SoulTaker Anime Review
/ TV Series / Action / 13-up
If fanboys made their own anime, this would be it.
...A cubist painting does a more confusing Generator Gawl with extra fanservice.
The SoulTaker - 魂狩
The SoulTaker - Tamashigari
The SoulTaker - Soul Hunting
US Release By
Geneon Entertainment, Pioneer Animation
Alien Demon Post-Apocalyptic Eva Ripoff
13 25-mintue episodes
2001-04-04 - 2001-07-04
What's In It
- Crazy Visuals
- Conspiracy Theory
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 2 (moderate)
- Sex: 3 (significant)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
Kyosuke Date (that's "dah-teh," not "date") is a resident of a bizarre post-apocalyptic world, and he also happens to have mysterious powers. Y'know, your usual turning into a huge winged flying demon, having a super-powered punch that destroys property, so on. He's on a quest to save his sister, Runa, and uncover the mysteries surrounding the "hospital mutants" in this quintessential fanboy anime.
As a disclaimer, anyone who wants to can call me an ignorant ignoracmion (that's "igg-no-rak-mee-ahn"... okay, I just made that word up, pronounce it however you want). This is because my review is based off the last ten episodes or so of the show, but those episodes gave me a good enough idea of the plot and of what kind of show this was. I was bored with Cartoon Network's reruns and stupid licensing choices, so I broke my vow and began to watch TechTV's Anime Unleashed again. Then The Soul Taker came on, and I remembered why I swore it off. I'm really starting to think that Sunrise is having a fit because they didn't think of Eva, and are trying to make up for it by spewing out as many cheap knockoffs as possible.
To be fair, The Soul Taker has beautiful animation. But I'm so sick of good animation that I take refuge with reruns of Lupin the 3rd because it has jagged, choppy seventies animation. The music is also fair, and the dub is even pretty good. But the entire plot is once again a bunch of cliches, wandering void, and pointless blathering. I've had it to such a degree with TV's anime choices that I'm considering actually getting a job so I won't have to put up with this anymore (by the way, I'm not legally old enough to work). To typify the basic variety--Toonami: Dumb muscle-pumping stale reruns. Adult Swim: Smooth-talking sharpshooting stale reruns (and Kikaider reruns). And finally, Anime Unleashed: Pointlessly wandering Eva ripoff reruns.
But this review is supposed to be about The Soul Taker. So, just what is so bad about the plot? Well, it involves Kyosuke's life, basically. He lives in a world where the hospital is ruled by scrub-wearing mutants and a mysterious corporation rules over all. He's also involved with all this, which I might know about if I'd seen the first episode, but basically he discovers a lot of plot twists that were shocking the first time: his mother is not his real mother, the mutants were created by a virus brought by aliens, Kyosuke himself is one of these aliens, and they have a power to create some new world. The ending is such a ripoff of Eva's that I was expecting Runa to say "Wake up, Shinji!" to Kyosuke.
The characterization is very cliched too. I know anyone who has actually bothered to read one of my reviews is heartily sick of the word "cliche" and its past tense verb, "cliched," but as long as cliches exist I'll continue to describe them with that word. The characters that actually have a personality basically were plundered from old, long-forgotten shows. Kyosuke is another brooding, sad youth who is basically a ripoff of Domon Kasshu from G Gundam. His angst is actually fairly well-done, because unlike in certain other anime (Kikaider), Kyosuke doesn't let his problems force him into hiding under a rock. Every new challenge just makes him want to complete his overriding goal even more. This is exactly how Domon Kasshu acted, but at least it's a cliche done right instead of a cliche thrown in for familiarity's sake. The other characters don't come off as well. Most of them have no personality whatsoever; bland dialogue, ambiguous responses, and an obsession with sounding dark and mysterious. Finally, Kyosuke's sister Runa I found disturbing. She has a serious Lolita complex, like the way Nanami in Revolutionary Girl Utena would act if she were taking libido pills. He's your brother, for the love of Buddha! Stop hanging all over him like a fangirl meeting her bishounen in real life!
In connection with that, I'd like to mention another character whose name I never bothered catching, but who I refer to as "The Dress-up Doll," since this is basically her function. She spends most of her time dressed in a skimpy rabbit suit with a huge plastic carrot slung over her back like a sword (a phallic symbolism, perhaps?). Of course, "most of her time" is about five percent of the actual show, because she only shows up to "accidentally" strike an erotic pose and shriek "Kyosuke!" in her bitterly annoying high-pitched voice. While I didn't find this particularly disturbing, it was annoying and stupid. I'm not against a little fan service, but having a character in the show for the sole purpose of being a blow-up doll reeks of a bunch of male animators stuck in a tiny room in the wee hours of the morning, working feverishly and not being able to see their wives/girlfriends/real live blow-up dolls.
I know this is total nitpicking, but I nitpick a lot: the fights are boring and lame. I don't mean the slang, lame, I mean lame like they walk with a limp. Seriously, these fight scenes move so slow you could catch up on your homework, your reading, or the dishes without missing more than a punch or another midair collision. Evidently the creators were hoping having impressive-looking demons ramming into each other would impress people, just like the creators of the new X-Men cartoon were hoping having some some of the crappiest X-Men stand around and make flickering beams of light would impress people. They were both wrong. I'm of the opinion that fights should involve actual fighting (punching, kicking, blocking, sword-slashes, parries) and have just a little bit of strategy behind them (like maybe, "I, the all-powerful Kyosuke, am totally outclassed by this evil alien mutant. However, he happens to have a large glowing spot on his chest! Perhaps if I hit that he will die!" and then have the alien actually put his arm in the way of Kyosuke's arm instead of idiotically being hit as if his reflexes are slower than an old grandma's).
Gotten the picture yet? If you haven't had enough of these types of anime, check it out by all means. You might just like Runa's hanging all over her brother. You might weep with sadness when Kyosuke makes a painful choice. You might just enjoy when The Dress-Up Doll flashes on screen with her ass shoved in front of half the camera and yells "Kyosuke!" in her ear-shattering banshee screech. If you're broke and have had enough, like me, then get back to those Lupin the 3rd and Yuu Yuu Hakusho reruns; you'll be at them for quite a while.
Have something to say about this anime? Join our newly-resurrected forums and speak your mind.
Notes and Trivia
US DVD Review
The four bilingual DVDs feature anamorphic video, creditless opening and closings, art galleries, plus fancy holographic covers.
13-up; Most of it's content is bravado, but some is real.
Violence: 2 - There's a quite a bit of blood during battles.
Nudity: 2 - Just some unbelievably skimpy clothes.
Sex/Mature Themes: 3 - That Runa thing doesn't go far, but what's there is pretty disturbing.
Language: 2 - TechTV tried to cut back, but all they did away with was "Sh..."
Available in North America from Geneon (Pioneer) on four bilingual DVDs, later re-released as signature series editions.
Looking to buy? Try these stores: RightStuf (search) | AnimeNation | Amazon