Shaman King Reboot (2021) Review

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Shaman King Reboot Synopsis:

Every 500 years the Shaman Fight is held, and the winner becomes the Shaman King — a Shaman so powerful they can communicate with a god, the King of All Spirits, and have it shape the world in any way they see fit. Yoh Asakura, is one such Shaman who’s competing in the Shaman Fight. Though he’s an incredibly powerful medium who can communicate with spirits and even use them in battle, his greatest weapon may be his kindness and his bonds with his friends.

 

My Review of the Shaman King Reboot

Shaman King is an anime based on a manga that ran from 1998 to 2004. The story may feel a bit tropey and even at times seems to borrow from other shonen. Yoh may seem a lot like Naruto with his laid-back attitude and his knack for turning enemies into friends, but it’s good to know that the manga ran alongside the “big three shonen” such as Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. Though Shaman King may not have been as big as the big three, the story has a lot of heart with memorable characters and an intriguing story, which is, in fact, the strongest part of the anime. But, as much as I love this story and the manga, it’s not enough to save this anime from being a dull trudge in the dirt.

A Lacking Budget

I appreciate the story sticking very closely to the manga. However, the way the story is presented is a huge problem. The show’s biggest problem seems to be budget restraints. The animation in the show is very lacking.  For instance, the fight scenes mostly consist of reusing the same bit of animation over and over again. Most of the time, you don’t even see anyone make contact with another person, and the fights mostly consist of cut-aways and characters in front of a static image.  A lot of shows use these techniques to save money. However, these techniques are used so they can put money toward the most important fights in the series in order to make the animation fluid as possible. It’s a tactic basically used to make sure the fights look epic. But despite the fact that the first season of Shaman King is only 13 episodes and the fact the animation takes so many shortcuts, the animation never gets better, and we never get an epic fight scene.

Anime without Animation

The animation that is there feels stiff and rigid. There was even a scene where everything just froze, and the only thing moving was the main character’s mouth, even though they were holding a spirit flame that would typically move like a normal flame. For a show that focuses so much on fighting, it is extremely hard to get through because the fight scenes just aren’t there. I know animation is expensive, but when a fight scene consists of a character standing and then jumps to them already making contact with an opponent or seeing the same animation of an attack for the fourth time in less than three minutes, it borders on ridiculous.

Another issue with the series is that they toned down the violence from the manga. I’m not trying to be foul, but when they show a character getting their abdomen cut open in the manga, and the anime barely shows any blood and the character barely reacts, it takes you out of the moment, ruining the suspense.

Problems with the Shaman King Reboot Dub

And now I have a confession to make. I’m a dub watcher. I know it’s taboo, but I like dubs. But, for my review, I watched Shaman King in both dub and sub, so I can better judge each. So, believe me when I tell you that the dub is not very good, and I don’t blame the voice actors. There seems to be an issue with voice direction. Characters in the dub don’t change tone, and the emphases aren’t put on certain words when necessary.

For instance, the character Tao Jun says, “I’ll have to incapacitate you, by that I mean ‘kill’ you.” In the sub, it makes it clear that she’s being cheeky and making a joke. The way the line is delivered in the dub, it’s not clear that it’s a joke and more comes off like she doesn’t know what “incapacitate” means. In the same episode, Jun also can’t seem to pronounce “Taoism”, saying it in different ways, sometimes within the same conversation.

 

Final Thoughts on the Shaman King Reboot:

Despite the show lacking so much, I do hope Shaman King gets a second season because so many of its issues just come down to budget. This is actually the second attempt to make a Shaman King anime.

Though it’s a lot better than the first attempt from the early 2000s, there’s still a lot of improvements that need to be made. But being honest, I just can’t recommend this show. Even the biggest fans of the manga will be disappointed by this show. Ironically, if this anime had come out at the time the original anime did, I think it would have been better received, but in a day and age of such shonen as My Hero Academia, Jujutsu Kaisen and Soul Eater, this show can’t stand up to its peers. Shaman King 2021 is currently streaming on Netflix

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