Exactly twenty years have passed since the debut of the first television adaptation of Shaman king, two long decades in which fans of the charismatic characters born from Hiroyuki Takei’s pencils have never stopped clamoring for a complete and faithful makeover of the original manga (for all the details about the work we suggest you consult our special on the Shaman King manga). It took some time, but also thanks to the considerable popularity that the series’ multiple spin-offs have found, that seemingly impossible dream is finally becoming a reality.
Apparently consisting of just 52 episodes, the Shaman King remake landed on the Japanese television circuit on April 1 and soon. will also appear on Netflix Italy, although at the moment we still do not know if the work will only be subtitled or if it will even present the dubbing in Italian. While we wait for the streaming platform to officially launch Shaman Fight on Bel Paese as well, we’ve watched the first episode in Japanese, and here are our preliminary impressions of the studio’s makeover. Bridge.
The shaman, the nerd and the legendary samurai
Following the lead of the remake of Dragon Quest: Let’s Go – The Great Adventure (by the way, here you will find our preview of Dragon Quest: Dai – The Great Adventure), the first episode of the new Shaman King anime opens with one of the most important scenes of the manga, Anticipating the introduction of the main antagonist of the story for several episodes.: a very powerful shaman who lived a thousand years before the events told in the series and reincarnated as one of the two children born to the slender Asakura Keiko.
Fearing that one of the twins will harbor the soul of the evil ancestor. HaoWise householder Asakura Yohmei reluctantly attempts to kill both grandchildren, but a fatal moment of hesitation allows the first unborn child to summon the invincible Spirit of Fire to defend himself from his grandfather’s attack and disappear without a trace. A fatality, as we said, that Takei’s comic even referred to chapter 143, but that ultimately represented the triggering event of the whole story, since it indelibly traced the destinies that from that moment would touch both the protagonist Asakura Yoh than evil brother Hao.
The true story of Shaman King begins thirteen years later, when a deceased student bursts into the Saigan Temple cemetery in hopes of taking a shortcut and making it to high school on time. Short, bright and constantly dedicated to study, Oyamada Manta meets almost by chance the carefree Yoh, who already during their first meeting proves to be capable of to be able to converse with the spirits of the dead.
Terrified, the student decides to run away, but the next day poor Manta realizes that the strange boy she saw the night before is her new partner, who nevertheless pretends not to know him so as not to reveal his secret to the whole class. . Increasingly determined to discover the true identity of his partner, Manta decides to follow him and, once away from prying eyes, Yoh presents himself to him as a shaman, who is one of the individuals who they act as a link between the underworld and the afterlife.
In fact, the child can merge and possess the spirits of the deceased, which once inside their body allow them to temporarily exploit the skills and fighting techniques they possessed while still alive. That is exactly what happens with the spirit of Kubizuka Amidamaru, a legendary samurai who 600 years earlier was sentenced to be beheaded for killing numerous people, and who, following a curious chain of events, will decide to become a partner of Yoh himself in the next Shaman Fight.
An encouraging new beginning
By watching the first episode of Shaman King, the intention to modernize Takei’s work and simplify it as much as possible, without giving up make a faithful adaptation of the comic. Unsurprisingly, the staff wisely used the time available to unify the first two chapters of the manga, summarizing the basic passages and eliminating superfluous or even repetitive ones.
An operation that, judging by the title of the second episode, which suggests the exclusion of three entire chapters after all the “fillers”, we are sure that it will not be an isolated case at all. If on the one hand these authentic cuts go back to the need to contain the number of episodes and consequently the budget to allocate to the series, on the other hand there is the concrete possibility that the Bridge studio wants to give the story. a new and less ambiguous look. On the other hand, we are talking about a work that has been on its shoulders for more than two decades, and that already at the time struggled to take a clear and precise course, continuously altering and often unjustified the role of the secondary characters. In this sense, the choice to introduce the key figure of Asakura Hao, who will act as the main antagonist of the whole story, beforehand, could be successful, as the scene of his stormy resurrection. anticipates shocking revelations and potentially dramatic developments. A juicy appetizer of what is to come, and that therefore manages to capture the viewer’s attention and intrigue them about the fate of the twins from the first minutes of the vision.
Despite tweaks intended to make the script more serious, compelling, and above all smooth, the Shaman King remake However, he hasn’t given up on his original comic streak., which has always found its maximum expression in the funny character of Manta. Very briefly and promptly armed with a dictionary, the shy and cowardly high school student acts as a rational observer of events and being completely oblivious to spirits and shamanism, his reactions to the oddities that crowd Yoh’s world are exaggerated and funny as we remember them. Like the fights, the exchanges between the carefree Yoh and the rational Manta were one of the winning elements of the product.
If we feel more than satisfied with the work done on the script and on the characters, whose characterization has been perfectly respected, the elements that we currently have in our possession do not allow us to unbalance with judgments about the animations, also because this first episode does. make. sequences not present. particularly excited. On the other hand, the character design has already convinced us, such as the clean line of the Toshihiko Sano suits and reproduces with absolute precision the delicate features of the main actors, which instead appeared too raw and disproportionate in the television series produced in 2001.
The level of detail won’t be very high, but after all, Takei’s own drawing style has always been subdued, so much so that his characters seemed too thin and caricatured even on the most serious boards. Effective chiaroscuro and pleasant light effects all contribute to creating a pleasant and fascinating product, the quality of which is above average.
Nothing to complain about, for now, about the track dubbed into Japanese, which to the delight of historical fans involves the same vocal interpreters who participated in the 2001 anime. So far the only character that boasts a different voice is the Yoh himself, voiced this time by the talented Yoko Hikasa (Pitohui / Elsa Kanzaki in Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online). As we had hypothesized in our previous article, the new vowel combination seems much more correct than the previous one, since Hikasa has a youthful and calm tone and perfectly in keeping with the tones generally used by the gentle and calm Asakura Yoh.
If the opening and closing themes seemed less inspired to us than those that accompanied the previous television adaptation of Shaman King, the same cannot be said for the soundtrack composed by Yuuki Hayashi, which includes some somewhat attractive songs.