How the Characters of Soul Eater Offer a Fresh Take on Shinigami

Soul Eater anime Characters

In the West, the specific idea of the Grim Reaper dates all the way back to the 14th century. In Japan, the word shinigami first started appearing in works from the Edo period. Yet, in modern work, these classical death deities tend to have a different look to them than western images of scythe-wielding skeletons. 

In fact, many contemporary anime and manga series such as Bleach, Death Note, and Black Butler, to name a few, personify Shinigami with characters that appear in a variety of different forms. 

What Soul Eater does differently is take that personification one step further, also personifying the Grim Reapers signature weapon: the scythe. 

From Anime to Manga, the Characters of Soul Eater

With witches, demon scythes, Shinigami, and more, there are a bunch of different kinds of beings that make up the characters of Soul Eater. Here are the two main characters.

Maka Albarn

The central character of Soul Eater, Maka Albarn, is a student at Death Weapon Meister Academy in the fictional metropolis of Death City, Nevada. Death Weapon Meister Academy is run by a shinigami named Death. 

Maka is a driven and capable student, set on making her ‘weapon partner’ into a better ‘death scythe’ than her dad’s. Her parents were also Weapon Meisters but got divorced due to her father’s incessant flirting with other women. As Meisters, they wield individuals who can transform into weapons. 

Pairs of Meisters and ‘Scythes,’ as the weapons are called, collect souls, and as students, Maka and her weapon partner, Soul ‘Eater’ Evans, need to collect 99 souls of evil humans, followed by one soul of a witch, in order to officially upgrade the weapons to ‘Death Scythes’ that are then used by Shinigami. 

With a strong set of morals and sense for justice, Maka has something of a grudge against her cheating dad, and she uses her smarts, kindness, and courage to pursue her goals.

Soul Eater Evans Scythe

Soul ‘Eater’ Evans

With the nickname ‘Soul Eater,’ Soul ‘Eater’ Evans is Maka’s weapon partner. Soul comes from a family of famous musicians and is a talented piano player. Like Maka, he has something to prove. In discovering he is a demon scythe Soul found a reason to break away from his family tradition of pursuing music as a career. 

As such, he is driven to become the most powerful Death Scythe there ever was. While Maka and Soul bicker, the two are loyal to each other. Soul is also able to make use of his musical talents by resonating, playing a piano in his soul, so as to enhance the powers of his teammate. In weapon form, Soul is a red and black blade with an eyeball at its hilt. 

Soul Eater Manga, Anime, and Soul Eater Not!

Created by Atsushi Okubo, Soul Eater was first released as three one-shots, serialized in a monthly manga magazine published by Square Enix, starting in 2003. Continuing beyond the initial three one-shots, Soul Eater went on to continue serialization until 2013. The manga was ultimately released as 25 tankobon volumes which were release starting in 2004.

The spin-off series, Soul Eater Not! began serialization in February of 2011, with tankobon volumes being released starting in September of that year. Soul Eater Not! is set before the story of Soul Eater and also takes place at Death Weapon Meister Academy but focuses on a different aspect of the school.

Soul Eater Not anime image and logo

At the Death Weapon Meister Academy, there are different focuses, including EAT(Especially Advantaged Talent) and NOT (Normally Overcome Target). While EAT students focus on learning how to become warriors of justice, NOT students learn to control their powers so as to not pose a threat to anybody, themselves included. 

The central characters of Soul Eater Not! are Tsugumi Harudori (who despite being able to transform into a demonic halberd is a member of the NOT class) and two aspiring Meisters named Meme Tatane and Anya Hepburn. The series eventually consisted of 5 volumes. 

While the anime adaptation of Soul Eater ran from 2008 to 2009 and consisted of 51 episodes and two specials, the Soul Eater Not! anime ran from April 2014 to July of that year, consisting of only twelve episodes. 

Video Game Versions

Seeing as Soul Eater originally was published by a company known for their video game work, it’s unsurprising that Square Enix went on to develop a video game version of the popular series. Three, actually. 

The first game, Soul Eater: Monotone Princess, was released for the Wii in Japan in 2008. An action-adventure video game, it is only compatible with Japanese Wii systems. 

The second game was called Soul Eater: Plot of Medusa and was actually released by Namco Bandai Games. Out a few months after Soul Eater: Monotone Princess, Plot of Medusa was also released for Wii, as well as on Nintendo DS. It is a third-person hack-and-slash game. 

Soul Eater Game for Playstation 2

Soul Eater: Battle Resonance was the third game to come out, released in 2009. A fighting game, Battle Resonance actually follows the storyline of the first 24 episodes of the anime. It was available for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. 

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