Previously, Yoh, Ryu, and Faust just began their match against Team Icemen. Before the fight, Team Icemen (really the leader, Pino) got pissed at Yoh for nonchalantly proclaiming that he could end the match in one strike. Team Icemen were looking forward to knocking Team Funbari Springs down a peg, but they soon realized that they were getting more than they had bargained for.
While I was satisfied with the episode, adaptation-wise, it sort of fell flat mainly due to a lot of talking and pedestrian animation. While Shaman King is not known for super fancy animation techniques, the anime did step up with some more pizzazz in previous episodes. In addition, the pacing felt sluggish and the content could've been adapted in less time. Will the match end on a strong note?
This episode adapts chapters 131 through 135 of the manga.
The episode starts off with Faust flaunting his Mephisto-E Oversoul. He goes on a pretty cool monologue of how his Oversoul is named after the demon Faust I (in reference to the protagonist from the play, Doctor Faustus) summoned, Mephistopheles, and Eliza (the E).
Faust and Mephisto-E Oversoul emanating an impressive amount of furyoku.
Meanwhile, Team Icemen is intimidated by not just the size of Faust's Oversoul, but also his huge furyoku pool. Pino, being the stubborn man he is, tries to freeze Yoh, but Ryu intercepts his attack. It appears that Ryu is frozen solid, but he easily melts the ice with his furyoku. Team Icemen tries to freeze Ryu solid, but the results ends up the same. Pino laments how a bunch of "nobodies" are able to overpower his team who has survived a lot of hardship. Ryu retorts that even though they went through a lot, their will is nothing compared to his and Faust's support for Yoh... or Anna's hellacious Chō-Senjiryakketsu training. He, then, summons his giant Oversoul.
Ryu reliving his Vietnam flashbacks from Anna's Chō-Senjiryakketsu training.
Ryu's new Oversoul, Yamata no Orochi Go.
Pino is both overwhelmed and extremely frustrated at how the match is going. He takes it out on Yoh for a second time, but Yoh easily deflects his attacks without moving a finger. All of Team Icemen, then, attacks Yoh in unison, but he calmly uses his furyoku to redirect his opponents' attacks away (ability is called Fumon Tonkō). In a Goku-like fashion, Yoh tells Team Icemen to go all out against him as a way for his opponents to lose with no regrets. Team Icemen launches an impressive North Pole Aurora (thumbnail) though the outcome is predictable: Yoh easily neutralizes the attack and wins the match.
Team Icemen try to take on Yoh all at once.
Team Icemen prepares their ultimate attack, North Pole Aurora.
Outside of the arena, Ren can tell that Yoh has won the match. Hao pops out of nowhere and surprisingly offers Ren a chance to join his group. When Hao tells him that at the rate he's going, he will never surpass Yoh, Ren angrily attacks. However, Hao easily stops his naginata and corrodes the blade. He walks away with the offer still open while Ren is sweating bullets from sensing Hao's seemingly infinite furyoku supply and "invisible" intermediary.
Ren attacks Hao with his naginata.
The episode ends with two small scenes. Pino and Horohoro make up for their run-in from the previous episode with the former expressing his thanks to Yoh. Meanwhile, Yoh meets up with Lyserg to check on him before the credits roll.
Pino and Horohoro post-match.
Yoh and Lyserg see each other for the first time since they split up in Patch Village.
This episode was definitely better executed than the previous one. While the last episode felt like a slog, this one was able to hit on all the story beats without stalling.
One of the reasons behind this strong finish was the cut-down on exposition, something that the previous episode had in excess. While there was still a lot of dialogue, it was put more towards expanding the lore (e.g. Faust referencing Faust I from Doctor Faustus) and character development (e.g. Pino going from being an arrogant, prideful shaman to a more humble person).
Animations still felt pedestrian which is a shame because Team Icemen's battle tactics were pretty clever. With better animation, it would've portrayed Pino, Zria, and Tano as very strong shamans. The static depiction didn't do them justice, in my opinion.
But the anime really stepped it up in the drawing department. Some drawings like the North Pole Aurora attack, Faust's Mephisto-E Oversoul, and Ryu's Yamata no Orochi Oversoul were extremely detailed and vibrant. My favorite detail was when Eliza (as Mephisto-E) blushed when Faust talked about her being clumsy with shots. It is a very subtle tidbit, but does a really good job humanizing Eliza. The 2001 anime and the manga did not do a good job portraying Eliza's transformation from a mere necromancy puppet to an actual human spirit.
Lastly, the audio was a big strength throughout the episode, as well. The anime did a really good job leveraging its impressive soundtrack to accentuate the tense and heartwarming moments. On top of that, the voice acting from the main characters and Team Icemen was top notch, and there was not a moment where a line felt off.
Oh, and on a random note, watching giant Eliza wipe Faust's sweat off his head was both cute and funny.