Sharp-eyed readers will notice in the info section the translator changed as of this volume. That corresponds to Yen Press’ original version since most of the text has been based upon that release. Compared to the previous translator, Jack Wiedrick’s adaptation style features a generally harsher, at times forcibly “hip” colloquial tone — e.g. a lot of swear words.
When I first read Soul Eater for my own blog, I also mentioned at this point the dialogue got wordier and the font often had to be reduced to fit in the speech bubbles, particularly in the later volumes.
I don’t own Yen Press’ version, but from sample pages I’ve viewed, The Perfect Edition may be doing a little more editing now. One antagonist who wanted to “fuck some shit up” now is ready to “let loose and go wild”. Another speech bubble I counted was reduced from 28 words to 21 without losing any meaning. There are always going to be debates on translation (I’m sure some people will miss the rougher language, especially for villains), but I really hope I won’t need to squint to read some of the speech bubbles this time around. I didn’t notice any major font adjustments in The Perfect Edition volume 5, and if Square Enix can keep that up, that may be another reason for owners of the original to upgrade to this hardcover omnibus release.
Okay, back to the story!
Three newly introduced Death Scythes appear, summoned by Death to hammer out a plan to deal with Asura. As they and other school staff make plans, the students have their own missions as well. Crona enters DWMA on a trial basis, and Crona/Ragnarok head off with Maka/Soul to investigate reports of a wayward golem. What happens there enrages Black*Star, and he and Tsubaki end up running into a familiar foe.
There are two significant battles here, and like most of the volume, these fights are about hyping up future large-scale battle(s). Both fights’ opponents leave relatively uninjured and are connected to a mysterious new group called Arachnophobia. Maka and the others will need to power up to emerge victorious against them.
As the manga enters its next phase, even with the expanded page count, these chapters are a little more slow paced than usual. Sure, the two battles are visually impressive, but amidst the exposition of the new Death Scythes and Arachnophobia’s goals is the gang of DWMA living a more typical school life. The opening chapter, though, features the gang playing basketball (or trying to, in Maka’s case), Crona tries to be a poet, and Sid wants to be accepted by all his students.
Of course, new characters also means new eccentricities, and Soul Eater doesn’t neglect its fanservice aspects either. I still think a lot of these distract from the story, which is finding its groove at this point. Stein’s fighting off the madness inside him, for instance, is one of the more engaging plotlines right now. When he gets on edge, Ohkubo draws him in a more crazed, realistic fashion. Arachnophobia’s leader, Arachne, is just as anxious to take down Death as her sister Medusa, but Arachne is more level-headed. Crona also takes their first step as an individual and as a normal teen, and I can’t help but root for them to become a member of Maka’s friend circle.
So while this may not be the most must-have volume of Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition, volume 5 still provides plenty of entertainment for readers. With an almost anime season 2-like feel to it, this may be a good time to jump in as new characters are introduced and the heroes prepare to level up.