So, a month or something ago the new anime adaptation of Shaman King dropped as a Netflix exclusive, and after watching the first 8 episodes, i think there is something to be said (in a non-elaborated, just “vomiting my thoughts without much editing or revision” way) about Shaman King and its legacy, and how this new adaptation is indeed trying to propose a very old shonen series to modern audiences, but staying as loyal as it can to the source material, which is nice but it also shows how old and fairly ancillary feels this series today, with many others Jump series that came out at the same time, later or before and still left a bigger, longer lasting mark on the genre.
I do feel Shaman King has its place as a mid-way point between Dragon Ball and One Piece (and the late 90s-early 2000s Big 3 series as a whole), a bit odd to say since the manga actually started in 1998, a year after One Piece debuted, and you can tell they are more similar than one would assume, as there is that emphasis on more comedy that was becoming more common in shonen mangas, alongside giving even most villains a proper reason-motivation to fight outside of “i’m evil, i’mma gonna win”, like Naruto, which would begin publication in 1999.
I am referring mostly to the manga (which i have read up until the 17th volume or something), i remember watching the old anime adaptation on TV back then, but i don’t remember much from that at all, i did pick up the definitive edition of the first two Shaman King volumes recently though.
You can also see it trying to pull the really tragic backstories juxtaposing some really dark events to the current, more carefree, positive mood of the main story…. but not as effectively as One Piece, not even close, which makes the tone a bit inconsistent, as the main story often has everything going a bit too well, or hammers home the themes in a very schmaltzy way, even for a shonen manga.
While it has most of the usual hallmarks of a shonen series and does them fine…. in retrospective it feels very basic, nothing bad, but basic, the whole “shaman powers” thing doesn’t help it stand out that much, the ways it does some of the usual shonen tropes really feel outdated, and even knowing it’s a shonen series from Jump, aimed at kids and youngins… it is a bit too juvenile at times
I’m “internet old”, perfectly aware of that and what this means for this point of critique, but even in my teens some of the scenes really felt a bit too for pretty damn young kids. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but something to keep in mind or be remembered of.
For example, remember the tanuki spirit with the big balls using his veiny testicles to basically immobilize poor Manda in a “testicular wrap press”?
This adaptation doesn’t cut that, and it’s kinda funny considering they decided to kept THAT in when it’s a very, very abridged adaptation of the manga, skimping over a lot of less engaging or action packed material., basically trying to adapt almost an entire volume of the manga into a single episode.
On the plus side, this helps in having the storyline move along in the episodes without almost no downtime, which is kinda mandatory for some modern audiences and a growing problem of keeping focus even among older ones….. but it skips almost any of the moments that help build characters, it never feels like the plot it’s ever allowed to take a break, or take its time to do anything, so the downside it’s the obvious feeling of things going in too fast, as new characters often just appear as there’s no time to tease or hint at what role or purpose this new character could be for.
That said, the character designs are quite faithful to the manga, pretty old school and fairly not sexualized, and the animation by TV Tokyo is good, nothing to shake my stick at in this regard.
If you’re curious, have some nostalgia for the series and have a Netflix subscription, i’d say it’s worth checking out, even if just for curiosity’s sake.
Since this first season is only 13 episodes, i will finish it, not sure if i will write a full fledged review of it, not making any promises on that, sorry.