Why Soul Eater Couldn’t Be Remade Today

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When The Brotherhood of Steel Alchemists was released and received critical acclaim, viewers everywhere saw the potential in remaking anime adaptations that suffered the same problems as the original FMA. One such request was the 2008 remake of Soul Eater, a show that was well received by Cartoon Network, especially in the west, but was criticized for its ending, which was different from the manga.

Like the Brotherhood, Soul Eater was created by the Bones Studio under the direction of Director Takuya Igarashi from the Oran High School Host Club and celebrity Bungo Stray Dogs. This followed a group of “Weapon Masters” and their sentient weapons as they attended the academy to learn how to become grim reapers for monster hunting. The discrepancy with the source material at the end of his anime adaptation has been criticized for many reasons. Namely, how the themes of teamwork seemed abandoned instead of a conclusion that favored only a few characters, not the team that the series was about. There are a lot more reasons, of course, but it led to a demand for a remake, which, to be honest, probably couldn’t have been made.

In anger

The anime industry is not at all the same as it was ten years ago, and this is not a condemnation or an assessment. It’s just a fact that every few years current and popular anime change along with the dominant styles and techniques used. While the changes reflected in the media have been good and bad, industry trends in studios are increasingly alarming.

In 2018, the Teikoku data bank reported that 30% of studios in the industry suffered financial losses. Even the percentage of revenue growth among other studios decreased compared to previous years. And this is despite the fact that as of 2018, anime companies consistently reach record revenue heights every year.

“The Teikoku data bank attributed the increase in total revenue to large manufacturing companies that provided the appropriate volume of production and continued to increase production volumes, despite the lack of human resources and high outsourcing costs in the industry as a whole.”

— Alex Mateo, Anime News Network

If you look at industry indicators, this is a trend: deceptively optimistic revenue growth, but equally high costs for the personnel involved. And it was just in 2018, before the pandemic, when the demand for streaming entertainment grew sharply, and the international anime market began to demand even more from the industry.

The fate of the animator

Anime as an industry is getting bigger and bigger, but these changes are not always reflected in every aspect of the production process, and not in a positive way. Revenue has generally increased, but animators are not participating in this growth, which has spread around the world.

In 2021, at the height of the pandemic’s impact on animation demand, the New York Times criticized this very concept in an article discussing working conditions in animation in Japan. The result was the same as in video essays and blog posts by fandoms about problems: overwork, underpayment and money going to production committees.

Ben Dooley and Hikari Hida of the New York Times described these committees as “ad hoc coalitions of toy manufacturers, comic book publishers and other companies that are created to finance each project.” Ultimately, while these committees have enjoyed the profits from the international boom of the medium, the same cannot be said for those in charge of the art itself.

The Soul Eater Problem

None of this is new to anyone who has been following a medium for a long period of time, which doesn’t mean it’s a less serious concern worth raising a stink about. But how does this relate to Soul Eater, just one series of the late 2000s from a studio that continues to produce high-quality anime for TV?

Because trying to do what Soul Eater did in 2008 is going to be increasingly difficult by industry standards today. Like it or not, Soul Eater was very well produced by a studio that was probably at its peak at the time. It was a uniquely thrilling action show that had a lot of soul.

It may be colors or character designs, but something about how the show was created is different from how a lot of modern anime is made. Director Takuya Igarashi was at the top of his game and the action was one of the best in the studio, including the work of the legendary Yutaka Nakamura from Bones.

It cannot be said that their fingerprints have not been preserved throughout the industry. Igarasi continues to direct Bones, watching the TV series Bungo Stray Dogs. Nakamura still works at Bones, where he is regularly released to create the most retweeted moments of “My Hero Academy” in every arch and movie.

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