Thursday, July 03, 2008

Shaman King Volume 14 by Hiroyuki Takei

The Shaman Fight has officially started, and Yoh's team is registered as the Funbari Hot Springs Team. In the ring, a Shaman called Joco relives how he became a Shaman with a power animal from South America despite the fact that he grew up in Brooklyn. His teacher was the last member of a South American tribe wiped out by the excesses of civilization. His mentor used humor as a weapon, even though his jokes weren't funny in the least. When Joco's old gang killed his mentor, Joco grew into his powers and used them against his former gang. Not to kill them, for his old gang mates are now part of his entourage.

Joco uses the same sort of unfunny humor on his opponents, but in laughing at him, they are distracted and he is able to defeat them with his team leader, Tao Ren. But while Joco is opposed to killing, Tao Ren has no such reservations.

The next team up is the X-Laws, who are set to fight a team with an Egyptian motif. One of the members of the X-Law team causes Wooden Sword Ryu's pompadour to fall down. He knows Lyserg, who he befriended and who he thought shared his aversion to killing. The Lyserg fighting with the X-Laws seems to feel quite differently, and he mows through the Egyptian team like a scythe. However, when the time comes to actually kill them, Lyserg's spirit abandons him, revealing doubts over his actions.

The Leader of the X-Laws group, a girl named Jeanne, emerges from the Iron Maiden that everyone has assumed was the X-Laws team symbol or mascot. Jeanne appears to be a holy maiden, living in the Iron Maiden as a penance for the sins of man. The entire stadium is taken with her, even Yoh, who thinks that he would be content to live under such a Shaman King.

But then Jeanne reveals her true side, and her spirit aide, the Babylonian God, Shamash, God of Inflexible Law, who crushes the three Egyptian team members using weapons of torture. The battle ends with the Egyptian team dead, and Manta passed out at seeing something that shocking and gruesome. Yoh guesses he'll have to be Shaman King after all. Jeanne may appear holy, but her methods are anything but.

And now we come to the less interesting part of the manga, where it becomes all about fighting. I was going to stop reading it here, because all the endless battle stuff becomes tedious very quickly. Less so in this book, since the battles reveal at least something about the character of the people fighting. But really, when the story devolves to two sides each bringing out more and bigger weapons/spiritual "Oversoul" attacks in a slow but subtle or not so subtle series of one upsmanship, how interesting can it be?

Perhaps other readers, such as those who can endlessly watch the Dragonball anime or read the manga over and over again will find this interesting. Me, I simply don't. I am not involved in the fights and none of the characters draw me enough that I will be rooting for them in the struggle. If this was in real life and I was one of the people fighting, then I would be interested. But until then, it's just endless fighting. "Ooh, so and so powered up their oversoul. Now he pulled a new technique out of their ass. Ooh, pretty special effects!" That just doesn't do it for me.

I won't be buying this series. I wouldn't pay money for it, especially not with the battles in the volume. But if you like Dragonball and the Battle Tournament Scenes in Yu Yu Hakusho, you'll want to check out this series starting with this volume. Otherwise, you'll probably be better giving it a miss.

No comments: