|A Fight to the Death at the Anniversary Celebration Arc|
← Black Dragon Arc
The Trial Enrollment Arc →
A Fight to the Death at the Anniversary Celebration Arc is the seventh major arc within the Soul Eater series. Waiting for the day when Death is out of the mirror, Medusa Gorgon executes her plan to trap Death thanks to a powerful spell to temporarily seal him along with the majority of Shibusen. With these opponents trapped, Medusa escapes underground in an attempt to revive a powerful god under Death Weapon Meister Academy, with Maka Albarn, Franken Stein, and a few of their peers in pursuit.
- Death City underground and the Kishin's Seal Shrine
- Crona's Soul
The reception area of the Death Weapon Meister Academy remains confined inside the Independent Cube created by Medusa and her allies. Kilik Rung approaches Death to ask which techniques could be used against Soul Protect. Sid Barrett, still recovering from injuries during his investigation of Medusa's destroyed Libyan lair, chides Kilik that the next step would be to become a Kishin. Seeing that Kilik is confused by this word "Kishin," Death realizes he cannot keep his secret any longer: he announces to the entire party, "There is a Kishin underneath DWMA!" Sid is shocked at Lord Death's bluntness. Death then proceeds to explain how Asura came to be a Kishin and the threat he poses if Medusa releases him.
Underneath the Academy, Maka Albarn runs after Franken Stein and her classmates, along the way asking Death the Kid how Death sealed Asura. Kid explains that Death stripped the skin off Asura's body, turning it into a bag that would house the new Kishin. But Death, needing a sufficiently powerful anchor to keep Asura's body in one place, anchored his own body and soul to a spot in a desert: that spot would become Death City.
Meanwhile, throughout Death City, the Mizune Sisters' assault persists. But Blair is distracted by her desire for free food, so she visits the local fish store owner—only to find he is one of the victims injured by the Mizunes. Furious at the Mizunes for hurting her meal-ticket, Blair attacks the witches and prepares for a lengthy battle.
Underneath Death City, Maka's team continues their run to catch up with Medusa, before Maka stops, sensing someone who makes her soul disgusted: that of her own father, Spirit Albarn. Momentarily depressed over his daughter's insult, Spirit explains to Stein that he escaped the Independent Cube because "when it comes to chasing tail, I'm the fastest there is." As Spirit transforms into his weapon form to be used by his meister, he informs Stein that Medusa and her gang are waiting for them up ahead. At this moment, Medusa emerges from the shadows, blocking the path for Stein's team.
As they prepare to confront Medusa, Stein instructs Soul, Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, and Liz and Patty Thompson to stay in weapon form to lower the chances that they are killed in combat. Stein then predicts Medusa's strategy: she will try to block all of them from getting any further, then place Crona as the next barrier to prevent the DWMA's members from catching up to where Free is protecting Eruka's black blood briefcase. Therefore, Stein as the strongest of the four meisters will take down the first barrier, Medusa, and Black Star will use his soul wavelength to take down the second barrier, Crona, so that Kid, as the most mobile, and Maka can get past these two barriers, catch up to Free and Eruka, and prevent the release of the Kishin.
Having overheard Stein's strategy, Medusa begins her chant, summoning Vector Arrow X3 to knock down the three students. While Kid uses Death Slide on Beelzebub to skate past the arrows, Black Star unleashes Tsubaki's Uncanny Sword mode to cut through Medusa's arrows. Maka has to overcome her own fear to outrun the remaining arrows, breaking through the center of Medusa's path, without slowing down or be cut down when the arrows circle around to the center of her path. Rather than ignore fear, Maka uses it to make herself run faster before the arrows can kill her. Surprised at Maka's success, Medusa turns to attack again, only for her next move to be disrupted by Soul Menace, courtesy of Stein. Stunned, Medusa still is able to mock Stein that Crona awaits his students.
Despite Medusa's comment, Kid successfully skates past Crona and Ragnarok. Black Star stands before his opponent, frustrated that Crona seems too weak—and mad—to be worth his trouble. Before Black Star can attack Crona, Maka interferes: having caught up, she ignores Tsubaki and Soul's warnings not to disobey Stein and the weakness of her attacks against Crona, holding her scythe against Black Star to block his path, Soul's blade facing Black Star. The ninja threatens to kill Maka, but surprised at "Miss Goody Two-Shoes Maka" and her willingness to disobey their teacher, acquiesces: "Fine," he says, "I'll let you have the spotlight this time," as Maka prepares to fight the demon sword meister Crona.
Stein and Spirit struggle to use Soul Thread Sutures to take down Medusa, the witch reveals her adaptation of her Vector Arrow, the larger Vector Plate, which allows her to knock Stein back while propelling her forward. In this battle, Stein and Spirit are disturbed to learn that Crona is Medusa's actual child.
Meanwhile, Black Star bypasses Crona and departs, and Maka quickly attacks Crona to prevent them from following the ninja. Ragnarok grows irritated by Maka's actions, which only amuses her, as she notices Ragnarok now acknowledges her as an opponent, not just another soul to consume. Maka then orders Crona to face her and state her name. Despite themselves, Crona manages to name themselves, something Crona has been unable to do to any other opponent until now.
Yet Soul is worried that they are not strong enough to defeat Crona, which prompts the Little Ogre to harangue him further to give into the madness of the Black Blood. As Maka and Crona increase their Soul Resonances, their weapons fall deeper into madness, which Stein and Medusa can sense even that far away as the Black Blood stirs.
Kid pursues Free and Eruka. In Death City, Blair discovers that the Mizune Family can merge into one much taller woman, as her and Blair's human appearances overwhelm the Fish Shop Dealer with lust.
Meanwhile, Maka Albarn unleashes Witch-Hunt and other techniques against Crona's Screech Gamma and numerous other Black Blood techniques. Unimpressed, Crona bats Maka with a backhand, the Black Blood strengthening Crona's body despite their scrawniness. During this battle, Maka notices that she can “almost [get] ahold of Crona’s wavelength." Collapsing onto her knees, struggling to catch her breath, Maka comes up with an idea how to defeat Crona.
Crona stands over Maka, and seeing the pigtailed meister, is reminded of the time she confronted a Little Bunny (a dragon in the anime), as Medusa tortured Crona until she broke them to motivate them to kill that bunny. And as Crona sees a resemblance between Maka and this bunny (dragon), they lift their blade, ready to behead Maka.
In the Black Room, the Little Ogre shouts at Soul that the weapon is about to let his meister die unless he gives into madness. Because the Ogre and Soul cannot come to an agreement, the Ogre suggests bringing in a mediator to his dispute with Soul: from behind the curtain of the Black Room, the Ogre welcomes Maka, who appears in a black dress corresponding with Soul's pinstripe suit. While Soul is initially suspicious whether this person is actually his meister, Soul is taken by her to dance. As the two are resonating, their minds are linked, and she telepathically reveals to him her plan: she will use Soul's Black Blood to drive herself into madness so that she may use Soul Resonance with Crona to tap into whatever hides behind their madness and defeat Crona from their very soul. Although hesitant, Soul acquiesces, promising to pull Maka out of the madness.
As Crona, wearing a mad grin, lowers Ragnarok to behead Maka, the pigtailed meister is able to block the blade with just her forearm. Maka grins madly as well, knocking Crona away and begins cackling under the influence of the black Blood. As Soul feels both himself and Maka drawn into the madness, he refuses to let her go. But the Ogre refers to them all as “fools,” because it is not Soul leading Maka or Maka leading Soul: “I’m the one who’s leading.”
Spirit and Stein are furious at the wickedness of Medusa's abuse of her own child. Meanwhile, Kid faces a disgusting sight: Eruka's Tadpole Bombs are arranged asymmetrically. With rather rude encouragement from Patty, Kid skates through the bombs, using their explosions and his own frustration to propel him forward. Elsewhere, Free has an idea how to use Tadpole Jackson and his own magic to outsmart the Shibusen students so that they can hold them back while they approach the Kishin's Seal Shrine.
Meanwhile, the Black Blood has momentarily distracted Maka from her mission to stop Crona, as she toys with her opponent. Soul reaches out to her and returns enough lucidity to her so that she is able to find Crona's soul. Embracing Crona's soul, Maka notices how "dry" it is. As Crona's soul appears to her like a beach without water, Maka spots Crona, represented as a child.
In their soul, the child Crona has drawn a circle in the sand to protect themselves from others. Yet they are confronted by their own fears, assuming the form of their own shadow, who struggles to get Crona to admit that they were surprised that Maka reached out to them and acknowledged them as a person, and that Crona was able to state their own name to Maka without any desire to only amass power against fear. Crona begins sobbing in confusion why they could say their name and attempts to repeat their name.
Another voice calls out to Crona, recognizing their name. It is Maka, who has assumed the form of a child. Maka asks whether she may enter the circle, as she erases the line in the sand so that Crona cannot separate themselves from others. Crona stares, seeming to shake.
Back in the real world, Crona screams, surprising Soul and even the Oni. Soul realizes that Crona's body is rejecting the madness. He then hears Maka calling to him to remove her from the madness. Although it is a struggle, Soul manages to grasp his meister's soul and return her to her sanity. Maka opens her eyes, reawakening to her body. Seeing Crona screaming as the Black Blood forms needles across their body, Maka sets her weapon against a pillar and, despite Soul's warning not to approach Crona, Maka walks forward to risk being stabbed by the Black Blood needles.
Crona screams for Maka to stay back, as one needle slices along her neck. But Maka persists, urging Crona not to be afraid and telling them that they are "just a little shaken up because the line disappeared." Then multiple needles pierce Maka's body. Soul is shocked, Crona still screams albeit quieter, while Maka sweetly tells Crona not to worry, as she collapses onto their body.
Crona freezes and is silent. Despite her injuries, Maka wraps her arms around Crona to hug them. "It's not that you don't know how to deal with things," Maka explains: she realizes that no one, not even their own mother, tried to reach out to Crona. Crona seems to have regained her sanity, replying that they have "already given up anyway" because they are no longer needed, so they will just disappear. Maka pauses, removes herself from her embrace of Crona—and Maka Chops Crona with some book that appears out of nowhere. Crona is stunned, more from surprise than injury.
Maka offers her hand in friendship, driving Crona to fears. Within their arid soul, water has returned thanks to this new friend. Soul reverts to his human form and realizes that, like Crona, he can understand being afraid of dealing with others.
While leaving Crona to recover and prevent Ragnarok from compromising their mission, Maka Albarn runs to catch up with her teammates to the Seal Shrine. But Kid has his work cut out for him, as none of his attacks seem to do any damage to Free, who blocks his path forward. What Kid and the newly arrived Black☆Star do not immediately recognize is that Free used Forwarding Vision to project an intangible illusion of himself, and that this fight has delays Kid and Black☆Star long enough for him and Eruka to enter the Seal Shrine.
Upon entering the Seal Shrine, Eruka and Free are seized by Asura's madness, driven to think that they are being killed by the Kishin when it is really themselves attempting to stab themselves to death. Eruka and Free awaken in time from this madness and determine to inject the Black Blood into him before they fall under his madness again.
Stein answers Medusa's invitation to be treasonous to Shibusen, arguing that so long as he is mad, he wants to channel that insanity to aid Death, a god whom he can respect, rather than someone like Medusa. Yet Stein and Medusa are in a standstill, each holding the other, Stein with his Soul Thread Sutures and Medusa with her Tail Snake aimed at Stein's neck.
Meanwhile, Kid and Black Star arrive to the Seal Shrine to prevent Eruka from injecting the Black Blood into Asura. While Free holds back Kid, Black Star seems to have sliced Eruka's Black Blood syringe in two.
The Kishin's eyes appear above the Academy as the sky grows red. The underground shakes. Medusa laughs as she realizes her army succeeded: Black Star actually fell under the Kishin's madness and accidentally sliced the shrine, which gave Eruka enough time to inject the Black Blood into Asura to resurrect him. As Medusa gloats Stein lets out a mad cackle and, with one sweep of his Death Scythe, dismembers Medusa, seemingly killing her. Her body explodes in bloody arrows that rain upon Stein as he lights a cigarette. "What a hollow victory," he complains, "How ironic. I won because of the Kishin...In the end, I lost." Stein extends his arms and begins laughing at how, despite his failure, he still feels refreshed.
In the Seal Shrine, despite being on opposite sides, Kid and Black Star, and Free and Eruka, look in horror as Asura emerges from his skin bag, naked and with a mad smile.
With the Black Blood now in his veins, Asura refashions an outfit out of his own skin and disables Black Star and Kid by simply flicking at them with his own skin. Asura tunnels through the ceiling of the Seal Shrine and out of Death City, but Maka storms into the room, leaping to snatch one of Asura's skin scarves to prevent his escape. The pull through the underground injures Maka to the point that she loses consciousness and loses her grip on Asura, requiring Soul to revert to his human form and use his body to cushion her fall, saving both of them.
Meanwhile, Blair and Mizune's fight, without magic and depending on just pinning each other down, is interrupted by Asura's arrival. While Mizune as well as the arriving Free and Eruka are both impressed and terrified of Asura's resurrection, they see that Free's Independent Cube spell concluded earlier than expected, allowing Death and Shibusen members to escape. Shibusen members do their best to respond to the resulting damage to Death City by Asura and Medusa's Army, while Death fights Asura. Unfortunately, Death's seals and abilities are either too old are too weak compared to the reborn Asura and his newly received Black Blood. Asura flies far enough away from the extent of Death's soul, successfully escaping Death City.
Damaged but still alive, Death descends back to the Academy. Meeting with Sid, he orders him to tend to damage to the city, to make sure Stein and his students are treated medically, and to withdraw all Death Scythes from their global posts back to Death City. Upon Sid's departure, Death reflects how appropriate that the Kishin would be resurrected during the anniversary celebration of the very academy that Death founded to prevent another Kishin.
Medusa's army has escaped out of Death City, with Eruka sensing that the snakes in her body have stopped, hence she is pleased that Medusa must be dead.
But before she dies, Medusa pulls dismembered torso atop Stein's body to bite into him. After Stein slams her down to the floor, Medusa claims she loves Stein. He responds by stabbing Spirit's blade through her forehead and claiming that, as she is like him, she can never understand love. Spirit is then surprised to see Medusa's body dissolve, leaving no soul, implying to him that she destroyed her own soul.
As Soul, Tsubaki, and the Thompsons tend to their unconscious meisters, Death City rebuilds. But a snake housing Medusa's body has escaped the Academy through the sewers, and falls into a canal circling Death City.
Death recalls to Death City all of the world's Death Scythes to discuss the impending events that may unfold from Asura's resurrection. While the Death Scythes from western Europe (Justin Law), Oceania (Marie Mjolnir), and East Asia (Azusa Yumi) return, Sid announces that other Death Scythes have not returned.
While Stein reunites with Marie, his former girlfriend, who is not optimistic about being reassigned to Death City as a teacher when she really wants to find a husband. Azusa goads Spirit that he will likely be reassigned away from North America and his daughter due to his failure to stop Asura. However, Spirit's fears are unwarranted, as Death intends to keep Spirit, not only because he is technically his only Death Scythe that is also an actual scythe, but because he wants someone to keep an eye on Stein, who due to Asura's global madness is under threat of falling deeper into madness.
Meanwhile, Maka and her friends, excluding Liz, decide to regain some normalcy by playing a game of basketball. Maka is stuck in a bet with her friends: if Kid's team with Soul and Tsubaki loses, the paintings in Gallows Mansion are made asymmetrical, but if Maka's team with Black Star and Patty loses, Maka has to go on a parent-daughter day with Spirit.
Stein and Marie tour Death City, stopping at the basketball court to watch their students play. While Stein welcomes Marie to stay at Patchwork Lab, Spirit arrives, worried about Stein's sanity. Spirit is interrupted by Maka because, as her team lost the basketball game, she has to ask her father to spend the weekend with her. Spirit vomits out of joy.
- Asura escapes from Death City, and his spreading global madness will have ramifications in both the manga and the anime's later stories: Franken Stein will fall into deeper madness, and Arachne Gorgon will capitalize on the increased madness in the world to reform her organization Arachnophobia, a new enemy to the DWMA.
- This arc reveals that Death anchored not only his soul but his body to the spot of land that would become Death City in order to prevent Asura from escaping, hence making Death and Death City one and the same, as first hinted when Maka Albarn failed to perceive his soul all the way back in the second story arc of Soul Eater.
- Stein's discussion with his students that, if Death desired to leave the area, he would require feet attached to Death City itself, foreshadows the develop of the Death City Mech built by Joe Buttataki and powered by Eibon (Brew itself). These events happen only in the anime.
- This arc features the first documented death of Medusa Gorgon, her body destroyed by Stein and Spirit Albarn. Yet her soul is carried by one of her escaping snakes so as later to possess Rachel Boyd and, in the manga only, Arachne. Later arcs will explain how Medusa was able to draw upon Asura's recent awakening to use madness to transfer her soul, a technique that would be almost impossible otherwise.
- This arc provides background information on Crona's childhood before they leave Medusa's Army to join the DWMA. While Crona will remain an ally in the anime, they will rejoin Medusa during the Operation Capture Baba Yaga Arc until ultimately allying again with Maka to defeat Asura.
- The arc witnesses the first time Maka Albarn taps into the Black Blood to prevent fatal injury, as well as introducing the first form of her Grigori Dress, which she will use in the manga to defeat Arachne and Asura. This arc also gives fuller information as to the Anti-Demon Wavelength preventing the Black Blood from drawing Maka into irreparable madness.
- This arc concludes with the return of the world's Death Scythes, confirming Spirit is simply one of many Death Scythes, as protector of North America. Death Scythes introduced in this chapter include Justin Law, Azusa Yumi, and Stein's former girlfriend Marie Mjolnir.
- The end of this arc confirms that Death City is located in Nevada.
- When Sid informs Death that the Death Scythe from South America will not be attending the meeting, he claims he heard only "crazy howlin' gibberish" and complains of a "language barrier." This dialogue foreshadows that Enrique, the meister for South America's Death Scythe Tezca Tlipoca, is a monkey, whose dialogue seems to be comprehended by only Tezca himself.
- Although Stein assumes "a very devout clergyman" such as Justin Law is less affected by Madness, later chapters imply that actually Justin had been mad prior to this chapter's events, likely acting as a spy for Asura. Hence, Stein may not have realized Justin's devoutness was to a different god, the Kishin.
- Chapter 16 is sometimes titled "The Eve's Fight to the Death (Part 1)" or "Christmas Eve, Fight to Death (Part 1)." This inconsistent titling may owe to a misunderstanding that this chapter took place around December 24, whereas Chapter 32 reveals that the DWMA Anniversary Party takes place on April 1. As well, the Yen Press translation has Stein refer to Crona's status as a failed experiment to be "the best news this year." Stein's remark may be one reason why many readers assumed initially that this issue took place around Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve: as the titles to this and surrounding chapters were confusing in initial translations, Stein's joy that the New Year would begin with such news supports an initial interpretation that the issue took place around January.
- Whereas they would be called Eight Powerful Warriors elsewhere, Chapter 16 refers to them as the Eight Shinigami Legions.
- Death's remark that Asura "probably wasn't human from the very beginning" and possessed so much fear foreshadows the revelation that Asura is one of Lord Death's fragments, containing all of Lord Death's fear and effectively makes Asura a Shinigami and Lord Death's own son.
- The Little Ogre says the same line as Crona, that Hell is in the head, perhaps associating this argument with the madness of the Black Blood as found in Crona and as represented by the Ogre himself.
- While Chapter 17 confirms that Medusa considers Crona to be her "real child," the circumstances around how Medusa is Crona's parent have been debated by fans. Theories include whether Medusa is biologically Crona's parent; whether Medusa possessed another woman's body (as she will do later to Rachel Boyd and Arachne) and that the possessed woman was already pregnant; and whether Medusa adopted Crona in some way.
- In the scanlation for Chapter 18, a mistranslation had Soul say that he likes Maka and would follow her no matter what. The actual translation was that Soul trust her and would follow her no matter what.
- Spirit claims Stein has not "actually fought anyone for so long." He does not refer to Stein's fight against Maka and Black Star, perhaps considering that remedial lesson as only a faux-battle, or his fight against Crona and his first fight against Medusa.
- Stein claims he desired "a system set up by a god without arrogance," suggesting he sees Death and perhaps Kid as gods without arrogance.
- At the beginning of this story arc, when Sid used Forced Burial to allow Stein and the students to escape, the meisters landed on their feet while the weapons fell onto their backsides, a fact recognized by Soul. In this episode's last moments, it is the weapons who are left standing on their feet in most cases, tending to their unconscious meisters who cannot stand on their own feet.
- Upon Asura's escape from Death City, the first object visible once the clouds dissipate is the Moon, perhaps foreshadowing that Asura will escape to the Moon for the manga's final chapters.
- ↑ Soul Eater Volume 7 Yen Press English translation: Chapter 23, Page 5