The SoulTaker – Released and Relinquished Part One

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.

13 thoughts on “The SoulTaker – Released and Relinquished Part One

    • lol, believe me, I am aware. I am a HUGE Akiyuki Shinbo fan, as you will see if you check out this blog’s archives~

    • There’s nothing wrong with the plot, per say, but I’d hardly call it the show’s selling point. Especially because it’s almost hard to tell there even is a plot for quite a while.

  1. I remember back when this show was on during the wee hours of Tech TV (back when Tech TV existed, anyway) and I thought it was alright. Don’t remember the whole show other than about a transforming guy who was out to bone the ghost of his sister or something. Gotta say that I did not know Shinbo was behind this until now. That is somewhat enlightening.

    • Hehe, yeah I’m betting Tech TV had something to do with the bit of successs this show did have when it first came out here, but it all just vanished. I wish I had really known about Tech TTV in my early days as an anime fan… soultaker, boogiepop, betterman, they had great shit!

  2. The song was the only thing I enjoyed about this show. Well, one of two things: The pink-haired magical girl is Magical Nurse Witch Komugi, who happens to get her own spin-off. I’m a fan of Momoi Halko, so it was a big deal to me when it got released in the US.

    • I’ve been trying to get my hands of Nurse Witch Komugi-chan myself. Shame you don’t like SoulTaker though.

  3. On the other hand, I detested the song. I didn’t care much for the title, either, actually.

    But heavens, that show was beautiful to look at. Those colors. That stained glass. The character designs. The surreality.

    I can’t believe you haven’t finished Yamamoto Yohko TV (yet again, the same character designer as Soultaker and Bakemonogatari). I think you’ll find yourself giggling uncontrollably as you get to the later episodes — which were made, I think, mere months before The Soultaker, and it shows, even though the source material is a good deal lighter.

    • Detested a JAM Project song? I wouldn’t suggest saying that too loud :p

      Beautiful yes. As I said before, I’ve misplaced my Yohko download long ago and, to be honest, I don’t feel a need to rush and finish the show. This is the case for all Shinbo shows it seems, since I’ve never finished one in under a year. Somethign about his shows, it’s like I’ve seen enough after a few episodes, and if I watch more, it’s just to remind myself how awesome it was.

      • It was the chorus (as I said, I didn’t care much for the title of the show, either).

        Yes, I can understand setting things aside for a while. But with Yohko it changes a good deal around episode eight, then does another shift somewhere in the mid teens. I think by the time you finished the story, you might have three, maybe four additions to your list of top-100 characters.

        I liked the series so much I ended up scouring the web for used R2 DVDs (I just did the same thing for Manabi Straight, inspired, in part by the presence of Manabi and Mikan on your list (I forget — did you include Mucchi as well?). This is not something I do often, though it was partly motivated by the fact that my digisubs of the series were missing episodes and were occasionally awful quality (there were bits where I was wondering if I was looking at a bad encode, or if I was looking at a particularly experimental Shinbouism).

        • I included all 4 of the ‘main’ Manabi girls! but yah I watched 8 eps of yohko and i def saw a good change in that ep so if it stays that way, it could def be a favorite. And I actually had Yohko on my first 100 charas list saying ‘maybe she’ll be further up if I ever finish this show!) because even then it had been like 6 months LOL.

  4. Pingback: Released and Relinquished Part 2: GaoGaiGar | The Gaming Dungeon - more web 2.0 than you will ever be

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