Soul Buster – Preview
Original Air Dates: October 9th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Sonshin, a student in high school, lives in Keishuu, China, famous as a place of never-ending war during the Three Kingdoms era. He hates his city’ history, but one day becomes troubled by a strange dream where he accidently unseals the heart of an withered bony man named Kentei. Shortly after waking, Sonshin discovers that the school’s library doesn’t contain any books on the Three Kingdom’s time period, and subsequently is attacked by his own history teacher, using Gein, a famous general from the Three Kingdoms era, as his servant. But just as Sonshin is about to be killed, a mysterious beautiful woman appears to defend Sonshin.
2 Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Soul Buster’s character designs waver between cool, attractive, appealing and “Why are their heads so tiny!?” The character designs are all over the place. Our lead has a decently unique look to him, his teacher is ‘on the nose’ evil and the generals range from bad ass assassins, to so muscle bound, the head literally is the size of a Goomba’s from the Live Action 80s Mario Movie. It’s bizarre, but even that is not the most eye-catching thing about Soul Buster’s visuals. Instead, it’s the unique shadowing technique and paint spray that peppers the screen any time anything exciting happens. But neither adds anything to the proceedings, often feeling like little more than a distraction from the events on screen.
Linny: The paint spray effect used in the show is relentless with the constant splatters making you feel like you’re taking part in an x-rated movie rather than watching an anime. The splatters constantly cover the screen on the slightest excuse during battles and even outside of them. Also the shading technique that Tom mentioned makes the show look super dark, under illuminated and even ugly when the shading lines take up a major portion of the screen. It definitely makes the show stand out with its visual style but might not appeal to most viewers.
Tom: As leads go, Soul Buster’s is pretty generic and under defined. Part of the trouble is Soul Buster’s chosen to dedicate its short run time to jumping right into the action, rather than to really try and introduce Sonshin as a character. But the series doesn’t really seem interested in providing nuanced characters anyway, as the teacher, our villain for the moment, is two-dimensional, just as his character design would indicate. And his dialogue only hammers that impression home, which makes for some awkward, over the top, melodramatic lines that are likely to produce more of a cringe than any other reaction.
Linny: We cannot emphasize just how cliche our ‘human’ characters come off as our hero has got to be one of the most generic and under defined protagonists, while the villain projects his evilness from a mile away thanks to the show’s decision to give him classic ‘sinister villain face.’ It makes the show feel lazy and uninspired when its two big characters are such disappointments, but maybe the show is banking on its unique take on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms characters and action to be its actual selling point.
Tom: Soul Buster’s story is nothing special either. It’s not bad, and I’d say it does a decent job of getting right to the point, but it feels like it wants to be more than a fifteen-minute short and indeed the first two episodes feel more like one actual first episode, as if the series isn’t willing to admit it doesn’t have the full run time needed to make all this work. There is, however, a certain mystery element concerning how our hero freed Kentei’s heart, presumably the series villain or some other key player, and how all of the nightmare from Soul Buster’s opening moments plays in. But if that mystery, that question, isn’t enough to draw you in? Then I don’t think Soul Buster has displayed enough originality to suck most viewers in.
Linny: Putting aside the bland and obvious human characters, this show might appeal to fans or viewers who are familiar with the Romance of The Three Kingdoms novel and its subsequent popularity in Eastern Culture as the cards and card characters are all based on Three Kingdoms lore. Unfortunately as I am pretty unfamiliar with the lore, I couldn’t tell you how amusing or impressive these reinventions are. What I can tell you is that the story is otherwise ridiculously simplistic having actual sequences where the villain, his minion and our hero’s defender all work together to explain the mechanics of the battle to our hero in the midst of a fight. It’s obviously a ploy to help the viewers follow along but the entire situation ends up feeling a tad silly.
Tom: Soul Buster is yet another series this season based upon a Chinese manhua, something that’s likely to become increasingly common if this season’s offerings manage to find a viewer base within the market. Overall I think Soul Buster is one of the more solid attempts, definitely showing more promise than last season’s “The Outcast” But still lacks enough unique and impressing features about it to make me feel the need to recommend it. It’s decent, for what it is, but I don’t think you’ll be missing anything if you give this Manhua adaptation a pass as well.
Linny: Soul Buster will definitely leave an impression on its viewers with its rather unusual decision to go with super heavy shading and incessant paint splatter effects. Unfortunately as someone so ignorant and generally uninterested in the Three Kingdoms lore, it’s hard for me to praise or critique that angle. If you wish to see something that’s visually experimental yet action packed and simple, you might want to give an episode a try but know that the protagonist and the villain are both bland and generic from the start.
Soul Buster is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com