That Delightful Kishin War
We are at the 40th episode mark in Soul Eater, and the Kishin conflict is fast becoming a world war of epic proportions. One of the great things about this show, apart from the hilarious comedy bits and the glorious character designs (a fraction of which you can see below), is the complexity of the war itself. Right now it would seem two alliances are forming for the final confrontation, and so I thought it would be interesting to go back and see how each rivalry, each grudge, has led up to this grand ole’ mess.
The five main oppositions, as they’ve arisen in chronological order, are set below (spoilers for episodes 1-39, obviously!). The pics are from the manga; the end of volume 11 corresponds more or less to episode 39 of the anime.
A. Shibusen vs Kishin
Ah, the days of innocence. At the beginning it looked like your run-of-the-mill struggle of Good vs Evil. Shibusen school, set up by the death god Shinigama-sama as a training facility to fight the self-made demonic Kishin, evil folk who grew in power by eating nice people’s souls. OK, so eating good souls is bad, and trying to prevent the rise of a new Kishin is good, right? Which makes Shinigami-sama good, right? Hmmm…
B. Medusa vs Shibusen
Medusa’s sole intention has been to revive the Kishin (the biggest, baddest of all Kishin) and unleash insanity upon the world. Why? In order to allow those strong individuals who are willing to do what it takes to survive, prosper, and develop in new, terrible ways. So Medusa is a Nietzschean. And her goals line her up immediately against Shibusen.
But the nuances begin here: Medusa is a witch, and the Assembly of Witches is totally opposed to the idea of provoking Shibusen. Apparently they’re as a race sick of being hunted and destroyed, and so the consensus among the witches is to lie low as much as possible. Medusa is acting on her own here.
C. Shibusen vs Arachnophobia
Medusa is successful in releasing the great Kishin, who promptly hides in order to recuperate (plus he’s quite the coward, another unexpected and fun detail in the plot). With the Kishin out and about, many evil creatures gain in strength and power. Enter Arachne. She is a powerful witch that was defeated 800 years ago by Shinigami, and now she’s back. Her minions have grouped themselves into Arachnophobia, which immediately begin to plan the destruction of Shibusen in order to avenge Lady Arachne.
D. Medusa vs Arachnophobia
In a shining testament to the power of our genetic code, it turns out the two great rebel witches are actually sisters. Lil Sis Medusa has grown stronger in her sister’s long absence and she’s quite motivated to one-up her at every turn. Arachne is not amused, although we get the impression that she could have killed Medusa during their first meeting after her return. Maybe Big Sis still loves Lil Sis, or maybe she was just showing her contempt…
E. Shinigami-sama vs Kid
During this whole turbulent period, some inside Shibusen begin to suspect that Shinigami has ulterior motives in his actions, and it is in the end his own son, Death the Kid, that actively investigate along these lines. There hasn’t been a confrontation as of yet, but a father-son rivalry is nothing to be scoffed at. If in the field of battle a group of students were to lose faith in Shinigami’s leadership and leave (defect?) with Kid the consequences would be earth-shattering!
As I mentioned at the start, an alignment of forces has been underway in the last couple of episodes. Arachnophobia is in the process of coaxing Kishin to fight Shibusen on its side. In the meantime Medusa has just approached Shibusen with an offer. One of the many ironies here is that were this scenario to play out, Medusa would be fighting the one god she has in her life (Kishin) and her big sister, who cares not for the great demon but is simply using him to get her revenge against Shinigami-sama.
Before you decide Shibusen/Medusa vs Arachnophobia/Kishin doesn’t make any sense, think a minute of World War II. The old capitalist countries (America, England) allied with the Soviet Union; rabidly racist Germany in cahoots with the (yellow) Japanese Empire, for whom any country not under the shade of the Imperial Throne might as well have been burning in hell. Stranger things have happened!
I’d advice everyone who hasn’t watched it to watch this show. All the spoilers above won’t really spoil the fun with this one. And for those who are watching the anime, reading the manga is a must. Mangaka Atsushi Ohkubo is as inventive as they come.