Last week, I complimented the Shaman King remake's first episode and its overall presentation. While it did not cover Chapters 1 & 2 in chronological order, the anime did a good job interleaving Ch. 2's events throughout the episode. Seeing Yoh and Amidamaru joining forces together for the first time was badass and made me eager to watch more.
The second episode skips Chapters 3-5 and covers Chapters 6-9.
Manta's cram school classes end late again. He tries to take a shortcut through the graveyard, more comfortable with seeing spirits. But he runs into another boy named Tao Ren. After asking Manta some esoteric questions, Ren tells him to send Yoh a message that he wants Amidamaru for himself before revealing that he, too, is a shaman. His spirit, Bason appear behinds him, terrifying Manta.
Ren sneaks up behind Manta at the cemetery.
The next day, Manta warns Yoh about Ren at school. However, neither Yoh nor Amidamaru feel threatened and instead, are actually eager to meet Ren and his spirit. It doesn't take long until they see Ren about to be attacked by a group of men because he broke one of their car's headlights. The men try to take Ren on, but the shaman easily uses his kung fu to subdue them.
One of the men remains conscious and attempts to run Ren over with the car. That turns out to be a bad decision as Ren performs Hyoui Gattai with Bason and uses his naginata to slice the car in half. Ren is about to kill the driver before Yoh intervenes.
Ren with Bason's spirit integrated slices the car in half.
Happy to see Yoh, Ren subsequently asks Yoh to give Amidamaru to him. However, Yoh refuses because of their friendship. This cracks Ren up as he does not see spirits as companions, but tools to be used by their owners. As a result, the two shamans engage in a duel. Initially, it appears to be a stalemate, but the tide of the battle quickly turns to Ren's favor as he easily overwhelms Yoh with 100% integration.
Yoh and Amidamaru deflects Ren's naginata.
During his monologue, Ren looks down on Yoh and Amidamaru's friendship as he thinks that inhibits 100% integration. When two souls occupy a single body, they need to be perfectly in sync. If they are in conflict, only a fraction of Hyoui Gattai's power can be achieved. This is why Ren see spirits as machines that need a professional operator to draw out the max potential.
Ren explains how if two souls are in disagreement, then the shaman won't be able to draw out 100% power.
Fortunately, Yoh wakes up in time when he was thought to be out for the count. Though instead of re-entering the fight, he tells Amidamaru to escape to the afterlife so that Ren cannot capture him. Being a samurai, Amidamaru refuses to leave his "lord" and Ren prepares to deal the finishing blow. As his naginata is about to slice Yoh in half, the latter achieves 100% integration thanks to his and Amidamaru's mutual resolve to take down their opponent. This took Ren by surprise and Yoh quickly knocks Ren out with Halo Blade.
Having achieved 100% integration, Yoh defeats Ren with Halo Blade.
Exhausted from the battle and 100% integration, Yoh falls unconscious. He recalls his training with his grandfather as a child, and how he first learned about the Great Spirit and the Shaman King. The flashback ends as he wakes up in a hospital bed and the episode ends with Anna making her first appearance the same way Chapter 9 ended.
Anna makes her first appearance.
I am not too hung up on the remake skipping Chapters 3-5. When I read them, each one felt more like a "Problem of the Day" instead of events that drove the story forward. Yes, you can argue those chapters are to show how Yoh's progression of his shaman abilities, but the later chapters/episodes will do that anyways (and do it better).
In terms of the adaptation quality, the episode almost follows Chapter 6-9 exactly. Unlike the first episode, this one covers the chapters in chronological order. However, both approaches work, so I won't complain if the anime decides to use Ep. 1's interleaving approach just as long as it does not screw up the main storybeats.
Voice actress Romi Park hit it out of the park with her performance as Ren. She did an excellent job portraying Ren's haughtiness. It's great that most of the cast has returned to reprise their roles, even after 20 years. While Yoh's original VA did not return, I think Yoko Hikasa has done admirably thus far.
The overall presentation is solid. I did not spot any character model or animation hiccups. While Yoh vs. Ren was not the flashiest fight, the tension brought forth by the characters' voice acting and musical score more than made up for that. Speaking about music, I like how during Ren's monologue about spirits being machines, you can hear a solo erhu playing in the background to acknowledge his Chinese heritage. That was a nice touch.
So we are 2 episodes down, with another 50 to go. Initial impressions are very positive. 👍