We’re looking forward to the new season of anime here at Rice Digital, and in particular, one series that is making it’s long awaited return: Shaman King.
The current anime season is pretty much over and it’s going to be a tough one to follow. Attack on Titan final season, Jujutsu Kaisen, Horimiya, Quintessential Quintuplets, Mushoku Tensei, Reincarnation as a Slime, Beastars, Redo of Healer… Never mind that last one.
It’s fair to say that 2021’s winter anime season was absolutely stacked with incredible shows, and it’s going to be very difficult for whatever comes next to match up to the standards it has set. Shaman King, however, is a show I grew up with — and I want to talk about why you should all be extra hyped for this remake.
The original release
For those of you who might not know, Shaman King is a manga written and illustrated by Hiroyuki Takei that originally ran from 1998 to 2004. It would later be adapted into an anime series in 2001 by studio Xebec — the guys behind Black Clover and To Love Ru, for my cultured brothers and sisters out there.
Takei has received a few offers to remake Shaman King over the years. He was originally offered a reboot by former Madhouse and now Mappa President Masao Maruyama, but Takei turned it down because he was told the new series wouldn’t use the same voice actors and soundtrack as the original 2001 anime.
The world of Shaman King
In the world of Shaman King, people with the ability to communicate and fight with spirits are collectively known as Shamans. The series is centred around Asakura Yoh, a laid-back, easygoing character who is heir to the powerful shamanic Asakura Family, as he enters the Shaman Tournament. This is a semi-millennial event that draws shamans from around the world to compete for the chance to become the Shaman King and the wielder of the omnipotent Great Spirit, the king of all spirits.
Furyoku is the power resource of the Shaman King series — like Chakra in Naruto or Ki in Dragonball — and it is something of a sixth sense that is granted to all living beings on the planet. Every living thing is given a predetermined amount of Furyoku by the Great Spirit upon their birth, and upon their death the Furyoku returns back to the planet.
While the amount that a person is born with is predetermined, Furyoku can be trained in order to increase the amount — not through normal physical training, however. The person must go through a “pseudo-death” experience in which the shaman is stripped of all their physical senses, leaving them with only their Furyoku to rely on. They must then face an onslaught of their own negative emotions, relying upon the shaman’s own strength of heart to overcome them. The result is a shaman either with a newly strengthened soul — or one broken to never recover. (Sounds like Friday night in the Rice offices – Ed.)
The characters of Shaman King are a much-loved element of the series that I cannot wait for new fans to meet and fall in love with.
Leading man Yoh is a young boy who is carefree and laid-back with almost every single aspect of his life. Growing up, Yoh was something of an outcast and resorted to communicating with spirits more than he did people. His easygoing nature is further exemplified with his catchphrase “everything will work out”.
Tao Ren, meanwhile, resembles the usual shounen antagonist — similar to a character like Vegeta. He is a ruthless and sadistic kid who, thanks to his overbearing upbringing, cares little for others who are unfortunate enough to get in his way. Tao is more interesting, however, and after meeting Yoh he begins to question his own way of doing things, developing as a character in the process.
Lastly, Anna Kyoyama is a character that I’m certain fans of strong female characters will absolutely adore. Anna is a step away from the typical main female lead; unlike characters such as Sakura or Orihime, Anna is extremely strong, reliable, and able to fight her battles.
The romantic plot threads surrounding her and Yoh are handled extremely well. Their feelings are portrayed to us clearly, which is quite a unique thing even among some of today’s shounen series. Other early shounen series either had relationships develop offscreen (Dragon Ball Z), waited until the final chapters (Bleach) or sometimes even waited until a post-story movie for us to finally see romance bloom (Naruto).
Shaman King’s new series is set to air on TV from April 1, 2021, and Netflix have picked up the rights for a streaming release later in the year. Yoko Hikasa will play the lead role of Yoh in the new version of the show, and returning cast members from the original run include Megumi Hayashibara as Anna Kyoyama, Romi Park as Tao Ren and numerous others.
Fingers crossed that it lives up to the fond memories many people have of the original!
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