Manga nutcracker #7 – Shaman King
“lazy boy, gifted with the ability to see ghosts dreams of becoming the next Shaman King”
Shaman King is the story of Yoh Asakura, a laid back 14 year old shaman, told from the perspective of his genius classmate, Manta Oyamada.
While running very late, Manta takes a shortcut through a cemetery in the hope of catching his train. There he meets Yoh, who is gazing nonchalantly at the stars for a ghost.
To his surprise, Yoh invites Manta to join him “and everybody else” in watching the stars. The “everybody else” being the cemetery’s actual ghostly inhabitants!
Causing a terrified Manta to run away…
Here we discover that Yoh is a shaman, newly arrived in Tokyo to train for the big “Shaman Fight”, a competition held every 500 years. The winner will be crowned the Shaman King and be granted the incredible power to control the “Great Spirit”, thereby deciding the course of the world for the next 500 years!
Manta, although human, has the ability to see ghosts too. This shared gift forges a strong bond between the two boys, with Yoh believing that anyone who has spiritual powers is a good guy.
Throughout his journey, Yoh encounters many friends and foes, who either help or impede his goals, with the most help coming from the ghost of a dead samurai, Amidamaru!
With my love of nostalgic, 90’s manga, I have to say the Shaman King was a hit to me! With stylized strong line art, shadow blocking, coupled with expertly delivered comedy, Shaman King visually stands-out with lots of personality in its graphics.
Yoh’s starts strong with power, knowledge and ability to fight back and defend himself, compared to other main protagonist in the shounen genre that start weak and grow stronger through their trials.
A departure from the standard form of manga storytelling, Hiroyuki Takei took the bold decision to narrate the story from the point of view of the secondary character, Manta. A rare special event in shounen manga, we are offered the chance share the thoughts of Manta and his opinion of the extraordinary Yoh.
The story is set in a human world, revolving around the story of special people, very powerful Shamans. We can surmise the presence of Manta, in his function as narrator. Being the only human, Manta’s role is the reflection of the readers and their bridge to this fantastical world.
A regular odd couple, Yoh’s carefree attitude is in stark contract to Manta’s serious outlook, providing much of the comedy in this hilarious manga.
Also in contrast to the regular rules of shounen manga is Yoh’s “hero journey”. Where we are used to watching our protagonists grow in both strength and understanding, we are introduced to an already great and powerful shaman balanced by a funny and normal secondary character. This daring ability to bend the rules not only makes Shaman King the incredible page turner it is, it shows us that manga is indeed, a fertile ground of endless possibilities.
“So Manta is like a Ninja! He is taking the place of the readers! Just like me!”
What do you like about Shaman King?
Do you think Manta’s role is necessary or not for this manga?
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