|The Experiment Arc|
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The Experiment Arc is the fifth major arc in the Soul Eater series. As Maka and Soul undergo a dangerous and risky training exercise to strengthen their resonance, the "Man with the Demon Eye" makes his appearances and puts their resonance to the test. In the aftermath of the event, the students prepare for the Ultimate Written Exam.
This arc shows Medusa's plans to use Soul's infection by Ragnarok to fully realize the effects of the Black Blood, which will be instrumental in later arcs to her perfection of the substance to resurrect Asura and to lead Crona to the path of becoming a Kishin. Therefore, this arc shows Soul's first attempt at using the Black Blood, hinting at its ability to drive Soul into madness but also hinting at Maka's Anti-Demon Wavelength as a guard against the madness of the Black Blood, which will be important for how the duo use this substance for the rest of the series. The arc also includes the first look at Maka's Grigori Soul.
This arc also gives a fuller introduction to the Legendary Wolfman, Free, and the extent of abilities by the Immortal Clan and Maba's Demon Eye.
The story about the Ultimate Written Exam provides a fuller look at the course curriculum at the Death Weapon Meister Academy, as well as the study techniques of its students.
- Death Weapon Meister Academy Special Tutoring Room One
- London Bridge and River Thames, London
- City Square
- A Vasili
- Demon Eye Cannon
- Fighting Wolf Fist
- Wolf Tail Wall
- 6-Hunt Slash
- Anti-Demon Wavelength
Eruka Frog frees Prisoner 13 from the Witch Prison. During this escape, she witnesses firsthand the awesome power of the prisoner's Demon Eye and his identity as an Immortal, as he quickly kills the prison guards pursuing them.
Meanwhile, Maka Albarn and Soul Eater meet with Franken Stein for weekend tutoring to improve their Soul Resonance. Despite Stein's warning that such training could permanently damage their resonance and thus end their partnership, Maka agrees, to Soul's frustration. Stein's lesson is seemingly innocuous: he asks the two to identify each other's flaws. Due to the special candles he leaves lit in their tutoring room, however, the aroma manipulates the students' emotions, prompting them to reveal more readily their frustration with each other's secrets: Maka for desiring to grow stronger to protect her weapon, and Soul for hiding the nightmares of the Little Ogre. Stein worries this lesson is causing their Soul Wavelengths to diverge.
Elsewhere, Eruka brings Prisoner 13 to Medusa. While Eruka expected Medusa to remove the snake from her body, she is shocked to learn that Medusa left more than one snake inside of her, leaving her still in Medusa's employ under threat of death. Thankful for being given his freedom by Medusa's plan, Prisoner 13 takes on the new name Free and agrees to assist Medusa. She asks that he go to London, where two the DWMA students, Maka and Soul, will be on an extracurricular lesson. Free eagerly agrees, due to his hatred for Death's rules against Immortals like him.
At London Bridge, Maka and Soul are joined by Black☆Star and Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, due to new Academy rules requiring two-team missions following Soul's injury by Crona. While Black☆Star and Tsubaki notice Maka and Soul are still upset with each other, they are interrupted by the arrival of Free. As Maka sees Free's soul has magic components to it, Black☆Star attempts to end this mission with Tsubaki's new Uncanny Sword Mode, yet he is still unable to hold onto that form long enough to do any damage to Free. Soul manages to stab Free through the chest, yet Free demonstrates his healing ability, confirming to Maka that he is an Immortal. Free then shows his true form: as an Immortal, he is also a Wolfman, as Maka realizes Free is that same Legendary Werewolf who stole Maba's Demon Eye.
Maka prepares to attack Free, but as Soul transforms into her hands, she cannot hold onto him, his weapon form too hot to handle: their diverging soul wavelengths mean that they cannot resonate.
Soul, in his weapon form, falls into the snow. Medusa observes this battle through the snakes in Eruka's body, as this witch sits on London Bridge in her frog form. "Soul Eater," Medusa asks, "how will your body's Black Blood respond to a bad situation like this? Let the experiment begin!"
Free shouts to the three the DWMA students who still stand, claiming Death's against wolves like him will not be allowed to persist, as he intends to kill these students. Free attacks Maka with a set of consecutive attacks that leaves her bloody and lying in the snow. But Free's 200-year imprisonment has left him "rusty" in his advanced magical skills, as he accidentally thrusts an Ice Spindle into his own abdomen, which would have been fatal if not for his healing abilities.
Maka uses Free's delay to wield Tsubaki while Soul backs them up with his bladed arm. While Maka manages to stab Tsubaki's blade through Free's forehead, his power overwhelms her. Despite her injuries and their diverging soul wavelengths, Maka attempts to wield Soul again, but still his weapon form burns her hands and hardly affects the immortal Free. Soul urges Maka to calm herself, but this remark provokes yet another argument between the two of them over her desire to grow stronger and his silent fear that he could lose himself to the madness of the Little Ogre.
"Give it a rest!!!" the usually polite Tsubaki shouts at both of her classmates. As Tsubaki explains that she and Black Star maintain a team style despite their differences, Maka and Soul need to do so immediately if they are going to survive this battle. Maka and Soul become silent, each reflecting on their fears and their need to trust each other. As Maka realizes she has to grow stronger not by herself but with Soul, he gives in to the Black Blood, with a promise to the Little Ogre that he will not lose himself to such madness.
As Maka and Soul resonate, Tsubaki senses how much their power is increasing. However, Soul's soul begins to overwhelm Maka's own. Medusa, watching this battle through Eruka's snakes, realizes that the Black Blood's madness will take control not only of Soul's mind but Maka's as well. Yet Soul pulls back on this power so to maintain his and Maka's sanity.
Maka then forms her Witch-Hunt Slash, which Free identifies as an Anti-Demon Wavelength. Maka charges at Free and persists by changing the Witch-Hunt Slash into a 6-Hunt Slash, slicing through Free's tail. While the swing throws back Free, it has not disabled him, and Maka's slice hurled her weapon back onto the snow-covered street. Maka does not retrieve Soul, instead charging at Free, without her weapon, and tackles him off the bridge, as both descend into the Thames below, shocking Free and her classmates.
Before Maka can fall below, Soul reverts to his human form and seizes Maka's ankle, claiming it is much skinnier than he thought. But Free will not let go of Maka, digging his nails into her chest to drag him down with him. But Free's paw is severed at the wrist by Tsubaki's shuriken form, wielded by the reawakened Black Star. As he descends, Free is still confident, laughing as he prepares an incantation to form an Ice Pillar in midair by which he may leap back to the bridge. Soul looks at Free, realizing the werewolf's plan. Free conjures his Ice Pillar—around himself rather than under himself, precipitating his fall into the Thames. From the bridge, Eruka looks down, surprised Free messed up at the very end of this battle.
Watching through Eruka's snakes, Medusa is hardly frustrated by Free's failure: rather, she is laughing, as this experiment shows she is close to perfecting the Black Blood to make the Kishin "evolve."
Atop the bridge, Soul is tending to Maka. Seeing her hands are burned, Soul says he will have to do the cooking for a while. Maka laughs and asks that Soul make something good, and he replies, "Just nori, of course!" Maka then coughs into her gloved hands, and she is shocked to see what she has coughed up: Black Blood.
Elsewhere, in a city square, Crona kills multiple civilians to consume their souls.
In Class Crescent Moon, before concluding that day's class, Franken Stein announces the Ultimate Written Exam, a test for both meisters and weapons. While students seem worried about this exam, Maka is excited because she wants to score the highest grade, just as her mother had. But Maka faces two challenges. First, the student who scored highest on this test last year, Ox Ford is in her class, as is the shinigami Death the Kid. Second, as Soul tells Black Star, the superstition around the Ultimate Written Exam is that whoever earns the highest grade on this exam is destined to make a Death Scythe. Both Maka and Black Star are excited at the prospect to make Death Scythes, while Liz and Patty Thompson get used to the idea of taking tests.
For the next three days, the students take different approaches to studying: Maka reads studious, Soul creates cheat sheets (while contending with a bored Blair), Black Star sneaks into Patchwork Lab to steal the answer sheet (and is pummeled by Stein), and Kid, Liz, and Patty are distracted by uneven eyebrows, fingernail painting, and sleep. Meanwhile, Spirit Albarn spends the three days sending good vibrations to his daughter, chanting at her and lighting a fire in front of her apartment building.
On the day of the Ultimate Written Exam, Sid Barrett stands before the class, announcing he is standing in for Stein as proctor for this test. But before the test begins, Sid points to Black Star, beaten bloody and hanged above in front of the class as a reminder not to cheat.
Within minutes of the test, Soul starts referring to the cheat sheets he has covered all over his body—until he is discovered by Sid, who strips his down to his underwear to remove all cheat sheets but permits Soul to finish the test. Returned to his seat, the underwear-clad Soul attempts to cheat off the students next to him, but Kid has not finished writing his name perfectly, and Patty uses crayons to turn her test into a giraffe paper sculpture, whose neck she threatens to snap.
Soul looks to where Black Star is screwed into the wall. With his own blood on his finger, Black Star begins to write on the classroom wall. Soul grins, expecting that, as Black Star already saw the answers when sneaking into Stein's lab, that he is going to write answers for Soul to write. But all Black Star did was write his autograph on the wall and give a thumbs up. Soul shouts at his classmate then slams his head onto his desk, while Kid, still on the floor up with his legs up in the air, twitches and Patty snaps the neck of her giraffe sculpture. The clock then chimes, concluding this test. "No," Soul realizes, the test "was over when I was stripped to my underwear."
Meanwhile, at the end of the test, Maka grins, satisfied that she has reviewed her answers twice and that her study paid off.
That evening, in their apartment, Soul sees Maka looking at her photograph album, where she admires a photograph of her father teaching her to read.
Elsewhere, at Chupa♡Cabra's, Blair congratulates Spirit on Maka earning the top score on the Ultimate Written Exam. Spirit explains that he wants to congratulate his daughter but fears that Maka will reject any gift directly from him. Therefore, he hands Blair money and a greeting card, asking that Blair find out which book Maka wants and to buy it for her. Blair giggles at how much Spirit loves his daughter and agrees to fulfill his request.
But Blair instead spends the money on lingerie for herself. Ashamed, Blair uses her magic to adjust the purchase's size and give it as Spirit's gift. When Maka sees this gift ostensibly from her father, with a greeting card telling her to enjoy the present, she is disgusted that her father is trying to make her into "a lewd girl."
- In Chapter 10, Maka and Soul's diverging soul wavelengths are represented as gears out of alignment with each other. A similar image will appear in Chapter 75 when Maka announces she no longer wants Soul to be her partner, and when they fight against the gear-powered Giriko.
- Free seems to sense how strong Black☆Star is. How Free is able to do so, and whether he like Maka was perceiving Black☆Star's soul, is not yet clear.
- Upon learning that Free is part of the Immortal Clan, Maka says, "So that's why his soul's all mixed up!!" However, whether his soul is "mixed up" due to being Immortal or due to the influence of Demon Eye, hence the witch part to his soul, is not yet clear.
- Maka claims her Witch-Hunt Slash is strong enough to work on demons. As she up to this point has been shown using Witch-Hunt Slash against Sid Barrett, which failed, and Stein, who defeated the attack, it is unclear which, if any demons, Maka has fought with this technique. Because Witch-Hunt Slash is referred to as a traditional attack used by Scythe-Meisters, it is likely that Maka is referring to the Witch-Hunt Slash overall, not to only her experience with it.
- The werewolf Free battles Maka in London, which may allude to a number of works in popular culture:
- As Free chides the students, he alludes to two children's stories.
- Free asks whether the students will "hide in your house" before saying, "I don't care if it's made out of bricks, sticks, or straw! I'll blow it all down!" Free's remarks allude to the children's tale of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, in which the Wolf attacks the homes of two less responsible pigs, who built their homes out of straw and sticks, that could not withstand the Wolf's intense blowing, while the pig who built their house of bricks protected themselves against the Wolf's attack.
- Free also says Maka looks good with a "red hood," referring to her bloody face. He is alluding to the children's tale of Little Red Riding Hood, in which a child walks through the woods to her grandmother's house. However, the Wolf has already come to her grandmother's house to impersonate the grandmother and attempt to eat Little Red Riding Hood.
- Maka's soul enlarges as she prepares her Soul Resonance with Soul, revealing it to have winglike appendages. This image foreshadows that Maka possesses a Grigori Soul, which will be significant during the Grigori Arc later in the manga.
- In Chapter 11, Medusa claims the Black Blood inside a weapon affects the mind not only of that weapon but, in Soul Resonance, of the meister as well. Maka is able to overcome these effects of the Black Blood in this chapter, which is due to her Anti-Demon Wavelength, also named by Free in this chapter.
- Maka and Soul's outfits on the colorized cover resemble their outfits in the anime's second closing theme, "Style."
- In their first appearance in this chapter, Maka and Soul are looking at Stein as he lectures, while it looks like Patty is staring directly at the readers.
- Soul explains to Black Star that the person who gets the highest grade on the Ultimate Written Test is destined to make a Death Scythe. While Maka earned the highest grade on this test and made their weapons into Death Scythes, Ox also earned the highest grade but was never shown to have made Harvar into a Death Scythe.
- Maka says her mother "was at the top of her class." While she does not say whether her mother got the highest grade on the Ultimate Written Test to become top of her class, the implication seems likely, especially as Maka makes this remark after hearing Soul say that the person who gets the highest grade on the Ultimate Written Test is destined to make a Death Scythe, as Maka's mother did with Spirit.
- When studying for the Ultimate Written Exam, Maka wears her hair in odango and wears an outfit similar to a changshan.
- Black Star and Tsubaki's apartment, which makes its first appearance in this chapter, includes scrolls with messages that are apt for Black Star's boisterous, self-inflating personality: "Sky above, sky below, I above stand almighty," and "God."
- This chapter clarifies some rules and traits of the Ultimate Written Exam:
- The Ultimate Written Exam allows students 60 minutes to answer all questions. One instance of the test seemed to began around 9:00 AM.
- No cheating is allowed on the exam. Students like Black Star who snuck into Patchwork Lab to find the answer sheet before the test are beaten by Stein and pinned to the front of the classroom. Students like Soul who have cheat sheets covering their entire body are stripped to their underwear but, depending on the flexibility of the proctor such as Sid are allowed to return to their seats, sans clothes, to complete the test.
- The first test question to the Ultimate Written Exam, although with some variation to its prepositional phrases, is used as the quotation that begins every episode of the anime Soul Eater: "A sound soul dwells in a sound mind and a sound body." This phrase is also used as the title to the manga's very last chapter.
- When Soul reviews his cheat sheet, it is full of excerpts from the works of Lewis Carroll, author of Alice Through the Looking Glass. More excerpts from Carroll's works appear in the Book of Eibon.
- Before Sid announces that there are only ten minutes left in the Ultimate Written Exam, one of the clocks shown droops over an object, as if it is melting, an allusion to the artwork of Salvador Dali.
- When Blair is confused at Spirit's request for a favor, her question mark has cat ears.
- The Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian Hindu text considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior in Sanskrit literature written by Vātsyāyana.<ref>"Kama Sutra." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama_Sutra Accessed 10 June 2015.
- Soul was in 108th place on his exam. In Buddhism, 108 is associated with fate, hence at times with bad luck.