Shaman King vol 1 - A Shaman in Tokyo (of 32)

UK Distributor:  VIZ Media

Author:  Hiroyuki Takei

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  $7.95 (around £5.50)

Number of Pages:  199

ISBN:  1-5693-1902-2

Reviewed:  9th May 2004

Reviewer:  Tom (Webmaster)


Part of the excellent weekly Shonen Jump, Shaman King is one of the lesser known titles of the most popular publication but should not be easily overlooked as it offers just as much entertainment as its fellow titles.

Yoh Asakura is a Shaman who comes to Tokyo to approve his abilities in communicating with the spirits, which only Shamans and good-hearted people can see.  Because of this he spends most of his time hanging around the cemetery, which the unsuspecting Manta Oyamanda decides to take a shortcut through one night.  This leads to Manta witnessing Yoh channelling spirits in order to kick out punks who have taken over the cemetery.  Yoh and Manta become unlikely friends who help end a samurai spiritís suffering and in return the samurai becomes Yohís fighting companion.

Unlike most action manga which explain the plot well after the start, Shaman Kingís opening chapter is a good mix of great action and a well-explained plot which does not leave the reader confused.  Unfortunately the plot is explained a little too much as it is told from the point of view of the sceptical Manta who always explains exactly what shamatic ability Yoh is using, often more then once.  Although it is understandable that Manta has not witnessed such magical feats before, but he explains the definition of a shaman about seven times in the opening chapters alone.  From then on he becomes one of those characters that just does nothing other then telling the hero not to put himself in danger, but the hero does anyway and is victorious.

The gripe with Manta is bearable though and if you can see past it you will no doubt find Shaman King entertaining.  Unlike itís fellow Shonen Jump companion Yu-Gi-Oh! It does not show signs of repetitiveness due to the closing chapters which are an action-packed confrontation with the evil rival shaman Ren.  Although this story does bear similarities to Pokťmon (Ren: you treat ghosts as friends?  Ha ha ha!  Ghosts are tools!) this it thankfully not lingered upon too much to detract to make you think that you are reading a different manga.

Other then a few gripes Shaman King is good straightforward fun that never takes itself too seriously.  Think Dragonball mixed with Yu-Gi-Oh! and you will come up with the kind of manga Shaman King is.  Easy to understand, great action, a wide variety of fighting companions and a straightforward plot.

Best Bit:  When Ren performs Basonís Vorpal Dance for the first time.

Worst Bit:  When it is explained what a shaman is for the twenty-eighth time.

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