There is the chance that you may have seen this one already on the FoxBox or in some of the video game incarnations that have already been released, but SHAMAN KING is the newest Shonen Jump series to be released here in America. Following directly behind the footsteps of the ever popular YU-GI-OH and YU-YU-HAKUSHO, SHAMAN KING looks to be the type of experience that even non-fans of the genre may find themselves enjoying.
Based on the manga by Takei Hiroyuki, SHAMAN KING has gained rapid success due to its inclusion in one of Fox's weekday afternoon slots. Of course, the episodes that run on Fox are edited, while the ones that we have on this disc are uncut and unedited (including the original Japanese opening and closing).
In SHAMAN KING, we are presented with the character Yoh Asakura, who we come to find out is a Shaman King in training. Being a shaman, Yoh is able to allow ghosts and spirits to channel through his body and perform some pretty cool moves. His problem is that he is pretty lazy and laid back. His new friend, nerdy Morty Manto (Manta in the Japanese version), can also see these ghosts (you have to be a "good guy" to see the ghosts). After Yoh convinces Morty that the ghosts aren't really bad people, they team up to help Yoh find his Guardian, who takes the form of a 600-year old samurai by the name of Amidamaru. Everything seems to be going great until the trio run into Tao Len, whose intentions to become the only shaman in Tokyo are interrupted when he meets Yoh.
The disc itself seems to be a pretty good release. The Japanese opening and closing will obviously garner praise from fans that believe the originals shouldn't be touched, and I was really impressed by the subtitling and dubbing of the show. The subtitles are a pretty faithful translation of the Japanese dub, and the American dub script sticks pretty close to the original. There are only a few minor changes here and there, but overall, this is one of the better translated shows I've seen in a while.
The dub itself is pretty good. 4Kids Entertainment is normally pretty good picking out its voice actors (unlike FUNimation, who partnered with 4Kids for the DVD release). While I normally prefer the Japanese voice track to the American one, the two are very similar and I like what I hear. I wish more anime dubs were done as well as this one.
The show itself is pretty interesting. While there are only three episodes per disc (which does irritate me a little), you should be able to find the DVD for less than what the retail price states. I do question the lack of credits though, for the Japanese or English release. It's really quite mystifying.
Overall, SHAMAN KING is a nice entry into the world of anime. I would like to see another episode or two on each volume down the road, but overall, is a fun show with interesting style elements.