Introduction: Shaman King is Back
When I reviewed Episode 17 about 3 weeks ago, I mentioned that Shaman King would be on a brief hiatus due to the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Now that is over, the anime has resumed a few days ago with Episode 18.
To briefly recap on what has happened so far, Yoh and his friends are looking for the entrance to Patch Village in Mesa Verdede, but not without running into enemies. Ryu defeated Boris and the X-Laws made quite a dramatic entrance by mercilessly killing the latter. The organization introduced itself as benevolent, though Yoh didn't buy that and the ideological conflict boiled to a fever pitch when the X-Laws were about to kill another Hao follower. Yoh angered the leader, Marco, by calling him a hypocrite and getting his sword, Harusame, broken in an exchange. Meanwhile, Anna, Manta, and Tamao reach Mesa Verdede, but run into Hao who was expecting them.
The 18th episode adapted Chapters 105 through 110 of the manga. The main scenes are Anna confronting Hao, how Yoh and his friends make it to Patch Village, and the introduction of a new character, Chocolove.
Hao reveals he's interested in Anna since she defeated his shikigami that guarded the Chō-Senjiryakketsu. He actually tells her to deliver it to Yoh as he is too weak and needs to get stronger. Throughout the conversation, Hao repeatedly talks about Yoh eventually assisting him on his goal to create a shaman-only world which irks Anna enough for her to slap him. He blocks her initial attempt before she slaps him with her left hand and walks off to Patch Village.
Anna, Manta, and Tamao run into Hao.
Anna gives Hao the "Legendary Left".
Meanwhile, Yoh and his friends are wondering how to get to Patch Village and what to do with Bill Burton, the Hao follower who got hurt by the X-Laws. Yoh decides to take Bill with them, much to the others' surprise. They pick up Bill and continue further in the ruins before Amidamaru senses something. Bill regains consciousness and explains to them that their souls have been guided to the entrance by the Great Spirit. He tells them to leave him behind and promises to return the favor one day.
Bill tells the others to leave him behind and thanks them for their help.
Yoh and his friends finally reach the entrance to Patch Village and see a huge beam of light. Yoh loses consciousness as he basically "dreams" Earth's 4.5 billion history in fast forward. He wakes up after a few days and meets Silva once again, who explains to him the nature of the Great Spirit: a massive aggregation of trillions of souls interconnected.
The Great Spirit.
Yoh witnessing Earth's entire history on fast forward.
Meanwhile, Yoh's other friends have either woken up or managed to remain conscious, though apparently Lyserg has left the group for untold reasons. As they explore Patch Village, they coincidentally find Anna at a shop where she explains to Yoh that she's here to make him stronger. However, a new character suddenly interrupts the conversation named Chocolove.
Yoh finds Anna at a shop.
Initially, the group tries to walk away from Chocolove because of his lame jokes, but he reveals that all the shamans need to create groups of three to compete in the tournament or otherwise get disqualified. The group realizes that they are one person short from making two teams as Lyserg left, so Ren calls dibs on Chocolove and Horohoro before he haughtily leaves proclaiming that he can solo the tournament. His comments ends up getting the others all fired up, except for Yoh who thinks his arrogance is cute much to Anna's confusion.
Chocolove and his jaguar spirit, Mic.
The episode concludes with Manta looking for Yoh and others in Patch Village, but instead he finds Faust on a wheelchair quietly singing to himself.
Manta finds Faust singing to himself alone on a wheelchair.
It feels good to see Shaman King returning to schedule and this episode did not disappoint. The visual art is very crisp and vibrant. Closeups of all the characters are extremely detailed and sharp. The Great Spirit, especially, looks incredibly beautiful. It was pretty cool when the episode shows what the Great Spirit looks like up close with the countless spirits from humanoid to even dinosaurs.
In addition, there was plenty of humor that kept the episode entertaining despite the fact that there wasn't much action. When Anna slapped Hao in the face, that was pretty funny and the lower detailed character drawings were likely done on purpose for a more cartoony look. The scene where Yoh finds Anna in Patch Village was entertaining as he was more focused on why Anna refused to pay a keychain for $380 than how she got to Patch Village much to his friends' exasperation.
Lastly, Chocolove's introduction was executed very well. His jokes were lame, but it was funny how Ren and Horohoro would punch him in the face whenever he made a stupid pun and his face would progressively become more bruised. At the same time, the episode does a good job establishing some of Chocolove's strengths, particularly his ability to gather information efficiently, and uses that to expand on the universe's lore such as kami (god) class spirits and how 70% of the competing shamans belong to one of the three major factions: the Hao faction, the X-Laws, and the Gandhara.
Overall, I was very pleased with this episode and I'm excited to see how Bridge adapts the tournament arc because there's a lot that's going to happen.