Manga Reviews

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Shaman King

Shaman King
Licensed by Viz

Topic: Shounen, Fighting, Supernatural (Spirits)

Oyamada Manta is your average student who spends all of his time studying until one day he encounters Asakura Yoh, who's transfered into Manta's class. Yoh is a shaman, one who has the ability to see and use spirits who have not yet left the earth. For example, Yoh chooses Amidamaru, a samurai who slew 1000 soldiers 600 years ago. When they combine, Yoh is able to use Amidamaru's experiences and techniques. He's come to Tokyo to train for a tournament that will determine who the Shaman King will be. Whoever becomes the Shaman King has the power to manipulate events in the world for the next 500 years, whether for good or for evil. Yoh's goal is to make a world where he can be lazy and doesn't have to work at anything.

Along the way, he encounters many other types of shamans: Those who use zombies, those who manipulate multiple weaker spirits, those who temporarily summon spirits down from heaven, etc. His easy going nature manages to win him several friends but also puts him at much greater risk against powerful enemies. His greatest opponent will be his twin brother, Asakura Hao, who is the reincarnation of a powerful shaman. Asakura Hao has reappeared in the past multiple times to compete in the Shaman King tournament, in attempts to take over the world for his own.

The character art for this series is excellent although very extreme. Manta is drawn with his head, torso and legs almost all the same height, and most of the other characters have some peculiarities that serve to vastly differentiate each of them. The background art is well done, with detailed drawings in almost all the frames. However I'm not a fan of the character development, which is severely lacking. All the characters are either over the top, or emotionless. Furthermore, all their motivations are briefly glossed over and usually very shallow. For example, Mic wishes to be the Shaman King so he can tell good jokes.

The plot of Shaman King is entertaining, although a bit redundant. As with most tournament mangas, the characters must defeat each other and powerful opponents to continue on in the tournament. What makes this manga's plot a bit more interesting is the sheer variety of opponents and powers the author was able to come up with. The battles also take place all over the world, sparing the reader of seeing the same backdrop over and over again.

Rating: 7.0/10.0


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