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Soul Eater vol. 1
Author: Ross Liversidge

Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.

Soul Eater vol. 1

Yen Press
Atsushi Ohkubo

Maka is a weapon meister, determined to turn her partner, a living scythe named Soul Eater, into a powerful death scythe — the ultimate weapon of Death himself! Charged with the task of collecting and devouring the tainted souls of ninety-nine humans and one witch, Maka and her fellow meisters strive to master their weapons as they face off against the bizarre and dangerous minions of the underworld. But the meisters’ own personal quirks may prove a bigger obstacle than any sultry enchantress!

Soul Eater isn't so much a series about one character, it's more an anthology of stories about a number weapon meisters whose paths cross occasionally. With each chapter in volume 1 devoted to a different team of meister and weapon (or weapons), the book is a constant source of witty and outlandish adventure that eschews a regular narrative and just drops you straight into the action.

It's hard to pick a favourite from the cast of characters that are expertly introduced in this first book. Clearly Maka and Soul, whose first tale revolved around them finding a witch to slay, are the series leads, but refreshingly equal time is given to others, such as the arrogant Black Star and the bizarre "Death the Kid".

Each character receives their own chapter, before throwing them together in the final tale, wherein they try to take out an ex teacher who has become a zombie. Classic.

The presentation is really something else. There's not a horizontal panel in the book, and the fantastic jaunty angles from which the action is drawn gives the book a real feeling of energy and verve. The superb artwork doesn't hurt either, with characters drawn in a mixture of delicate detail and a bizarre arthouse style that somehow manages to blend quite naturally and create something unique.

As you can probably tell, I'm quite a big fan of this book. It's inventive take on the afterlife, quirky stories and skillful narrative combine to make one of the best manga I've seen in 2010.

Edgy, quirky and masterfully mischievous, this is a great take on the afterlife.
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