[Manga Monday] Epilogue (Shaman King #20) ★★★☆½

Epilogue (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Epilogue
Series: Shaman King #20
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 210
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh convinces Anna to attend a public New Years Festival with him. Anna is overcome by all the emotions and ends up creating a Giant Demon, one that is intelligent. Matamune knew this was going to happen and prepared himself for the fight of a life. The demon tricks him though and kidnaps Anna to force her to create more spirits it can consume to become even bigger. Matamune has used up most of his power fighting the demon so it is up to Yoh to rescue Anna.

Matamune integrates with Yoh to give him enough power to overcome the demon. In doing so, he gives up all his power which sustained his physical body. Matamune is now a ghost. Anna realizes that there is more than just hate in the world, since Yoh is risking his life and Matamune is sacrificing his, for her. She takes back control of her power and Yoh is able to destroy the demon. Anna realizes she must learn to control her powers at all times and stops hating Yoh.

We jump forward in time back to the Shaman Fight. Yoh realizes he’s broken his promise to both Anna and Matamune but Anna reminds him that his real goal has always been to defeat Hao, even though he didn’t realize it. Becoming Shaman King was just a way to do that. Now Yoh must accomplish this goal on his own.

Lady Jeanne and the X-Laws are reviving Ren Tao but one of the X-Laws is planning on killing Ren again as soon as Ren show any aggression against them. Manta and Ryu are worried and head over to where the ceremony is taking place.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a good flashback storyline but it feels incredibly awkward to have it happen while Yoh is bowing out of the Shaman Fight. It’s a tossup I guess.

However, I totally saw the whole thing with the X-Laws coming. Lady Jeanne will keep the letter of the law but they want Ren dead so the X-Laws will become the hypocrites we know they are. I have to admit, it really bugs me that the manga-ka is focusing so much on how evil the X-Laws are. It comes across more as “Anyone who claims to want to follow the laws and enforce the laws is automatically a scumbag deep inside and if they had the power they’d just be tyrants”. It is almost like the manga-ka can’t figure out how to show how bad Hao is, so he’s using another team opposing Hao and saying “See, Hao is even worse than these guys”. The X-Laws should be paragons of Justice and circumventing their own rules on technicalities isn’t what Justice is about.

The intro by the manga-ka said there would be 2 more volumes in this “Epilogue” arc, so I’m guessing a lot of setup is going to happen for Yoh somehow opposing Hao outside of the Shaman Fight. But I could be completely wrong. When Yoh resigned from the Shaman Fight to save Ren, that just threw everything out the window as far as my expectations went.

Sometimes that is ok!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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[Manga Monday] Mt Osore le Voile (Shaman King #19) ★★★★☆

MtOsoreleVoile (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
Mt Osore le Voile
Series: Shaman King #19
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 210
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh gives up the Shaman King fight to save Ren. The X-Laws begin to work on Ren to save his life and we begin a flashback sequence about Yoh and Anna.

Things start out with Yoh finding out the Asakura’s have found a bride for him and the introduction of Matamune, a clan spirit of a cat that had been serving the Asakura’s for a millennium. Yoh accidentally meets Anna outside an inn and she tells him to die. Quite the auspicious start. Then Yoh is attacked by a demon and once at the shrine, he is snubbed by Anna and told by Matamune that Anna bears a curse.

Turns out Anna creates demons whenever she goes outside and has no control over them. Yoh meets her at a souvenir shop and another demon appears. He grabs a sword to protect Anna and somehow she makes it disappear.

While this is going on Matamune and Yoh’s grandmother are talking and reveal Matamune was a former spirit ally of the original Hao and then turned on Hao in the previous Shaman Fight. This act of betrayal, while saving the world, has haunted Matamune and kept him from crossing over. It is revealed that Hao was an empath and that is why he turned bad. Anna is an empath who can read minds and without help from Matamune and the Asakura’s she’ll turn out as bad as Hao.

Yoh breaks the dam of ice around Anna’s heart with his heartfelt desire to be friends and they watch a music program ringing in the new year. The first steps along the path of their friendship have begun.

 

My Thoughts:

This had a lot of emotional content. Yoh placing the life of his friend Ren before his desire to become Shaman King, even before defeating Hao really showed us the readers what Yoh truly valued.

I was a little bit pissed off at the beginning when it went straight to flashback land, but the story of how Yoh and Anna met and how they became what they are today was very touching. Anna was a tragic heroine destined to be consumed by her own ability and while Matamune was brought on board to help train her, it took Yoh’s true compassion for her as a person to help her make the first step in breaking free. She couldn’t believe in herself until someone else showed her they believed in her.

Now that Yoh has given up in the Shaman Fight I am REALLY interested to see how Takei continues the storyline. I suspect shenanigans of some sort will be pulled to get Yoh back in or something. This is a fighting shonen manga after all so the battles can’t be over.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

[Manga Monday] The Mask Restored (Shaman King #18) ★★★☆½

maskrestored (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
The Mask Restored
Series: Shaman King #18
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh saves Team Ren from being annihilated by the minions Hao. The corrupt Patch officiant orders the rest of the minions to attack but they refuse when Ryu and Faust show up. Ren appears to be so far gone that not even Faust can save him. Yoh foresaw this possibility and dispatched Manta to get Lady Jean of the X-Laws. Unfortunately, while willing to help Ren, Lady Jean’s terms are that Yoh must withdraw from the fight.

At the same time Anna and Co are confronted by a trio of shaman fighters. Anna tells Jun Tao to deal the trio and Bailong shows the fruits of his training. Tricks ensue on both sides. Anna leaves the fight to escort 2 young shamans to their fight. Turns out their dad was killed on Christmas Eve 3 years ago for the presents he was taking home. That means it was Jocco who did it. Drama is definitely going to ensue.

While Anna is escorting the 2 young shamans, Tamao and Jun face the Witch trio and are overwhelmed. Only the timely appearance of Mikihisa (Yoh’s dad) saves the day and he explains the power of the young shamans and how terrible it is.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this more than the previous volume. This had a good bit more fighting and while there was still a LOT of exposition, it was mixed into the fights instead of the characters standing around.

It would appear that Yoh accepts Lady Jean’s terms to save Ren and that pisses off Horohoro for some reason. He and Jocco stomp off and it is pretty obvious they’re going to have fight the young shamans Anna is shepherding at some point.

The end of the volume with Mikihisa lecturing all the girls and pretending to be their dad made me grin. He gives them little slaps while dispensing “dad” advice. Of course, the Witch trio don’t listen to him and attack him. Too bad for them!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

[Manga Monday] The Shamanic Oracle (Shaman King #17) ★★★☆☆

shamanicoracle (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Shamanic Oracle
Series: Shaman King #17
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

The Asakura’s and the Tao’s have a meeting to discuss what is happening with the rise of Hao. Yoh’s parents prepare to give the Tao’s their super secret sauce, errrr, special magic moves so that Ren can be powerful enough to fight alongside Yoh as an equal. Mr Tao is an ass and challenges Mr Asakura to prove himself. Mr A says “bring it” and the fight begins.

Yoh admits to his friends that Hao is so powerful that it is impossible for any shaman to overcome him. Yoh is not daunted and won’t let his friends despair. Ren is out walking with his team when Mr A attacks them. Ren is his typical arrogant self and Mr A has to teach him some manners. They end up having a barbeque together. Yoh sure didn’t fall far from the proverbial tree. Mr A reveals that everything is up to the kids because the adults have reached their limits and only the kids can still “grow”.

Hao lets his followers know that he intends a great cleansing once he becomes Shaman King, a global cleansing.

Two Patch officiants show up with a defeated Shaman, who is now Hao’s minion and while not directly attacking Mr A (who it turns out is a member in the Shaman fight), sic the defeated shaman on him to delay him so he can’t participate in his fight, thus automatically losing it. Another defeated shaman group also attack Yoh and Anna.

Team Ren is wiped out and their will broken with knowledge of their own low mana scores. Yoh shows up just as they’re about to be killed and the volume ends.

 

My Thoughts:

Lots and lots and lots of talking. The few bits of fighting were so buried between exposition that it didn’t engage me at all.

BLAH.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

[Manga Monday] Trust No One (Shaman King #16) ★★★☆½

trustnoone (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Trust No One
Series: Shaman King #16
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Ren has an encounter with Hao and Hao invites him to join his team. Ren attacks Hao, who easily stops it and destroys the very weapon that Ren was using, all without visible means or even an oversoul. The encounter leaves Ren very shaken.

Yoh seeks out Lyserg and lets him know that he holds no hard feelings against Lyserg for joining the X-Laws. Apparently Lyserg broke curfew to see Yoh and the other X-Laws catch him. Marco deals harshly with Lyserg and prepares to pit himself against Yoh, until the Iron Maiden intervenes, telling the X-Laws that Yoh is not a minion of Hao’s. She invites Yoh to join the X-Laws and he refuses. This sets off Marco and Yoh has to threaten him just to leave.

We are introduced to one new team, who we don’t even see fight, as they finished their match so quickly. Then things get interesting as one of Hao’s group is set to fight and it includes Hao himself. Opposing them is one of the X-Law splinter groups, X-III. Hao sends his minions off and X-III attacks him with their 3 angels. Hao kills one of them immediately. X-III was sacrificial lambs, meant to find out about Hao so the future X-Law teams could exploit that knowledge and defeat Hao. Hao toys with the remaining X-III and kills them too, revealing nothing but how incredibly powerful he is. After winning the fight, Hao then resurrects the souls of the fallen X-III and feeds them to his oversoul of Fire. Hao is evil.

Yoh reveals to his team mates that Hao is an Asakura and that this fight has been going on for a 1000 years. One of the Patch Officiants is also a descendant of Hao and he has vowed to stop Hao. He get some secret video and is seen by 2 other Patch officiants. Yoh reveals a bombshell that Yoh isn’t just an ancestor but is actually his twin brother. Yoh’s father revealed this all to him and now Yoh is telling his team mates so they won’t be blindsided later on in the Shaman Fight.

It turns out that Yoh was born with a twin, who Hao chose to reincarnate in. Yoh’s grandparents tried to stop this from happening, but with no success. Now it is up to Yoh to stop Hao, impossible as that may seem.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, I did NOT see that bombshell about Hao coming, not one tiny bit. Thinking about it though, I’m not sure it actually changes anything. Hao is still an evil son of a gun bent on world domination and it is up to Yoh to stop him. The fights that Hao were in with the X-III’s really show just how evil he is. His soul is rotten to the core.

There was a lot of talking going on in this volume and not much fighting. Even the previous volume had more fighting. I’m here for the fighting so I’m hoping things ramp up next volume, or I’m going to be very disappointed.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

[Manga Monday] Northern Pride (Shaman King #15) ★★★☆½

northernpride (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Northern Pride
Series: Shaman King #15
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Volume opens with Dr Faust VIII watching over Manta who had fainted at the brutality of the last battle. Faust tells Manta that Team Funbari (Yoh’s team) is up next and Manta gets all worried. Next we cut to Team Funbari who are letting off steam at a restaurant in various ways. Yoh reveals that he’s confident enough in the training they’ve done that he thinks he can take the next team single handedly. Team Ren then has a little run in with Team Icemen, who are Yoh’s next opponents. The Icemen show off a bit and then leave the restaurant.

The battle begins and Yoh reveals his big sword. Ohhhhh myyyyy. He tries to be friendly but the Icemen are having none of it and immediately attack Faust as the weak link. Faust shows how he’s powered up by calling forth a gigantic demon version of his beloved Eliza. Team Icemen then attack Yoh but Ryu steps in and shows the burning power of friendship and literally melts their ice attack.

Eventually Yoh sets his team mates aside and lets the Icemen attack him directly. When he survives, they realize they simply don’t have a chance. Yoh invites them to try again, not to win but so that they can lose with the pride of knowing they gave it their all. They accept and Yoh unleashes the new Amidamaru against them and destroys their attack. The connotation being that the Icemen used up all their mana in their final attack and since it didn’t work, they lose.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a much shorter battle than I was expecting. It felt more like a showcase for the new and improved powers of Faust, Ryu and Yoh. The pride of the leader of the Icemen kept them from realizing how friendly Yoh was trying to be. It wasn’t until the very end that the truth sunk in. Which was what Yoh was trying to do. He didn’t want to create enemies as he climbed up the ladder to become Shaman King so he does what he can to show his opponents that they are not truly his enemies. Thankfully, the Icemen got the message. I suspect other teams later on won’t care or won’t believe it.

I think the fight is over, but it didn’t explicitly show the Icemen officially losing. So I’m holding off judgement until the next volume. With only 32 volumes Takei can’t stretch the fights out into Dragon Ball Z territory, thankfully!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

[Manga Monday] The Tortured Princess (Shaman King #14) ★★★★☆

torturedprincess (custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Tortured Princess
Series: Shaman King #14
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Joco’s back story continues. His new master, Olona, wants to make the world a better place through laughter and comedy. But Joco’s old gang doesn’t want to let him go and beats up Olona. Since Joco now controls Mic the Jaguar, Olona is defenseless. Olona tells Joco that he has an incurable disease and that he would rather die at the hands of the gang members than see Joco resort to violence and death to save him. The gang kills Olona and the story reverts back to the present.

Joco shows a new move against Tecolote and immobilizes all his bone dolls with terrible jokes. He uses up his mana but gives Ren the opening he needs to move against Tecolote. He and Bason, his spirit ally, blow Tecolote away with one smashing blow and everyone see’s that Ren’s mana has increased exponentially. Hao, who is watching, comments that maybe it will be worthwhile to recruit Ren later on.

We get a cut scene of Lyserg, now one of the X-Laws, along with Marco the nominal leader of the X-Laws, unloading an Iron Maiden encased in chains.

The next Shaman fight starts, between one of the X-Law sub-groups, X-1 and Team Nile, an Egyptian themed group. Lyserg is now part of X-1 and takes on the challenge of fighting Team Nile all by himself. Marco and the Iron Maiden step aside and leave everything to Lyserg. Ryu is crushed that Lyserg has joined the X-Laws but Our Gang is cheering him on anyway. However, Lyserg has fully drunk the X-Law kool-aid and threatens to kill Team Nile. They refuse to surrender and continue the fight. Lyserg can’t bring himself to kill them and so Marco and Jeanne, the Iron Maiden step in. Jeanne unleashes her power and eventually kills each member of Team Nile as punishment for not surrendering to her.

The volume ends with Yoh realizing that an X-Law member as the Shaman King will result in an age of tyranny and blood and he vows that he will become the Shaman King to stop such a thing from happening.

 

My Thoughts:

Yeah! I like fighting and I get it in spades here. Thankfully, the manga-ka leavens the action scenes with humor, so things haven’t descended into dark, gloomy angst. For instance, when Iron Maiden Jeanne comes out of the iron maiden, both Ryu and Yoh exclaim “she’s hot!” and the picture shows Anna putting her hand over Yoh’s eyes. I’d definitely include that scene here but the digital version I’m reading is a pdf and I don’t know how to extract a particular image from a pdf.

Between Marco and Jeanne, we get a pretty good idea of just what the X-Laws intend. A world of Law without mercy and death as the final sentence for any infraction. It is very harsh and unforgiving. Unfortunately, the manga-ka takes the cheap and easy route and portrays them as simply Hao-lite because their Justice ends in death. The thing is, Justice is about death. Only when Justice is paired with Mercy can death be avoided. There is just lots to go into with all of that and just like his handling of the “great spirit” philosophy, Takei neatly sidesteps any deeper thoughts to paint the X-Laws as no better than Hao. Sigh…

Thankfully, while talking about that took up a whole paragraph in this review, it doesn’t play nearly so big a part in this volume and now that Takei’s gotten it out of his system, I’m hoping we won’t see a repeat of this particular shallow philosophy. I do expect to get lots of philosophy-lite as each new group appears though.

This was a good ending place for the month, as a battle is concluded and no other one has started. I’m thinking I’ll try to find a good ending volume each month to conclude on, as long as it doesn’t run over 5 volumes.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)