|Original review author:||Primarily Evilkritter art consultation with NinaFortina|
|Webcomic name:||Soul Eye|
|Author:||Tanti but also known as Erusindo on DeviantArt|
|Start Date||July 7, 2008|
|End Date||March 11, 2012|
|Defining Flaw||The world is empty, shallow, and bare. The story is poorly explained and largely implied. The art is tolerable but lazy. The main pairing contains a fucking pedophile serial murderer/rapist with no redeeming attributes, that we are meant to sympathize with.|
Blackmoongirl mentioned this on the Most Wanted forum, and I figured it looked like my kind of bad. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting into.
By the way, there are a metric ton of links and none of them are safe for work.
Story and Plot
I think I’ll do a quick plot summary, going from start to finish...
First, we have a preview of someone (Darcia) sucking out a random victim’s soul.
Chapter 1: Taste of the Soul’s Breath.
We learn that Kin is reputedly a slut, a selfish bitch who doesn’t want to pay his teammates, and that someone name Ohgi is being replaced. Next we meet Rena, who is a bit psycho. Then we meet “Rasha” and discover that Kin is completely insane and a bad liar to boot. Seriously, Kin runs around to get sushi or something, then asks the first strong bodied loner he happens upon to join the party in exchange for dinner or something. Also, we get the main pair spoiled by buttsecks filler art. Fifty fans already? Anyway, they leave wherever they are to go somewhere else and hunt down Darcia, who is secretly “Rasha”. We don’t actually get a direct explanation of this quest or anything. Ohgi is left behind. I don’t really know why he was in the story in the first place.
In Chapter 2: the Blood Witch, Altina.
So the group is in the “woods” or something. Marcel prompts Kin to finally tell us what's going on. He completely and utterly fails to do so. Altina can totally help them kill Darcia, and “Rasha” is worried that she would get all up in his business for some reason. Most of the early plot holes center on the fact that we have no idea who Altina is, or, more importantly, who the various characters think she is. Altina is pretty much a MacGuffin for most of the comic. Anyway, Rasha wanders into the woods and Kin follows him in alone, because Marcel and Rena have better things to do, I guess. Then Kin catches up to Darcia, they have a stupid tiff, and Kin manages to gouge himself. Darcia carries the pathetic Kin deeper into the woods and sucks off his wound, because horny souls taste better. I wouldn't make this up. Rasha explains that going to Altina is a stupid plan. So how did Kin know about Altina, and why would that be his first plan? Darcia tricks Kin into staring into his hypno-eye, but it doesn't work. They then return to camp.
Chapter 3: Samael, the Death Connoisseur.
Kin has flashbacks to an emo backstory. Apparently a whole week passed, which opens a ton of plot holes really fast. Kin really wants to tap that ass and when “Rasha” tries to suck out his soul Kin sluts it up. They wake up…later, and head off. We learn that Kin has absolutely no idea what he is doing. Kin consults with “Rasha” because he “appears to know the land” for some reason. “Rasha” has a friend that can help. Rena’s brain kicks in because she is in panel. We meet Samael. Samael sends them to their rooms to get changed, and we almost have our first sex scene. Clothes change because Samael is like that. Samael throws a fit when they ask him about Altina and then demands sex. Darcia should have seen that coming. It bugs when I think about this chapter, what the flying duck were they doing for an entire week. Marcel should have asked for the rest of the explanation when the pair got back to camp a week ago. It is pretty clear that Kin has no plan and they are just wandering around. Who put the irresponsible boy toy in charge anyway?
Chapter 4: A Time to Kill…
Darcia goes to see Altina. We learn that Altina is one of Darcia’s old loves. So is Samael. They imprisoned Altina for some reason. Then we hit the first Darcia-damning event of the story. Darcia orders Samael out and slaughters a basement full of crippled victims Samael had on hand for just this circumstance. It was at this point that I went from disliking Darcia, to fucking hating him and everything he stands for. The comic still wants us to like this serial killing pedophile. Unfortunately, Rena heard the slaughter.
Chapter 5: …and a Time to Die.
We get Rena’s backstory. Darcia devoured her kid sister. Rena confronts Darcia, making her my favorite character in the story and also the most developed character in the comic. Though Kin’s flashback was informative, it didn't give a real look into his mind the way Rena’s did. Of course, Darcia chases Rena down like a monster in a horror movie. She does not think to call for help from Marcel or Kin. Then we have the second Darcia damning event. Darcia is so full of shit, and then he has Rena devoured alive. At this point, I had to take a break to fantasize about Darcia’s murder. He is a completely unrepentant, serial killing, child-devouring monster with absolutely no redeeming qualities. The worst part was, of course, that the instant Rena called out to Darcia, you knew that she was dead. Darcia and Kin are the important characters; everyone else is expendable. When Darcia claimed he would have let Rena live, I nearly screamed a tirade at my monitor. When he said “you act so superior,” I did. Because we are better than you you horrible ABOMINATION.
Chapter 6: a Torn Heart.
The title of this chapter pissed me off so much. Anyway, the story... Then Kin hides from the servant girls who want to change his clothes by spending the night with “Rasha”. They talk about conquering the gender barrier and incest taboo, then they start to have sex. Some messed up pillow talk, then Darcia goes to have sex with Samael, because he is horny but afraid he would murder Kin in the throes of passion. Why yes, this is the same night that he murdered Rena. Darcia takes a chunk out of Samael when he cums.
Chapter 7: Betrayal.
I can hardly handle writing a summary of this chapter. So Marcel is mean to
Darcia's bitch Kin, then they both run off. Then Samael is all like, “Comfort him!” to Darcia. A sociopath monster trying to comfort a whining child goes about as well as you would expect. Then Kin runs into servants of Altina in the middle of Samael’s house. They help Kin realize that “Rasha” is Darcia, then they vanish.
Here comes the part that condemns Kin along with Darcia: so he confronts Darcia, they talk it out, and Kin is fine with Darcia because they wuv each odder. He isn’t even afraid of Darcia. So it’s pretty obvious what the betrayal is here. Kin is betraying humanity for an unrepentant monster. The chapter ends with some truly bizarre pillow talk and a Twilight joke. When your main pairing has a more disturbing relationship than Bella and Edward, you need to stop writing romance. Oh, and they leave to go find Altina.
Chapter 8: Flames of Deceit.
How appropriate is that title? You know Marcel? The guy who still thinks he is helping Kin hunt down Darcia? The entire time I read this chapter, I kept thinking “Marcel is so fucked, he doesn't even know what is coming”. I’m thinking that Tanti (the author) will have Marcel die in the fight against Altina, because if he didn't then Darcia would have to kill him. Kin sees nothing wrong with just using this man. So, the story so far: they all have trippy flashbacks; Altina was abusive towards Darcia, but since I want him to die an agonizing screaming death this doesn't really bother me; Marcel is a thief and his wife got killed because he stole from the wrong people; the shapeshifters are screwing with them. We start into Kin’s whatever-this-is, apparently he steals from old women. That catches us up to date. Poor Marcel, he will get a little development, then he will die.
For an amateur web-manga, I would say the art is average. There is not one area in which it is terrible, not even backgrounds which are usually the weakness of amateur manga. But on the other hand, the art doesn't excel in any area either. I think there are hints of a good art style, but it won't develop without a lot more refinement and hard work.
Character Designs: They're not bad, but they are bland. The main characters aren't very attention grabbing. Also, some of the characters look too much alike. One of the characters, Marcel, has a laughable goatee which does not look like it belongs on his face at all.
Character Art: The figure drawing is not bad, but needs a lot of work. I noticed something odd… while hands are often decently drawn, arms look terrible. The basic shape is all right, but they are stiff with almost no definition. It seems like this artist has put most of their attention into drawing hands and faces, with only a rudimentary knowledge of everything else. Sexual organs are also oddly drawn and have a bit of a weird alien look, which I'm sure doesn't help with the attempted eroticism.
Line Quality: Quite possibly the worst thing about the art. Lines are sketchy and rough, and way too thin. There is no attempt to add definition at all, everything looks flat and lifeless.
Shading: There is absolutely no attempt to use cross-hatching, which is a big loss for any black/white comic. The shading is done using grayscale, which is typical, and it is pretty underwhelming. Flat colors are used too often, and when there is shading it tends to have very little contrast, which basically defeats the purpose of shading. A simple thing like adding more contrast to the shading would make this comic look much better.
Faces: Like most amateur manga the bulk of the effort goes into the faces, and they are okay. Expressions sometimes work, but sometimes feel a bit off. It seems like there is only a tiny amount of effort to make some characters have individualistic faces. This artist also seems to have a pretty hard time keeping faces on model when drawn at angles.
Backgrounds: This is the bane of all amateur manga artists, and that is the case here as well, but to a lesser extent. While they are often minimalistic, there is a good use of shading to help them work decently. Cities and dwellings are crude looking, but not horrendously so, and occasionally show a little bit of effort. This artist can at least draw a decent looking bed, which is good since that is where the characters spend half their time.
Clothing Designs: They work on a basic level, but there is an obvious lack of sophistication in both the designs and rendering. Clothes tend to be drawn with straight lines, and be absent of any folds. However, the artist can at least draw dresses halfway decently.
Summary: The main problem with this comic's art is simply laziness. Many of it's artistic problems could be fixed by simply putting a bit more work into them. It's a shame because there is clearly a little bit of talent here, and with refinement in the right areas the art could be quite striking. But this comic has been going on for 4 years without showing any signs of improvement.
Overall, the dialog is mediocre, the story is weak, and the metaknowledge that Kin and Darcia are the focus of reality permeates the entire work. I have a couple of more sophisticated complaints:
Vast Empty Void - The entire world feels empty, because it is empty. There are something like 23 people in the entire world, counting the guy with the little girl in the background of page 21, and the victims that Darcia slaughters. More importantly, it feels like the world only exists on page. Let’s start with backstory: Kin is supposed to be some sort of a con man and a disciple of an unexplained religion. We only know this because it is explicitly told to us, and both are completely irrelevant to the plot and story because they are never brought up or acted upon (with maybe one really stupid exception). The world feels like there is nothing in it beyond the pages themselves because the setting is completely unexplained except for those pieces that are directly relevant to the plot. Note that the angels died off so long ago, but we still have no idea how it happened or what the significance of it was (for anyone who thinks that isn't plot relevant, SPOILER: Kin will turn out to be part Angel). I can almost guarantee that Priest Alec’s religion has no name, and I guarantee that it has no defined philosophy; Tanti never came up with one because it wasn't plot-relevant. The city that the story started in may eventually get a name, but it has no history. Nalla and Allan do not have a reason to follow Altina except that they are her followers. Nothing will ever happen in this world unless it happens on a page in the comic. The lifelessness of the world is immersion-breaking. The lack of backgrounds and near absence of interaction between any characters but the main three (Darcia, Samael, and Kin) make the side characters feel irrelevant. The story takes place in a vast void from which plot-critical elements are crafted, but nothing else.
Perversion of Love - Soul Eye says that love matters more that right and wrong, and that if you love someone, it doesn't matter what horrible and heinous things they do as long as they treat you okay. The most obvious example of this is Kin’s reaction to Darcia’s confession. Even though Darcia is a remorseless serial killing psychopath, Kin is okay with it because he loves him. Their love is used as an excuse for the slaughter of children everywhere so that Darcia can live indefinitely.
Tanti seems nice enough, but the authors of this kind of trash usually are. The story shows her darkest side, and I don’t think she intended to make this as bad as it was. I had a brief exchange with her, in which I learned that Ohgi actually had a little backstory. The real frustration with a work like this is that a short talk with the author can give a feel of greater depth and power to it. Tanti had been suffering burnout and decided not to finish the comic.
On the whole it seems that Tanti cares for her work, but as an entertaining hobby rather than a labor of love. She has dropped the comic because her real life is more important, and Soul Eye doesn't matter enough to be worth the trouble.
The night I read this comic, I posted on the forum while I was reading. I was serious about the homicidal rage. The message behind this comic is absolutely disgusting. It is on par with comics like Concession. I stand by what I said in this review. The world feels empty, the art is mediocre at best, and the message makes me want to kill the main couple.
I made my final review using the "Dead Author" method. It does not matter what the author intended it to mean, it does not matter what the author believes or wants others to believe, and none of the author's explanations or justifications matter. The work must be judged based on its own merits and flaws as it is presented. Soul Eye boldly says "You and your feelings matter more than the good of humanity", and I hate it for that. There is nothing about Soul Eye to recommend it, and it isn't so bad it's good material. It is just an infuriating mess.