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Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 11/05/2002

When Kyosuke Date is stabbed by his own mother, he doesn't die. Instead, he gains the ability to become something else -- a powerful winged creature codenamed the Soultaker. Kyosuke also finds out that he has a twin sister named Runa, and that a huge conglomerate known as the Kirihara Group is after her. Runa is in hiding, leaving only parts of herself called "flickers" behind. Flickers differ in age and appearance, and just like Runa they too are wanted by the Kirihara Group. Kirihara experiments on the flickers in the hopes that they can point the way to Runa. Kyosuke is determined to find Runa, save the flickers, and stop Kirihara for good... even if it means becoming the Soultaker. But things are actually more complicated than they seem...
The Soultaker is a 13-episode series about Kyosuke Date, a young man with a mysterious past and an equally enigmatic present. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've encountered nothing but rave reviews about The Soultaker, which was really surprising because I found it to be one of the most tedious and boring series to ever hit my screen.
More than straight-up storytelling, The Soultaker relies heavily on visual imagery to get its points across. There are a lot of shadows, abstract shapes, bright colors, and religious symbolisms. I guess this is the part where I'm supposed to commend the artistry of the overall visual style, but sorry to say it just doesn't work for me. The scenes have no continuity whatsoever. One minute Kyosuke is sitting in a dark corner, then we see lots of stained glass images, then the next minute we see Yui Kirihara seemingly suspended in open space talking to somebody on her monitors. Sure, I thought they were kind of cool and impressive at first, but pretty soon I realized that it was all very distracting to watch. Even the fighting scenes are presented in this manner, albeit not as choppily put together as the normal scenes. Character designs are beautifully done, but it's not like you see much of them because in most scenes the characters' faces are either obscured by shadows or just partially shown.
Pacing is very slow. Every episode felt like it was going to last forever. Despite the erratic presentation style, the characters spend a whole lot of time contemplating things rather than actually going into action. It also doesn't help that various characters just keep on popping up and intertwining themselves into the already convoluted plot. I had a really difficult time finishing The Soultaker, although if it's any consolation I found the last two episodes rather engaging... it's just too bad they weren't enough to salvage everything else.
The Soultaker actually had some good things going for it. The plot had substance and I have to admit that the visuals, although not to my tastes, were creatively done. There is definitely something wrong with the execution though because watching it has really been one of the most tedious life experiences I've had, and I'm just so relieved that I only borrowed the DVDs. I'd much sooner tell you to take sleeping pills rather than recommend this title. Looking for a cure for insomnia? You may have something here.
The Soultaker is divided into four DVDs.

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Review Title:
Alternative Titles:
The Soul Taker
325 Minutes
General Rating:
2 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Horror, Supernatural
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