Last week, Shaman King began the tournament arc. Ren, Horohoro, and Chocolove had the honor of fighting the first match against one of Hao's henchmen teams. The rock monk duo, BoZ, were their opponents plus a mysterious third teammate named Peyote. Initially, it looked like Team Ren had the upper hand as Chocolove easily defeated BoZ, but the duo somehow kept getting up. Ren figured out that Peyote was the one pulling the strings behind BoZ. Chocolove was hesitant to keep fighting BoZ as he knew they were already unconscious and any further attacks could kill them.
I was pretty impressed with some of the animation during the fight. Also, the events leading up to the first match was paced very well and pretty funny. Can Episode 20 close out the match on a high note?
The episode adapts Chapters 115 through 119 in the manga. It continues Chocolove's fight against Peyote and delves into his backstory.
Peyote compliments Ren for figuring out his trick, using his spirits to possess BoZ to do his dirty work. Not wanting to kill BoZ, Chocolove tries to go for the source and flanks Peyote. However, the latter reveals he has more tricks up his sleeves as a Calavera doll suddenly punches Chocolove. All of his cards are laid out on the table with his army of Calavera dolls plus the possessed BoZ brothers and Peyote easily knocks Chocolove out.
Peyote's spirits possessing BoZ and his Calavera dolls.
The episode flashes back to Chocolove's past in New York City where he ran a life as a murderous gang member. He used to be a normal kid with a mom and dad, but his normal life tragically came to an end when a band of robbers murdered his parents. Ever since, he got by through violence. However, that all changed when he ran into an Amazonian shaman, Orona.
A young Chocolove about to murder an innocent civilian.
Chocolove's parents brutally murdered by a band of robbers.
Orona tried to cheer Chocolove up with his lame jokes (which explains why Chocolove's puns are also pretty bad). The latter threatened to kill the shaman, but Orona easily subdued him with his shamanic powers. He shared to Chocolove about his ambition to rid evil with laughter which ironically got the latter to laugh. Intrigued with Orona's power, Chocolove asked him how he did it and pointed towards Mic the Jaguar. Orona was surprised that Chocolove could see the spirit and decided to make him his successor. Since that moment, Chocolove left his gang to live and train with the shaman.
Chocolove meeting Orona for the first time.
Orona beats Chocolove with his shamanic powers and Mic.
Chocolove's life greatly improved as he no longer led a life of murder. However, his former gang eventually found Orona and beat the old man up. Enraged, Chocolove commanded them to stop, but Orona told him to let his anger go and revealed why he chose him as his successor. As he had a debilitating disease, he already made peace with his eventual death and told Chocolove to save the world with the winds of laughter. One of the gang members shot Orona in the head, but Chocolove promised to his mentor that he would see through to his ambition.
Chocolove's former gang about to murder Orona.
The episode flashes back to the present and Chocolove uses his furyoku to erect an imitation of Ayer's Rock. Peyote is unamused at his joke, but notices that Chocolove is sticking his belly button out in the bridge pose (Ayer's Rock is nicknamed the belly button of Earth). Still, Peyote does not find it funny, but his spirits did and the shaman loses control. Ren jumps in and knocks out Peyote his a Big Over Soul Bason, clinching the match. Meanwhile, Orona has been observing the fight in his spirit form and is happy to see his mentee carrying on his legacy.
Chocolove erecting Ayer's Rock with his furyoku and using his belly button to complete the pun.
Bason in Big Over Soul readies his punch against Peyote.
With the first match out of the way, Yoh and his team prepare for their fight and their eventual matchup against Ren's team. Meanwhile, Lyserg has officially joined the X-Laws and the organization seems to have something up its sleeves as it unloads an iron maiden from a ship.
Lyserg in his new X-Laws uniform.
The episode finished the match very strong and did an extremely good job expanding on Chocolove's character. I remember when I first read the chapters, I felt incredibly sad for his circumstances and the anime effectively hit on the emotional points. It was very touching near the end when Orona was watching over his mentee, always believing in him.
There were, however, some flaws that bogged down the overall quality. As much as I often praise the voice acting in the anime, the episode did lay an egg in that department during the scene when Chocolove was about to kill the innocent civilian in the flashback. The voice acting of the civilian felt too calm and ruined the emotional weight behind Chocolove's act. On top of that, after Ren's team won the match, the episode revealed Chocolove's former gang members having reformed themselves and cheering for him. I have a major problem with that as it's such a huge leap and there were no details on where'd they been (also applies to the manga).
That said, those were the only weaknesses. The animations continue to improve, especially for fights. There was one particular cool scene where Chocolove was dodging the possessed BoZ's attacks as he tried to flank Peyote. I liked how the camera panned to different angles and the motions were very smooth.
It's at a lower framerate (10 fps) for file size reasons, but hopefully, you get my point.
Lastly, the humor continues to be funny. For instance, after the match, the Ren's entire family was in the stands cheering him on including all of their animated corpses (or Jiang Shi) in the background. And to rub salt on the wound, Horohoro teased Ren about it to which the latter declared he would kill his dad. The timing was perfect, too, as it happened right after Ren made a badass declaration to Yoh that his team would win out.
Seeing the Jiang Shi hold those flags in the background just makes this scene very amusing.
The quality has steadily improved each episode and I hope to see that trend continue. As long as Bridge limits the hiccups like the lackluster voice acting of that one character Chocolove murdered, then this is will be remembered as a very good adaptation. Onto the next match.