Born from the pencils of the Japanese cartoonist Hiroyuki Takei, Shaman King it was one of the most popular manga during the late 90s and the first half of the following decade, at least until the work came to an untimely closure one step away from the coveted final goal. While the manga, four years after the conclusion, received a revised and corrected re-release, with the beauty of 16 extra chapters called to rewrite and complete the ending, the animated transposition of Shaman King has never restarted, also because the television series made by Xebec, fra radical cuts and changes, to say the least, had exaggeratedly diverged from the original material, making it impossible to continue.
Since the last few years have led to the birth of a sequel and paper spin-offs, consequently sanctioning the beginning of what we could consider a sort of second youth for Shaman King, the interest of the most loyal fans to the brand is never waned. The announcement of a new animated transposition of the original Hiroyuki Takei comic, therefore, did not surprise us particularly, and since this will debut on the Japanese television circuit only in 2021, let's try to understand what we should expect from the new series, of which, unfortunately, the study of animation in charge of production.
If Monkey D. Luffy and Naruto Uzumaki, respectively protagonists of ONE PIECE is Naruto, wishing to become Pirate King and Hokage out of pure ambition or in any case to be finally recognized by the other inhabitants of the Leaf Village, in the late 90s there was another aspiring king who made a lot of talk about himself. More than one actually, if we consider that the story of Shaman King tells the progress of a long tournament that, every 500 years, involves the most talented shamans from all over the world, so that the most talented of all can join the Great Spirit and become the very powerful King of Shamans. The protagonist of the story is the very young Yoh Asakura who, descending from an ancient and renowned family of shamans, had from an early age the ability to see and dialogue with the spirits.
Lazy and carefree, his dream is precisely to live in peace, nevertheless decides to participate in the upcoming Shaman Tournament: since childhood he was in fact trained by his grandfather to be able to represent the Asakura at the Shaman Fightbut ignoring the real reason why your family craves its victory. Between one battle and another, the young shaman will discover not only how to control and merge with the spirits (like a real possession), in order to use their skills and make the most of their powers, but above all it will throw light on a long-kept secret about his birth and the existence of an evil twin brother who, for his part, would like to become the King of Shamans to annihilate normal human beings.
Despite the whole Shaman King plot revolves around the urgent need to prevent the realization of the crazy plan of Hao, who even meditates to create a kingdom of shamans only (similarly to what is desired by the twisted and at the same time fascinating Lord Voldemort in the literary cycle of Harry Potter), that of sensei Takei is a light and pleasant shonen, as it continuously alternates moments of great drama with hilarious comic curtains. A tried and tested formula that justified the success of the work and of many of its contemporaries, such as the aforementioned ONE PIECE and Naruto, without forgetting Bleach or the Dragon Ball itself.
Let there be light, revive a soul
Launched on June 30, 1998 in the well-known Japanese magazine Weekly Shonen Jump of the Shueisha home, Shaman King received an animated adaptation just three years later, that is, when the manga was "complete" about 50%. A not quite exact statement, if we consider – as reaffirmed in our introduction – that Takei was forced to close his comic in advance, and then revisit it a few years later. Entrusted to the expert hands of Seiji Mizushima, which would later direct big hits of the likes of Fullmetal Alchemist and above all Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the television series was a noteworthy success, but since the concept of "structured anime in seasons" was still very far from catching on, the staff involved in the project had to compromise to ensure the series a certain longevity and above all a credible conclusion.
Unfortunately, not everything went exactly as planned. After 24 episodes strictly faithful to Takei's original material, the anime of Shaman King therefore began to move further and further away from the homonymous manga, introducing original characters (such as the very forgettable Lily Five in the service of Hao Asakura) and regularly resorting to the hated filler episodes. As a result, only 90 chapters (of 300) were actually transposed into anime, and already starting from episode 40 about the series took a very different direction from that undertaken by the author, resulting in a fairly obvious and mediocre final clash, as well as unable to give a real closure to the vicissitudes of Yoh and his companions.
As recited by the first historical opening theme of Shaman King, which not surprisingly accompanies the very first teaser trailer of the new animated adaptation, the time seems to have come to instill new lifeblood into the project and finally return a transposition worthy of that name to all fan of Takei's masterpiece. After all, in 2021 the first Shaman King anime will celebrate its own twentieth anniversary, which may not be a better time to recall the deeds of Yoh Asakura, Ren Tao, Horohoro and all the other participants in the Shaman Fight.
Unfortunately, the information in our possession is still insufficient, also because at the moment the official website of the new series presents only a short teaser trailer with some tables taken from the manga. Nevertheless, the use of cartoons taken from the last volumes of the sensei's work suggests at least the will of faithfully adapt the whole story, including additional material contained exclusively in the Perfect Edition published between 2008 and 2009 by the Japanese publisher Kodansha.
With good reason, it is very likely that the new anime of Shaman King is not proposed through relatively short seasons, but with a single and substantial block of episodes that will be aired starting next April. Not being able to go into speculations and preliminary analyzes yet, we cannot help but discover the name of the animation studio involved in the project as soon as possible and start dreaming of the imminent Shaman Fight right now.