part 5: Franken Stein
spoilers abound. you have been warned.
Professor (or Dr.) Franken Stein
Franken Stein is a protagonist in the series Soul Eater and a chronic smoker. When he is introduced, he appears to be an antagonist, but it is soon discovered that he was fighting the main protagonists (who are all students) as a remedial lesson on behalf of Lord Death (the Grim Reaper and headmaster). After the lesson, he begins to teach their class as their full time professor. He excels in the role and is very good at being a mentor to the students.
Here’s a little background on the school set-up. The DWMA is a school for weapons (people who can transform into weapons) and meisters (people who can wield those weapons). Weapons and meisters fight enemies who are on the verge of becoming completely evil to keep the balance in the world. Weapons can consume the souls of these monsters to make themselves more powerful. 99 of those souls plus a witch soul makes a weapon powerful enough to be able to be used by Lord Death himself. Stein was the most powerful meister to ever graduate the academy.
He’s practically like the Dumbledore of Soul Eater; he knows everything about anything and is an extremely powerful meister. But Stein has an incorrigible dark side, or madness. He is the epitome of a mad scientist and loves nothing more than dissecting anything and everything. Nothing is off limits, as he’s even done experiments on and dissected parts of his own body. His previous weapon partner, Spirit Albarn, is still terrified of him for having done experiments on him while he was sleeping, even though they are still very good friends. Even as a child, he was fairly gruesome, beating up, torturing, and threatening to dissect even the most distant of passersby. Spirit usually came to the rescue and admonished Stein for his behavior.
Stein as a child, adorable, right?
Eventually Stein was able to curb his tendencies on the basis of right and wrong, but he slowly cracks along the way. One of the reasons Stein is such a fascinating character is the madness that eats at him through the duration of the anime. You’re constantly wondering when he’s going to snap. I really felt for him whenever he would have his solitary moments of madness and have to snap himself out of it.
Then episode 41 hit, and I spent the entirety of the episode yelling at my screen for him to listen to his conscience and go home! It broke my heart to see Marie have to fight him in his maddened state, but then she is finally able to reach him and stop the radio noise in his head. It was beautiful.
Marie and Stein
Marie and Stein had a relationship in the past, and Marie even refers to Stein as her first love. It isn’t known if they were actually dating, or if it’s just a onesided thing. Stein seems to be oblivious to her feelings, and she seems to be afraid to admit them. I’m still banking on hope for the pair.
Though, on multiple occasions, Stein makes references to the fact that he has no emotional capacity and no understanding of love. That makes me horribly sad, and also a bit curious. Yes, Stein is an extremely lonesome guy, mostly it seems to be a chosen lifestyle due to his obsession with science. He also seems to have a compassion for his students and a definite bond with Marie. He even berates Medusa for calling her own son (or daughter?), Chrona, a failed experiment to be disposed of. Perhaps he just needs a little bit of a push to understand love more fully?
At certain points in the anime, his loneliness is almost palpable, and it really makes you feel for him. Case and point: his near kiss with Medusa. I can’t believe I admitted that scene actually exists, but unfortunately it does. Anyone thinking that there were romantic going ons with Stein and Medusa, I have to vehemently disagree with you! Though I believe Medusa definitely has a thing for Stein, I don’t think the feelings are mutual. The two have an extensive scientific background in common, and madness was already taking a toll on Stein, as well as the loneliness. It appears Stein had a weak moment, and then was quickly snapped out of it. He tells Medusa during the Kishin revival arc that he’s not able to return his feelings to her, and he even kills her in a maddened blood bath. He laughs as her blood rains from the ceiling. That’s surely not something you would do to the woman you love, right?
Following Stein in Soul Eater is a definite emotional roller-coaster. And it was well worth the ride. As bizarre as it sounds, he’s half comic relief and half of the extreme emotional struggle.
Stein's first day of teaching, after his entrance
Also, his voice actor, Chuck Huber, is the voice of Android 17 from DBZ as well. He’s another future honorary Megane Danshi post, as is Trunks, but that’s another post for another time.
And I’m not completely sure how I forgot to mention the absolute best part about Stein until now. It’s probably because it’s past 3am. Anyway, he’s sitting in a chair and wheels around in it, kicking off from his desk. Once he hits a doorway, he topples over and proceeds to have a conversation, laying on the floor, like nothing happened. I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe the first AND second time he did that. Hilarious.