Shaman King Vol. #07 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59116-996-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Shaman King Vol. #07

By Eduardo M. Chavez     October 14, 2005
Release Date: September 06, 2005

Shaman King Vol.#07
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takei Hiroyuki
Translated by:Lillian Olsen
Adapted by:

What They Say

Yoh's spiritual journey into the caves of Izumo has boosted his mana and his confidence - and just in time, too! It's the last battle of the Shaman Fight preliminaries, and Yoh is up against Tao Ren and his Chinese warlord of an Over Soul, Bason. Rend has already killed his officiant in the qualification round, and now he is determined to teach Yoh the meaning of fear. Yoh and Amidamaru are closer than ever, but can their unique bond of friendship overcome Ren's awesome mana and masterful control of Bason?

The Review
Shaman King has some pretty nice production values. First let’s start off with the cover. This one features a shaman in what looks like Native American clothing with two strange spirits floating beside him. There are quite a few colors is this piece and it really stands out from the black and teal background. The logo is designed in a manner similar to the original. The font is almost the same and some of the letters have this growth sprouting from them. The opposite cover features a long volume description and a color version of the header for chapter 58.

Inside, Viz keeps the word from the mangaka (originally found on the dust jacket of the Jump Comics version). They also keep the volume and chapter headers, bumper art and the two ato-gaki manga at the end of the GN. The printing is pretty good. Takei uses a lot of inking in his work so the lines look crisp and clear. I have some alignment issues in my copy, but that could just be me. At the end of the GN Viz also includes a preview blurb for the next volume, which should hit stores January 2006.

Takei’s art is familiar and still pretty good on its own. He was one of Watsuki Nobuhiro’s assistants for Rurouni Kenshin and I was quickly reminded of Watsuki when looking at the backgrounds for this title. They play a pretty important role in this title for the battles are set in places like cemeteries and other spiritual locations. Seeing the detail to the tombstones and other ornaments gave me a closer perspective to this shaman world Takei has made. Everything from temples to auditoriums look original and seem to feature his unique line work.

The line work might be more evident in the backgrounds where thickness and weight tend to give a sense of depth to this title. But it comes out well in the character designs as well. As Takei does not use tone much the lines tend to do everything. They give a sense of form with only a few lines. Take a look at Manta. Draw his head and some lines for hair and then a few lines and a couple dots and he is half done. Put him in a large coat and add shoes and you have a supporting character. Yoh has 9 horizontal lines in his, 1 vertical line and two eyes under a mass of fully inked hair. Shapes are non-conforming. So you might see round chunky designs with a lot of detail and then lanky boxy designs with short choppy lines that project just as well. You know, looking back the way he uses his lines reminds me of Korean artist Hyung-se Lee. Look at the face of Bason on page 53 and come back to me. The costume designs mixes in modern pop fashion with cultural references. You can see traditional Chinese costumes and military grab, Native American patterns, Japanese samurai outfits and Central Asian clothing on many of the Shaman Fight contestants. At times he might be caricaturing a little too much, so stereotypes do pop up here and there. However, this is done in fun and there appears to be some respect for the culture exhibited. I love the inking it really helps with the tattoos and can be a good contrast to all the negative space Takei creates.

The layout is very busy. At times I wish he would slow down, for the pacing is fast as is. Takei uses all sorts of techniques – out of panel, dialogue panels, sequential close-ups, full page spreads… All to present the battle action as close to the reader as possible. It is very active but tends to not be too messy, so it is almost always readable.

SFX are all overlaid. Personally I do not like this technique as I feel as if I am not getting all of the art that was there. Luckily things are done in a tasteful manner so it's not a total loss. Most signs are overlaid as well.

VIZ does a solid job with the translation. I thought this would be tough translation because of the comedy but it really flows very well and doesn't really seem to be far off original content. Viz does a good job maintaining the original names for the characters in this volume. In addition, they provide notes in the character bios informing fans of the US anime version of the name changes (for the anime Manta was changed to Mortimer and Ryu became Rio). One thing to mention is how little this translation was Americanizations. I have noticed some Shonen Jump titles suffer from this, but this volume is free of goofy slang and references that would not have been brought up in this title when it was originally published in 1999. This is something I have to applaud (especially since this volume uses so many Chinese and Japanese cultural references).

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Are you ready to SHAMAN RUMBLE!!!!!!

In the blue corner, our champion hails from Izumo, Japan. Wearing a black shirt with black trunks and can headphones, he will be fighting with the samurai spirit Amidamaru through an enchanted katana. With a record of 1-1... Asakura YOHHHHHHH!

And in the red corner, the challenger hails from China. Riding an enchanted horse wearing a black suit with white trim sporting super pointy hair fighting with the Chinese General spirit Bason through a kwan dao. Currently undefeated in the Shaman Fight Prelims... Tao REEEEENNNNN!

This is a one round fight in the final match in the final group in a round robin qualification round for this year's Shaman Fight. This fight is has one round unlimited downs bout decided only by KO or death. Contestants can use shamanic ability in any shape or form. Unlimited spirits and unlimited time allowed for this match. No holds barred and all spiritual attacks below and above the belt are legal.

The officiant for this bout comes from the Patch Tribe of American Indians and is accompanied by his five spirit animals… SILVA!!!

Contestants please meet in the center of the cemetery. We would like to have an exciting fight. It does not have to be clean and we hope it will not be short. Please give it your all out there. Shake or give each other some ice… FIGHT!
Great match-up for the final match of this preliminary round. It is a contrast of fighting styles - power versus technique. Just by looking at the stats for this match today - Asakura 270 Mana Pts + 920 Ghost Pts/Tao 350 Mana Pts + 710 Ghost Pts - one can see that this match will at least be entertaining if not long lived. I really would not know where to put my money down.

If its a Shonen Jump title there has to be a tournament right? And there is nothing wrong with that, especially if the tournament is going to determine who will be the next Shaman King. This is a one in every 500 years experience and Takei-sensei has brought together two rivals back to face each other in their closing match of the preliminary round. It is a do or die proposition -win and you're in; lose and you could go home for the next 500 years. Takei has much more on the line here though. There are some personal issues to be hashed out as well. These problems are immediately brought to the forefront, as Shaman officiants and Chinese sorcerers begin to plot behind the scenes. Both sides ready to push their agendas behind one contestant and it is not Yoh.

This is a promising match from the start. On paper this looks like a complete miss-match. Takei-sensei uses the concepts of HP (in this case Mana Points) as statistics readers can track to see which character has the upper hand. However, as this battle progresses readers begin to see a match-up between two relatively evenly matched opponents with contrasting personalities, each with their own way of life and approach to Shamanic values. Slacker versus obsessive-compulsive - Yoh's attitude to not go beyond his own abilities might be a little lazy but that is a smart approach to conserve mental and physical strength. Friendship versus isolation - Tao Ren fights for himself and his over soul is as strong as his confidence is. Win or lose it is up to him in the end. Even the idea of samurai versus Chinese general is based on two completely different fighting styles. Yet despite the differences from perspectives to talent to ability, each is here to win and each is capable of winning the Shaman Fight. The contrast alone is fascinating. One paper this looks like a prize fight between huge punishing bruiser and a leaner faster technical artist; all the makings of an epic battle.

In the end Shaman King is one of those titles that can hit all the right buttons one volume and the next chapter it could be a complete bore. This volume is one of the better ones. The revenge factor is thick, but more importantly the contrast of attitudes is really good here. Friendship and teamwork is at the essence of what Takei wants to express here. I think readers will immediately pick up on that and should figure out quickly who will win this in the end despite the odds. Maybe that is to be expected, especially in a shonen manga, however what I enjoyed about this title was how well Takei is able to present some of the fundamentals of shonen. We know this is a based title as we are deep into a tournament already. We get to see the friendship building. We get to see the rival of the day begin to crack and question his reasoning. But it is just done with so much style and fun. Yoh is such a laid back casual character. That used to rub me the wrong way, but comparing him to Ren his attitude is just refreshing. He just gives off a cool calm attitude that is expressed throughout the title. Hard to give up on someone like that.

Definitely much better the second time around.


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