Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Manga Mondays (3): Shaman King, Volume 19 [Mt. Osore Le Voile arc Part 1]

Manga Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Alison @ Alison Can Read

Hello my babies 
Hey all! I was doing a major clean-up of my shelves and book boxes last week and came across some of my volumes of Shaman King (and other manga). Shaman King is one of my most favorite manga series and 19 & 20 are my most favorite SK volumes so I thought to reread it since it's New Years and the volumes take place during the season. I used to be a major shipper of Anna and Yoh as well and this is my favorite arc in the series, so why not revisit some old friends?


Warning: Spoilers ahead! 

Shaman King (Shaman King, Vol. 19)
by Hiroyuki Takei
Original Title: シャーマンキング (Shaman King)
Demographic: Shonen
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Supernatural
English, Paperback, 210 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by VIZ Media LLC (first published May 13th 2004 by Shueisha)
Purchase link: VIZ Media

Volume Summary:
The unthinkable has happened--Yoh has withdrawn from the Shaman Fight! What happens now? To understand Yoh's future we must revisit his past, back to when he and Anna first met. How did their acquaintance shape Yoh's fate, and what terrible secret still burns between them?

The volume begins with a prologue that picks up after Yoh Asakura decided to quit the Shaman fight in order to revive Ren Tao. I don't remember exactly what happened prior to this, but it has always been Yoh's dream to become the Shaman King but Yoh being Yoh, he easily sacrificed this dream to save a friend. However, the person really affected the most by his decision is Anna Kyoyama, Yoh's fiancee who has made it a point to make him the Shaman King. In the last few pages of the prologue, we see her piling stones on Yoh's oracle bell symbolizing that she's accepting the death of Yoh's dreams whilst remembering the time they first met, which then leads us to the proper start of the arc.

The Mt. Osore Le Voile arc tells the story of how Anna and Yoh met, but more than that, it introduces us to Matamune, a spirit cat that has been serving the Asakura clan for a thousand years. When I first met Matamune, I thought that he was only a passing character which will later be buried in the growing list of SK characters, but no, I was astounded by how huge his role is in this series. He is practically the character that every reader doesn't know is missing from the start till the end of the manga. Matamune is appointed by Kino Asakura, Yoh's grandmother, to accompany Yoh to Mt. Osore to meet his fiance, Anna, which surprised Yoh because, well, he's an awkward 10 year old who doesn't have friends in school and has never even talked to a girl so it really made him nervous. This is an arranged marriage orchestrated by Kino. The Asakura clan is well-known in the Shaman world and as the Shaman fight is fast approaching, Kino wanted Yoh to be married to a powerful shaman in the hopes that she could help Yoh win the Shaman fight.

Alhough I initially thought that Matamune was only a passing character, I came to like Matamune very easily. Not only is he a cat (because kitties are way cute,) but he's also very perceptive, intelligent, likes to read books, and he wears traditional Japanese clothes too. A single glance at him will also tell you that he's old, has depth and has so much story to tell. But more of him in the next volume. Let's get back to Anna and Yoh first because their first meeting is the highlight of the volume for me. :P

If you're looking for a shonen manga with romance in it, Shaman King is not for you. The series has almost no romance in it. We have the YohxAnna couple but these two have the most bizarre relationship in the world of fiction. The readers know that Anna loves Yoh as she openly admits it a couple of times in the series, but she doesn't display her feelings for him in a way normal people do. I don't believe her physical abuse of Yoh is a way of affection because she practically beats up everyone whom she regards as being an idiot or everyone who goes against her orders. But Yoh is much harder to decipher. He's always way too scared of getting beaten up by Anna as is shown by him always shaking like a scared kitten at the thought of Anna's wrath. He never openly admitted that he loves her as well so it made me think that this love is a one-sided thing on Anna's part UNTIL this arc. Um, excuse me while I fangirl, because volume 19 chapter 164 is where Anna and Yoh met for the very first time and you know what happened? Yoh totally fell in love at first sight with Anna while Anna glared daggers at him and told him to "die" just because he was blocking Anna's way. And in a total Yoh fashion, he cries (comically) and flees in fright. Okay, still fangirling here.

This is even funnier because there's a poem that's constantly showed in the previous chapters:
The one who awaits you
Will never let you feel lonely
Know this at least
Know this at least
And the one who's waiting Yoh is Anna who's already making Yoh feel lonely AND terrified.

But really, who knew that the only person who could actually beat Anna in the mean scale is her past self? But as this arc is supposed to shed a better light to Anna, her past is revealed later on. And once
again, I was surprised by the revelations in this volume. I still have a lot of questions about her
origin since the volume only mentions her state when Grandma Kino found her in Mt. Osore and not
where she actually came from, though we did learn that Anna is a very powerful itako who has the ability to read minds and summon oni (demons) uncontrollably. After the meeting with Yoh, she accidentally conjured an oni which was easily defeated by Matamune, and later another one. After the encounter with the second oni and Yoh has proved himself a decent person, they are seen watching music specials on TV awkwardly together since their favorite musicians are both performing. This chapter is another favorite because it shows the start of Anna opening up to someone and also because the moments are fangirl-worthy. Yoh says mushy things innocently to Anna and there's a lot of blushing and perverted thoughts. Anna slaps him in return and Yoh ends up asking her out on a date. Really, not only does this volume captures Anna in a better light but it also does the same to Yoh's feelings for her. I honestly cried out of happiness when I read this again. I remember now why I loved these two so much. Anyway this chapter marks the end of the volume. Next week on Manga Mondays, I'll post my thoughts for the second part of the Mt. Osore Le Voile arc where I'm hoping to cover Yoh's character and Matamune and Anna's connection to Hao. :)

Rating: 5/5 stars

I just realized that I talked about this volume as if you knew this title, lol. I forgot you might not even know what shamans are. I honestly don't know if shamans portrayed in this series are what shamans truly are, but anyhow, here's to hoping that you have at least watched the anime because aside from the crappy ending (the manga has much better and real ending), the anime is actually really good and very funny too!

4 comments:

  1. Yoh totally fell in love at first sight while Anna glares at him and told him to "go and die." --> LOL, I think I could like these two, a hard-bitten Anna and all. I'd probably be all over this if it was a book and not manga. I've never really been a huge manga reader. But I'm glad to see you enjoyed it. :) Lovely review!

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    1. I have different tastes in manga and novels so I probably won't like this if this were a novel. But thanks, Sam! I hope that when you get on to reading manga, you will try Shaman King out. :)

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  2. I've never read a single manga Chel! It's something I think I would enjoy because I'm a huge fan of the artwork. Though I'd probably get distracted just staring at the gorgeous illustrations and wouldn't read the text. Well done me:) The line Sam highlighted above made me snort, and I'm kinda a big fan of Yoh already. I love how much your love for this manga comes through in your review, it just makes me happy!

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    1. I'm actually not a huge manga reader. As self-proclaimed otaku, I was more of anime and fanfiction person. I read more manga online than print copies because majority of the ones I love were not licensed in English. Anyhow, I easily get distracted by other things on the internet and there are extremely few manga that I can read with my utmost focus. I love manga with great artwork too but I never got distracted by them.

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