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|While Death explains to students the origins of the Kishin, Stein directs Maka and her peers how to confront Medusa and get to the Kishin Shrine before the witch's gang|
"A Fight to the Death at the Anniversary Celebration (Part 1)" is the sixteenth chapter of the manga Soul Eater. It is collected as part of Volume 5 and was adapted as Episode 19, "The Underground Battle Commences – Break Through Medusa's Vector Arrow?" of the Soul Eater anime.
The reception area remains confined inside the Independent Cube created by Medusa and her allies. As students worry about having to wait an hour before the cube's magic releases them from these confines, Sid Barrett collapses, recovering from the explosion at Medusa's lair and his last effort to help Franken Stein and their students escape the cube. When Sid apologizes for his self-pity, Death reminds Sid that he did the best that he could.
When Sid reveals that Medusa must have used Soul Protect to prevent Death and others from identifying her as a witch, Kilik Rung steps forth to ask which techniques could be used against Soul Protect. Death explains that his forces have fought the witches for hundreds of years, which has led both sides to developing new spells and new techniques to be victorious against their opponents. For example, meisters developed Soul Perception, hence witches developed Soul Protect. When Kilik asks what the next step is in this evolution of techniques, Sid chides Kilik that the next step would be to become a Kishin. Seeing that Kilik is confused by this word "Kishin," Death realizes he cannot keep his secret any longer: he announces to the entire party, "There is a Kishin underneath DWMA!" Sid is shocked at Death's bluntness.
Death begins by telling the story of a man named Asura. Hundreds of years ago, Asura served as one of Death's Eight Shinigami Legions, but he was too afraid to trust others: he wrapped himself in scarves and shirts to hide his face and body; he fought alone to kill witches; and his obsession with power led him to break rules by claiming souls of those not on Death's kill list. These and other conditions led Asura into a madness that would turn him into a Kishin. Kilik interrupts: how could Asura, a meister, consume souls? Death answers that Asura, so afraid even of his own weapon, ate his weapon. The shinigami muses that perhaps Asura was never human to begin with, as "something like fear" lurked in his heart.
Death City, Underground
Underneath the Academy, Maka Albarn runs after Stein and her classmates, along the way asking Death the Kid how Death sealed Asura. Kid explains that Death stripped the skin off Asura's body, turning it into a bag that would house the new Kishin. But Death, needing a sufficiently powerful anchor to keep Asura's body in one place, anchored his own body and soul to a spot in a desert: that spot would become Death City. Stein adds that this anchor is so permanent that Death has become one with Death City: the entire physical city would need to be moved in order for Death to be mobile. Stein reminds his students that Death's immobility is the least of their concerns: the escape of Asura would spread madness globally.
Upon hearing that madness can expand its reach with Asura's release, the Little Ogre mocks Soul Eater, telling him that Hell is in his own head, and a human heart such as his own will succumb eventually to madness. The Ogre claims that humanity follows an unavoidable path, like a needle along a record's track. Soul refuses to believe the Ogre, noticing that the needle on this particular record in the Black Blood Room continues to skip, perhaps an indication that humanity's path is not so predictable as the Ogre thinks. The Ogre chuckles, claiming he will be waiting.
Death City, Aboveground
Throughout Death City, the Mizune Sisters' assault persists, destroying parts of the DWMA and the community, injuring if not killing residents. But for Blair, out on a stroll, she only notices the noise and bemoans that she was prohibited from attending the students' DWMA Anniversary Celebration. Without work at Chupa Cabra, she has nothing to do and no money for shopping, so she decides to seek free food from the local fish store owner—only to find he is one of the victims injured by the Mizunes. Still, this man's attraction to the cat allows him to give some gift-wrapped fish to the cat before seemingly dying. Blair looks up to identify the ones who hurt her meal-ticket, and with a leap into the air, she knocks down one of the Mizune Sisters. After Blair criticizes the witches for killing the fish store owner, the Mizunes form Beam Whiskers, ready to attack the cat.
Death City, Underground
The three students continue their run. Black Star asks whether Maka can sense the witches, teasing her for her inability to find Medusa. Then Maka senses a "lewd and disgusting soul," belonging to none other than her father. Momentarily depressed over his daughter's insult, Spirit Albarn explains to Stein that he escaped the Independent Cube because "when it comes to chasing tail, I'm the fastest there is," disgusting his daughter further. As Spirit transforms into his weapon form to be used by his meister, he informs Stein that Medusa and her gang are waiting for them up ahead.
Stein instructs Soul, Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, and Liz and Patty Thompson to stay in weapon form to lower the chances that they are killed in combat. He then explains Medusa's strategy likely involves avoiding an attack by which all four meisters could go for the Black Blood directly: she has to have a strategy to distract and separate the meisters. Stein thinks the attack will begin with an opponent who imagines they will not be defeated even if outnumbered. Such a confident opponent emerges from the shadows, her footsteps heard before the former doctor of the DWMA, the witch with a powerful soul, Medusa Gorgon, emerges.
As he faces Medusa, Stein predicts Medusa's strategy: she will try to block all of them from getting any further, then place Crona as the next barrier to prevent the DWMA's members from catching up to where Free is protecting Eruka's black blood briefcase. Therefore, Stein as the strongest of the four meisters will take down the first barrier, Medusa, and Black Star will use his soul wavelength to take down the second barrier, Crona, so that Kid, as the most mobile, and Maka can get past these two barriers, catch up to Free and Eruka, and prevent the release of the Kishin.
Having overheard Stein's strategy, Medusa begins her chant, summoning Vector Arrow X3 to knock down the three students. While Kid uses Death Slide on Beelzebub to skate past the arrows, Black Star unleashes Tsubaki's Uncanny Sword mode to cut through Medusa's arrows.
Maka, though impressed by Black Star's success, is left as the last to break through the arrows, making her the focus of Medusa's attacks. Maka determines she has no time to dodge the arrows, so she must break through the center of Medusa's path, without slowing down or be cut down when the arrows circle around to the center of her path.
Medusa notices Maka close her eyes to avoid seeing her arrows, hence "to eliminate the fear." But Maka can still hear the arrows. As Soul calls out to her, the arrows pierce through Maka's body. But this image turns out to be only Maka's imagined scenario. Therefore, rather than ignore fear, Maka uses it to make herself run faster before the arrows can kill her.
Surprised at Maka's success, Medusa turns to attack again, only for her next move to be disrupted by Soul Menace, courtesy of Stein. Stunned, Medusa still is able to mock Stein that Crona awaits his students.
Despite Medusa's comment, Kid successfully skates past Crona and Ragnarok. Black Star stands before his opponent, frustrated that Crona seems too weak—and mad—to be worth his trouble. Before Black Star can attack Crona, Maka interferes: having caught up, she ignores Tsubaki and Soul's warnings not to disobey Stein and the weakness of her attacks against Crona, holding her scythe against Black Star to block his path, Soul's blade facing Black Star. The ninja threatens to kill Maka, but surprised at "Miss Goody Two-Shoes Maka" and her willingness to disobey their teacher, acquiesces: "Fine," he says, "I'll let you have the spotlight this time," as Maka prepares to fight the demon sword meister Crona.
Manga and Anime Differences
- In Chapter 16, the splash page shows a skull symbol on Maka's shirt pocket. Neither anime adaptation reveals any similar symbol on Maka's shirt, perhaps because she always wears a vest over that shirt.
- In Episode 19, Stein's discussion with his students that, if Death desired to leave the area, he would require feet attached to Death City itself, foreshadows the develop of the Death City Mech built by Joe Buttataki and powered by Eibon (Brew itself). In the manga, Death City remains in the same location throughout, Death never leaves the desert, and the Mech never appears.
- In Episode 19, after Spirit prides himself on his ability to escape women, Maka is chided by an annoying Black Star, eventually punching him. In Chapter 16, this background gag does not appear.
- Chapter 16 is sometimes titled "The Eve's Fight to the Death (Part 1)" or "Christmas Eve, Fight to Death (Part 1)." This inconsistent titling may owe to a misunderstanding that this chapter took place around December 24, whereas Chapter 32 reveals that the DWMA Anniversary Party takes place on April 1.
- On the splash page for Chapter 16, Maka's shirt includes a pocket symbol matching Death's skull mask. As revealed in the attire of students such as Kim Diehl, DWMA school uniforms are decorated with these skulls. Soul Eater Not! would reveal additional DWMA attire, such as Anya Hepburn's skull brooch. And Chapter 4, and part of its adaptation in Episode 4 (NOT!) would even reveal the exact same shirt as Maka's, complete with the skull logo on the shirt pocket.
- In the past, Death receives a report from his Shinigami Legions regarding Asura's killing of the Witches in the East, a potential allusion to the Witch of the East from The Wizard of Oz.
- Whereas they would be called The Eight Warlords elsewhere, Chapter 16 refers to them as the Eight Shinigami Legions.
- Death's remark that Asura "probably wasn't human from the very beginning" and possessed so much fear foreshadows the revelation that Asura is one of Death's fragments, containing all of Death's fear and effectively makes Asura a Shinigami and Death's own son.
- Chapter 16 reveals that Death anchored not only his soul but his body to the spot of land that would become Death City in order to prevent Asura from escaping, hence making Death and Death City one and the same.
- The Little Ogre says the same line as Crona, that Hell is in the head, perhaps associating this argument with the madness of the Black Blood as found in Crona and as represented by the Ogre himself.