• 7mononoke

Crona Character Analysis (Soul Eater)


Welcome to Mono's Anime Rants! The popular 2008 anime Soul Eater features a number of interesting and entertaining characters. Of these, my favorite is Crona. That's why I decided to write a long, detailed analysis of the character.


Note 1: In this article, I will be following the Japanese pronouns for Crona and using they/them rather than the English mistranslations of he/him.


Note 2: All information in this post is based on the Soul Eater anime and/or the Soul Eater Wiki. I did not consult the original manga for this article.

 

-Introduction and Background-


Let’s begin with some background. Crona is the biological child of the witch Medusa Gorgon. Classified as a Kishin (or one with a corrupt soul), they are also considered a Death Weapon Meister since they wield Demon Sword Ragnarok. The first appearance of Crona is in Soul Eater episode 07, and their role is antagonistic toward our main characters. However, after Maka’s emotional intervention in episode 21, Crona surrenders and begins to turn over a new leaf. Afterward, they are accepted as a student at Death Weapon Meister Academy, becoming classmates and friends with Maka and company.


Before we discuss Crona’s identity and personality, I’d like to focus on the facts of their upbringing and history. Without a doubt, Medusa neglected and psychologically abused Crona. There may have been physical abuse as well. Denied normal love and care, Crona was used as a tool and shamed for not being strong or cruel enough. They were also socially isolated, with no apparent friends. In addition to being used by Medusa and put through hellish training to become a soul-eating Kishin, Crona also had to endure being forcefully infected with the Black Blood curse. By infusing their body with the Black Blood, Medusa gave Crona extra power, but also the terror and mental insanity that go hand-in-hand with that cursed ability.


Along with the Black Blood, Ragnarok the Demon Sword was fused with Crona’s body. Unfortunately for this child, Ragnarok acted as a petty but persistent bully. He constantly picked on Crona, yelled at them, poked them, and grabbed or hit them. We don’t know at what age Crona was fused with Ragnarok, but it’s likely they’ve had to deal with bullying for years on end. The anime is pretty clear about the fact that Crona suffered immensely from birth to the present. Abuse, bullying, and the curse of the Black Blood left this character in shambles. When we get to talking about Crona’s personality, it will help to understand these background facts.

 

-Crona as an Enby Anime Character-


Crona is a fascinating character not only due to personality and development through the story, but also because they can be considered an enby anime character. These types of characters are a rare treat in anime, at least when they are presented well. The subject of Crona’s gender identity is part of understanding who they are, so I’ll spend a little bit of time on this. Now, in discussing this topic, there are bound to be disagreements. If you have a differing view on Crona’s gender identity, feel free to share it in the comments, but please keep it polite. So then, why do I think of Crona as a non-binary character?


Among Soul Eater fans, there is a longstanding debate over Crona’s identity, but it’s traditionally focused on their sex rather than their gender. Some will say Crona’s slender build and feminine hips indicate they are female. Crona also wears a dress in flashbacks and a dress-like black robe in the present. On the other hand, Crona’s reservation and crush-like awkwardness toward girls make some people suspect a male sex. And of course, the English translations refer to Crona as a boy. In my opinion, arguing about Crona’s assigned sex at birth is a waste of time, although there’s also nothing wrong with just having an opinion. In canon, the sex of Crona is unknown. This has been confirmed by Atsushi Okubo, who created the whole concept of Soul Eater.


We probably won’t ever know Crona’s assigned biological sex, but that doesn’t really matter. What about their concept of gender? As I mentioned in the opening, gender-neutral pronouns are used for Crona in the original audio. These pronouns (aitsu and koitsu) do not exist in English; calling someone aitsu is like calling them “that one,” and koitsu is like calling someone “this one.” But the simplest way is to just translate these words as “they/them,” the English equivalent of gender-neutral pronouns. Since these terms are used for Crona, it’s likely they are non-binary.


Hold up a minute– is it fair to call Crona non-binary based on our own language patterns in English? Well, you may not have known it if you are a bit ignorant on the topic, but non-binary people exist everywhere. They are not supported by Japan’s queer-phobic society, but they still exist. It follows that many would want to have gender-neutral pronouns. So yes, Crona can still be considered non-binary; don’t worry about the language barrier.



If you want to argue, you could still say that gender-neutral pronouns were only used as tool for the anime makers to hide Crona’s sex. Now think about that for a second. Why would they hide a character’s sex? Probably because it doesn’t matter to that character. Even if Atsushi Okubo has no idea what an enby is, or does not publicly support them, he still created a character whose sex is irrelevant to their identity. If you think of it that way, it becomes very difficult to argue for Crona being cisgender. They are certainly some flavor of gender-queer.


There’s one more little controversy on this subject I’d like to address. In the Japanese audio, Crona refers to themselves as “boku.” In case you don’t know, there are many ways to say “I” In Japanese, and some of them have gender context. “Boku” has traditionally been used by boys and men; it is considered soft and humble, but still more masculine than feminine. Crona’s use of “boku” is the strongest evidence that the character could be AMAB (assigned male at birth), but again, sex does not matter. It’s also worth saying that “boku” is not exclusively a man’s phrase. Some girls and women use it. It’s also commonly used by anime characters without a clear sex or typical gender.


So basically, the use of “boku” does not mean “Crona is a boy.” It means that Crona thinks of themselves as more masculine than feminine. And in case you didn’t know, enby individuals have varying levels of masculinity and femininity depending on what they are comfortable with and who they are presenting to. Crona might be masculine leaning, but they are still under the non-binary identity umbrella. With all this in mind, the argument that Crona is enby remains solid. I’m grateful to have a gender minority represented in anime. With that out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this personality analysis.

 

-Crona’s Personality-


This section was more difficult to write than I initially expected. Crona is an awesome character, but they are also two-dimensional and, after episode 21, underdeveloped. Normally, in a personality section, I could talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the character, how they feel about certain issues, and how they act in different circumstances. But with Crona, all I have is information about them being traumatized and scared most of the time. That’s not a complete picture of the character, and it leaves much to be desired. Still, I’ll describe this character’s personality the best I can with their limited development.




Crona is an extremely anxious and fearful person. They are a bit like a traumatized animal, preferring to interact with smaller, gentler people like Maka and being afraid of bigger, deep-voiced characters like Sid. Hopefully, living with the “good-guys” will eventually help the worst of the unreasonable terror. However, Crona is by nature a cautious person. Even when they feel relatively comfortable, it’s difficult for them to stop worrying and do what is needed. I believe Crona overthinks a lot, which makes decisions harder. Additionally, since Crona was badly abused and bullied, they don’t want to keep getting hurt. This means they will hesitate if there is a chance of a being harmed, yelled at, or rejected.


Almost everything scares Crona on some level, at least at first. They always say, “I don’t know how to interact with this,” or “I don’t know how to deal with this,” depending on translation. Crona is terribly afraid of the unknown. While they seem to want to learn things, they give up too easily and don’t try because they don’t immediately know what to do. Still, for Crona, the scariest things are not witches, golems, kishins, or weapons– the scariest things are interactions with others. Growing up the way they did, Crona had never been loved until Maka offered to be their friend. Since they had no concept of love, that makes it the ultimate unknown. When Maka erased the metaphorical circle Crona was keeping themselves in, the unstable child responded by screaming, panicking and violently lashing out.


Though interacting with others is still unnerving, it becomes more bearable for Crona as they continue to be friends with Maka. This suggests the child is quite brave and a good learner. New things are of interest to Crona, despite also terrifying them. I think Crona is deeply introspective about themselves as well as being curious about the world. Whenever alone, they begin intensely questioning themselves. Despite complaining, Crona does agree to attend the academy, and has many interactions and adventures with Maka and others. To restate, Crona in their natural state is inquisitive and contemplative. It’s their trauma that makes them keep their head down and fear the world and other people. However, Crona is showing a lot of improvement by the later episodes of Soul Eater.



Crona’s intensely emotional nature is similar to their cautiousness in that some of it appears to be linked to their personality, but most of it is a hyperactive trauma reaction. Nobody in the series cries more than Crona. They cry whenever stressed or anxious. But Crona’s emotionality isn’t limited to tears. There’s a scene in episode 26 where Maka and Marie take a reluctant Crona to see a pretty view of the city. Crona is awed and moved by it, but doesn’t know how to express the feeling. At first it looks like they are going to cry, but then their mouth trembles in a goofy attempt at a smile and an awkward happy noise. Maka and Marie laugh at the reaction.


That simple moment on the academy balcony says something significant about Crona: they are a deeply emotional person who appreciates beauty and wants to express themselves. The same is shown by the poem-writing later that episode. Although the poem they wrote was depressing, it showed Crona’s ability to express themselves, as well as the way they process overwhelming emotions. If the poem was powerful enough to make everyone in the room sink into depression in the corner, this means Crona is excellent with describing feelings with words. For someone very emotional like Crona, life may always be difficult. However, given time and healing, this child will also develop positive emotions that help them make sense of the world.


So far we know Crona is a cautious, thoughtful, and emotional person. Their history of being mistreated leads them to be exceptionally fearful and weepy most of the time. Now let’s look at two last interrelated traits of this character on the more positive side: helpfulness and devotion. Crona has a profound desire to be useful. In the case of serving Medusa, the desire was probably born out of fear of rejection. But once Crona joins the academy, things change. Now they want to be helpful out of gratitude and love. Most of this is directed at Maka, but Crona also helps the cause of defeating evil when Maka isn’t directly involved. (For example, Crona leaves with Marie in episode 42 to fight Medusa.) We also know this young one is serious about helping others because of how willing they are to change their lifestyle and adopt better morals. (After being saved by Maka, Crona never again hunted humans or fed souls to Ragnarok).


Besides wanting to be generally good and helpful, Crona is extremely devoted to Maka. It was she who first offered love and care to Crona. Presumably, Crona will be able to make more profound connections with others, but our only current example is their friendship with Maka. Crona is protective of Maka in the mission in episode 26. Still, the best example of Crona’s devotion is in episode 45, when this child takes the brunt of Medusa’s attack meant to kill Maka. Though Crona survives, this still shows they were literally willing to sacrifice their life for Maka. This was not done so they could look good or “redeem themselves.” It was done purely to save Maka. As you can see, Crona’s dedication to those they love knows no boundaries.



 

-Crona’s MBTI Type: INFP-


Feel free to skip this section if you are not a MBTI nerd.


There are certain cases where, especially in fiction, it’s easy to tell what MBTI type a character has based on stereotypes alone. Cool main characters tend to be ISTP or ISFP. Many famous anime protagonists are ENFP. Intelligent anti-heroes or strategic villains tend to be INTJ. The stereotype for Crona’s character would have to be INFP. These characters are sensitive, emotional, and insightful. In anime, they typically have problems with anxiety and standing up for themselves. They are usually quiet, creative, and good learners. Now, I do think Crona is an INFP. However, I’d like to go through a detailed type analysis to reinforce this point instead of relying on stereotypes for character roles. I’ll use the simplified 16personalities format first, and then the cognitive function model of MBTI/Jung Typology.


Let’s run through the four dimensions for a review. Extraverts tend to feel energized by interacting with others, sometimes even in large groups; introverts usually draw their energy from time alone or interactions with a small group. Sensing types have good practical skills, but may lack deeper understanding; intuitive types are innovative and creative, but may have difficulty with being practical. Feelers make their decisions based on who will be affected and how it aligns with their values; thinkers make their decisions based on a system of fair logic that can often leave out emotional considerations. Lastly, there are judgers and there are perceivers. The former are future-oriented and more likely to focus on goals; the latter are present-minded and more likely to “play it by ear.”



With that review in mind, let’s look at Crona’s preferences. They certainly seem to be introverted, spending a lot of time alone and feeling overwhelmed by interactions with others. I believe they are more intuitive than sensing, because although Crona has good fighting skills, they are often very spacey and abstract in the thoughts they express. Crona is also a good student who likes to write poetry, which are traits usually linked to intuition. In terms of the third dimension, Crona is definitely a feeler. They are concerned with personal emotions, self-expression, and social harmony. Finally, I think Crona is a perceiver who is good at winging it but not so proficient at planning ahead or meeting goals. Putting this altogether, Crona is an INFP.


Cognitive functions of the INFP:

Fi (introverted feeling)

Ne (extraverted intuition)

Si (introverted sensing)

Te (extraverted thinking)


Now let’s look at the cognitive function model to confirm. Since Crona is almost certainly a turbulent type, or someone with serious ongoing issues, we need to examine what the cognitive functions look like when under stress. When healthy, the Fi function is associated with positive self-expression, inner emotional harmony, and strong personal values worth fighting for. When unhealthy, Fi becomes impulsive, illogical, and completely ruled by intense negative emotions such as fear and anger. This is more like what we see in Crona. They are always on edge or depressed. They lose emotional control easily and they frequently cry. Sometimes, with the curse of the Black Blood, they go completely crazy for short periods of time during battle. This emotional instability is Crona’s strongest feature, so Fi is probably the right choice for their dominant function.


What other cognitive functions might be strong in Crona? Assuming Fi is the dominant function, the only two options are ISFP and INFP. So the question is whether Crona predominantly uses extraverted intuition or extraverted sensing. To be fair, I couldn’t think of very many strong evidences of Crona’s intuitive nature that I haven’t already mentioned. But coming at it from another angle, Crona certainly doesn’t use extraverted sensing very much. People with strong Se are much more action-oriented, pleasure-seeking, and risk-taking. Crona by comparison is cautious and hesitant with strong inhibitions. Since they can’t be Se users, they are likely Ne users by process of elimination. This means the two top functions for Crona are Fi and Ne, confirming them as an INFP.


The weakest function for an INFP is the opposite of introverted feeling: extraverted thinking (Te). This reflects the fact that an INFP has difficulty applying impersonal logic, as well as remaining objective. This rings true for Crona, too. They are immersed in their emotions and thoughts, rarely applying any kind of system of logic. Now for INFPs, in between the Ne and Te, there is the tertiary function of Si (introverted sensing). This function is associated with practicality, good sense, and being in touch with solid reality. Crona and most other INFPs don’t show this function very often, which is why it’s only in third place in the order of functions.


Hopefully, this section has been convincing enough about determining Crona’s MBTI type. INFPs are complex, so if you don’t remember much about the type, consider reading a few descriptions. Life is tough for a turbulent INFP like Crona dealing with abuse and bullying. But they, like all INFPs, have the potential to become some of the kindest, bravest, and most creative souls in existence. It may take a long time to get to a point of stability like that, but INFPs should try not to give up. That wraps up the MBTI section.

 

-Crona's Journey and Closing Thoughts-


All that's left that needs to be established is the basic outline of Crona's character journey. Let's run through the main events of their story briefly, and then decide what kind of character arc they have.


Early in the anime, Crona is busy serving their mother Medusa and sacrificing people to harvest their souls. When confronted by Maka, Crona is almost comically unstable, motivated by fear and eaten alive by the madness of the black blood. In episodes 20-22, Crona fights Maka, and we the viewers are shown the backstory and inner psyche of this unfortunate child. Their life is colored by fear-- of abandonment, of pain, of interacting with others, of the unknown. Crona is even afraid to have their own identity, which is why they can't answer the shadow to state their name.


After Maka forcibly invades Crona's soul-space, the fight that Crona puts up is dramatic but minimal compared to what it could have been. Basically, the child was too bewildered by Maka to even continue fighting. Then Maka embraced and accepted Crona, and something changed fundamentally. We see immediate signs of change in Crona, since they are able to punch Ragnarok to keep him out of the way of Maka and Soul. Following this, Crona goes through a period of depression and intense anxiety living at the academy. Everything is new and frightening. However, driven mostly by their love for Maka and fondness for Marie, Crona eventually starts to adjust and feel more comfortable as "a good guy."


Unfortunately, Medusa returns and forces her child to start spying for her. Crona folds to the fear and does Medusa's bidding, which causes Dr. Stein to go mad and temporarily serve the witch. During the buildup of Stein's madness, Crona metaphorically writhes in agony, feeling intensely guilty, but also unable to change themselves. Crona does try to help Marie hunt down Medusa, but when push comes to shove, they can't even come close to beating the witch. Maka arrives and saves Crona from a dangerous blow, which seems to remind Crona to get their act together.



They succeed, but nearly at the cost of their own life. Medusa aims a potentially lethal attack at Maka while she's down. Crona leaps in the way and is impaled. Interesting, Crona looks happier than ever before, and says, "I was finally useful to you." It seems at first that Crona dies, but in reality, they are in critical condition. After the battle, Crona is taken into care again by the heroes, but it takes several episodes before they heal and wake up. The first thing Crona does is say, "I must go to Maka." At the time Maka is fighting the Kishin Asura, and Crona can do nothing but watch. Their faith in Maka never wavers, and Maka wins the battle. We can assume Crona continues adjusting to life with the "good guys" after that.


That sums up the events. Now, there are many types of character arcs and different ways people delineate and categorize them. The most common is "the hero's journey," wherein a protagonist changes greatly and rises to the top from the status of underdog. But this doesn't quite fit with Crona, who isn't the central protagonist, and who never really "rises to the top" of glory and recognition. I read up just a bit on character journey types, and I think the best way to describe Crona's is "Maturation Arc." In this type of arc, the character doesn't change as dramatically as in the hero's journey, but instead achieves personal growth from being challenged.


What is the one thing that ultimately challenges Crona? I think it's fear. That also fits in well with the major theme of Soul Eater toward the end (overcoming fear). Crona has been seriously damaged by pain and trauma, and means they constantly fear more of the same. But by the end of the anime, Crona overcame their fear enough to sacrifice themselves to save Maka. Clearly, they went through significant maturation.


One could also argue that Crona's major challenge is the lack of love in their life. Maka provides that love in episode 21, but Crona continues to have issues, ultimately because they don't feel worthy or useful. Thinking about it this way, Crona's character journey was not just about experiencing love from another, but also about paying it back in kind. But in order to pay it back, and make the sacrifice, Crona had to overcome instinctual fear. So we've come full circle.


In summary, Crona matured immensely over the course of the journey where they were challenged by fear. This neurotic but ultimately brave anime character will likely continue having some issues with anxiety and self-worth, but they are now on the right track. I hope you've enjoyed my character analysis. Let me know if you think I should write more Soul Eater content. Thanks for reading!





12 views0 comments