, and the Pot of Fire and Pot of Thunder, and Kim, and Jacqueline (Gotta love anime naming conventions)
  • A much more interesting version of Justin Law, the Death Scythe
  • Four additional Global Death Scythes
  • A living book that played with media conventions and also fanfiction writer’s heartstrings with in-world gender bending.
  • Several fights on the moon.

While the back half of Soul Eater isn’t quite as world changing as the addition of entire political factions, the additional characters and arcs do provide interesting progressions. The manga’s ending does end a bit less definitely than the anime, perhaps the reasons why Studio Bones was reluctant to revisit it, but given that 15 years have passed and we’ve seen reduces of the original Digimon Adventures, Shaman King, Sailor Moon, and Card Captor Sakura, I think we can manage one or two more.

A 15th year anniversary is nothing to scoff at either. Soul Eater is one of those properties that constantly lingers on fan tongues. It’s a fun Shonen with an astute understanding of what makes Shonen work: ridiculous characters, ridiculous stakes, and iconic moments from even more iconic attacks. And of course, the occasional bit that gets taken a little seriously at any given moment.

Since Atsushi Okhubo isn’t putting anymore manga out in the world, I think we could, at the very least, give the beloved Soul Eater a glow-up, and maybe even sneak some Soul Eater Not in there as well. If we’re remaking everything else under the paper moon, it would be madness not to keep asking for one last go around.

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  • Mikkel Snyder is a technical writer by day and pop culture curator and critic all other times.

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