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Shaman King (Shaman King, Vol. 20)
by Hiroyuki Takei
Original Title: シャーマンキング (Shaman King)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Supernatural
English, Paperback, 210 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by VIZ Media LLC (first published January 6th 2004)
Purchase link: VIZ Media
We continue to look back to the past, when Yoh and Anna were bound together and Matamune sacrificed himself to save them. But in the present, Yoh seems to have sacrificed his chance to become Shaman King, and Ren still lies unconscious. Will Lady Jeanne keep her end of the bargain and save Ren's life?
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
This is the second time I'm writing this review. I first wrote it on notepad but my laptop suddenly died on me so it all got lost. :( Anyway, volume 20 picks up right after volume 19, when Anna finally decides to go with Yoh to the temple to pray, though she was extremely reluctant, scared that she will accidentally summon an oni (ogre-like demon) most especially since it was New Years and there will be thousands of people praying in the temple, thus it will be inevitable to sense their emotions such as worries, hope and fear.
In volume 20, the readers finally understand the true reason why Matamune was sent to accompany Yoh to meet Anna. It’s because Anna’s situation greatly resembles that of Hao’s. Hao is the major villain in the series who was first born 1000 years ago and is reincarnated every 500 years in time for the Shaman fight. Hao was Matamune’s master, the one who gave him the abilities he currently possesses, and the one Matamune killed due to his evil intentions to humanity. This has never stopped plaguing Matamune’s thoughts and though Hao became evil in the long run, he was still the first person to show compassion to Matamune. It’s revealed that the reason why Matamune travelled and read a lot is because he is looking for a way to forgive himself from everything he had done to the master he loved so greatly.
I love that this arc also establishes the connection between Anna and Hao and why it is only Yoh who holds the key to defeat him. Both Anna and Hao have the reishi and the only difference is that Hao can control the onis while Anna can’t. It was mentioned in one of the chapters in SK that the reishi is born from loneliness. Everyone becomes lonely at some point in their lives, but how much loneliness does it take for that power to form? Anna was abandoned by her parents in Mt. Osore because they were scared of her powerful shamanic abilities. How does it feel like to be resented by everyone including your own family? To know exactly what they’re thinking and feeling about you? The reishi also has the power to absorb other people’s feelings so it’s not only Anna’s feelings that she’s handling. Every hate, fear, worry, greed… she knew all of these because she felt all of them.
This is where Yoh comes into the picture. Even though he knew that Anna will call forth an oni, he still took her to the temple. In another perspective, this can only look as idiocy; waiting for a tragedy to happen. But in Anna’s perspective, this is a big deal. For the first time in her life, she found someone who’s not scared of her abilities, someone who’s willing to believe in her, trust her. Yoh showed her love.
This is read from RIGHT to LEFT
I don’t know if Yoh realized it but he’s definitely bluffing there. He hardly escaped the small oni Anna summoned before and the other one before that. And I think she also knows that there's so way Yoh can defend her from her oni. But like I said, bluff or not, this is huge for Anna. The thought that someone, for the first time in her life, is willing to be by her side and help her go through her curse finally broke the walls she carefully surrounded herself with.
Even when the oo-oni (giant oni) materialized, Yoh didn’t leave her side. He fought it no matter if it’s a lost cause. Even if saving her means sacrificing an important friend to Yoh. This is also what Matamune wished he should’ve done to Hao a long time ago. He thinks that if he only believed in Hao and stayed by him as a friend, he would’ve been saved. Instead, Matamune killed him and until now, he’s still drowning in regrets. But by sacrificing himself to save Anna, maybe he can finally let go of all those regrets and move on.
In this volume, we find out that the bear claws necklace that Yoh is wearing in the whole course of the series originally came from Hao who then gave it to Matamune so that he can retain his spirit form. When his spirit died, the necklace remained and Yoh promised that when he becomes powerful enough, he would use it as a medium to call his spirit back again. Thinking this and looking back at the events in SK, I can’t help but feel sad; only knowing now that the necklace holds such important memories and promise.
Also, something I noticed about this backstory is that it’s narrated by Yoh. I initially thought this was narrated by Anna because it looked like she started the flashback, but it’s really Yoh who’s narrating it. It’s so rare that he shows affection for Anna so just by knowing that he’s thinking of his feelings for Anna and Matamune makes my heart so damn happy.
I keep telling myself that volume 19 is my favourite volume in the series, but whenever I read volume 20, I can’t help but cry. It has so much feels! Those two images are actually from volume 19 but it wouldn’t have made sense if I included them in the review of previous volume because this is where everything comes into place.
Rating: 5/5 stars