Back in the 2000´s, I didn´t have Internet in my house, I fact I´m not sure Internet was a thing like now. The point is that back then my only source of anime was TV, or in reality cable TV, and one of my favorite channel´s was Fox Kids.
Fox Kids, the channel that brought me and all Latin American kids animes series like Digimon, Monster Ranger, Shinzo, Beyblade, etc.
And among those series was Shaman King which premiered in 2003 and soon became one of my favorite ones. The series had pretty much all that I love in an anime series, it was fun and funny, entertaining with a lovable protagonist, battles, and spirits! so many spirits!
Those who know me, know that I love sports animes, but the truth is that as much as I love them, I love spiritual animes more.
Anyway.., back to Shaman King
The series followed the adventures of Yoh Asakura, an easy-going guy that just wanted to have a calm and carefree life in which he could listen to his favorite music and just be; sounds easy, right?
Well, not so much ´cause Yoh comes from a famous lineage of Shaman´s, beings able to communicate with spirits and harness them in their bodies to help them move on and use their spiritual energy -along with their own- to do the impossible.
So.. the story begins with Yoh meeting who will be his best human friend, Manta Oyamada a tiny human being -often confused with a spirit- who´s also able to see spirits. And it´s soon revealed that Yoh moved to Tokyo in order to find a strong spirit to be his partner ´cause the Shaman Tournament is coming and he intends to win it and become the King of the Shamans and live that carefree life he so much intends.
Along the way, Manta not only learns more about his mysterious friend and the world of spirits, but the duo also meets more and more Shamans -some good, some bad- with their own motives; as well as spirits, make new friends, etc.
Util they meet the strongest shaman anyone has ever seen, who´s objective seems to be to create a world of shamans and get rid of all humanity: Hao Asakura
Yes, if Hao seems familiar it´s because he is Yoh´s twin, except it´s a little more complicated than that, ´cause he is also the reincarnation of their ancestor, the strongest shaman ever: Hao Asakura; in fact, Yoh it´s also the reincarnation of the original Hao Asakura.
Confusing? Yes I know, you see in the past Hao Asakura was about to reach his goal, which was to become one with the king of spirits -basically god in this world- and get rid of humanity, but.. he was stopped by the Asakura clan´s efforts; Hao obviously wasn´t happy, and promising to come back. So… a hundred or so years later, the Asakura twins were born.
In the end, Yoh and his friends confront Hao and that´s about it. There´s no Shaman King chosen and everybody returns to their usual lives until… another star passes earth and another shaman tournament seems to be announced.
Yeah… I know, not the best ending, right?
So…, for a year or so, I had to make do with the final of the anime but sometime, later on, I moved to another state; one that was more into the Internet and technology. I found a website called mangafox, and the rest, the rest, as they say, was history.
I really enjoyed the manga, and unlike Black Cat, Shaman King wasn´t entirely changed from the original story, or at least not at the beginning -right before the trip to North America happens-. I mean yes there are a couple of short stories which dig deeper into Yoh´s character as well as his relationship with the spirits, that weren´t included but I don´t consider them integral to the main story so I can understand and forgive why they deleted them, but the rest!
What actually happens once they travel to North America, it´s where my need for this series to have another anime adaptation comes from, ´cause here, here is where things get deeper, more awesome and important development happens.
For example, one of the things I liked the most about the manga, was the exploration of Yoh´s character, as well as his relationship with everyone else. For instance, in the manga it´s well establish that Anna and Yoh are in love with each other, and after seeing the backstory of how they met each other and got engaged, you can see the real development of their relationship and understand why Anna is so severe with him as well as how much she really loves him and vice-versa.
And the same can be said about Yoh, you get that more than “not wanting to make Anna cry”, he really loves her and it´s his promise to help her as well as the one to see a really old friend, what makes him want to be the Shaman King, something that wasn´t quite well explain in the anime.
The Hao-Yoh relationship is something else better explored in the manga; ´cause in the anime we never go farther than knowing Yoh is part of the original Hao; that he can apparently defeat him because of that and that Hao plans to assimilate him in himself again. But in the manga…
In the manga, there´s an actual relationship between the two of them. Hao seems to genuinely like Yoh and is interested in him, and Yoh has mixed feeling about his “older” brother, ´cause in one hand everyone is telling him he´s the only one that can stop him and in the other one… he can´t help but feel for Hao, ´cause he´s his brother and part of him -a bigger part than anyone seems to realise- understands him and kind of agrees with him.
And that kind of makes sense since according to what we are told, Yoh didn´t have the best of experience with normal human beings either, so he doesn´t particularly like them.
The manga also explores more deeply what Yoh being the other half of Hao could really mean, as well as the consequence of this news not only for Yoh but also his friends, who can´t help but be a little terrified at the idea of what does it imply, the powers that he develops and how all of it explains so many things about his character.
Ren Tao -who turns about to be the most loyal friend to Yoh I think and the one that gets him more- puts it perfectly when he says that Yoh is and “incomplete person!, that he´s literally half of a being, and that, that´s what makes him not quite human, ´cause he is lacking some emotions and some understanding, which is why he can act so carefree.
These are only some aspects of the manga that would make an awesome anime series, there´s also the trip to the underworld, the appearances and used of the other natural spirits besides the fire spirit -wind, earth, water, lightning, etc.-, the Horo Horo backstory and arc, the actual election of a Shaman King, etc.
If Naruto got to do Shippuden, and Full Metal Alchemist got to have its new series -following the manga-, as well as Hunter X Hunter, why not Shaman King?
The anime is pretty good and it really only needs to fix things from the trip to North America onwards, come on anime gods please give Shaman King another go and maybe… fix the ending?