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Shaman King- A below-average story
Shaman King is a shounen manga (later adapted into an anime) written by Hiroyuki Takei, that chronicles the adventures of Yoh Asakura and his friends as they attempt to win the Shaman Fight, a tournament style brawl directed by Native Americans that is held every 500 years. Shaman King's exposition seems like a fine topic for a shounen manga series, what with all of the giant fights that can be held together by its tournament like setup. However, the execution of the series falls flat, and there are a number of faults and design choices that contribute to the below-par rating that I'm assigning it.

Shaman King's greatest fault is no doubt the absurd length of its fight scenes. An example of this happens in the tournament saga of the story; in what was supposed to be a curb stomp battle by the resident big bad, the big bad spends seven to eight chapters going on about the great spirit and taking forever to just kill some fodder. Keep in mind that this snail-speed pacing is prevalent throughout the entire story: expect every single fight to take anywhere from five to thirteen chapters!

If the pacing of the drivel isn't enough to convince you, there's the assignment of power levels to deal with. In shounen manga, quantized power levels don't work out well, because it's tough to put a realistic cap on power. Like in Dragonball Z, the "furyoku" power levels hit the mid-millions before the end, which directly kills the atmopshere of realism that any story needs to convey its main points to the reader.

When you add in the shallowest characterization possible (that makes bowdlerization look elegant), the fact that one spear, sword, or explosion must be involved in every battle, and that death means nothing in this series (as one can simply come back to life) and you end up with a below-average story. A story so below-average that it makes FFVII: Advent Children look good by comparison.
I gotta admit I agree with some things, but overall this review actually hurt my head. I couldn't take you seriously even if I tried, after: "which directly kills the atmopshere of realism that any story needs to convey its main points to the reader". And weird you say that about furyoku because unlike in Dragon Ball Z they always referred to it as just the quantity of mana and it was repeatedly said and showed (even in the first true fight that it was used -Yoh vs Ren-) that a person with less furyoku could defeat someone with more, something that was shown repeatedly since most of the time the main cast had less furyoku then the defeated opponent.
comment #8462 marcellX 6th Jul 11 (edited by: marcellX)
"expect every single fight to take anywhere from five to thirteen chapters!"

"Like in Dragonball Z, the "furyoku" power levels hit the mid-millions before the end"

"death means nothing in this series (as one can simply come back to life)"

...You do realize this is a Shounen, don't you?
comment #22051 kkhohoho 16th Nov 13
And how does that dissuade any of the criticisms? Shounen is a demographic; the variety of works it contains is far too broad to just dismiss criticisms of a particular Shounen series as "well what do you expect, given that it's Shounen?"
comment #22058 MFM 16th Nov 13
There is a tendency to misuse 'shounen' to mean 'fighting series'... which still doesn't mean one should expect those particular issues
comment #22061 Hylarn 17th Nov 13
You forgot to mention the odd combination of the Big Bad being a Boring Invincible Villain with making it impossible to use Shonen Upgrade except in the case of Back from the Dead, meaning that the Big Bad is certain to win and the heroes doomed to fail right from the outset.
comment #22073 shiro_okami 17th Nov 13
@MFM: You do realize this is a Fighting Shounen, don't you? (Yes, I know I made a mistake. By 'Shounen', I meant 'Fighting Shounen', which is practically a genre in it's own right.

Hylarn: And yes, you should expect them. They're staple tropes of the genre that hail as far back as Kinnikuman (1979), and exist in series as famous as Dragonball Z. No, they don't show up all the time, but they still show up often enough; how can one not expect them?
comment #22097 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
A work from a genre can still be criticized for having flaws common to the genre. By giving it a free pass, one implies that you shouldn't expect too much, which is rather insulting to Shonen.
comment #22098 doctrainAUM 18th Nov 13
I think what he means is that they're not nesesarily flaws, but general things that have worked for the demographic
comment #22100 marcellx 18th Nov 13
I'm not saying to give it a free pass, but he (the reviewer) was acting as though those flaws were unique to Shaman King — as if most Fighting Shounen didn't have them — when a number of them do. But the fact is that many otherwise good Fighting Shounen do have those tropes, flawed as they may be. Personally, I read a lot of Superhero Comic Books, which makes some 'flaws' of Fighting Shounen, (mainly the whole death thing,) look miniscule by comparison. And I still enjoy them. Same with Fighting Shounen. It's just a part of the subgenre, and if you don't like it, then you should probably read something else. Like non-Fighting Shounen.
comment #22101 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
@marcellex: Exactly. And when I said 'flaws' right above this post, it's only because that's what we seemed to be calling them in this discussion. :P
comment #22102 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
Your argument still boils down to "a lot of other series in this genre do this, so it's okay if this series does it." Drawn-out fights are a flaw because it makes interest in the fights dwindle quickly, which is the last thing you want in a battle Shounen. Power creep is a flaw because it trivializes what happened earlier in the series, as well as often making the fights more static and less interesting. Death meaning nothing is a flaw because it trivializes the fights further; what stake should the reader have in it if the worst possible consequence doesn't actually mean much?

Them being common in the genre doesn't change any of those facts.
comment #22103 MFM 18th Nov 13
So, you're saying that you don't like much Fighting Shounen? Because that's what I'm understanding here. You don't like drawn-out fights, power levels, or Death Is Cheap. Not that I'm saying that those shouldn't be dealt with, but it just seems like your real problem is that you don't like these tropes, and thus, just don't like much Fighting Shounen. And if so, you should probably stay away from it, since there's a loooooooooooooooot of that throughout the subgenre.
comment #22104 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
I never said that. I enjoy quite a few fighting Shounen series; it's just that for those I enjoy, either those flaws aren't present, or for those where it is, I'm usually able to ignore it because the other parts of the series make up for it.
comment #22105 MFM 18th Nov 13
Same here. I just think that there's no point on harping on those issues so much, since they're such an essential part of the Subgenre. They've been there for decades, and they're not going to go away anytime soon. It's like complaining that Superhero Comicbooks keep killing off and bringing back their characters; it's not going to leave.
comment #22106 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
There's a difference between something being badly done and something being bad by definition. I don't like teen dramas basically for core features, however I understand why it's demographic likes it.
comment #22109 marcellx 18th Nov 13
...So, do you think that the core features of Fighting Shonen can actually be done well, or do you consider them bad by definition?
comment #22110 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
...You're arguing that characters coming back to life is a core feature of fighting series?
comment #22111 Hylarn 18th Nov 13
...Yes, but let me elaborate. I am not saying that a Fighting Shounen needs to have it, nor is it not good without it. What I am saying is that it shows up so freaking much that it's a staple of Fighting Shonen. Again, it's like Comic Books; you'd wish you could get rid of Death Is Cheap, but you can't. It's going to stick around, because the writers keep wanting to use it. It's in Dragonball, it's in Kinnikuman, it's in Shaman King, etc. It doesn't matter whether or not I like it; the fact is, it shows up all over the freaking place. That's why I call it a 'core feature'; not because it's necessary, but because it's essentially a staple part of any Fighting Shonen, since it keeps. Being. Used. Graaaaahh. It'd make me pull my hair our, if I wasn't so used to it.
comment #22112 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
Ack! Not 'any' Fighting Shonen, just many! Sorry...
comment #22113 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
I don't even consider the core things I don't like about teen dramas as bad by definition, I'm just stating that there'sa difference between the review author saying that those things that are prominent in fighting shounens were done badly than saying it's bad simply just to have them (which is what s/he did). These things can be considered tropes, and as we know, tropes are not bad.
comment #22114 marcellx 18th Nov 13
Right. Heck, even a reconstruction can be done well, if the full weight of both the prior death, and the present resurrection, are fully explored and felt. So long as you show the consequences for this sort of thing, it's not bad. It's when they don't show the consequences — as if dieing and coming back was just a trip to the store — that you start to really have problems...
comment #22115 kkhohoho 18th Nov 13
When I said 'reconstruction', I mean 'reconstruction.' My bad.
comment #22123 kkhohoho 19th Nov 13
ARGH. I meant 'resurrection.'
comment #22124 kkhohoho 19th Nov 13
My god. How did this review get from having only one comment to over 20 in less than a week?
comment #22125 Awesomekid42 19th Nov 13
Behold the magic of the flamewar, my friend.
comment #24441 peixe200 20th May 14
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