Storyline – 8/10
The world of Shaman King is quite realistic on the surface – the average citizen of this world would see it as no different to ours. The only difference is that there are groups of people called shamans who can see and talk to spirits of the deceased. This parallel existence which the majority of the population are ignorant of is a great plot device for anime like this as it allows the viewer to fantasise a little bit, especially great for younger viewers.
The environment at the start of the anime is very comedic and friendly for the most part as the characters are introduced. This section is done well, and before long, the transition to seriousness begins with the introduction of the archetypal rival character. A slightly darker side to the anime comes out, but is almost instantly reverted to the underlying comedic and relaxed atmosphere. Many more switches between serious business and comedy occur throughout, and both halves are done extremely well.
Later into the story, the main goal for the characters is revealed – a Shaman Tournament which will crown the best shaman in the world as “Shaman King”. Each of the group of main characters has to remain as a friendly rival to the others in order to claim this title and achieve their goals. Despite being made to fight each other in the preliminary rounds, the group of friends stick together and become stronger alongside each other before eventually going forward into the later rounds of the tournament, where the main body of the story and its main villains are revealed.
The story leans heavily on themes of friendship, betrayal, dreams and morals. As expected for this genre of anime, the story is never serious to the point of mass trauma, but there are points where darker themes like revenge and despair become apparent. The underlying feeling is that “everything is going to be alright” and it isn’t until very near the end when one doubts this.
The ending itself is very different to the manga, but is dealt with well and open-ended. Nevertheless, the manga ending is far superior and longer and developed, and remaking this anime with modern animation and a true-to-the-manga storyline (like Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood) would undoubtedly be amazing,
Art – 8/10
For an older anime, the artwork is not bad. Obviously nowhere near today’s standard, but good for its time. The difference between spirits and living people are well defined and the special effects are consistent without being repetitive. Characters are drawn well and the animation is clear and smooth. Action scenes are done well and do not become boring towards the end despite a few re-used animations. Most of the last few episodes are filled with original animations of things that are normally repeated, making the conclusion and climax especially interesting to watch. The animations for the opening videos are a good summary of the main anime, and I love the symbolic and interpretive style used in the second ending.
I am a big fan of the Shaman King soundtrack; both openings are great and very appropriate although the first ending is a little annoying. The second ending is pretty good anyway. The backing music fits the mood throughout, and the occasional vocal track is thrown in for especially big moments, although I do feel one insert song is a bit overplayed. The music that plays during the ending is, however, great – and it’s nice to hear an original vocal track for the ending instead of the oh-so-common method of reusing the first opening. Most if not all of the vocal tracks are sung by the leading voice actresses in the cast, which is the sort of thing I like to hear. On the topic of voice acting, and this goes for the Japanese version, it is more or less as expected – nothing stands out as excellent or terrible but I do like Amidamaru’s voice quite a bit. The English dub, which is the version I originally watched when I was about 11, had pretty decent voices as far as dubs go.
Characters – 9/10
Yoh Asakura is potentially the best shounen lead character since Goku. The cool and relaxed atmosphere I have mentioned is mostly down to the constantly down to earth personality of Yoh. When he fights, he becomes very serious – and he will go to any length, even causing himself harm, to protect his allies, but no matter how hard he is hit, in the end he always laughs it off as if it was of no importance.
Next is Anna, whose strictness and harshness know no bounds. Her confidence (and absolute demand) in Yoh to become the Shaman King is similarly peerless, but the occasional wave of worry or emotion is shown, and we all know that deep down she really does care.
Ren (I think “Lenny” for the English dub) is the archetypal rival as mentioned before, similarly hard-shelled but in the end he still seems to care. Starts off as a bad guy but slowly ends up joining the main character’s side. Could not be more stereotypical, but again, done well.
The majority of the other main characters and supporting characters are great. The overall cast is massive yet remains well designed throughout with variances in personality and abilities remaining throughout
Enjoyment – 10/10
The way all the good things in Shaman King just come together is really nice. Having watched it about 3 times already I still think I am going to watch it again in a couple of years for nostalgia as much as anything. Overall, I find Shaman King to be one of the most interesting and entertaining anime of its kind and should be watched by all fans of Shounen anime. The constant switching between funny and serious makes it constantly uplifting – if this anime does not make you laugh at some point then you have serious issues to be honest. The action scenes work nicely. I think almost every single fight is in the format of the bad guy gaining the upper hand until someone arrives to save the day, or Yoh uses a new technique and turns the battle around – that kind of thing.
The final few episodes are some of my favourites because of the much-anticipated fight that the viewer has been waiting for since the moderately early episodes. There is a big twist at the start of this fight, and I was completely in shock the first time I saw this, then the fight itself embodies a kind of summary of all the hopes and dreams that have built up throughout the series and then, the flashy explosive conclusion. I was a little bit annoyed when I first finished this series since I wanted more, but on reflection the ending is satisfactory – like I said earlier though, I still want a remake from the first episode that is 100% true to the manga!
Overall - 10/10
This is completely worth a watch for any Shounen fans and I fully recommend it – one of just four anime which I give 10/10 to. This is the anime that in my childhood, alongside Dragon Ball Z of course, sparked my interest in anime.
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Manta Oyamada, a shrimpy, studious middle-school student from Tokyo, attempts a shortcut one night through the graveyard to get home after a late night of cram school. While travelling through it, he encounters Yoh Asakura and his "companions": a graveyard filled with ghosts. Yoh reveals himself to be a shaman, a medium between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Yoh also demonstrates Shamans' ability to unite with ghosts to achieve a shared goal. Over the first few chapters, Yoh and Manta become best friends while Yoh uses his shamanic abilities to help them out through various normal tasks.
The Shaman Fight is a battle held once every 500 years between competing shamans to choose a winner who will become the highly sought-after "Shaman King", one who is able to contact the Great Spirit (the spirit that every soul will eventually go back to). The winner gains the ability to reshape the world in any way they want. Anna Kyoyama, Yoh's fiancée, soon enters the picture and prescribes a brutal training regimen, in order to prepare Yoh for the tournament. Thus begins the plot that will lead Yoh on a journey that will lead him to befriend Ryu, Tao Ren, Horohoro, Faust VIII, Lyserg Diethel, and Joco.
During the Shaman Fight, Yoh encounters Hao Asakura, a strong shaman who wishes to eradicate humans and create a world for shamans. At the end of the shaman battles where the remaining teams consist of Yoh and his friends, the X-Laws, and Hao's team, the remaining teams decide to forfeit the tournament crowning Hao the title of Shaman King. As Hao is led away, they decide to attack Hao during the time he is merging with the great spirit which is in a deep slumber. To do so, Yoh and his friends must defeat the The Patch Tribe members who are obliged to serve under the new Shaman King.
Once defeating the ten Patch members, Hao is awakened as the Shaman King. He defeats Yoh and all his friends and absorbs their souls. Inside the Great Spirit, Yoh, Ren, Horohoro, Lyserg, and Joco battle Hao with the five legendary spirits; The Spirit of Earth, the Spirit of Thunder, the Spirit of Rain, Spirit of Fire and the Spirit of Wind. When associates of Yoh and his friends begin appearing in the Great Spirit, it is revealed the Great Spirit granted Hao's wish so someone may bring back his mother's spirit. With Anna's help, Hao's mother is brought to the Great Spirit. Hao's mother tells him he must forgive the Humans for murdering her in order to be saved. Hao decides to postpone his plan to eradicate humans and to observe how Yoh and his friends will change the world.
Seven years later, Hana Asakura awaits at a station for the five legendary warriors and his parents, Yoh and Anna
The adventure of Yoh Asakura and his power spirit, Amidamaru to become the Shaman King and defeat the evil monk who died several decades ago, was reincarnated to pursue his mission in person of Hao Asakura, Yohs twin brother.
The journey to become the king has won Yoh his colleagues and friends. Manta Yamada, whos unique and has senses like shamans became Yohs first ever human friend. Their friendship started as he avenged Manta from the outcasts led by Rio who later became one of Yohs loyal assistants. Manta and Yoh faced together the struggles and dangers attached to every shaman and met the ever ambitious, aloof and arrogant Ren Tao, a Chinese shaman. Ren, although showed a hostile impression to Yoh, they became friends and even helped him freed from the curse of gloom, inherited from the Tao family. Yu also met Horo-horo whose power was acquired from the nature, Kororo, an ice fairy. Though all fought each other in the shaman fight elimination round, they all earned trusts from each other and bonded as one family.
Their journey continued as Ana, Yus fiancée who also obtained the Great Spirit power of shamans pursued hard trainings and motivations to strengthen Yus credence to become the shaman king especially after a lost to Faust, a doctor who missed in saving his wifes life wishing to be the king to resurrect his beloved Eliza. Yus trainings became harder each day but with Mantas presence, he eventually finished the trainings successfully.
After the hard and ghastly elimination round, Yu and his power spirit, Amidamaru together with Ren and his power spirit Bason; Horo-horo and Kororo; Rio and Tokegaru were all set to Patch Village for the serious rounds up to the finals of the Shaman Fight. The test was not as easy as they thought for finding the said village was the half part of it.
The travel to Patch Village opened the door for Yu and his friends to acquire more power; to strengthen their Furiokos and in the long run met the British shaman, Lizerd whose life was devoted in killing Hao Asakura, his parents murderer; also Chocolab, a goofy, nonsense and frustrated comedian that joined Yus company and the X Laws led by Mistress Jean who called themselves as righteous and holy, sentenced other beings that denied to join them, with malice and death. As Lizerd was blinded by his anger to Hao, he was fallen to the beliefs of the X Laws left Yus company and treated hi old pals as enemies.
The battle of good and evil continued as both parties strengthened their powers and clang on to their respective opposing beliefs; Haos to change the world in his own selfish way disregarding the human beings while Yus to defeat the devil unleashed and rule the world of shamans in peace and harmony. But what if Yu chose to join his twin? Well, it would be very contradicting as there could only be one Shaman King.
Yu Asakura an Asakura descendant, a legendary powerful clan of Shaman that ruled the world of Shamans for million of years. Mastered his power spirit Amidamaru in using the harusame. Yu, though easy going but was never been so careless in facing the fight. Being patient and calm, Yu does not judge a person easily. He accepts everybody as friends and trusts them with all his heart. He maybe the toughest shaman but with Anas words, Yu would become very supple.
Hao Asakura belongs to the legendary Asakuras that once led the Shamans but dismayed for he used his powers to evil and self-interest. He was killed by Asakura ancestors to prevent his wickedness but was just made even powerful to be reincarnated. As the descendant of great power was born, in person of Yu, Hao chose his twin brother to be in flesh again and continue his vanished mission. He used the spirit of fire as his power spirit and mastered to use the nature as his shield. Like Yu, Hao has also his friends with the same belief as him.
Ren Tao a Chinese shaman, progeny of legendary Tao family. An arrogant and tough, Ren inherited his fathers hatred to humans as their ancestors were once molested and killed. He was raised to destroy and hate people but when he met Yu, Ren started to view the brighter sides of humans. He was partnered by Bason, as his strong power spirit.
Horo-horo a shaman from Hokkaido raised and trained from the towering coldness of snow earned his cute power spirit, Kororo. He is an easy going as Yu. He gets easily annoyed to nonsense and arrogance. Though he could never top Yus power, Horo-horo had showed self confidence and love to nature astoundingly.
Rio from a gangster to Yus loyal assistant, earned his power spirit as he was trained by Yus father and acquired Tokegaru and later the powerful spirit of guardian snakes of the mystic river. He joined the shaman fight and aimed to protect Yu Asakura. His identity was questioned for he likeably found attraction to Lizerd.
Ana Yus fiancée. A shaman who can call the spirits anytime she wanted and has the ability to steal power spirits of other shamans. Very possessive and stern- strict, made Ana a very tough character in the series.
Faust A doctor who pursued the journey of shamans even it was like chasing rainbows to become the shaman king to bring his beloved Eliza back. He became powerful and later Yus loyal assistant as Rio was.
Manta Oyamada Yus best friend and the cutest of all the characters in the series. Though he has the same age with Yu, he only stands half of Yus height. Hes not a shaman but possessed Shamans senses. He viewed spirits that only shamans can perceive. Other than that, Manta became a big help to Ana and the others for bringing them to Yu and arrived together in Patch Village.
Amidamaru A legendary Samurai who was known for his fighting abilities using his powerful harusame. Amidamaru played as Yus power spirit and later became holy and powerful to defeat Hao.
Tokegaru Amidamarus old foe but later changed and joined Rio to be the power spirit.
Bason A warrior and Rens power spirit.
Kororo A nature fairy that maintains the balance of natural world joined Horo-horo to be his power spirit of ice.
Shaman King was one of the many successful anime series that was shown in Asia. Though its theme as good fighting against the evil and heroism lost its originality as in Ghostfighter and Flame of Recca, Shaman King was still original on its own.
Its uniqueness attracted the viewers and gave the series a higher appreciation. The setting, characters and the design surely sank in to every audience memory. The one that is also very impressive was the showing of the reunion of shamans all across the world. What gave me another favorable attention were the terminologies used by the writer such as follows:
Shaman somebody who acts as a go-between for the physical and spiritual realms and is said to be the nature balancer.
Power spirit spirit from anything that has life of its own; humans, trees, animals, etc associated with mediums to use as furioku.
Furioku the shaman power.
Oracle bell the instrument attached to shamans arm as a guide for schedules on their respective shaman fights.
Shaman fight the holy battle of Shamans to determine their king officiated by shaman elders and the guardians.
I am watching the series as wrote this review. Though I have watched it many times already, I still treat every episode as suspense, feel good and funny. Im confident to say that this animé series was better than the other drama series that only fooled the viewers with its draggy and boring presentation.
Shaman King was truly a perfection of a traditional Japanese animé which spectacled their specialty. The rocker presentation of Yu Asakura wearing his earphones showed his side as a jolly and cheerful character. On the other hand, using the sword and Amidamaru as his power spirit who was a samurai wholly showed the superiority of his power to all other shamans and at the same time, his sword weapon as we all know is symbol of a great power.
Meanwhile, the fighting scenes were completely stunning as they were showed in details; as they were executed very well unlike the other animé series. Shaman King would perfectly fit for a movie like the success of Ghostfighter, Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop.
Though this series was not as current as to some animé series, I still reviewed Shaman King to retain the fondness of the viewers to the loved series. A lot of animé lovers looked forward to this review especially to those nosy in having much information about the series.
Who said that animé series are only for kids? Of course not! Shaman King was loved by all ages. It rated so high even it was showed many times. Animé lovers crave for it as many times as it showed on TV.
Note: When Shaman King was showed in the Philippine TV several times, it was never been defeated by its rivals on ratings competition.
The Most Loved Character
You wont have to guess, Yu Asakura of course! His charm and power plus his gentility and kindness stood out from the other characters in the series. Now, Im an avid fan of Yu Asakura!
The Most Hated Character
It would definitely not Hao but Lizerd. I hated him for being so lame and cruel. He closed his heart to love and be loved. He was selfish. He chose his anger and left his friends in return for a great power to destroy Hao. He offered his life to Mistress Jean whos as evil as Hao. I hated him for he just wasted the trust Yu has offered to him.
Overall, there are some familiar scenes from other animé series but I applauded this one for the writers great imagination in creating such a unique story; four stars definitely deserved it!
What do you get when you mix a lazy music loving guy, with swords, souls and Hiroyuki Takei? The anwer is easy! You get Shaman King! The story starts off with Oyamada Manta, a intelligent, small teen. Besides his height Manta lived a painfully normal life. One day on the walk home Manta decided to take a short cut and thats where he met Asakura Yoh, a very friendly, laid back shaman with only one goal. To live a lazy peaceful life doing nothing besides listening to music & to do this Yoh has set his eyes on becoming the Shaman King!
Becoming the Shaman King is no easy goal and Yoh isn’t the only one who wants to be it, Tao Ren a chinese shaman, who is very arrogent, obsessed with milk, so much so that he makes sure to drink 3 bottle a day. Being so cold-hearted in the begining Ren doesn’t know the meaning of mercy, and ended up almost killing Ryu Umemiya and sending Yoh to the hospital.
Ryu Umemiya is a biker, who hates stealing and is looking for his “Best Place”, dispite Ryu’s hair he is fairly strong, but he’s not very smart. He often thinks about girls, bike riding and shamans after being saved by Yoh. Ryu being a good man helped Yoh and toke he to the hospital as a way to say thanks.
Thats where Anna Ky?yama 1st appears, there is only one word that can describe Anna and it’s an understatement, terrifing. Yoh knows that better then anyone else, because she’s his fiancee! Anna is also a shaman and a very tallented one at that. Being a spirt medium she can call back spirts that have have left the human word.
There are many left in the human world, and they are a must for a shaman, you see shamans are usually no stronger then normal humans alone, but when they’re with a spirt they become much stronger, the same happens with Yoh when he uses Hyoi Gattai with Amidamaru.
Amidamaru, is the spirt of a dead samurai warrior known as a devil after killing over a hundred other samurai. Although many people call him the devil, Amidamaru is actually a very kind spirt, befor he befriended Yoh he beleave the only reason to stay was to wait for his best friend Mosuke, to deliver him the Harusame and he waited 600 years for it. Yoh wanting him to be his partner decided to help him find Mosuk and went to the museum.
There he met Mosuke, a master blacksmith and best friend of Amidamaru. After hearing the tragic story of both of there lives, he decided to help them both out and refine the Harusame. After refining the Harusame, he gave it to Amidamaru, who could finally rest in peace but decided to stay with Yoh.
Just like that Yoh’s and Manta’s big adventure began!
In my opinion this is a very good anime and is great for people of all ages, after watching it I became alot more relaxed and thought about what Yoh said: “No one knows what will happen in the future. There is no sense in worrying in something you do not and cannot control, so why bother?” It’s worth watching. Atleast in my opnion it is.
- Review by emored13