In the previous episode, Shaman King dramatically raised the stakes of the tournament with the merciless brutality of the X-Laws, particularly its leader Jeanne. To recap, Jeanne, Marco, and Lyserg went up against Team Niles. Lyserg almost singlehandedly wiped the entire opposing team, but hesitated to kill prompting Jeanne to jump in. Jeanne executed all of Team Niles in bloody fashion for the win, sending a chilling warning to everyone who dared to defy the X-Laws.
While I have criticized the anime for omitting some of the more violent and bloody aspects of the series, I praised Bridge for not pulling back in this particular match. On the downside, the animations took a step back from the previous fights and the battle felt more pedestrian. With Yoh's team next, how will he, Ryu, and Faust handle their first match?
This episode adapts chapters 126 through 130 of the manga.
Pre-OP, Manta wakes up after fainting from witnessing Jeanne executing Team Niles. Faust, who has been watching over him as everyone else left for food, is glad he's okay. Manta expresses his concerns for him and his friends after seeing how violent the tournament can be, but Faust assures him that as long as he has faith in Yoh and others, everything will be fine.
Meanwhile, everyone else is getting dinner at a restaurant. Anna is getting frustrated over Ryu picking fights with other shamans and Yoh being extremely laid back. Then, Yoh casually states that his team will defeat their opponents in one shot which brings the attention of everyone in the building. His friends criticize him for talking big for no reason, but Yoh doubles down on his statement and responds that mastering the Chō-Senjiryakketsu has given him and his team a massive power-up.
Anna annoyed at Yoh's lax demeanor.
Team Icemen, Yoh's opponents, happens to have overheard his bold declaration and are not happy. The leader, Pino, is especially pissed as he and his teammates have endured harsh trials throughout their lives, and on the flip side of the coin, Yoh carries on with a happy-go-lucky attitude. Team Icemen has a run-in with Ren, Horohoro, and Chocolove where Pino finds their fighting prowess weak. However, Ren warns them not to take Yoh lightly despite his laid-back appearance.
Team Icemen: Zria & spirit Vodyanoy (left), Pino & spirit Badbh (middle), and Tona & spirit Deht (right)
Both Team Funbari Onsen (Yoh's team) and Team Icemen face each other in the arena. Though before the battle begins, Yoh flexes on his opponents by demonstrating his newly acquired power. By integrating Amidamaru into Harusame and a stone sword relic, the Futunomitama no Turugi, Yoh creates a giant spirit sword as his new Oversoul. He will later disengage his Oversoul to conserve power, but that does not stop Team Icemen from feeling intimidated at what they just witnessed.
Yoh and his new Oversoul power, Spirit of Sword.
Once the fight officially begins, Team Icemen immediately target Faust, who appears to be the weakest as he's on a wheelchair. However, through his clever necromancy, he uses the bones of his deceased dog, Frankensteiny, as his prosthetic legs to evade Team Icemen's onslaught. When his opponents try to attack him again, Faust instinctively protects his wife and spirit, Eliza, even though she cannot be physically harmed. He reveals that thanks to Anna's guidance, he regains Eliza's actual soul and his own purpose in life. Before the episode concludes, he shows the fruits of his Chō-Senjiryakketsu training and summons his Mephisto-E Oversoul.
Faust uses his Mephisto-E Oversoul for the first time, featuring a giant Eliza.
Adaptation-wise, the episode was solid. Almost everything from the corresponding chapters of the manga were adapted into this episode with the exception of one small exchange. However, I felt that something was missing and it could be due to how this episode rode was more chit chatty than usual.
Part of it was due to how the conversations were drawn out. Nearly half the episode was the lead-up to the actual fight, leaving not that much time for the real action to happen. I felt that much of the first half could be condensed which would leave more room for Team Funbari Onsen vs. Team Icemen. That said, the episode did really well at taking advantage of the less active moments for exposition. I thought Manta and Faust's conversation at the beginning was very touching, and the episode cleverly used Hao's "infinite" wisdom (he's technically been around for over 1000 years) to explain how Yoh's new Oversoul worked.
During the actual fight, the battle animations felt static and pedestrian. Team Icemen's combo attacks would have had more oomph had the studio provided more sense of space and direction. Instead, all of their attacks are depicted with generic backgrounds. It also did not help that the pacing of the match was pretty much stop-and-start. In contrast, some of the still shots throughout the episode were on point. Yoh's Spirit of Sword and Faust's Mephisto-E panels were very well drawn.
Lastly, the humor continues to be a strong point. This episode did a good job utilizing different types of humor. Yoh's cold-blooded nonchalance at the beginning was funnily assholish. Not mentioned in the summary, but Team Icemen using Chocolove as a prop to demonstrate their powers and Faust going all lovey-dovey with Eliza during the match were pretty funny, too.
Overall, this is not a bad episode per se, but this is definitely the weakest of the tournament arc. It would be nice to see some more dynamism and better pacing as this one was a bit too talkative for my liking.