Monday, November 3, 2008

Shaman King (manga, vol. 17) by Hiroyuki Takei

Yoh tells his friends what Silva told him, that Hao's mana is currently at 1,250,000 (as a comparison, Yoh's mana is at about 10,000, while Horohoro and Joco's are only at about 2,000). This means that Hao is going to win the tournament, no matter what Yoh and his friends do. Despite this, Yoh doesn't plan on giving up. While some of Yoh's friends are off digesting Yoh's depressing news, Ren (who is in the company of Joco and Horohoro) is approached by Mikihisa Asakura, Yoh's dad, who tells him that he's come to teach him the Ultra Senji Ryakketsu. Mikihisa and Ren fight. Ren pulls out all the stops, even revealing his Over Soul (God of War) in an attempt to beat Mikihisa, but he can't. (By the way, both Yoh and Anna are aware that Mikihisa is probably off beating Ren up, but they don't seem too concerned.) Ren does eventually manage to bloody Mikihisa, but he still refuses to be taught the Ultra Senji Ryakketsu. A while later, as Mikihisa feeds everybody and Ren is recovering, Mikihisa explains that the reason why the fate of the world is left to children (many of the people in the Shaman Fight are children) is because adults know their limits, or think they know their limits, which means they have no more potential. Even weak children, however, have unlimited potential, because they don't know they're weak.

A couple Patch come upon Ren, Mikihisa, Joco, and Horohoro. One of these Patch is Nickrome, the brother of Chrom the Officiant, who was killed by Ren. The other Patch is Magna. They are joined by others who serve/follow Hao. These are powerful people, but if Mikihisa (aka Mickey) stays to fight with Ren and the rest, his teammates in the Shaman Fight will die. Ren tells Mikihisa that he can go, because he (Ren) has already learned his techniques. Ren does pretty well against the group at first, but it turns out that everyone on the other side knows how to do the techniques (the Shamanic Oracle) that Ren has just learned. Ren is badly wounded - even if he survives, his spine may be badly damaged. Horohoro and Joco fight back, but they don't have much of a chance of winning, and they may not be able to hold their enemies back for long. When all seems lost, Yoh joins in the fight.

Takei has done a good job of making things seem pretty hopeless. Hao is incredibly powerful, so powerful that even Yoh doesn't measure up. There are a few comments made in this volume that make me wonder what's in store for the future. For instance, early in the volume, Ren wonders about Yoh being Hao's other half. He thinks about how laid back Yoh always is, like he's missing certain emotions. I wonder if Yoh and Hao are two parts of the same person, Maybe at some point they'll become one, and even though Hao will win, so will Yoh.

I wonder if Ren is actually going to die. Although it's often the case in shonen manga that one of the "good guys" will seem to die or be near death, it's rare for anyone to actually die. However, I know that this series is getting awfully close to the end - if I remember right the series ends at something like volume 25. If that's the case, then it's not out of the question for a friend of the hero of the series to die.

Other than a few character files (character image, name, birthday, astrological sign, age in the image, blood type, and maybe a little other information), there aren't any extras.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Rurouni Kenshin (manga) by Nobuhiro Watsuki; Rurouni Kenshin (anime TV series) - During the violent Bakumatsu era, the assassin known as Hitokiri Battousai paved the way for the Restoration, killing many. Years later, this man, now known as Rurouni Kenshin, has given up killing and chooses to wander from town to town. After he helps a woman named Kamiya Kaoru, his wandering life becomes more rooted, at least temporarily. Kenshin is willing to fight to help others, but he does whatever he can to avoid having to kill. Those who'd like another long-running manga with deep friendships and lots of intense battles might want to try this series. As Shaman King gears up for its ending, I'm reminded of how Rurouni Kenshin felt as it was wrapping up, with all that bleakness that (thankfully) turned out better and happier than I expected. I think Takei used to be one of Watsuki's assistants, so maybe this similar feeling isn't just a coincidence.
  • Bleach (anime TV series); Bleach (manga) by Tite Kubo - Ichigo Kurosaki has been able to see ghosts for as long as he can remember, but it's not until he meets Rukia, a Soul Reaper, that his life really gets strange (not to mention dangerous). When a battle with a Hollow goes badly, Rukia tries to lend Ichigo some of her Soul Reaper powers but ends up accidentally giving him everything. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper, Ichigo battles Hollows with Rukia's help and guidance and gradually becomes even more powerful. Those who'd like another long-running action-packed story with ghosts, lots of battles, and engaging characters might want to try this series.
  • Naruto (manga) by Masashi Kishimoto; Naruto (anime TV series) - Naruto, a young ninja, is determined to become the best ninja in his village, but he must first learn teamwork and better fighting techniques in order to survive all the tests he needs to pass in order to become a full-fledged ninja. Those who'd like another long-running series with lots of battles, engaging characters, and a mixture of humor and drama might enjoy this title.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho (manga) by Yoshihiro Togashi; Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files (anime TV series) - Yusuke Urameshi dies pushing a child out of the way of oncoming traffic. It turns out that he wasn't supposed to die, so he's given the chance to be resurrected. After he's resurrected, Yusuke becomes a Spirit Detective, along with his friends/comrades, and has many adventures. The only part of this I've ever seen or read involves Yusuke and his friends in a seemingly unending tournament battling teams of demons. Those who'd like another long-running series with ghosts, lots of battles, and people with special powers might want to try this title.

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