Shaman King Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 70
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Shaman King

Shaman King Vol. #02

By Chris Beveridge     October 25, 2004
Release Date: October 19, 2004


Shaman King Vol. #02
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Contains 3 fully UNCUT episodes!

Perfect Possession
Part two of a two-parter: A rematch between Yoh and Lenny is also a battle between two Shaman philosophies. Yoh believes your guardian ghost is your friend and the stronger your bond, the more powerful the team. On the other side, Lenny believes in a master-servant relationship and requires compete and total compliance from his guardian ghost.

A Precocious Shaman
Yoh's friend, Anna, a spirit medium, comes to town and takes over his training regimen. When they were little, she saved Yoh's life and he promised that if he became Shaman King, she could be his Shaman Queen. She's come to protect her interests and her task-master style makes Marine Boot-camp seem like a stroll in the park.

The Kung-Fu Master
Part one of a two-parter: Morty drags everyone to see a movie starring his favorite Kung-Fu hero, Lee Pai-Long, who disappeared mysteriously 17 years ago. Meanwhile, June decides to take Amdiamaru from Yoh and give him as a gift to her brother, Lenny. When Yoh refuses to hand over Amidamaru, June reveals her secret weapon, the zombie ghost of none other than the great Lee Pai-Long. And Yoh and Amidamaru are no match for this zombie kung fu master.

The Review!
Shaman King moves forward with a resolution to the first story arc and then starts on really expanding its universe.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show sports a pretty solid stereo mix that makes good use for the forward soundstage both in terms of dialogue and for action effects. The music track fills the stereo channels well but during the action sequences the sound effects from there produce some good directionality at times and sound solid. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either language track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2001, this series is presented in its original full frame format. The transfer here looks really good for the bulk of the show with some very smooth looking colors that avoid any noticeable color gradation issues as well as cross coloration. There's some minor aliasing going on in a few scenes with some fast panning motion but that's fairly minimal. The color palette is fairly rich and mixes with some rather detailed backgrounds in a number of scenes giving the show a very lush feel at times. There's a touch of blockiness in a few areas throughout the three episodes but that's with the upconversion set so it's not visible at all without it.

Packaging:
The cover for this release looks decent with a Tao Len taking the center stage with the graveyard motif and letting his spirit take up the misty styled background. The clean artwork and bold colors contrast nicely with it and the layout, while pretty standard, works well here. The back cover works similar with a larger view of the graveyard and a bigger shot of Amidamaru while listing the volumes episode numbers and titles. The summary isn't any more than one explanatory line and it's amusing that they list the Japanese language and subtitles as a bonus feature but that they also list the English dub as a bonus feature. Unfortunately there are no volume numbers listed anywhere so the episode numbers is the only way to tell where you are. While we did get an insert with the first volume and found it pretty useless, we didn't get one here so it's one less piece of paper to shred.

Menu:
The menu layout for this release is very simple and straightforward with a static menu that has a shot of a graveyard with a hazy blue backdrop to it and the image of Tao Len's spirit of choice along one side while the selections and series logo is on the other, all set to a brief loop of instrumental music from the show. Access times are nice and fast and the layout very simple and easy to navigate as there's nothing here but the show itself really. Our language presets failed completely due to improper labeling of the tracks on the disc. The Japanese language track is given *** instead of JPN and there are three English subtitle tracks; a dubtitle, a true subtitle and a sign/song track. The dubtitle track is listed first as ENG so it got picked up instead.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the first volume of Shaman King got us interested in the show, it didn't exactly grab us and have us jumping up and down to put the second volume in right away. Part of that is attributable to the fact that we've read the first couple of volumes of the manga so this loses some of its newness flavor since we've experienced aspects of this already. With each volume of episodes though we get further along and newer material shows up so hopefully we'll end up getting into it a bit more.

With this second batch of episodes, we get some decent episodes that forward things nicely while still keeping what makes the show fun to watch. The arc dealing with Tao Len hasn't ended exactly but it's taking a break for each side to recover from Yoh's use of the Perfect Possession. His use of that in the fight against Tao Len certainly has its toll on him and it's kept him out of business briefly. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't get to recover well from it as when he comes to eventually, someone new is waiting for him. While he's not terribly surprised, it comes as a shock to Manta that the young woman named Anna who is there is Yoh's fiance.

Anna brings that hardass kind of charm that only some women can manage to the show. She's not exactly pleased by her intendeds performance in general with his training to become the Shaman King nor is she all that impressed with his ability to deal with Tao Len. Anna's got her own set of skills when it comes to dealing with the spirits as well, so when Manta suggests that Yoh try using Amidamaru to escape from her initially, there's a great moment where she's already realized what he intends to do and has easily captured poor Amidamaru with her beads. That alone gives a good idea of her skill level and things she can do which helps to make her more than the typical fiance/girlfriend type that has no abilities at all other than her ability to yell. Anna's got this less than subtle superiority and tone that indicates that she must be obeyed that's played well in both languages.

Anna rides pretty hard on Yoh which is something he definitely needed. While Manta's been good for giving Yoh something in the form of motivation, Yoh's still very much a laid back slacker so he's not really up to doing a lot other than just hanging around. But with Anna around now, she's got him running a mean regiment, doing all sorts of activities that mix in exercises that he's unaware of and generally working as a manager of sorts for him. She also brings in some amount of money now that the trio seems to be together a lot more but she's quite frugal as well. There's an amusing episode that focuses on a former martial artist in the movies named Pai-Long that she ends up taking them to see, initially against her will, but it's something that works towards enhancing Yoh's training.

In between the look at the first volume and this one, we've managed to find out a bit more about the language controversy. With our very limited (and I do mean limited) knowledge of Japanese I wasn't going to speak out on it until I could get a bit more information about it. From what we're hearing is that this is one of those rare strange cases but one that needs some tweaking to be really right. With this bilingual release, the dub was redone from the TV version to be more authentic. The dub script is very accurate and very close to the original Japanese script. Since they were so close, they opted to create a script for the Japanese track by taking the English dub script, changing the names where necessary, and using that. Some of it for some reason includes close captioned sound information as well which doesn't make sense. Some of the timing is either slightly off or there's a couple of pieces, usually the CC material, that doesn't fit at all. But from what we hear, by and large the subtitle script is something like 95% accurate.

That doesn't mean that that is fine. I'd hope that FUNimation will take notice of this and try to fix future volumes (since there ARE a lot of volumes left to go) before the series gets too far. These first two volumes are quite good in a lot of areas but just fixing a couple of minor things – things that will help people like 4Kids slowly untarnish their reputation – and they'll be even better. Fixing the subtitles and giving us a full bilingual credit list and this release will definitely do that.

In Summary:
The second installment of Shaman King brings some fun new elements into play in the form of Anna as well as giving Tao Len someone else to deal with. There are some really good spirit fight sequences in this volume as well as some progress on the larger plot of getting Yoh into training for what he's really shooting for. Slowly but surely the cast is growing and growing on you, though I still find Manta pretty darn creepy. This release has a few issues to it, similar to the first, that we hope get worked out as the releases continue to come out though.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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