A battle is about to begin in Tokyo: the Shaman Fight, a tournament held every five hundred years where shaman—those who can command spirits—confront each other in combat. The victor of this contest becomes the Shaman King and the only one who is able to contact and control the Great Spirit, allowing them to reshape the world as they please through its immense power.
During a late night walk, Manta Oyamada runs into his classmate, the carefree You Asakura, who invites him to come stargazing with some friends, who, to Manta's horror, turn out to be ghosts from a local cemetery! However, the knowledge that Manta possesses—a rare sixth sense that allows Manta to see these spirits—endears the boy to You. So when You finds out that his new comrade has been beaten up by a local gang, he decides to avenge him with the help of Amidamaru, a samurai ghost whose tomb was broken by the gang leader.
Soon Manta uncovers more about the world of spirits, including the Shaman Fight, in which his new friend You aims to claim victory.
For me, Shaman King is one of the best animes I've watched in a long time. The fact that every single character has its very own unique personality adds a nice feeling to the overall show. Another thing I really enjoyed in Shaman King was that there isn't always one character who dominates the battles, but all of the characters you meet in the show have their own abilities, which make them important for every single battle. Besides from battles there are also lots of funny moments. I literally had to laugh all the time throughout the whole show, because Shaman King manages the transition from dramatic or serious to funny moments so well.
Overall I'd recommend this show to anyone who likes shows with awesome characters, lots of humor, awesome battles and a great storyline. read more
i watched Shaman King in three languages, Turkish first, English then Japanese. Finally sealed it with the manga. It wasn't my first anime ever but it was the first anime that while watching I was aware it was an anime. I was a child then.
Children can and do appreciate good anime though. For this review I'll consider the Japanese version.
The lowest score, 8, has to go to art. As a grown-up I've seen top notch quality and you do not expect SK to demonstrate excellence in terms of art. People, spirits, places and backgrounds are moderately well designed. There are a lot of moments with great visual impact. Considering their immense number, action sequences are animated okay.
The dialogues and the story-line are well done until the very end of the anime and the ending may leave a lot of people unsatisfied, therefore I couldn't rate the story 10. I thoroughly enjoyed how it all moved forward, how conflicts were resolved and how the single one threat of Hao loomed closer and closer to build it all up. Characters were introduced, developed and interacted with one another beautifully. The tournament became a means to explore underlying themes of friendship, hatred, forgiveness, hard work, hope and destiny. Comedic aspects were well balanced with drama and the epic action.
The effort poured into the voice acting and soundtrack of this series is certainly not widely acknowledged, but the series include two bombs like Romi Paku and Megumi Hayashibara who are very talented, along with many other skillful actors that brought characters to life. I even fell in love with Ren Tao - seriously I made dozens of drawings, I even dreamt about him. Anyway, the music is very varied and was used purposefully, blending with various scenes in harmony. I can still recite the two openings and a few other songs from memory. 10.
Characters! Who can forget Yoh's goofy smile, Ren's fits of anger, Ryu's gigantic thumb and pompadour, Horohoro's cute spirit Kororo, Anna's scary eyes, Manta's brave soul? Nah, they and the rest are unforgettable. Each has their own unique personalities, dreams and lessons to teach us. I grew up with them as they grew up with each other. 10. 11. 12.
I remember rushing home everyday from school, telling everyone to shut up and turning on the TV to watch Shaman King. The series would glue my eyes to the screen. I remember feeling miserable when Yoh lost to his opponents. I remember falling of my seat laughing when Chocolove pissed off Ren. Enjoyable all the way. 10.
I acknowledge that this series has its own shortcomings. I know it is not perfect. Maybe the sweetness of my childhood is interfering with my judgement.
When I have a child, though, he or she is watching this.
Now, no one should be arguing that Shaman King as a story is a masterpiece to begin with. The manga is a sort of inherently low quality, but really enjoyable work. It has generally well defined, simplistic characters that one can firmly set in one's mind, that play into a work that is more about the powers and battling. The core "gimmick" is very enjoyable, and that is what matters in this type of drawn out, battle centric type of work if you are enough of a shounen lover.
While I did not expect a masterpiece because the manga already is not anywhere near, I did expect something that would hold itself together in terms of pacing and animation, and it does neither. If you are going to adapt a work from a manga to an anime, then it is probably going to be a failure if you not only fail to add anything significant, but also give it a plodding pace, drop out details because of the plodding pace, and animate everything on the cheap.
The animation here is such a piss poor effort that it is really remarkable. Colors are murk. Backgrounds to frame any action often make Pocket Monsters look utterly eloquent in comparison: nondescript, usually purple, lots of "action lines" that actually indicate a complete lack of action instead. The movement is usually really lacking, with lots of cuts to and from one still shot to another, and even battles drawn with jumps from one still to another rather than any attempt at fluidity. Everything here done with animation is as cheap as possible.
A side note that I should not even have to bring up is that it has nothing to do with the time it was made in, other than maybe it became acceptable to pump out this type of low grade product, since hey, why would a kid care anyway? Akira, in my opinion the best animated anime, was made in 1988 folks!
Because of pacing and the direction they went with humor and animation, the characters who were likable in the manga are unlikable here. Instead of calm, peaceful, and collected, Yoh comes off as dense and uncaring. Instead of brusque and frigid, Anna becomes more peevish. Ryu becomes even more clownish, and any tragedy and perversion to Faust rings hollow. Because the quality of the characters dropped, the quality of the story becomes ridiculous as well.
Really, it comes down to this: the animation ruins the fights, and while the characters, humor, and story matter (and all have flaws here), without good fights to enjoy in a fight anime, what motivation could one have to possibly watch this? Well, I guess you get to avoid the ultimate troll ending ever...read more
Shaman King is an anime that has not aged well, for multiple reasons, with some of them the series itself being to blame, and with some of them time itself is to blame.
To properly criticize Shaman King, I want you to understand that Shaman King came out from an era where shounens were the determined bread winner, and there were plenty of attempts of random shounen being released. At the same time, things like Naruto, Inuyasha, Hajime no Ippo and Hunter x Hunter were airing or finished airing and plenty of other commercial shounens were being released or about to start in that craze. I wouldn't call Shaman King succesful, as the way I have stumbled upon it I consider bizarre.
It started airing at 10 PM on a cartoon channel. What's bizarre about this is that it and Naruto, are the only two anime, that ever did that in my country. Naruto, understandably was a cashcow, it makes sense, but Shaman King was the experiment before it. No knowledge of it being an anime, aired quite late at night, signifying that it is intended to older audiences, and it did well. I stayed up every night to watch it and talked to friends about it and we enjoyed it. Outside of Dragon Ball and Yu-Gi-Oh, which aired on some random completely different channels, for most of the kids I knew, this was our first shounen experience, at an age where we could actually understand it. I expect that Shaman King was a cheap bargain for the audience my country tried to hit with it, and that it worked out quite well. Because Shaman King was really enjoyable and really enjoyed.
The reasons it was enjoyable for are that there finally was a cartoon that tried to define the characters as persons, and explain their state. It also kept all the familiar traits of other cartoons that we were seeing, which were in its humor, and had themes that weren't really explored here, but worked in other countries for their young audiences. No cartoon that I've watched at that point really attempted to create character development, or any overarching plot, and instead were mostly one offs. Shaman King did do that, maybe not that a level that I would consider commendable today, but it did do it. It was comedic, but it played off based on the personality of the characters, and also how they changed. Their actions did matter past the scope of the episode, and that really won me over. The fact that the world can get more complex, the characters can evolve, and the fact that story was going somewhere. There were pretty few examples of other shows that even managed to do an attempt at this at the time for me.
But its problem today is a simple one. Due to the competitive scene at the time, Shaman King falls short to almost every show, and pretty much any modern show, can easily outclass it. I mean, it had poor production values, with each fight having some still frames and barely enough contact was ever done between characters. Most of the budget was spent on making sure the designs and characters are consistently colorful and have enough details, but there really isn't any fighting choreography, which is a detriment of the series, and in action scenes the characters may sometimes look remarkably choppy. The story doesn't really have a pace or a clear structure, so that might mislead a lot of people into drawing conclusions about the series, which won't work in its favor, due to how laidback the attitude of its characters can be, or how many liberties it will take in its structure. It is filled with character archetypes and tropes that are across most shounen anime. And its overall theme is the power of friendship. Based on what I enjoy now, I can say for certain that if I came across Shaman King today, I would not care much for it and think it was bad. The factors that made it good at the time are that everything else didn't really have any sort of direction, when Shaman King did and I didn't really have a lot of the criterias of comparison I have to other shows now, that making Shaman King pure novelty to me.
This doesn't make Shaman King necesarily bad, it just means that it is hard for someone to determine whether they would like it or not, and that it is hard for it to get any sort of notoriety when there's far better looking options, and the fact that it is a shounen might turn off a lot of people because it is one. I personally don't consider it bad. While I think most of the fights were dull and uninteresting, with a few exceptions, what has driven the fights was the dialogue and the progression they went towards. The actual fight itself for me being dull was easy to overlook based on the fact that Shaman King knew how to properly state why what was on screen was happening, what was the goal, and where the character has to get to win. The quality of the fights in Shaman King will vary. Sometimes they can be really interesting, like a certain fight where someone led the main character into discovering a new power, and sometimes they can be really dull, which is when the characters simply win by showing their powers and doing some movements in order to meet the quota of "this is an action shounen".
I wouldn't honestly call Shaman King an action shounen as much as I would call it Final Fantasy XV. A group of guys, travelling around, getting powers, and enjoying off the road they are on is what I mean. It is often comedic and playing off the personalities of the characters, but it can also be serious whenever there's a "protecting my friends, family, morals, ideals etc" type of shounen shtick to be presented. It can be mature and well executed when the situation calls for it, but it can take its time with comedic moments insignificant for the overarching plot or simply go in a serious direction out of nowhere. Due to Shaman King bouncing too much between where it is going and where it wants to go, it can sometimes seem slice of lifey, and this made its overall pace to suffer, as the stakes were constantly being toyed with, and as a result of this, where Shaman King was moving towards wasn't 100% certain at all times. I know this is an odd thing to say when the series is titled Shaman King, in a series about people fighting each other to become Shaman King, but the story takes a lot of random detours or restructuring of how it goes about things, while mostly keeping the reward of being the Shaman King as ambiguous and potentially anything, this leading to an odd type of progression in the story, where you didn't know what the stakes were, until Hao happens.
Unfortunately, the execution of the villain, Hao, is not particularly good, as he is defeated through the power of friendship and he is portrayed as a generic edgy cartoon villain. So the series doesn't really benefit too much from having him as a villain as much outside of him being just a reason for the characters to become more serious. This villain is pretty much where Shaman King becomes a chore to suggest anyone to go through with it, since he becomes an important part of the anime, his manga counterpart is a lot more human and developed, and this counterpart doesn't really have any traits that make him that. He is a threat for the sake of being a threat. He doesn't completely weaken the series' high points, but since he's the focus, Shaman King becomes less entertaining as he becomes more and more prominent. Which doesn't really make me sell Shaman King in terms of the story, despite of having various elements well executed, and well implemented humor that plays off various character traits very well.
But still, my view of them today, with my view of them back then, isn't exactly in sync. For instance, the introduction of a major character in the series astonished me due to the fact that this was the first time I ever saw a guy being introduced by chopping a car in fucking half for absolutely no fucking reason out of nowhere. Today, the same scenes of him made me laugh my ass off, because of the fact that he gave me the impression of an edgy little troglodite upset at the fact that his parents never bought him Hot Wheels ™. The fact that he afterwards rants about he is a superior being while looking at some cars in traffic strengthened that remark. I might be more fond of the characters due to the fact that I've experienced them while being young, but I still think their personalities were executed quite well and that their motivations are quite understandable. In addition to that, the personalities they have play off each other well. While I don't think they singlehandedly are unique characters or have any particularly unique character arcs compared to other shounens, I do think they are executed well due to the fact they are simple. Partially is due to the adaptation not really adapting some of the parts that gave more depth to some characters, as the anime focuses more on making it a truer shounen.
I can't really recommend Shaman King on any other basis than curiosity. It is a story about some kids going through a tournament to become God and fighting each other with not particularly well done animation. The themes it has are common and you've probably seen something else similar to it at this point you would draw comparisons too. The only real praise I can give Shaman King is that in smaller circles, in places where its main competitors were gone, it could stand out. It managed to be a shounen and if you seek that, as long as you don't expect much in terms of fight scenes, it can do the work quite well. But note, it doesn't have any lasting impact or build anything unique of its own. It just executes the aspects of a shounen to a decent level.read more
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