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Jason Hinterweger
Jason Hinterweger

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Shaman King (Japanese: シャーマンキング, Hepburn: Shāman Kingu) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiroyuki Takei. It follows the adventures of Yoh Asakura as he attempts to hone his shaman skills to become the Shaman King by winning the Shaman Fight. Takei chose shamanism as the main theme of the series because he wanted a topic that had never been attempted before in manga. The Shaman King manga was originally serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump between June 1998 and August 2004. The individual chapters were collected and released in 32 tankōbon volumes. In 2017, Kodansha acquired the rights to the series and re-launched it on 35 e-book volumes in 2018, also published in print since 2020.

Watch Shaman King 63

In Japan, the manga has been popular. By March 2021, it had over 38 million copies in circulation. Both the manga and anime have been featured, at various times, in "top ten" lists of their respective media. The Shaman King anime has been watched by many television viewers in Japan. Publications about manga, anime, and other media have commented on the Shaman King manga, with positive comments on the series.

The plot of Shaman King revolves around Yoh Asakura, a shaman, a medium between the worlds of the living and the dead. Yoh seeks to become Shaman King, one able to channel the power of the Great Spirit to reshape the world as they wish, by winning the Shaman Fight, a tournament overseen by the Patch Tribe that occurs once every 500 years. Anna Kyoyama, Yoh's fiancée, soon enters the scene and prescribes a brutal training regimen to prepare him for the tournament. Thus begins the plot that will lead Yoh on a journey that will lead him to befriend Manta Oyamada and encounter other shamans: "Wooden Sword" Ryu, Tao Ren, Horohoro and Faust VIII.

Yoh's group travels to America to pass the final trial for the right to participate in the Shaman Fight, joined by Lyserg Diethel while encountering a group of shamans led by Yoh's estranged twin brother Hao Asakura, the reincarnation of a powerful shaman who wishes to eradicate all humans and create a world for shamans. The group also encounter the X-Laws, a group dedicated with killing Hao, with Lyserg joining them. Yoh's team is joined by Joco McDonnell (known as Chocolove McDonnell), as they engage in a series of three-man matches.

He chose shamanism as the principal topic of the series because he wanted to choose a subject that had never been approached in manga before.[6] He said he incorporated his own personality and beliefs in Shaman King.[4] He has an interest in the topic, and "choosing shamanism as the subject of this story seemed like a natural extension of that."[6] For the title, he said he used "shaman", an English word, due to the fact that "the nuance is really great" and because he could not find a Japanese word with the accurate meaning of the word "shaman".[4] Another reason to have shamanism as the main subject was because he could explore elements from different cultures and their relationship with the dead and the spirits.[7]

Takei created the stories after he created the characters because he believed the "stories are born because of the existence of the characters". In addition, he felt that "the most important thing [to create a character] is to have originality".[4] Through his characters he wanted to show different cultures, backgrounds and values.[8] When asked "how do shamans of pacifistic religions ever win the Shaman Fight?" he answered that the Shaman Fight is fought using the "strength of the soul".[4] Takei declared "the final message of Shaman King is that fighting is no good."[9]

Takei declared it was not a decrease in the series profitability that was the reason for its cancellation, but a "fatigue" he had been through because he was no more able to follow his fans' wishes. In the author's opinion, Shaman King was being "normalized" by the desire of his readers with the introduction of typical shōnen aspects and losing its originality.[7] In 2007, he revealed he was planning to end the series with the finale he initially envisioned, to be published in another Shueisha magazine at the end of the year or at the beginning of 2008.[7][8] Eventually the entire series was reprinted in 27 kanzenban volumes with the title Shaman King Kanzen-Ban (or "Perfect Edition"), concluding with the "true ending" to the series.[2] The new series finale was also posted on the official Kanzen-Ban website, in addition to the print editions.[17] The first volume of the Perfect Edition was released on March 4, 2008 with the last (volume 27) being published on April 3, 2009.[18][19] Five years after the end of the series, when the Shaman King Kanzen-Ban was finished, Takei said, "After making the readers waiting [sic] so much for this, the last thing I wanted to do was to disappoint them". He thought the ending was a "huge responsibility".[20] This edition served to make corrections and adjustments and, for Takei, it was something "fun," as it was different from scratch.[21] Shaman King has also been published as part of the Shueisha Jump Remix series of magazine-style books. Sixteen volumes of Shaman King were released under the Shueisha Jump Remix series between April 1, 2011 and October 28, 2011.[22][23]

On November 10, 2011, a series of one-shot called "zero stories", later colected as Shaman King: Zero, detailing Yoh and other characters backstories started to be serialized in Jump X.[58][59] In the same issue the first "zero story" was published, Shueisha announced the serialization of a sequel, focusing on Hana Asakura's development as a shaman;[59] Shaman King: Flowers started on April 10, 2012.[60] Both series concluded in the final issue of Shueisha's Jump X on October 10, 2014.[61][62] Two volumes of Shaman King: Zero were released on May 10, 2012 and January 19, 2015 respectively.[63][64] The Flowers series was compiled into six tankōbon released between August 10, 2012 and December 19, 2014.[65][66] Kodansha republished all Zero and Flowers volumes.[67][68][69][70]

The episodes of the Shaman King anime series are directed by Seiji Mizushima and co-produced by TV Tokyo, NAS, and Xebec.[99] At an early stage of anime production, Takei himself helped the anime's staff. However, he soon left the staff due to his time limitations as he was working on the manga.[8] In September 2020, Mizushima commented that the original anime material presented in the latter half of the show was not something he did on his own accord, and it was requested from Shaman King's original publisher Shueisha.[100] The 64 episodes were aired between July 4, 2001 and September 25, 2002 on TV Tokyo in Japan.[101] The episodes were collected into 16 DVD compilations by King Records in Japan and released between October 30, 2001 and January 22, 2003.[102][103] The DVDs were later collected and released in three box sets between August 27, 2008 and December 25, 2008.[104][105] In June 2020, it was announced that the series would be streamed on Full Anime TV and Bonbon TV services in Japan.[106][107]

By November 2011, the original manga series of 32 volumes has sold over 26 million copies in Japan.[150]By March 2020, the manga had over 35 million copies in circulation.[50] By March 2021, the manga had over 38 million copies in circulation.[151] The new Shaman King Kanzenban volumes have been ranked in listings of best-selling manga in Japan,[152][153] as well as its guidebook,[154] both Zero volumes,[155][156] Flowers first four volumes,[157][158][159][160] and The Super Star first volume.[161] Volumes of the series have been ranked in listings of best-selling manga in the United States such as The New York Times, Nielsen BookScan and Diamond Comic Distributors.[162][163][164][165] In 2008, Shaman King was North America's 24th best manga property according to ICv2, based on sales for the entire year of 2008.[166] The anime adaptation has also been featured several times in the Japanese TV ranking,[167][168] with the last episode having a 9.5 percent television viewership rating.[169] Shaman King was voted the sixth best anime of 2001 by Animage readers.[170] In 2005, Japanese television network TV Asahi conducted a "Top 100" online web poll and the Shaman King anime adaptation placed 47th.[171] Moreover, approximately 165 million cards from the Shaman King trading card game were sold in Japan.[130][172]

Justin Freeman from Anime News Network (ANN) criticized the first volume for relying too heavily on the spirits as a deus ex machina, stating that is what "places the series on the wrong path."[173] On other hand, Alexander Hoffman of Comics Village declared "in this first novel, letting the relationships between Yoh, Amidamaru, and Manta flesh out is more important that developing every spiritual entity that shows up."[174] Holly Ellingwood of Active Anime said she was fascinated by how Takei was capable of taking several myths and cultural beliefs and "blending them into the character backgrounds".[175] Lori Henderson of Manga Life cited the fact every character, even the villains, "has a reason for fighting" and their "internal struggles" as well as the fights itself as the main reason why Shaman King is "an enjoyable title."[176] A reviewer for The Star declared, praised the characters' development and Takei's capacity to create "new interesting ones each volume," commending "their backgrounds and unique personalities."[177] Writing for ANN, John Jakala commented that he was struck with the "unique", "graffiti-style" visual of the series.[5] Although labeled its art as "silly", Sheena McNeil from Sequential Start expressed that "it's smooth and nicely detailed with excellent expressions." McNeil deemed Takei did "a wonderful job of bringing shaman into the modern day but keeping it a story of fantasy".[178] Ellingwood stated the series' "vibrant action", "imaginative plot twists and a creative world" makes it "a unique and stylish shōnen series."[179] 041b061a72


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