Shaman King Kanzenban is a reprint of the original Shaman King series but with differences including the addition of new chapters (which changes the chapter numbering). The releases also included 16 special bonus chapters called Shaman King Remix Track.
Note: This entry will only contain the extra chapters included in this edition. Please see here for more information.
this is by far one of my most liked mangas. the mangaka focused a lot on the idea of "no one knows what justice really is because everyone has their own justice which might be wrong to someone else, so you have no right to impose your justice on others" and he also lived up to yoh's line of "no bad person can see spirits" and proved that every single character in the show is good in their own way opposing the typical bad guys who just want to see the world parish for the heck of it. I felt like the mangaka had an
experience with being different than people cause he seemed to include it a lot, like how people always outcast everyone who is different and that humans will always go with the flow instead of thinking for themselves which is why different people (exampled with shamans) are always out casted. the story is really great especially anna's arc. most the characters have sad backgrounds but it takes you to see completely different stories and different points of view from all over the world. it also gave me a feeling that takei liked history a lot since he always included some history knowledge in the characters' backgrounds. the art wasn't as good as I thought it should be.
If i had to describe this entire manga as shortly as possible, i would definitely use the term "culture clash", because it perfectly encapsulates the major theme of this battle Shounen, the magnum opus of Hiroyuki Takei.
Imagine the most classic of battle shounen tropes: a huge tournament in which powerful partecipants from all over the world confront each other in spectacular battles. This time however, it won't be about aliens with blonde hair that can fly and shoot lasers from their hands and neither about knights named after costellations of the sky, but about sorcerers or , to be precise, shamans, powerful warriors who are
connected with the spiritual world and are able to see and even form a bond with spirits taken from every religion, cult, tale and realm of the supernatural. With this simple yet interesting premise, the central plot and final goal of the story is immediately presented to us: every 500 years, a huge fight between shamans is held in a secret location of the planet, the "shaman fight", in which every partecipant aided by a guardian spirit tries to come out as victorious in order to obtain the absolute power: becoming one with the "great spirit", an entity which every living soul reunites with after dying. This union will grant the winner the power of a omnipotent, all-seeing deity and thus becoming the shaman king (in one of the first chapters it is revealed that even historical figures such as Jesus and Buddha were, in fact, shaman kings). Since the prize is so great, the partecipants are ready to do anything in their power to obtain it, even at the cost of sacrificing their own lives or the ones of the people close to them.
The wish of our protagonist, Yoh Asakura, is maybe the one wished by every average man: living a peaceful life, free of every worry, listening to his favourite music...too bad that his girlfriend and promised future wife Anna forces him to go through intensive, tiring training in order to prepare him for the imminent shaman fight. To complete the initial set of protagonists, we have the shortstack, comic-relief character and best friend of our protagonist, Manta, a normal human who cannot see spirits and Amidamaru, the spirit of an ancient samurai that will form a pact with Yoh and ends up becoming his guardian spirit and guide. Like almost every shounen, the thematic of the importance of friendship covers a huge role in the story, with the initial group of friends expanding with ex-rivals that will befriend and make peace with our heroes, opening their hearts to reveal their true feelings, each one of them signed by a tragic event happened in the past that set them on the same path and that will make them mature and becoming a new, reformed person in the end.
The manga does a great job putting each one of its secondary characters on the same level, not forgetting about giving a spotlight at least once to all of them. People who are initially presented as villains will later uncover a more human side that will let us understand their actions.
Another thing worth of notice, is how the power level of our protagonist is handled, with Yoh relying on his friends and never being more powerful when compared to them (in fact, in some occasions, Yoh himself is the one who ends up being left behind).
Aside from the human interactions keeping the reader interested, there is also the before mentioned "teological" aspect in which the author clearly spent time documenting himself to give to each protagonist, villain and secondary character a unique set of power heavily tied with their geographical origins and the cult/religion/belief of that area: christianity, buddhism, shintoism, witchcraft and even unknown african tribal rituals and ancient egyptian deities. A reader that is already even slightly knowledgeable of these cultural aspects, will easily recognize character designs and moves directly inspired by that particular religion/belief.
Speaking about character design, the "spikey", clear distinct tract of the author is perfect for handling action scenes and emotional moments as well, but never stagnates because of the author perfectioning his technique with time trough each new volume.
Shaman King seems like an awesome manga in every aspect, BUT...there is only one huge problem about it, that kept it a creative limbo for a long time: THE ENDING.
You see, Shaman King's plot procedes at steady pace until the last chapters of the finals of tournament of power, then the author found himself forced to give it an extremely rushed, underwhelming ending because of the lack of following and people losing interest in it. That ending, which remained canonical for a long time, was so bad that the readers of the original run preffered to not consider it at all and imagine that the story was, siply without an ending.
Readers have been prepared to see a final, epic battle that was never shown...well, until years later with the "PERFECT EDITION" of the manga ("kanzemban"), where the author added an entire new volume of chapters made years later from the original rushed ending to give Shaman King its proper, long awaited conclusion.
Shaman King is a coming-of-age story focused on the main cast of characters overcoming their past mistakes, and in this "real" ending, it is given to each one of them a future. The final battle itself doesn't fall into clichè and remains coherent with the message of peace of the series.
Aside form this, the perfect edition of the manga also comes with some coloured scenes and even some extras that make it even more preferable over the original.
Shaman King is an excellent standard shounen manga about cultures and definitely falls in my top ten shounen of all time.
At the end of my review for the original printing of Shaman King, I wrote that it was perhaps a blessing that Takei wasn’t able to give the series a proper ending under the assumption that it would only lead to further disappointment in the manga’s declining quality. Four years later, Takei resurrects the series and proves me right. Shaman King’s downward spiral picks up right where it left off – or if anything, it accelerated. This makes the rushed, evolving train wreck of the second half of the manga look like a brilliant masterpiece. There’s so much to go over here in the broad
strokes, but to avoid laying down the same bricks just apply absolutely everything I said negatively about the original series to this one and add the following.
The most immediate assault of this manga on your senses is of course directed at your eyes. Takei’s initial graffiti-inspired art style of the original manga deteriorated over the course of its run into something blander, but it was still always pleasant to look at and distinct. In these additional chapters, it’s as if Takei’s hands have gotten amnesia. It’s one thing to lose your tempo a bit after not drawing these characters for a few years, but this art looks like it was drawn by an entirely different person. It’s practically sketchbook quality, like something you’d find on storyboards rather than a final publication. The shading, if it can be called such, is truly horrendous. Nearly every page is illustrated in only pitch black or the pure white of the background. The old images of Shaman King look like “bootleg” variations now and seeing the fights we missed is actually a curse considering their incomprehensible ink blot choreography.
If one thing hasn’t changed, it’s that describing these action sequences as “fights” is still very generous. Takei gets the great opportunity to not have to rush the finale of his popular manga, and he takes full advantage of that opportunity by rushing it harder than ever before. It’s downright comical at this point how rote this series has become for its author, with foreshadowed conflicts being settled in a single chapter or skipped in their entirety. The payoff in this revised climax is every bit as unsatisfying as it was originally, only far longer in its delivery. Numerous supporting cast characters never get their motivations or previous actions properly explained if at all, and bearing special mention is the main villain of all possible people. Hao’s entire motivation being explained in a side chapter is an absolute joke, and his actions in the final chapters of this series contradict a hundred things he said or did prior. His subtle guidance or support of Yoh and any possible nuance to his morality is thrown out the window in order to indulge in a stock maniacal evil antagonist. The final battle between him and Yoh’s group after he has literally become God and the justification for how everything is resolved doesn’t even deserve to be called “nonsense”. You have plenty of time to realize how absurdly forced it all is as you get to see Takei draw every single character in the entire series again looking uglier than ever and spouting platitudes about the power of love defeating actual omnipotence. It’s a real family reunion.
This is truly awful. If I can’t persuade someone to not read the entirety of the Shaman King manga, hopefully I can’t at least persuade them not to read this. It’s not worth it. This fails to live up to any standards of the original series. It’s ugly, stupid, meandering, redundant, and a complete waste of an opportunity to set things right. It’s impossible for me to believe Takei put the passion behind this he claims in the afterword, as it fails and cuts corners in every way conceivable. Any good will I had towards the original manga for its likable cast and good moments is utterly sapped from this addendum. Don’t spend your valuable time on this one. After all, the author sure didn’t.
Despite my borderline hatred for this entry, props to Mankin-Trad for picking up Viz’s slack and translating the remainder of the franchise. It’s a fine translation, though far from ideal. It was frustrating going from Viz’s high quality localization to this. After 32 officially translated volumes, it was somehow found fit to throw readers a curveball by using completely different terminology, name spellings, and untranslated bits like honorifics. Sound effects are left untranslated, which makes following the hideous action scenes even more difficult. But above all else, the most egregious thing was the embarrassing addition of harsh swearing to all of the characters. And with all that goddamn shit, I’m fucking out.