Welcome, all, to Released and Relinquished, the panel where we teach you about great shows that actually got released on DVD in America but sold so horribly that the copies still litter the shelves. We have a great variety of shows from different genres and time periods, all of which are still pretty easy to find. There’s no time to waste, so let’s get started with our first show!
This is The SoulTaker, which has my favorite opening song ever. It’s a show about a guy named Kyousuke Date who starts the show off by getting knifed in the heart by his own mother as she dies on the steps of a church – so it’s some pretty bleak stuff right off the bat! Kyousuke seems to have died and is buried, but some time after his death, a mysterious girl digs up his grave and, lo-and-behold, he’s alive. There seem to be a lot of strange forces after him, though, like mad cyborg doctors, a guy who acts like Wolfwood from Trigun, and a little pink-haired magical girl who carries a giant syringe.
If you haven’t guessed already, this show is far from normal. The plot revolves around Kyousuke trying to find the sister he didn’t know he had while going through a variety of clones of her on the way. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot and it’s generally just a lot of fun. To be honest, you can pretty much enjoy the show just by ignoring the story altogether and concentrating on the great, trippy visuals provided at all times.
The SoulTaker was a pretty big project when it came out in 2001, and it had a whole bunch of people working on it as episode directors and scriptwriters, but the most important thing to know about this show is that it was directed by man named Akiyuki Shinbo. You may be acquainted with some of his other works, such as:
…among many others. Shinbo has a very distinct style that you can see in all of his shows, and increased tenfold in The SoulTaker. He likes to have lots of really strange art and visuals that make you say ‘whoa’ and keep your attention even more than the story itself. The SoulTaker really likes to use large amounts of a single color or a couple of colors on the screen at a time to create a bold effect, and there are tons of crosses and stainded-glass windows. Shinbo is obsessed with crosses and stained-glass windows, which are in all of his shows, but are ever-present in The SoulTaker. While this show doesn’t really have the best plot around, I certainly think that in terms of Shinbo’s vision, it remains his master work.
Now, as for where to find it, I’m not saying that you have to do this how I tell you to, but I am also not going to publicly support any kind of illegal means of obtaining this show. I will say, however, that the company who owned The SoulTaker, Geneon Entertainment, went out of business over a year ago, and none of the other anime companies have taken up the license. That means that once all of the copies have been sold, the show is gone, and you won’t find it again. However, because The SoulTaker was never exactly a blockbuster, it’s still pretty easily findable.
My local FYE (the one near Pembroke mall, for you locals) carries all of the DVDs used for very cheap and has at least some of them new if you are willing to pay full price. I also know that some of the used DVD stores around here carry them. You can easily find them online, either from the Amazon marketplace or on Right Stuf, who actually sells each of the 4 DVDs for only 4 bucks apiece. Now, about 6 years ago, Geneon re-released a bunch of their shows under the ‘signature-series’ line wherein the DVDs were uglier looking but cheaper. Ordinarily, the re-released version would be all you could find so long after the original release was canned, but The SoulTaker sold so poorly that the first edition releases are still rampantly easy to find. So give your favorite retailers a hand, and take some of these DVDs off of their shelves! 16 bucks ain’t a bad deal for 13 great episodes of anime!
Anyway, capping off, I have an AMV here that I feel really captures the essence of The SoulTaker, so I’d like to play a little bit of it for you. All of these scenes are from the first couple of episodes, so there’s no worries about spoilers.