Voyage of the Shaman (Shaman King #9) ★★★☆½ (Manga Monday)

voyageoftheshaman (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: Voyage of the Shaman
Series: Shaman King #9
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh has broken Ren and Jun out from the dungeon their father has imprisoned them in. Ren insists he’s going to confront Yuan again and Yoh decides to go along. They make it back to the hall where they see both Horohoro and Ryu being defeated by one of Yuan’s super corpses. It is revealed to be Sha-wen, the old Master we met in an early volume. Jun appears with a fixed up Bai-Long and Bai-Long takes out his old master Sha-Wen quite easily.

Yuan comes crashing down on his throne and begins lecturing Ren and Jun and attacking everyone. Ryu and Horohoro cut his arms off but it has no effect on Yuan and he puts them back on and proceeds to demolish everybody. Ren finally has enough and everyone starts fighting with their “serious” faces on. Yuan reveals he’s been pulling a Wizard of Oz for years and then Ren’s mother and Grandfather show up. Everyone sits down for a merry family feast. For real. Ren is confirmed as the Tao heir and Yuan gives him some special family sword heirloom. Then everybody high tails it back to Tokyo for the next Shaman Fight.

All the Shamans assemble at an old Military base in Tokyo. Everyone is all chummy when some chump walks up and punches Horohoro through the porch. He introduces himself as Hao and says with absolute confidence that he is the future Shaman King. Hao reveals all the other shamans he’s already subverted and tells Yoh to survive so he can be a good servant once Hao is Shaman King.

The Patch reveals a jumbo jet will be taking everyone to the Patch Village “In America” (say that in your BEST Bandit Keith voice). Hao and his confederates begin talking amongst themselves and it becomes obvious that they have inside information about what is going to happen. Turns out that the “jumbo jet” is just an oversoul of the Patch officiants and they dematerialize at 40,000 ft and 700 miles from the Patch village. The test is to survive the fall and find the Patch village in 3 months.

Our group combines their oversouls to create a last second cushion that allows them to survive the fall. The volume ends with Our Gang now in American but clueless as to where to go.

 

My Thoughts:

The fight with Yuan and everyone else was pretty good. It quickly resolved into the ridiculous and the denouement was Yuan’s wife and father-in-law showing up with a table full of food for everyone. I was grinning like an idiot, because it fit, it really did. Unfortunately, the grandfather then goes on some philosophical spiel about good and evil being the same thing and all that mystical baloney. Have to admit, I wanted to shoot him for that. Let’s see him talk about good and evil while his guts are coming out of his back!

That Hao. Ugh, what a complete creep! He’s so obviously the bad guy that I hate him already. And the fact that he’s got an entourage and knows what is going to happen means underhanded skullduggery. Finally, we get a real badguy we can root against!

I was pretty happy with this volume. A good solid fight and the reveal of the slimey badguy. Oh, Dr Faust the 8th and his spirit Eliza show up at the end of volume falling through the air. A guy in a wheelchair cackling like mad at Our Gang (which is what I’m now going to use for the group we’ve come to know as the good guys) as they flail around at 40,000 ft. How perfect does THAT ridiculous image fit in this manga? It fits just right 😀

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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The Road to the Tao Stronghold (Shaman King #8) ★★★☆½

roadtothetaostronghold (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 Road to the Tao Stronghold
Series: Shaman King #8
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh and Ren conclude their fight to a draw. The Great Spirit declares they both get to advance and Tao joins the group that has coalesced around Yoh. Now that the prelims are over, the real tournament will begin in a month.

Yoh is confronted by BoZ the Rocking Monks, who are acting as lackeys for someone named Hao. Ryu appears and saves Yoh and cuts their hearse in half. Ryu is also a contestant in the Shaman Fight and now a shaman in his own right.

Ren heads home to confront his father. Jun had already done so during Ren’s fight with Yoh and the father Yuan, put her into his dungeons. Ren cuts through his father’s forces only to be crushed by one blow by Yuan and put into the same place as his sister.

Bason, Ren’s spirit cohort, escapes and begs Yoh and Co to come rescue Ren and Jun. Manta arranges transport and the gang all head to the ancestral home of the Tao’s. Horohoro and Ryu tell the others to go on while they take care of Yuan Tao’s special goon squad, a set of 5 suped up dead bodies, each a fusion of human and something else.

 

My Thoughts:

Ok, I felt cheated. While I figured out that Ren and Yoh would end up as friends, the “Great Spirit” declaring the draw as a win for both of them just felt like the manga-ka was taking the easy way out since he couldn’t figure out a way to reconcile Ren’s animosity with the need to make Ren and Yoh friends. Eh, whatever.

I find all the setup in this book pretty impressive. Yuan Tao is dang impressive, both physically (he “accidentally” crushes a panda bear he is petting) and psychically (not even Ren could have created the special hybrid creatures). Of course, it’s all overshadowed by this “Hao” character, whoever he is.

I like the group dynamic. Horoho with his enthusiasm coupled with Ryu’s humorous machismo works perfectly. I am really looking forward to their battle in the next book. Ren is going to make a great backbone to Yoh’s laidback stoner approach to life.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Clash at Mata Cemetery (Shaman King #7) ★★★☆½

clashatmatacemetery (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: Clash at Mata Cemetery
Series: Shaman King #7
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh and Ren begin their fight and Ren comes out very strong. Yoh evades but eventually Ren gets serious and pulls out a second ghost that integrates with Bason. Yoh learns a couple of things as Ren rants and rants and the book ends with Ren about to unleash everything he has onto Yoh.

A couple of side vignettes break up the fight,thankfully. Ren’s older sister Jun is talking to their father and begs him to release Ren from the course of becoming Shaman King. The Tao’s have a history of violent bloodshed and it is killing Ren inside to particpate in such a family tradition. He is coming to hate all Life and should he become Shaman King, he plans on wiping out humanity in a global apocalypse.

 

My Thoughts:

We now fully move on to the Super Special Named Power Moves!!!! Oh my goodness. Eye rolling. Its fun as long as you read through it fast enough. One page spreads of physical manifestations of powering up don’t quite have the same affect on me as they might on a teenage boy.

The one thing I really did enjoy about this volume was the almost continual references to Ren’s pointy hair. During one of the powerup times I think Manta makes a comment like “Look! He’s gotten even pointy’er!” It was a good light moment. I missed having Ryu involved, as he really brings the comedy.

Since this fight ends right in the middle, I’m diving into volume 8 right away. Hopefully that review goes up this week too.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Road Trip to Izumo (Shaman King #6) ★★★☆½ (Manga Monday)

roadtriptoizumo (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: Road Trip to Izumo
Series: Shaman King #6
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh and Faust conclude their match. Yoh tricks Faust into overextending his mana and manages to destroy Eliza’s corporeal form. This sends Faust into a rage and a monologue where we find out Faust’s history and that Eliza is actually his dead wife. Faust wants to become Shaman King to bring her back to life. Yoh uses up his mana to destroy Eliza and thus loses the match. Faust tries to kill Yoh even though the match is over. Yoh is saved by Ren Tao because Ren’s next fight is with Yoh.

Yoh realizes he simply isn’t powerful enough and so makes a trip to his hometown Izumo. There his grandfather sends him through a cave for a 7day journey in full sensory deprivation.

At the same time it is revealed that Monta is the heir to Japan’s largest Electronics company and his getting almost killed doesn’t sit real well with his family. His dad tries to bundle him to America but Monta decides last minute to not get on the plane and to go to Izumo He has the company of Wooden Sword Ryu who has decided that he wants Yoh’s grandfather to train him as a Shaman. They run into a young girl who is in training who can read the future through her spirit guides Conchi and Ponchi. C&P are dirty minded little tricksters who simply are bored. Anna shows up and takes control and straightens everything out.

Yoh comes forth from the cave much stronger but now has to finish his training with his Grandfather.

The book ends with Ren Tao talking about his family and how he wishes they all were dead.

 

My Thoughts:

I have a presentiment that most of the future “reviews” of Shaman King will consist more of the synopsis than anything else. That’s one of the pitfalls of a fighting shonen manga. The battles themselves become more important than the storyline. This hasn’t reached that level yet but the training, powering up, etc has begun in earnest and new tricks will be revealed in each book. It is expected now and thus plot will be taking a second seat.

The background of Monta was really odd, as him being a Magnates heir just doesn’t seem to fit him. Of course, him being just 12 somewhat mitigates that. Considering the Oyamada’s feelings about Yoh I suspect some drama will ensue in later books. OR they’ll just disappear and we’ll never see them again. There is certainly enough “family” drama going on what with the Asakuras and the Tao’s. Speaking of Ren Tao, his desire to be the Shaman King to end his family’s cycle of death and revenge seems a bit off too, as it did with Monta. Doing what they want doesn’t seem the way to oppose them. Definitely shows that he’s not invested emotionally in his family’s vendetta against “whomever”.

The little cartoon spirits of Conchi and Ponchi definitely reminded me of Ren & Stimpy. While I never watched that particular cartoon, my friends all did and I heard more than enough and saw more than enough. Their pairing with the shy and reserved Tamao, the future reader, is genius on the manga-ka’s part, as they don’t actually have to be that bad to look bad since they’re being compared to Tamao. She can barely talk she’s so shy. The manga-ka definitely is jumping around with his characters to find the right “comedic” character so we’ll see if these 2 make a splash or not.

I think next month I won’t be doing a volume every week. It was ok this month but honestly, it’s a bit much to keep it up. Well, I say that as I’m recovering from being sick so maybe when I’m healthy I’ll feel full of vim and vigor and say “Piss & Vinegar! Give me that manga!” I doubt it though.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Abominable Dr. Faust (Shaman King #5) ★★★☆½ (Manga Monday)

abominabledrfaust (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 Abominable Dr. Faust
Series: Shaman King #5
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh and Horohoro conclude their match as Horohoro buries Yoh in an avalanche. Only to have Yoh burst forth and pretty much K-O Horohoro. The Gang all celebrates Yoh’s win and Horohoro is part of the celebration. Ryu suddenly wants to be a shaman so he can have a cute spirit companion like Horohoro has. The reader is also introduced to Horohor’s trainer, his younger sister Pirka, who is just as unreasonable as Anna.

Yoh finds out his next fight will be in a graveyard. Silva learns from Kalim (both of whom are Patch Officiants) that Yoh’s next opponent is a psychopath who murdered at least one other contestant, if not more already. For whatever reason this did not disqualify said contestant.

Manta and Yo meet the contestant, a German doctor by the name of Dr Faust the VIII, a direct descendant of the original Faust, who was also in the last Shaman Fight but lost. Faust can raise the dead and is interested in all things medical. He kidnaps Manta and cuts him wide open in front of Yoh but the Shaman Fight starts before he finishes whatever he is doing.

Faust sends legions of reassembling skeletons against Yoh and forces him to use up most of his mana. Faust then reveals his own oversoul, named Eliza who takes on the form of a Nurse who proceeds to slice and dice Yoh. Silva arrives at the battle and tries to convince Yoh to concede to save his own life. Anna also shows up and tells Silva such questions are pointless as Yoh will never concede.

The book ends with the showdown between a barely alive Yoh and Eliza coming to its conclusion.

 

My Thoughts:

If you’ve read any kind of shonen manga before, this will be a walk down familiar territory. Happy go lucky opponents become good friends. A dastardly evil to be faced. A companion who is the weak link. The plucky hero who is full of grit and determination to save his friend and fulfill his dream. This volume has it in spades.

There is a LOT of exposition going in during the battle with both Horohoro and Faust. Faust is almost a bloody blabbermouth, as he isn’t physically fighting while controlling the skeletons. He gives a lot of information to the readers and it would be tiresome if it weren’t so bloody informative. Thankfully, the manga-ka also knows when to break up the blabbing with the fighting. Also, skeleton babe nurse with a huge scythe? Yeah, that’ll do it for most guys.

I think this volume sets the pace for the whole series. One fight concluding, some “stuff” to further the overall Shaman Fight, most likely to do with the Patch Tribe, another contestant introduced and a fight beginning, with Yoh obviously over-matched, Anna and Manta will make witty banter, comical asides or protestations of eternal belief in the ability of Yoh then the book will end just when things get good.

The title of this volume seems to be in the vein of the 70’s camp horror movie The Abominable Dr. Phibes. I’m not sure if that is actually the case, but no other obvious link springs up. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if Faust the 8th is in the Fight because of someone he loved dying.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Over Soul (Shaman King #4) ★★★☆½ (Manga Monday)

oversoul (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 Over Soul
Series: Shaman King #4
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

The Patch Tribe have been the overseers for the Shaman Fight for quite some time. Their connection to the Great Spirit allows them to determine if a Shaman is capable of being part of the Shaman Fight. Silva and 9 other Patch overseers are sent to Japan to test various candidates and weed out the failures before hand.

Silva tests Yoh and all Yoh has to do is touch Silva. However, Silva manifests his spirits through totems and his mana (chi) gives them physical form, thus preventing Yoh from simply flinging Amidamaru at him. The test is to determine if Yoh can actually channel his own mana and what strength as a shaman he has. Yoh figures out how to manifest Amidamaru using his sword and is able to land one blow on Silva. Yoh now has a genuine Patch Pager Oracle, which will tell him who to fight, when to fight and any conditions.

Ren Tao also defeats his overseer, but kills the guy. The overseer was a friend of Silva and Silva can’t figure out why Ren is still allowed to continue in the Shaman Fight even though he has demonstrated he is a little psychopathic killer. The rest of the Overseers basically tell Silva to shut up and do what they say.

Yoh has his first fight against a young shaman named Horohoro, who uses a snowboard as his totem. Horohoro has a dream to make all mankind live in harmony with nature and Yoh almost gives up to allow him to proceed. Thankfully, Anna is there and smacks him around and he gets back on track. But now he has his own dream, of living the easy life, and of making Horohoro’s dream come true. The fight is just beginning when the volume ends.

 

My Thoughts:

I dropped this a half star for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, while harmony with nature has been chatted up before, here it felt like a date. I too have a dream. To pave the entire planet. I wish more people WOULD get out into nature, REAL nature, not the fake stuff you have around cities and suburbs. Then maybe all those people would die and everyone else would realize how terrible nature is and how it should be conquered.

Second, the whole Patch tribe and the Great Spirit schtick. There is a 2 page long talk about how the Great Spirit is the supreme being of the entire universe but that it can’t actually foresee the future, blah, blah, blah. It is a bunch of nonsense (in that it really makes no sense and contradicts itself) and is so amorphous that Takei (the manga-ka) can use it as he wishes. Also, the vibes given off by the Patch Overseers is rather tyrannical.

But if you don’t overanalyze things and just let those things drift on by, this was a lot of fun. Yoh is learning new things and picking up new allies, maybe without even realizing it. His Entourage was already started with Anna, Manta and Ryu but now he has made friends with Silva and I’m pretty sure he and Horohoro become good friends. A King needs allies.

The Patch are obviously going to be involved way more than just as Overseers. The whole thing between Silva and the others over the death of his friend showed clearly that the Patch are just as human as any of the shamans. Thus they have their own agendas and schisms. I suspect corruption and collusion at some point in the narrative to help drive the drama.

I think the most amusing part of this volume was when Horohoro finds out that Anna and Yoh are engaged. He starts feeling inferior because he doesn’t even have a girlfriend. It made me laugh because it is SO how a boy would think.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Lizard Man (Shaman King #3) ★★★★☆ (Manga Monday)

lizardman (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 Lizard Man
Series: Shaman King #3
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Wooden Sword Ryu and gang continue to look for their happy place. They find an abandoned bowling alley where Ryu sees Anna and falls in love. When he finds out she is Yoh’s fiance, everything comes crashing down for him as Yoh was the one who cut off Ryu’s pompadour AND broke his sword. This leaves Ryu open to be possessed by a bandit ghost that Amidamaru killed 600 years ago.

After lots of blathering, Yoh lets the ghost, one Tokagero, possess him to see what trust is all about. Tokagero has a change of heart and lets Ryu go. Ryu and gang clean up the inn where Yoh is staying as payment and Ryu’s latent shaman powers are released. Unfortunately, without a spirit OR a trainer, he’s left on his own. He asks the stars for a sign and a comet suddenly appears blazing across the sky.

The comet is one of a pair that herald the start of the fight for the title of Shaman King. We get a shot across the world of various shamans gazing at the comet and the book ends with Ren Tao claiming that he will be the Shaman King no matter what.

 

My Thoughts:

This volume relied almost completely on the Friendship trope in manga. Yoh and Amidamaru are as strong as they are because of their friends and even Ryu has friends to help him out. Once the nasty bad Tokagero realizes just how lonely he was, suddenly he’s alright once someone shows him some friendship. In one sense it was eye-rollingly corny but at the same time you can see the truth behind the trope. Friendships have allowed people throughout history to go beyond themselves and to do things they didn’t think they could. The flipside to that is that no one can hurt you more than a friend can.

Ryu moves up from a bit character to someone with shaman capabilities which means he is now part of The Team. It is fun to watch as people move into Yoh’s orbit without him even trying.

I also have to say that after reading this volume and still enjoying it so much that I’m going to be reading a volume every week and putting out a Manga Monday post each week for at least this month. Just so you know so you can avoid them or pay particular attention, depending on which way your interests lay.

Finally, that cover. That is just plain ridiculous and yet it captures the essence of the story told. Ridiculous AND funny at the same time.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)