The Shaman King is back—and with some familiar and fresh, new spirits.
If you were a kid of the 2000s decade, then chances are you had and watched Cartoon Network on the TV growing up. Before the dawn of the Internet and Netflix, this was the one-stop channel for all your favorite shows, including some memorable anime series—like Shaman King.
Two decades later, our favorite gang of spirit-wielding, ball-breaking shamans are back with a fresh new look, but keeping the familiar spirit of both the original show and the manga…at least for now. But wait, maybe this is your first time hearing about this anime? Well…
Shaman King follows the adventures of teenager Yoh Asakura as he trains to become the titular Shaman King, who is crowned every 500 years during the Shaman Fight where shamans—beings who can communicate with invisible spirits and gods—battle it out for the title. It’s going to be another one heck of a journey as we reunite with the fun and colorful cast of Shaman King. So, are you ready for it?
Episode 1 plays out like the original show’s first ep save for a few tweaks. For one, we get a dramatic prologue to Yoh Asakura’s (voiced by Youko Hikasa) fated shaman journey and the introduction of the main antagonist—Hao Asakura, Yoh’s twin brother. It was a good move by the showrunners, especially so as to not throw off the first-time viewers and just to generally lay out the storyline.
We then meet our beloved small, I-won’t-take-any-BS sidekick Manta Oyamada (voiced by Inuko Inuyama) and his Big Spirit Skeptic energy was such a mood this entire episode. His VA was actually part of the original 2001 cast, so it’s remarkable how they are still able to capture the spirit (pun intended) of their characters. Expect more Manta Moods in the next episodes.
And of course, it would be absolutely criminal not to feature the legendary samurai Amidamaru (voiced by Katsuyuki Konishi). Yoh and Amidamaru’s spirit-possession looks so badass with the updated animation. The transitions are smoother, the colors sharper, and the fight sequences are definitely better—and funnier as we also meet the charismatically- cluttered Ryuunosuke Umemiya or Ryu (voiced by Masahiko Tanaka) and his unfortunately-chopped-off ‘do in this episode. Welp, that’s what you get for trashing Amidamaru’s grave.
What also makes the action extra thrilling and hair-raising is the musical score. If you have a good ear, then you might have recognized the trademark woodwinds and strings of Yuki Hayashi, famous for scoring intense and emotionally-charged moments in Haikyuu!! and My Hero Academia. Moreover, Megumi Hayashibara also returns to sing the series’ opening and ending themes. We won!
Overall, Shaman King returns in high spirits (last pun…for now). There’s a good mix of old and new, nostalgia and surprise elements. Surely, the showrunners hope to please the veterans with this fresh reboot as well as inspire a new generation of shamans. And with 52 episodes listed to date, y’all better hold onto your wooden swords and talismans because this show is not for the poor in spirit.
What did you think of this first episode? Are you a veteran shaman or a new one? Leave a comment down below!
Shaman King airs Thursdays at 17:55 JST. The first episode premiered on April 1.
Official Anime Website: shamanking-project.com
Official Anime Twitter: @SHAMANKING_PR