Tsugumi Harudori is a young teenage girl from Japan who one day suddenly has various parts of her body transform into parts of a halberd. Knowing that this means that she is a death weapon, Tsugumi transfers to the Death Weapon Meister Academy in Death City, Nevada to learn to control her powers. The school has two classes; the Especially Advantaged Talent, or EAT, class which teaches students how to fight the evil forces of the world, and the Normally Overcome Target, or NOT, class which teaches students how to simply control their abilities.
Tsugumi gets assigned to the NOT class where she quickly befriends two meisters. The first is an airheaded girl with a shapely figure named Meme Tatane, while the second is a girl from high society trying to live amongst the "commoners" named Anya Hepburn. The problem is most weapons only have one meister and Tsugumi can't decide which of the two to make her partner. Is Soul Eater Not! enough to satisfy the appetite of Soul Eater fans, or is this NOT the series they're looking for?
As a fan of Soul Eater, the situation Tsugumi finds herself in is a rather interesting one. While the main series has shown multiple combinations between meisters and weapons, it usually involved high level meisters using many of the Death Scythe-level weapons. The only other case in the series to come close to this is the Thompson Sisters, who turn into a twin pair of pistols that gets used by quite a few meisters, and even with each other. The reason why their situation is such a big deal for the three of them is because a meister and weapon form deep bonds and the truly close pairs connect to each other through their souls. So whoever of the two Tsugumi picks will be a closer friend than the other in a way the other couldn't help to replicate.
So THAT'S What the School is Like
While the DWMA is a recurring setting in the main series, it mostly serves as a transitional hub of sorts, as the main characters rarely stay there for long, and even rarer do they actually attend classes. In Soul Eater Not!, a lot more focus is put on the school and the city surrounding the school. In fact so much focus is put on it, that this show never leaves Death City once Tsugumi arrives. The entire show takes place either at the school or in the city. This results in both locations becoming a little bit more fleshed out.
Prequel From Another Perspective
Soul Eater Not! takes place throughout the year before the main series begins. This means we get to see several characters from the main series in different ways. For example, Maka and Soul are still rather rough around the edges around each other. As another example the Thompson Sisters are very abrasive and standoffish, instead of the generally more laid back nature they have in the main series. Which is extremely surprising to see with Patty Thompson, considering how comically airheaded she was in the main series. We also get to see the former DWMA teacher Sid in a state that is less blue and less dead. And those are just some of the more prominent appearances by old characters.
Underdeveloped Characters Get the Spotlight
One of biggest surprises in this series is that side characters from the main series, meister Kim Diehl and her weapon Jacqueline O'Lantern Dupre, are relatively major characters in Soul Eater Not!. This of course is accompanied by significantly more character growth for the pair compared to the main series.
Shaula the Third Gorgon Sister
Two of the biggest antagonists of the main series are the Gorgon Sisters Medusa and Arachne. Soul Eater Not! of course has a Gorgon Sister of its own. Shaula is the youngest and weakest of the three, but she's still just as devious and power hungry as her older and more well known sisters. I think she makes for a rather fun antagonist in Soul Eater Not!.
It Is Not Soul Eater, But Still Is
I think this is going to require a little bit of explaining. You see, the majority of the show is a slice of life show with a moe-ish art style and many of the usual moe slice of life tropes, and in that regards the majority of this show isn't the Soul Eater so many know and love. However, this show remembers that it still is in the Soul Eater universe, and thus the show will suddenly get rather dark. Unsurprisingly at the same time the amount of action scenes ramp up as well.
So in a way it isn't Soul Eater, but at the same time it still is Soul Eater. Or rather it has glimpses of Soul Eater. However some of the Soul Eater aspects it carries over are more clearly evident than others. Particularly, the comedy and fanservice far outweigh the dark themes and fight scenes.
Personally speaking as a huge fan of Soul Eater, I really enjoyed this series and as such I definitely recommend it for Soul Eater fans. However you must temper your expectations. This is not the same exact experience of the main series, and it never was considering its source material. Is it good enough to stave off the rabid hunger for a faithful remake of the main series? Honestly speaking, no, no it isn't. But it definitely works as a snack in the meantime, and it is always fun to see old favorite characters of mine in animated form again. If nothing else the show is a nice short and fun trip back into the world of Soul Eater, and there is nothing wrong with that.