Previously, Yoh and his friends reached Mesa Verdede only to run into Hao's followers and have trouble handling Boris's vampire powers. However, through their wits and trust in each other, they prevented Boris from getting the upper hand. Ryu stepped up big time and gave Boris a good run for his money.
In my review, I mentioned that for Bridge's standards, the battle looked pretty good. I also appreciated how it incorporated the lore behind the fictional Dracula, the real events of Vlad the Impaler, and the fictional elements of Shaman King into one cool package. Now, how will the battle conclude?
The 17th episode adapted Chapters 101 through 104 of the manga. It reveals how Ryu became a shaman, concludes the fight between Ryu and Boris, and introduces the X-Laws.
The anime flashes back to when Ryu visited the Asakura estate in Izumo. With Yoh and Manta having made up their differences, Ryu asked Yohmei to train him only for Yoh's grandfather to kick him out. As Ryu begged Yohmei to let him back in, Tokageroh appeared behind him.
Yohmei tells Ryu to buzz off.
Ryu and Tokageroh had a deep personal conversation near a cliff. Tokageroh revealed that ever since Episode 4, his grudge against Amidamaru disappeared and had no place to belong. Ryu gave a wise monologue of how people can easily get caught up in their emotions and pointed out when Tokageroh dropped his grudge, it was the first time the spirit faced himself. Ryu, then, offered Tokageroh a place he can call home as he intended to become a shaman as the latter as his spirit.
Ryu and Tokageroh have a deep personal conversation where they share their insecurities.
Both returned to Izumo where they waited for Yohmei in the rain for a week. Ryu passed out and woke up near the Hi'i River. Yohmei decided to test Ryu's resolve and had him follow the Hi'i River without roads to the summit of Mt. Sentsuzan. After struggling their way up the mountain and running into spirits, Ryu and Tokageroh finally made it to the summit. There, Yohmei explained the mythology behind how Susano'o slayed Yamato no Orochi and how the people interpreted the Hi'i River's floods as the Orochi's wrath. He wanted to test Ryu if he had the same determination as those people who fought those floods and Susano'o who challenged the Orochi.
Ryu and Tokageroh running away from the spooky spirits of the Oikuzumo Forest.
Ryu and Tokageroh reaches the summit of Mt. Sentsuzan, overlooking the beautiful Hi'i River.
Flashing back to the present, Ryu channels what he learned from Yohmei and used his Yamato no Orochi Over Soul to defeat Boris. While Yoh's friends intend to leave Boris behind, Yoh climbs up to Boris to help him. However, a giant sword suddenly stabs Boris through the chest. Yoh looks back to see a giant mecha angel before it obliterates Boris.
Ryu's Yamato no Orochi Over Soul takes down Boris.
Yoh looks up and sees Michael, Marco's archangel spirit that just stabbed Boris.
The master of the angel spirit, Marco, introduces himself and his group, the X-Laws to Yoh and his friends. The X-Laws are an organization that purports to stop Hao at all costs. Each member of the X-Laws tragically had their loved ones killed by Hao and wield a spirit based on the Seven Archangels from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. However, while Lyserg thinks the organization is awesome, Yoh finds their murder of Boris to be excessive.
Both the X-Laws and Yoh's group agree to accompany each other to Patch Village. However, the X-Laws' extremism manifests again when they run into Hao's followers. Bill Burton attempts to take on the X-Laws from behind, but the organization easily defeats and severely injures him. Mohamed and Zang-Ching decides to retreat leaving Bill about to be murdered by Marco. However, Yoh intervenes and declares Marco to be no more different than Hao. This made Marco angry as he retaliates and breaks Harusame. He lets Yoh off for his bravery and gives up on killing Bill before the X-Laws leave.
Bill Burton attempts to fight the X-Laws.
Yoh and Marco clash due to their polar opposite ideologies.
Meanwhile, Manta, Tamura, and Anna land near Mesa Verdede, but not before they run into Hao who anticipated their arrival before the episode ends on a cliffhanger.
Manta, Tamura, and Anna touch down near Cape Verdede.
It looks like Bridge is on a roll lately. Before, the quality from episode to episode would be inconsistent, waffling between brilliant to mediocre. However, over the last 3 episodes including this one, the quality has been consistently high and I love it.
The episode was structured extremely well as it seamlessly transitioned from the present to flashback and back to the present. While the X-Laws' entrance was pretty much like a sledgehammer, I thought their sudden appearance fit well with their extremist ideology.
Ryu's backstory on how he became a shaman was very well narrated. The episode did a good job portraying his struggles and hardships as he followed the Hi'i River upstream. The background shots during his journey were extremely beautiful, especially when he and Tokageroh looked over the Hi'i River. I think that was the best shot of the entire Shaman King anime, so far. The reddish sky contrasts very well with the greenery of the forest and the low-hanging clouds provide a nice sense of occlusion.
The art and animations were overall decent. There was the occasional wonkiness like with the portrayal of Ryu's Yamato no Orochi Over Soul, but scenes such as Yoh's clash against Marco were drawn and animated solidly. The sequence where all the X-Laws summoned their archangel spirits to take down Bill Burton was pretty awesome and gave me some Transformers vibes. Also, I want to appreciate the various facial expressions of Marco throughout the episode.
The good ol' push up the glasses pose.
The "Nani the fuck?!" Marco.
The "How dare you call me a hypocrite!" Marco.
Lastly, I want to commend the audio. The musical repertoire was very diverse from the solo bamboo flute to the organs that accompanied the X-Laws' archangel spirits. On top of that, the voice acting was top notch, especially Yoko Hikasa's (the VA for Yoh Asakura). It was pretty chilling when she could hit the lower registers to portray Yoh's "pissed off-ness" after witnessing the X-Laws' cruelty.
Unfortunately, as the Summer Olympics are now underway, the anime will not air its next episode until August 12. That's a bit a of a shame considering the momentum the last few episodes managed to gather. Maybe during that wait, I will recommend other manga and anime that I enjoy just like what I did with Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun.