Previously, all of the main characters reached Patch Village. While Yoh and his friends finally passed their first challenge after weeks of travel, they soon ran into a roadblock. The newly introduced character, Chocolove, revealed that the contestants must compete in groups of 3 or otherwise get disqualified. Ren called dibs on Horohoro and Chocolove, leaving Yoh and Ryu one teammate short as Lyserg left the group.
From my review, the episode was very well paced and the art was extremely beautiful, particularly when the anime showed the Great Spirit. The general dialogue and Chocolove's introduction were pretty funny and the anime did a good job establishing Chocolove's character without much dilly dallying.
So who will be Yoh and Ryu's last teammate?
Episode 19 adapted Chapters 111 through 114 in the manga.
The episode picks right where Ep. 18 left off with Manta running into Faust singing about his deceased wife, Eliza, alone on his wheelchair. Manta tries to run away knowing what Faust did to him before, but accidentally trips and grabs Faust's attention. Out of genuine generosity, Faust carries Manta and finds Yoh and his friends in Patch Village (though Manta is scared out of his mind). He also asks Yoh if he can join his team as no one else wants to be his teammate. However, Ryu immediately rebuffs him as he still believes Lyserg will return. Faust, then, leaves in sadness.
Faust mourns his love with his song.
Faust brings Manta to Yoh and asks him if he can join his team.
At a diner, Yoh and Manta catch up on what's been going on before Anna declares that Faust should be Yoh and Ryu's last teammate. Ryu tries to protest, but Anna makes a solid case for Faust: (1) He's an actual doctor and (2) she has witnessed his abilities whereas she never met Lyserg before. The scene soon takes a comedic turn as Anna reveals her entrepreneurial dreams of running a hot springs inn with Faust as the inn physician.
Anna and her fantasy of becoming the inn hostess with Faust as the inn physician.
As Ryu desperately tries to find Lyserg as he still opposes Faust joining the team, the latter is revealed to have joined the X-Laws. The episode shows him crying under Marco's arms as the latter gives him hope of getting revenge on Hao. Meanwhile, Anna delivers the Chō-Senjiryakketsu to Silva, noting that she has already mastered the texts with her full control over Zenki and Goku to show for it. Shocked at her power level, Silva asks Anna what is she before she replies that she is the goddess of victory that will lead Yoh to become the Shaman King.
Lyserg confides with Marco.
Anna showing Silva her spirits, Zenki and Goki.
Finally, the tournament is underway. The Patch Tribe brings all of the contestants to a remote island 800km away from Tokyo where the stadium is located. The very first battle pits Ren's team against the BoZ brothers plus another Hao follower named Peyote. Unimpressed with his opponents, Ren has Chocolove take on the team solo. Initially, Chocolove freaks out, but after the BoZ brothers unleash their Chimi Chimi Moryo attack on him, he realizes they are a lot weaker than he expected.
Chocolove, then, shows off his fighting skills by possessing his limbs and eyes with his jaguar spirit, Mic. By using his body parts as the medium, he can basically move like a jaguar. With his superior speed, he easily dodges all of BoZ's attacks and incapacitates them with Shaft.
Chocolove has Mic possess his limbs and eyes to become a jaguar himself.
Chocolove using Shaft on BoZ.
However, Peyote kicks BoZ back into consciousness and commands them to keep fighting. Bewildered at what's going on, Chocolove quickly knocks BoZ out again, but shockingly, the monk brothers get up again. He is put in a bind as he knows that one more hit and they will die. Before the episode ends, Ren reveals that he has figured out Peyote's ability and strategy: to purposely render BoZ unconscious to turn them into his puppets.
You can't tell with their sunglasses, but the BoZ brothers are actually unconscious with Peyote controlling them like puppets in the background.
After speedrunning through the earlier content, I'm glad that the anime has slowed things down for the stuff where the manga and 2001 anime diverged. The episode did a good job covering almost everything from the manga without overlooking the small details.
The art throughout the episode was drawn very well and extremely versatile. For instance, the lighting during Lyserg and Marco's scene effectively exude that confessional environment. When Anna showed off Zenki and Goki to Silva, the shikigami were drawn with a lot of detail. The sharp teeth and bulging veins in their eyes really made them terrifying. The shots with Chocolove possessed with Mic were really cool. Not only did his furyoku emanate from his limbs and eyes, but his furyoku was also present throughout his skin as "jaguar spots".
There was also plenty of funny comedy throughout. From Horohoro and Chocolove bickering over how the latter's name should be pronounced to Anna's inn hostess dream, the jokes were well-timed and not obnoxious. I particularly laughed when everyone was flying to the remote island, Ren saw his family cheering him on from a distance and nonchalantly told Horohoro if he looked outside the window, he would kill him.
Some unexpected onlookers.
The one recurring joke that puts me off, however, is Ryu's obsession over Lyserg. I've been avoiding talking about it over the last few episodes mainly because I find Ryu's infatuation creepy, but it's probably worth finally addressing it here. Both the manga and anime do a poor job explaining why Ryu is super obsessed over Lyserg and is arguably the series biggest weakness. So whenever the anime shows Ryu crying over Lyserg leaving the group, I can't help, but roll my eyes.
To end my review on a positive note, I was impressed with how the Chocolove's battle against BoZ was animated. While the limitations were still obvious, Bridge cleverly worked its way around them to still make the battle look exciting. Sure, there wasn't any fancy moving camera work, but the studio cut to different angles to effectively give the perception of dynamism. Not only did the furyoku effects on Chocolove look cool, but Bridge did a good job portraying his speed by making him so fast, it looks like he's teleporting.
Click on images to see animation.
All in all, the execution was extremely good. The episode hit all of the story beats effectively without overlooking the small details. Other than the weird (one-sided) Ryu x Lyserg dynamic, the humor is funny as usual.