Welcome, dear readers. For this thoughtful Thursday, I’ve done something a bit different. It’s a detailed, line-for-line recap of a scene from Soul Eater concerning my favorite character, Crona. It’s about Crona’s fearful mind-state and how Maka reaches out to help him. This scene takes place over about ten minutes, the second half of episode 21. I wrote it out like a story. Sometimes, the narrative pauses and there’s a segment (in a grey box in Italics) explaining something that may not be clear. Example below.
The sex and/or gender identity of Crona is never stated in the anime. Mistranslated English versions call them a male. But Crona is always called “aitsu/ koitsu,” which means “that one”/ “this one.” The characters never call Crona “kare,” meaning “him,” nor “kanajo,” meaning “her.” Therefore, I refer to Crona as “they/ them.”
Before jumping right into the scene, here is a little bit of background. Crona is the master of a demon sword and also uses black blood as a powerful demonic weapon. Despite these abilities, Crona is timid and unsure by nature, and being raised badly by the evil witch Medusa only made them more unstable. In episode 21, as ordered by Medusa, Crona is fighting a dangerous battle with the main female character, Maka. Seeing that she can’t win using force, Maka decides to appeal to Crona’s humanity and try to come to an understanding.
Crona’s mind and soul are in chaos. So Maka uses the perilous tactic of changing her soul’s wavelength to match that of her opponent. As a result, she fights crazily, becoming almost entirely psychotic. Maka succeeds in getting close to Crona this way, and reaching into their soul. That’s when the scene changes and shows the inner world (mind/soul) of Crona. While their body fights fiercely in reality, Crona’s psyche retreats into this quiet world inside their head. The characters are in their mid-teens, but in the mental realm they appear as small children.
“What should I do?” Crona wondered in a worried voice. The child found themselves in a still, empty desert. Picking up a stick from the ground, Crona drew a large circle in the sand around themselves. The interior was roomy enough.
“This is my area. The line is drawn.” They dropped the stick. “What should I do?”
Crona tried and found that, “Kicking up the dirt doesn’t give me any good ideas.” Then, they looked up, and saw that, “it’s a lifeless sunlight that shines down on me.” The child sank down onto their knees and bowed their head. “So it’s better to do nothing.”
Who knows how long Crona sat there, doing nothing? But eventually, something happened. The shadow– Crona’s own shadow– appeared.
“Hey,” it said, looming on the ground in front. “I am Crona.”
Crona thought, “There it is. It always comes out when I do nothing.”
“Can I ask you some questions?” inquired the shadow. “Then, here it goes.”
“And the questioning starts,” thought Chrona wearily, “even though I don’t want to do anything.” Out loud, the child asked, “Am I allowed to say, ‘pass’?”
“That’s up to you. Okay, here are my questions. Can you please give your name?”
“Pass,” said Crona.
“How can you not answer what your own name is? Is there some reason for that?”
“So basically,” the shadow gathered, “you can’t answer other people’s questions. That’s why you’re asking yourself questions like this. It’s to try to preserve your mind, right?”
Again, Crona replied, “Pass.”
Why is the world inside of Crona so empty, and why does the child give up and do nothing so easily, for so long? In an earlier episode, it was revealed that Medusa “trained” Crona by locking them in a dark room for hours (or perhaps days) whenever they refused to obey. Crona was raised in social isolation, and likely suffered from neglect. This explains the empty, sandy world and the way Crona’s mind starts asking itself questions to pass the time.
“Another pass. This isn’t even self-questioning anymore. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Are you hoping someone will notice you if you look troubled like that?” questioned the shadow. “But don’t you realize that nobody actually cares about your suffering?”
“Pass.” Crona didn’t even look insulted. They were used to their own mind being caustic.
The shadow version of Crona picked up the stick and made tally marks in the sand. “That makes five passes. Let’s change the subject a little bit, then. That little one who was your first creature to beat up? How did you feel after you defeated it?”
“It was refreshing, wasn’t it? Finding an opponent weaker than you?”
“Pass,” Crona said.
What is the shadow self talking about here? In an earlier episode, we saw a flashback where Medusa essentially forced Crona to kill a baby monster as part of their training to make them strong and learn to fight. It seems like this was a formative experience for Crona, and something that still troubles them.
“That is how you felt, and that’s why you didn’t question Medusa-sama when she told you to seek power. Right?”
“Now, you’ve become quite strong,” observed the shadow. “How does that make you feel?”
Crona answered, “Pass.”
On and on, the questioning continued. The shadow self asked things like, “Has that helped you drive away the hell in your head?” And Crona kept passing.
Eventually, the shadow grew melancholy and discouraged. “Won’t you just answer a question already? Won’t your inner hell just grow larger if you don’t?” And after marking the 41 passes with tally marks in the sand, Crona’s shadow self began to cry a little. It said, “This is how much you’ve denied me. You’re a cruel person, you know? You’re the worst.”
“I don’t remember you criticizing me this way before,” Crona remarked. “Why do you keep hanging around me? Because of you, everyone around me gets hurt, and so do I. If only you didn’t exist.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the shadow asked incredulously. “Do you think you have a split personality now? Surely you at least know that’s not what I am! I’m just a normal emotion that everyone has. It’s easy to deny that as a way to escape, isn’t it? Is this all because you don’t know how to interact with others? This is how you’ve gotten so stuck in self-denial. Where are you even trying to go?”
“Pass,” said Crona stubbornly.
What exactly is this shadow-Crona anyway? It’s not the dark side of Crona. It’s not another personality. It introduced itself as Crona, so it’s their own mind, or a part of it. Specifically, the shadow-Crona represents the analytical side of them, whereas the child-Crona is their fearful, anxious self.
For a minute, the shadow was silent. Then it said, “We’ve both had enough of this. I’m going ahead now.” And this reflection of Crona’s own mind disappeared in a cloud of sandy dust.
As they made the 42nd tally mark in the sand, Crona suddenly remembered the battle with the girl in reality. She said her name was Maka, and she asked for her opponent’s name. For some reason, they answered that question, saying “Demon swordsman Crona.” Remembering it now made them start crying.
“I was able to answer her then,” Crona sobbed.
Why did Crona weep over this when earlier they had seemed detached? I think it’s because really, Crona wanted to be able to give their name without self-denial. They just didn’t feel capable or confident. They wanted to acknowledge their identity, and they wanted to be acknowledged by another.
“I am Demon Swordsman Crona,” the poor kid cried.
“I know that,” said a voice.
It was Maka. She appeared there in the desert, standing up straight with her hands on her hips. She was just outside the circle in the sand.
“Growl!” Maka exclaimed, to scare Crona. And she giggled when the child squealed in surprise and alarm. “Hey, can I come over there, too?”
“Wait! You can’t!” exclaimed Crona. “Don’t come inside the lines! This is my place!”
“What? What?” Maka stepped across the line anyway, entering the circle.
“No way,” said Crona, shoulders drooping. “This is bad. How did you come inside the lines so easily? Nobody should be able to…”
Maka mused, “A line, huh?” She looked at the circle around them drawn in the sand.
“I don’t know how to interact with others,” explained Crona, “so I can feel at ease inside these lines. But it’s no use. It’s meaningless now that you’re inside.”
“Hmm, well. This line is easy to erase.” Maka began kicking and brushing at the sand with her feet, making the line disappear. She kept erasing it, even while Crona objected loudly and cried at her to stop. In a minute, she was finished. “There! Now it’s erased.”
The line/circle around Crona signifies the emotional distance they put between themselves and others. Maka made an interesting point. The line is weak. Anyone could erase it or step across it. Similarly, Crona’s emotional barriers can be easily broken down, if only someone would try.
For a few long seconds, Crona just stood there, wordless. Then the scene switches as they are rudely awakened back to reality.
Crona went nuts, screaming and yowling, unable to fight or think, blindly shooting out blades of black blood. This is was a reaction to the suddenly broken barriers in Crona’s heart. Maka was fine, thanks to her partner Soul pulling her back from insanity. As she approached her screaming opponent, Maka sustained serious injuries from the blood blades. She bore the pain and fear and put on a gentle smile. Finally, she reached Crona, and hugged them, stunning them into silence.
“I understand it now,” said Maka in a tender voice. “Your soul wavelength. It’s not that you don’t know how to interact with others. It’s that no one ever came in to interact with you.”
“That’s ok,” said Crona, surprisingly calm. “I’ve already been given up on by others. I know. I’m not needed anymore. I decided just now. It’s ok. I’m going to disappear now.”
Maka wasn’t about to let them simply retreat into a shell again. She withdrew, picked up her heavy meister’s book, and hit Crona over the head with it.
“Well then,” the girl asked, “Will you be my friend? Please?”
The Demon Swordsman broke down crying. They still insisted they didn’t know how to interact with others, but ultimately, Crona accepted Maka’s incredibly compassionate offer. In the world of the child’s mind, Maka held hands with Crona. Both their shadow selves looked happy, too. What was previously assumed to be a desert was actually a dried-up, sandy beach. Now, glistening blue waters returned, washing over the seashells.
There’s so much depth and insight in this ten-minute scene. This is my favorite episode of Soul Eater. After this point, Crona defies Medusa, and joins Maka working for the Shinigami Lord. We saw Maka’s boldness and compassion allowing Crona to grow and change. Even though I want to make everything about Crona, we should take a minute to appreciate and admire Maka as the best kind of hero: strong, spunky, and genuinely caring. She is such a good role model.
Maybe you can be a Maka to someone who is struggling; maybe you can reach their soul, erase the walls in their heart, and extend your hand in friendship. Yet remember: throughout our lives, we will be in both positions: Maka and Crona, the helper and the helped. So if you are more like a Crona right now, have grace for yourself, and work against self-denial and negativity. Thank you so much for reading!
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(Image credit: Studio Bones and licensing agency Funimation)