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Manga / Shaman King

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Shaman King is a manga series created by Hiroyuki Takei, also author of Butsu Zone. It was originally published from 1998 to 2004 in Weekly Shonen Jump.

In the world of Shaman King, special humans possessing spiritual power act as mediums between the worlds of the living and the dead. With enough talent and training, these humans can even channel a bonded soul to gain the powers and abilities it had in life, from legendary samurai to kung-fu masters.

Yoh Asakura is a Brilliant, but Lazy shaman who has bonded with a samurai spirit named Amidamaru. Together with his best friend Manta Oyamada, an Ordinary High-School Student with just enough power to see spirits, and his Tsundere "fiancée" Anna Kyouyama, Yoh dreams of becoming the Shaman King: The Chosen One able to channel The Great Spirit and reshape the world however he or she sees fit. To do this, he must win the Shaman Fight, a once-in-a-lifetime competition that will decide just who is the most powerful and worthy shaman in the world.


This series shows a tremendous amount of research on Takei's part, since it features shamanistic concepts from many different cultures. Sadly, the manga was Cut Short when its popularity faded. It's now gotten a completely redrawn re-release in Japan under the title of Shaman King Kang Zeng Bangnote  in which the actual ending was released over two more volumes. A Western release of this edition has yet to be announced.

The manga ended after 300 chapters. There is a sequel called Shaman King: Flowers, which was started April 2012 but was discontinued until 2018 when it was revived as Shaman King The Super Star and a spin-off series, Shaman King Gaiden: Red Crimson. There's also the supplementary manga Shaman King 0 which tells short stories of the characters before the main one, and Shaman King Remix Track short stories in the reprinted edition of humorous nature.


Its anime adaptation, which was animated by Xebec and spans 64 episodes aired from July 4, 2001 to September 25, 2002 on TV Tokyo, was one of the many series dubbed into English by 4Kids. The Spanish and Latin Americans also got a translation, and had the Japanese original dubbed in Spanish with only a bit of Cultural Translation and pretty decent casts. Both the 4Kids dub and a local language dub were shown in the Philippines, leading to inevitable comparisons and some confusion.

In June 2020, it was announced that a new anime adaptation will premiere on April 1, 2021 on TV Tokyo, with animation done by Bridge. The series will also stream on Netflix.

Not to be confused with the manhwa Shaman Warrior.

Provides examples of:

  • Actionized Adaptation: The anime is on the whole more action-driven than the manga.
  • Adaptation Deviation: The anime adaptation follows the route of the manga with only slight changes up until the Shaman tournament begins, at which point both stories diverge fairly radically down to the anime getting a much different ending where Hao is defeated, while in the manga The Bad Guy Wins.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the manga, Horohoro first appeared in chapter 32 after Yoh's fight with Silva. The 2001 anime however introduced him in Episode 10 long before the story arcs where Ryu Meets Tokagero and Yoh learns the power of Over Souls were adapted yet.
  • Adults Are Useless: Semi-inverted. An interesting case where the parents know exactly what's going on with their kids. They have decided to leave the fate of the world to their children, seeing how they have their limits and their children can still grow. Subverted with Faust, an adult who is a valuable asset to the team.
  • Aerith and Bob: While there is a decent amount of this throughout the series, the X-Laws provide a great example. They consist of: Marco, Dingbat, Larch, Venstar, Porf and finally... Minnie and Kevin.
  • Affably Evil: Hao is the main villain yet most of the time, he's smiling and acting cheerful and friendly, even while doing extremely horrible things.
  • All There in the Manual: Hao's past is explained in a side story. Though it sort makes sense since, nobody around but him knew about it.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: 4kids created a different opening for American market (that was imported to some other foreign markets in Europe). It's quite catchy.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: This was part of Hao/Zeke's Start of Darkness in the Anime. After saving some people from a rogue spirit, he read her minds, and saw that they considered him a freak that they only tolerated for his abilities, with one believing he would turn on them sooner or later, and another even plotting to find a way to steal his power. As you can imagine, this soured his attitude towards regular humans.
  • Anti-Villain: It's an established rule of the series that truly evil people cannot see ghosts. Therefore, all 'evil' shamans are either convinced they're doing the right thing or not as bad as they seem.
  • Anyone Can Die: Pretty much everyone dies at one point or another. Then they get better. Most of them, that is.
  • Arc Welding: Shaman King 0 shows that Sati Saigan from Gandara Team is really Sachi from Butsu Zone.
  • Art Evolution: Two gradual, yet noticeable improvements in style. Compare the early chapters with middle chapters and then those with the chapters toward the end and the overall quality improves drastically.
  • Ascended Fanboy: In the 2001 anime only, Manta actually becomes a shaman.
  • Author Appeal: Allegedly, Anna was written as the kind of woman the author likes. Since she was a Canon Immigrant from a former manga by the same author, this shouldn't surprise us.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Giant Oversouls, such as Yoh's Spirit of Sword are extremely powerful. However, thanks to the size of the Oversoul, these kinds of techniques consume a lot of Furyoku and can only be used for a limited time.
  • Babies Ever After:
    • Hana, the son of Yoh and Anna in the epilogue. This was hinted at when Yoh and Anna "slept together" the night before the start of the Shaman tournament and later when Yoh's ancestor Asakura Yohken asked Yoh if he had any children, causing Yoh to blush.
    • Also in the epilogue, Ren has a son. He refuses to tell who the mother is, but Lyserg points out that the boy has silver hair and red eyes, implying that it's probably Iron Maiden Jeanne.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Could apply to Matamune. Cat with a pipe here and changes into a katana here. You decide.
    • Most of our Kid Heroes are this, being cute and attractive teenagers with amazing shamanic powers. Special mention even goes to Anna for being a cute girl who defeated and tamed Hao's shikigamis and later gave a painful slap across the face to him himself.
  • Badass Family: All the Shaman families are incredibly formidable in battle. For example: The Asakura Family has generated some of the greatest Shamans ever and the Tao family is essentially a long line of the world's foremost Shaman assassins.
  • Badass Native: Indigenous characters are often shown to have a greater bond with nature and thus, greater shamanistic power. The chief examples are the entire Patch Native-American tribe (who seem to be wholly composed of Shamans) and Horohoro, who is an Ainu from Hokkaido (Japan's indigenous population).
  • Bag of Spilling: Averted in the stories that take place after the original manga. Though they aren't actively used, Yoh, Ren, Horohoro, Chocolove, and Lyserg each still have their respective Elemental Spirit that they gained to fight Hao.
  • Barely Changed Dub Name: The English version changed Ryu to "Rio" and Jun to "June".
  • Berserk Button: The cruel and calm Faust freaks out and starts ranting at Yoh when he calls Eliza, his wife, a doll that he's playing with.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Anna the Third, who came all the way to Tokyo to challenge Hana to battle and make him her fiance if he wins.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Hao. And Jeanne. And Yoh, really. ...Basically, if a character is smiling, friendly, and happy, they probably have enough power to annihilate a small country and a temper you really don't want to press.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Tao family are a dynasty of Shaman assassins with a deeply ingrained belief of social Darwinism running through their entire clan. They're not very functional, though they get better.
  • Bishōnen Line: The Oversoul mechanic of Shaman fighting provides a weird example. When we're first introduced to the concept, we have a clear distinction between Yoh's vague, billowing Amidamaru O.S. (which is basically a giant ghost-ball clamping Yoh's sword in its teeth) and Silva's five animals in O.S. which form clearly defined, almost crystalline, objects. Yoh's second Amidamaru O.S. resembles the samurai more (and has a more powerful shield), but everyone else around him is already forming well-defined solids. Yoh doesn't form a fully solidified O.S. until he gets to his third, Giant O.S.. In the manga, he even goes so far as to develop an Armor O.S., which, in addition to being less bulky and unwieldy than his Giant O.S., is dense, durable, and can dish out some serious damage.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The heroes Can't Catch Up to Hao in terms of power, and as a result Hao becomes the Shaman King. Before he can go through his genocidal plan, The Power of Love kicks in and every single character in the series, good and bad, travel to the spirit world to confront Hao and argue that humanity is fundamentally good. After receiving an Armor-Piercing Slap from his mother and given a stern talking to by everyone, Hao resolves to not kill humanity... right away, stating that he will resume his plans if humans fail to change their corrupt ways. The series epilogue ends on a Where Are They Now section, showing how Team Yoh has grown and changed over the years. Unfortunately, Yoh and his friends are just six guys in a world of millions and can't hope to change a thing, though the series implies that Yoh's son, Hana, symbolizes the hope that the next generation will be better and can fix the world. The series closes out with Hao looking over the human world and smiling faintly, implying that he too has hope that humanity will change for the better.
  • Black and White Insanity: The X-Laws have a problem with seeing the world in "with the X-Laws or against the X-Laws", which is shown as insane. Especially in the anime.
  • Blade on a Stick: Ren's Weapon of Choice is a Chinese kwan-dao that he stores in segments in his suitcase when not fighting. How strong is it? In his first appearance, he used it (just it, Over Souls were unknown at the time) to slice a car cleanly in two.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • The Patch aren't any real Native American tribe, and they live on Mesa Verdede, not to be confused with Mesa Verde. Lampshaded in that none of the Muggles have even heard of this "Patch" tribe.
    • In the English dub and the video games based on them, Yoh and crew pass through the town of Duringo and the Redstone national park.
    • An example that's also a series in-joke: all the "Bone Shell" gas stations.
  • Boring, but Practical: Radim's Over Soul, which is basically a Laser Blade. Looks tame compared to most other Oversouls, but it has all his power concentrated in one place, which lets him smash through most other Over Souls and he has Charles Atlas Superpower so he doesn't need the benefits of Armor Oversouls.
  • Bowdlerize:
    • The English translation of the manga censored Ponchi's gigantic weaponized testicles. In most scenes, it's edited to look like his stomach. It also removed Chocolove's large lips reminiscent of Blackface and changed his name to Joco.
    • The original anime censored much of the manga, such as changing Faust vivisecting Manta to just having him phase his hand inside his body with his powers. It also changed Chocolove/Joco's backstory from him being a former gangster changed by the power of laughter to just being a wannabe comedian from the start.
    • The English dub of the anime censored it even further, such as changing the graves in the Faust fight from crosses to gravestones, and poorly editing Marion Fauna's guardian ghost Chuck's pistols... into rattles.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Non-romantic example - Yoh attempts this on Manta after his first fight against Faust led to poor Manta being vivisected alive and Yoh losing the first round of the Shaman Fight. It doesn't work.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Inverted, as much as it can be. Yoh is Brilliant but Lazy, sure. However he wants to be the Shaman King (who essentially gains the powers of God), explicitly so he can relax and do nothing for the rest of his life. He essentially is willing to work his ass off so that he will eventually never have to do anything again. Except that's not his real reason.
  • Broken Aesop: The story appears to have tried to argue for a balance between humans and nature and the innate goodness and worth in all living things despite their flaws, but breaks away from this rather quickly by having shamans make frequently hypocritical Green Aesop statements and by constantly reminding readers about how useless Muggles are in the context of the story (by depicting all of them at best as too powerless to even help themselves and at worst as callous, greedy, self-centered, corrupt, or downright evil people).
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Lee Bailong. Aside from the Lee name, he was also a martial artist and movie star who created his own style, screams in Kiai and wields nunchucks. Even his master is a parallel to Ip Man.
  • Cain and Abel: Yoh and Hao are twin brothers on opposite moral ends, with Yoh being a All-Loving Hero and Hao having genocidal ambitions. The anime plays it more straight, while the anime plays with it more by way of Hao's eventual Hazy Feel Turn.
  • Came Back Strong: Dying is just about the only way to increase ones spirit power so repeatedly by most fighters.
  • Can't Catch Up: Subverted, the main cast are shown to be at a similar skill level and each receive an upgrade either at the same time as Yoh or independently off screen before their next appearance.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Hao: "So small" or its equivalent (translations vary.)
    • Yoh:
      • "It'll all work out."
      • "People who can see spirits are never bad."
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Initially a Slice of Life ghost story, the show changed with the arrival of Tao Ren to become a Shaman of the Week story, then changed again into a Tournament Arc which started the tone shifts towards Darker and Edgier with the possibility that Anyone Can Die, with both antagonists and protagonists being given more backstory and exploration. The story also begins dealing with darker themes like the pointlessness of a Cycle of Revenge and whether humanity deserves to survive.
  • Chuunibyou: Wooden Sword Ryu and his gang are the Japanese Delinquents Who Don't Do Anything, who act scary but never break any rules and can be so considerate at times that it verges on comical.
  • Crossover Cosmology: The spirits shamans use go from Japanese nature spirits to English fairies to Mesopotamian gods and even Angels.
  • Cultural Cross-Reference: Yes, Virginia, those two spirits are supposed to look like Ren and Stimpy.
  • Cycle of Revenge:
    • The entire Golem arc is grounded in the line "If you hurt someone, they'll hurt you back." Yoh explains this to Redseb when he killed Chocolove for murdering their father.
    • Later, Ren explains it to Nichrom, who's brother Ren murdered, during their fight in the 7th Plant.
  • Deader Than Dead: Hao claims multiple times throughout the series that his Spirit of Fire can incinerate one's soul, causing them to be truly dead forever. However we find out that isn't the case at all when we see all of those souls he allegedly killed, plus many more, at the very end of the series.
  • Death Is Cheap: By the end of the manga at least four characters (Jeanne, Sati, Faust and Jun) can revive the dead, which comes in pretty handy. At one point, someone points out that Ren has died 3 times. Also see Anyone Can Die.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Almost every single main character is defeated before becoming friends with Yoh.
    • Inverted with Faust VIII. He defeated Yoh, then Yoh and Anna earned his friendship.
  • Designated Girl Fight: The Hana-gumi (Team Flower) is pretty guilty of this, as they fight Anna, Tamao, and Tao Jun at the same time (though, all spirits involved are male), and later on they fight Magical Princess, though in a bit of a subversion the other team consists of much older witches.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: It gets more hilarious and awkward when Yoh has a bath and even sleeps with Cthulu. No, Cthulu is not Anna but Hao
  • Discard and Draw:
    • In the anime, Lyserg abandons Morphin in favor of a mecha angel spirit like the rest of the X-Laws, though eventually she comes back to him
    • Towards the end of the manga, Lyserg gains Hao's Spirit of Fire once Hao is finished with it. Yoh, Ren, Horohoro, and Chocolove gain the Spirits of Earth, Lightning, Rain, and Wind respectively, but only just in time for the final battle with Hao, who has gained the power of the Great Spirit itself.
  • Dismotivation: Yoh wants wants to win the shaman fight and become God so that he can have an easy life.
  • Divine Birds: In the anime adaptation, energy flowing to or from the Great Spirit is depicted in the form of glowing birds.
  • Doing In the Wizard: "All-natural" Patch handicrafts are in fact modeled on the alien technology given to them by one of The Greys. The Ancient Astronauts trope is also confirmed for all the standard conspiracy theories like dogu statues and pyramids.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Megumi Hayashibara (Anna's VA) sings the opening and ending themes.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: If Yoh treated Anna the way she treated him and his friends it wouldn't be "training", it would be treated as physical and emotional abuse.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Tons of characters appear in the background of the early group shots of all the shamans together, even if they aren't properly introduced until later.
    • Chocolove and (a much more excited and upbeat looking) Hao appear on the colour spread for ch. 27. Hao doesn't properly first appear til chapter 61 and Chocolove doesn't appear until chapter 106, about a third of the way into the story.
    • The Buddhist faction gets mentioned near the start of the tournament proper as one of the 3 major factions, the other two being Hao's faction and the X-Laws. They don't actually do anything on screen until nearly 2/3rds through the story.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: Ren's team is Team 'The Ren'.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: In Shaman King Remix, Anna reveals that she has about 1080 embarrasing old photos of Yoh that she uses for "psychological training". Side commentaries wonder if this's the reason for Yoh's Dissonant Serenity.
  • Emotionless Girl: Seyram Munzer, At the end of the series, where she has an angry charge at Hao, and afterward gained her emotions back (although in her last appearance, she isn't showing much emotion).
  • Enemy Without/Evil Twin: In this case, the evil Hao split his soul in two as he reincarnated, causing him to be reborn as a good twin and an evil twin. By design, the evil half had the lion's share of power.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: Every shaman.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Hao to his mother. Anna is noted to look like her (and slaps like her), explaining why Hao is so drawn to Anna.
  • Evil Makeover: Well, sort of, when Lyserg joins the X-Laws, though it's actually a uniform. (And they're Well Intentioned Extremists anyway.)
  • Evolutionary Levels: The spirits themselves are said to be subject to a form of this. Human spirits that last long enough with decaying into monstrous forms become Nature spirits (assuming they don't start at this level), which may go on to become oni or gods.
  • Exact Words: The tournament is said to be the Shaman King Tournament in Tokyo. But only the preliminaries actually take place in Tokyo Japan. The second phase takes place in the US, and the tournament proper takes place on an uninhabited island that happens to also be called Tokyo.
  • Expy: As mentioned previously, Anna is a character in both Butsu Zone and Shaman King, though people are more liable to remember her for her appearance in Shaman King.
  • Face Death with Dignity: both Silva and Kalim did this while fighting against the heroes.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Lyserg. He gets better.
  • Famous Last Words: Faust's last words were to his dead wife.
    "Elisa, my love... I can be with you."
  • Funny Background Event: During the two-volume flashback to Yoh's past, we repeatedly see a number of kids playing with tops very... enthusiastically. The between-chapters character profiles explain who these kids are: they sound very much like they'd belong in a Merchandise-Driven Serious Business anime about tops.
  • Gainax Ending: Within five chapters from the very end. Hao wakes up as Shaman King. Everyone dies. THEN the final battle starts, but is cut short by the power of love with a dash of Oedipus Rex. Then everyone gets better and has kids. You walk away feeling it is Evangelion with a happy ending.
  • Gashadokuro: Faust has the ability to conglomerate the many skeletons he can reanimate with his family's craft into a gigantic skeleton reminiscent of the Gashadokuro.
  • Gecko Ending: A tad more action-oriented than the manga, basically boiling down to Yoh and Hao clashing. Hao nearly overpowers Yoh until the other Shamans pull a Gondor Calls for Aid and donate their powers to Yoh, effectively putting him on par with Hao until he eventually cuts him down (leading into a bit of Fridge Logic as it's been shown killing him hardly solves anything). The tourney is put on hiatus for a few months as the characters go about their lives... and then it promptly starts again.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • A ton of characters have names referencing drugs, including Lyserg(ic) (Acid) Diethyl(amide), his spirit, Morphine (changed to Morphea in the English manga, despite showing morphine in other contexts), Peyote Diaz, and even Yoh himself, whose name means "leaf" and his outfits frequently have the symbol of a marijuana leaf, matching his chill hippy attitude. This symbol was often censored in the English translation.
    • The manga's Distant Finale isn't shy of showing the heroes we love and respect all boozed out. Yes, this includes Lyserg and freaking Manta.
    • Not to mention the subtle hints about Yoh and Anna having Their First Time. Talking outside their Big Fancy House in yukatas? Okay. Being the only ones in said house, with not even Amidamaru around? Ho hum. Anna later asking Yoh if they can sleep in the same room that night, with Yoh calmly saying yes? Oooooh. Fans tracing their son Hana's age and conception and finding out that Anna was in the earliest pregnancy stages during the second half of the manga? W O W.
    • In the anime's English dub, Horohoro says to Yoh "After you bite the dust, buddy, naybe you could become the tournament mascot. Maybe a kangaroo or a jackass." To which Yoh responds with "It's a good thing you and I are friends or I would've take offense to that last comment." Considering that it's a 4Kids dub, it's surprising they were able to get away with that.
    • The dub also threw in a little tidbit for older viewers during a scene wherein Chocolove puts Ren in a dress. Ren says "Like I used to tell June, I do not wear girls' clothes!" A reference to all his bare midriffs and revealing clothing, maybe?
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man:
    • Yoh punches Horohoro to get him to stop freaking out when they're falling from a plane as well as Lyserg the first time they meet.
    • At one point, Mikihisa Asakura slaps the three witches of Team Hana-Gumi in the process of trying to get them to calm down. Matilda, of course, cries out "Even my own parents never hit me!"
  • God Is Evil: As if Hao just being Shaman King wasn't enough to invoke this trope, after he decides not to wipe out the human race he decides to pass the time by messing with Hana. First order of business? Get him an Anna-clone for a fiancee.
  • Golem: Emeth. Originally a traditional golem built out of clay, he was modified and given many mechanical components and the ability to transform into various shapes.
  • Gratuitous English: Being the American of the group, it's a given that Chocolove would do this. It's actually pretty good, and Motoko Kumai's delivery makes it sound oddly adorable.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Peyote, who keeps saying "¡Eres Correcto!". This literally translates to "You are correct!", but in Spanish the expression would imply an overly attachment to correctness, or following rules. The correct expression would be "¡Estás en lo correcto!" (You're on the right assumption) or "¡Es correcto!" (That's correct).
  • Groin Attack:
    • Played straight, inverted, and played straight again with Ponchi, a tanuki spirit with huge balls who, in one chapter, kicks Wooden Sword Ryu in the groin, attacks Manta with his groin, and then has his groin crushed by Anna.
    • Later, Ponchi tries uses his gigantic weaponized testicles against Team Hana-Gumi, and the three witches Groin Attack him right back. One gets blown to pieces with a revolver, and the other is sliced into chunks with knives.
    • Anna later kicks Hao right in the crotch before he reveals his armor O.S. Kurobina.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • Faust VIII is crippled after his fight with Yoh due to giving his legs to his dead wife's skeleton. When he needs to get out of his wheelchair, he uses his dog's skeleton to make Over Soul legs.
    • Chocolove blinds himself after his first time in Hell to atone for his sings, yet he has the highest Furyoku and is repeatedly acknowledged as the strongest member of the five warriors.
  • Haunted Headquarters: Yoh and Anna's home. Of course, being a (lazy) shaman and a iron-fisted itako, that tiny detail can't bother them.
  • Hair Reboot: Violently subverted by Ryu, whose gigantic delinquent pompadour is cut very early into the story. His hair spends about 3/4 of the story re-growing, getting damaged and being rearranged in increasingly bizarre shapes before finally regaining its original form in sort of reverse-Important Haircut moment.
  • Heal It with Booze: Horohoro uses sake as a disinfectant after tangling with a bear in Colorado.
  • The Heartless: Oni are little spirit monsters born of the negative emotions of those with furyoku. While alone they're small and weak, if you summon enough they may undergo a Fusion Dance into an Eldritch Abomination (in the style of The Worm That Walks, and often it results in an Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever). In Anna's past, she ended up summoning an Oh-Oni (King Oni) that Yoh helped her put down. While this is the most powerful kind of Oni in the main Shaman King storyline, there's to be an even more powerful Dark Oni, which Hana summoned in Shaman King Flowers. The Dark Oni appears to have a prototype in the Daitaro-Boshi, a giant oni — which was not Invisible to Normals — born from an Onmyouji using a Human Sacrifice to fuse hundreds of oni; this happened in Hao's long, long ago past.
  • Hero Looking for Group:
    • Somewhat played with. Since the beginning, Ryu has been in desperate search to find his "Best Place", somewhere where he belongs, though his idea of the best place has been more physical, such as a building or a home. He eventually realizes that his "Best Place" is with the rest of his friends.
    • Also Lyserg at first, he claimed to be "searching for allies".
  • Heel–Face Turn: A lot of characters throughout the series. Noteworthy examples are Ren, Jun, Faust VIII, most of the X-Laws, and Lyserg, after his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The X-Laws, aside from Jeanne, Marco, and Lyserg, all die in attempts to stop Hao, and they're all very clear and aware of the fact that they are going to die.
    • Faust, out of energy and unable to continue in his role as The Healer, decides to fight Radim to his last breath, and he goes out while creating the official Funbari Hot Springs theme song, which helped replenish the stamina of his teammates.
  • Hidden Depths: Can be applied to many but Yoh could be the best example regardless of how talkative he is. When Hao blackmails him, Amidamaru tells Yoh that he has been trying to stay strong.
  • Hitodama Light: Shamans travel with at least one spirit, who is usually in the form of a wandering ball of fire. They can also force their ghost-pals into weapons, empowering them with their spirit ally, and wreathing the weapons in the flame. In this case, the hitodama have faces, mouths, and usually part of the original spirit's clothes/hair. The stronger the connection, the more of the original spirit can be seen.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Yoh and company have to fight against Dracula, they complain that Dracula's a fictional character, apparently ignoring that Yoh had already gone up against a descendent of Faust (another fictional character).
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Hao tries this on Anna when they meet. She slaps him away promptly. He likes it.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Inverted and overlapping with Embarrassing Rescue. In the anime, our heroes save their " enemy" in this fashion. Hao is pissed with the X-Laws for meddling with Yoh and decides to have his minions teach them a lesson. However, Yoh and the others can't stand to watch the slaughtering and decide to step in.
    Horohoro: Whoa, don't get the wrong idea here.
    Joco: It's not like we came to save you guys.
    Ren: It's just how things turned out.
    Marco: If I'm at the mercy of my enemies, then I'd rather choose a noble death!
    Ren: Do whatever you like. But if you want to die, do it somewhere we can't see you.
    • In true Determinator and Ungrateful Bastard form, the remaining X-Laws respond to their rescue by continuing with their plans resulting in their saviours being sucked into the Gate of Babylon.
  • Ill Girl: Eliza.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Just on the good guy's team, we have Horohoro, who wields a snowboard, "Wooden Sword" Ryu, who wields a wooden sword, and Lyserg, who uses a divining pendulum and wire. However, the mechanics of the Over Soul means that any item can be a sufficiently deadly weapon, so long as it has some connection to the spirit.
  • Ineffectual Loners: The entirety of the X-Laws were not only Determinators, but killed indiscriminately to try and stop Hao. In the end, their efforts amount to getting annihilated by Hao and making him powerful enough to become a god.
  • Invisible to Normals: One of the rules of the series is, if you can see spirits, there's got to be at least some good in you. This little moral litmus test is quickly turned on its head, as Hao intends to wipe all the normals out of existence.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Faust VIII never really gets so much as yelled at for 1) slaughtering his first opponent and 2) doing... what he did to poor Manta. On the other hand, in the anime he does show genuine care for human life during the Shaman Tournament, and practically brings Len back from the dead during the final fight, which means he'd redeemed himself. In the manga, he ends up sacrificing himself so that the Five Warriors can continue trying to catch up to Hao, his death doesn't mean that much though as he just hangs around as a ghost.
    • Then there's Hao himself. He wins the tournament without even trying, despite the heroes' best efforts. He then becomes Shaman King and is even allowed to keep the title despite all the evil deeds he's done, which includes killing likely thousands of people. He only gets off with a slap from his mother and a bit of embarrassment due to this. Though he seems to get his 'just desserts' in the anime.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted for the most part. Despite wielding a legendary katana, and being possessed by the spirit of that katana's owner, Yoh doesn't do much that's too crazy with Harusame until he starts using it for an Over Soul.
  • Kid Detective: Lyserg.
  • Kid Hero: Most of the main cast are this. Yoh. Ren. Horohoro. Chocolove. Lyserg...
  • Kick the Dog: Pretty much everyone on Hao's side slaughtered or tried to slaughter innocent bystanders and children, or otherwise enjoyed brutally inflicting pain, especially in the manga. Tao Ren also had a few of those moments before his Heel–Face Turn. Ren's father deserves a mention for accidentally crushing the head of his pet (zombie) panda in his hand for no good reason. Iron Maiden Jeanne hastily executed any opposition using torture devices, though at least she didn't exactly look happy about that. Tokagero was a real meanie before being defeated too.
  • Kill Sat: In the manga, three of the X-Laws make a last-ditch attempt to kill Hao by shooting him with a satellite. It doesn't scratch him, of course.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Tao Ren, whose arrival changed the tone of the story from Slice of Life to a Monster of the Week Tournament Arc.
  • Knight Templar: The X-Laws, to the core.
  • Kung-Fu Jesus: Both Jesus and Buddha were former Shaman Kings. Which is great.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The anime has a lot of fun with this.
    • Ren has some very Expressive Hair and in one scene this is pointed out by Bason when Ren is angered.
      Bason: Ooh! Young Master's spiky hair has stiffened!
    • When it is revealed that Hao is Yoh's twin brother. In a dramatic shot, we see an uncharacteristically solemn-looking Yoh seemingly deep in contemplation after this revelation until he breaks the tension with a sigh and a smile...
      Yoh: It's no use. Even though you just said we're twins, it still hasn't sunk in.
      Horohoro: Weren't you just full of anxiety and couldn't talk?! God, you're so confusing!
    • The Niles, a team of Egyptian shamans, are explaining their origins...
      Ryu: I-Is he serious?
      Anatel: I explained all the details at the press conference for this episode.
      [Cue Facefaults]
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Team LCT/Team Insane Asylum, in the anime, seem to be the wrestlers Bubba Ray Dudley, Edge and Matt Hardy, but they're never directly named.
  • Lawful Stupid: The X-LAWS are all this in the anime. A group that vows to wipe out Hao and his allies. Okay, the only problem is that if you are not on their side you're automatically considered an enemy. They refuse to work with others outside their group and tend to look down on anyone not in their team (mostly Marco carries this attitude). X-LAWS says they do this to rid evil from the world and stop the killing. Way to go of ruining your chances helping other people stop the Big Bad. Yoh even calls them out on this
    "If you kill people just for standing in your way, then you're no better than Hao."
  • Licensed Game: There are two for Game Boy Advance, called Shaman King Master Of Spirits and Shaman King Master Of Spirits 2.
  • Lighter and Softer: The 2001 anime censors some non-child friendly parts of the manga. Some choice examples:
    • Ryu's spirit, Tokagero, has a really disturbing background. His mother died of starvation, and he had to cannibalize her in order to survive.
    • Anna and Yoh's night together. Anna gives Yoh a little parting gift before he heads to America. Seeing as how they were both 15, it's no wonder it got cut; but since there was a very good chance Yoh would die, Anna wanted to make sure a child lived on.
    • Ren murdering Chrome was not shown in the anime, but shown completely in the manga (both the result when it happened and again showing the whole scene later on).
    • Chocolove's past from the manga is both incredibly offensive, and utterly tragic. His parents were killed on Christmas Day, turning him into a vicious killer, and leader of the gang, Shaft. He murders people in cold blood, but has his life turned around by a man named Orona. Those who watched the anime know Orona died, but in the manga he didn't die of old age — he was murdered by Chocolove's gang.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Not as many as some other manga. But enough to make you go "Oh yeah... That guy who hasn't done anything for like 30 chapters". Manta is probably the biggest offender. There are big chunks of the series where nobody reading knows where he is or why they should care. And than all of sudden, there he is. It's like the story kinda left him behind. The series also had a reeeally bad tendency to introduce tons of characters out of nowhere and make them disapear just as fast.
  • Lost in Translation: Chocolove's comedy is primarily puns. But nearly none of the puns translate to English at all, so most of his jokes are completely nonsensical. Which interestingly increases what a bad comedian he is.
  • Love at First Punch: The first thing Anna said to Yoh when they first met, was that he was blocking her way and should go die.
  • Love Makes You Evil:
    • Faust. He became nuts after his ex-Ill Girl wife Eliza was shot to death a few months after he found the cure to her illness.
    • Hao. In a side story, it is revealed his mother was a shaman and was killed by a fake medium in order to cover up his scams after framing her as a demon. Once Hao finds out he isn't a half-demon, but a normal human with a gift for shamanism he decides that it's time for vengeance.
  • Magical Computer: Manta's laptop becomes a literal example after Mosuke decides to move in.
  • The Masochism Tango: Yoh and Anna's relationship.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Oni, especoally the Oh-Oni.
  • More Than Mind Control: When Lyserg switches sides to the X-Laws, and also Hao's ability to persuade just about anyone to join his side.
  • Mechanical Monster: Many of the shaman spirits in Oversoul look vaguely mechanical or downright machine-like, particularly in the anime.
  • Meteor Move: The first time we see Li Bailong fight, we get a very nicely executed Type A.
  • Multinational Team: When Yoh and friends have to split into two teams, Yoh's team comprises of two Japanese guys and a German while Ren's team comprises of the Chinese Ren, the Japanese Horohoro, and the American Chocolove. They also occasionally work with the Englishman Lyserg.
    • The X-Laws are even moreso this. They have members from the US, Canada, Australia, England, Italy, and France.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: When Hao wins the tournament to become Shaman King (after the heroes choose to forfeit so that they can attempt to kill Hao while he is meditating to become one with the Great Spirit), the Patch Tribe all stand in the heroes' way, as they must be neutral adjudicators of the tournament, forcing Yoh and the others to kill them one by one, even Kalim and Silva.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Faust VIII. He's a Mad German Doctor Necromancer. And he does this beautifully.
  • No Ending: Originally, the manga was canceled near the lead up to the climax. However, the updated re-release features the ending in two entirely new volumes.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Matt Hardy, Edge, and Bubba Ray Dudley are shamans in the tournament; of course their mediums are tables, ladders, and chairs, oh my.
    • Chapter 79 also features a shaman who looks suspiciously like Hitler.
    • In the stands at one of the tournament battles, one can see a rather shocked looking Michael Jackson.
  • No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: Averted. The manga lists Jesus, Muhammad, and Gautama Buddha as previous holders of the title "Shaman King". However, given that the Shaman King is actually a spirit-medium who communes directly with God, he's far from being "just" a wizard.
  • Noble Savage: Subverted with the Native American Patch tribe, who have "traditional native hand-crafted" versions of high-tech consumer electronics and are shamelessly merchandising the Shaman Fight for money.
    • The "hand-crafted" part is probably true, as implied in the last chapter.
  • Oddly Named Updated Re-release: Shaman King Kang Zeng Bang.
  • Offhand Backhand: During the fight with Boris Tepes Dracula, Boris zips behind "Wooden Sword" Ryu, boasting that he has no time to dodge or use his sword; so Ryu simply pops him one with his fist, without turning around.
  • Off-Model:
    • Happened occasionally in the very early chapters. Yoh had huge feet and hands, (and a long bang of hair that disappeared after like 3 volumes), Ren's hair was very jagged then he goes away for awhile and when he comes back into the series his hair is much more rounded and smooth. Manta had tiny feet, Anna had a big forehead, etc. Also, compare the diagram of Shaman Fight contestants in Chapter 78 with the updated version of the same people in Chapter 208 and see the incredible difference. It was so noticeable that the updated re-release in 2020 included a ton of art updates to fix most of them.
    • An example that was induced by the Bowdlerisation of the English manga: To avoid accusations of racism, they readjusted Chocolove's face so he didn't have big lips anymore. Sounds fair, but when you see the edited manga, you'll notice how weird his face looks without them. His face just ends up stretching and contorting in ways that range from odd to downright disgusting.
    • The anime occasionally had this too, but not much worse than the manga. Plus, this was animation during the the 2000s, so it's kind of expected.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The collection of all the Primal Elemental spirits, but the biggest example would be Sati's fight with the King of Hell for the Earth spirit.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: All prophets/chosen people in different cultures as being Shaman Kings from previous tournaments, although they only imply that with the most known ones, Jesus and Buddha. Some spirits used by shamans seem to be portrayed as Gods, too, like Shamash, and the Sphynx.
  • One Twin Must Die: Hao Asakura was one of the founder of Asakura clan and one of the most powerful members of the clan; however, his desire to avenge his mother's death and his growing hatred of humans made him evil and was stopped in two lives. His second reencarnation was along his twin brother Yoh, knowing Hao was in this world again, the grandfather of the twins attempt to kill both children, but then Hao escaped with the Spirit of Fire to be raised by one of his minions and various years later, joining to a new Shaman King competition after failed in his past two lives.
  • Opposites Attract: Just look at the calm, easy-going Yoh and the short-tempered, intimidating Anna.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Played totally straight by Boris Tepes Dracula. Sort of. He turns out to not be a vampire in the end there.
  • Overtook the Manga: Due falling sales and a slow publication rate, the anime ended up overtaking the manga. The fact the anime had its life shortened led to a Gecko Ending to avoid a No Ending.
  • Phenotype Stereotype:
    • Faust, a German, has blonde hair and blue eyes, as well as significantly paler skin than the rest of the cast.
    • Though somewhat subverted by the important American shamans of the cast, who are all either Native American or African-American.
  • Pillar of Light: The Great Spirit is portrayed as a towering mass of light.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Chocolove, who is different from most examples in that he's actually funny and useful in battle.
  • Power Fist: In the manga at least, Lee Bailong gets a mechanized installment that can propel his fist forward with the explosion of a gunpowder canister. Helps that he is a physical zombie as opposed to the spirits used by the rest of the Shamans.
  • Powers via Possession: Characters gaining power through being possessed by spirits consist the entire premise, after all.
  • The Power of Friendship: Yoh and his teammates draw a lot of their strength from sticking together and valuing their kinship. It's a recurring theme.
  • The Power of Love: The power of kindness against evil hearts is a strong theme. It is, in fact, a mother's love that stops Hao rather than any kind of martial strength.
  • Pretty Freeloader: Anna, for some. Though considering how she's the one who comes up with the Training from Hell menus and Yoh does become stronger from them, she seems to consider said menus as payment.
  • The Rez: The Patch Village is a Native reservation of some kind, though the story is unclear if it's officially recognized as a reservation by the US government (given it is so secretive).
  • Rousseau Was Right: Yoh believes that anyone who can see spirits is ultimately a good person who is, at worst, misguided.
  • Running Gag:
    • Every time technology from the Patch appears, the Patch always refer to it as being genuine and handcrafted, even when it's pagers and portable T Vs. It's later revealed that all of these were designed by an alien over 4,000 years ago.
    • Ryu's pompadour gets progressively more and more damaged and warped until it ceases to be a pompadour anymore. That is until he takes a (second) level in badass, at which point he combs his pompadour back in shape and it remains pristine for the rest of the manga, only getting longer and longer over time.
  • Scenery Censor:
    • Takei chooses a weird way to evoke this — he uses a star to cover Hao's private parts when he's in a hot spring.
    • Other examples include character's spirit partners and other characters' heads.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: When X-III fight Hao in the tournament, their goal is just to discover the medium he uses to channel the Spirit of Fire, accepting that they're going to die in the process. After killing two of them, Hao flat-out tells the last one that his medium is oxygen, shocking everybody and rendering the sacrifice of his teammates utterly pointless. He then tries to kill Hao and sacrifice himself with a grenade that will burn all the oxygen in the arena, but even THAT is pointless when Hao uses his own powers to change the element of the Spirit of Fire to Water.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • Faust's backstory. Faust studies all his life to become a doctor, barely having any time for a social life until he meets the one girl who befriends him and falls in love at first sight. The problem is, she has an incurable disease. Faust works his ass off for 20 years and then... SHE'S CURED! But on the first night in their new home she's killed by a burglar.
    • None of the heroes win the tourney nor stop Hao from obtaining the Shaman King title. The most victory they get is, at the least, convincing him to not to destroy humanity. For now. To elaborate, at the end of the final battle in the manga, Hao basically tells them all that since they're so convinced of the good in people, he'll revive them so they can try and "fix" everything. Cue the last chapter, 5 years into the future where our heroes admit that they learned pretty quickly that they couldn't change the world, and Hao probably knew this when he sent them back. In the manga's last pages we see Hao visiting the world once again and he smiles upon seeing a cat, hinting that he might have had a change of heart.
    • The anime mostly avoids this, though the title of Shaman King is not granted to anyone due to the last episode showing only that the tournament is starting up again.
  • She's a Man in Japan:
    • In the English manga, Goldva and Opacho are turned from an old woman and little girl into an old man and little boy.
    • Same thing happened to Opacho in the anime's English dub. It's not easy to tell, since the VA is still female and his/her gender isn't mentioned often.
    • In Brazil, Hao became a woman until it was shown that he was male. They changed the gender back to male and acted like the initial gender change never happened.
    • The same dub also made Kororo a boy, and Goldva was changed into a guy as well... Even though she was still a woman in her first appearance.
    • In the Latin American dub, Goldva goes through a reverse of what happens in Brazil; she's played off as an elderly man in her first appearance and turned back into a woman after.
  • Space Alien: The last Plant guardian looks like this, but not. And like Ryu said, she's a cutie.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: A lot of characters who pass to the hereafter in the manga survive in the anime. The most notable are: Faust, Marco, Silva, Kalim and Tao Jun.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Aside from Hao in general, its implied that Yoh's Mu-Mu-Myou-Yaku-Mu is this. Being a purification technique, it is essentialy a One-Hit Kill against any kind of Oversoul, all while carrying the efficiency of Armor Oversouls. Aside from being a unique technique according to the cast, it is proven to be so powerful that Yoh manage to defeat the power that has defeated Hao in the past, and win, and stand against Ren's whole team alone, all of them with their own Armor Oversoul.
  • Take That!: One to the anime adaptation. In the anime, when Lyserg joins the X-Laws, he abandons his spirit Morphea for one of the X-Laws angel spirits, leading to a subplot where he eventually realizes he was wrong and mends ties with Morphea. In the manga, after Lyserg shows off his angel to everyone else for the first time (after saving Horohoro with it), Yoh gets very serious for a moment and asks Lyserg what happened to Morphea. We get reaction shots of everyone else before Lyserg reveals...that she's still with him. She was his parents' final gift to him before they died after all, and they are still very close even if Lyserg is using a different spirit in combat. Later on he uses both spirits in tandem.
  • Theme Music Power-Up:
    • In the anime, any time Brave Heart plays, you will receive plot exposition/explanation of sudden understanding, and complete and utter defeat of all opponents. It's subverted a few times, but generally played straight.
    • Horribly averted in episode 62 with "Silent Weapon". You keep expecting that at some point Yoh takes down Hao but it gets worse.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The Patch tribe members are all named after elements of the periodic table: Silva (Silver), Goldva (Gold), Kalim (Kalium, another name for Potassium), Rutherford (Rutherfordium), and so on.
    • The Gandhara are all named after supermarket chains in Japan, the X-Laws and Team Kabbalahers are partially named after tobacco brands. Team Iceman members are partially named ice cream brands while Team Niles has members named after Pocky, Pretz, and Picola and famous Egyptian historical figures.
  • They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: Nearly the entire cast have some form of horrendous past and most will expound on theirs at some point. Notable exceptions, however, would be Hao, Anna, and Yoh himself. Their backstories only come to light in personal flashbacks and explanations by other characters.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • More like Those Nine Guys, or rather, the guys that make up Ryu's gang. Though one of them, Muscle Punch, does get a few lines.
    • In the anime, Zen and Ryo.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • Downplayed in the manga. While they fail to stop Hao from obtaining the Great Spirit, they do persuade him to abandon his "kill all humans" plan.
    • Averted in the anime, when Yoh defeats Hao outright. However, unless the backstory of the manga doesn't apply to the anime, all this does is kick the can 500 years down the line when Hao reincarnates for the next tournament.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Manta's parents, Oyamada Mansumi and Keiko.
  • Together in Death: Faust VIII and Eliza, in the manga.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Anna and Tamao are an interesting reversal. Anna is the more feminine-looking of the two and is much more aggressive, while Tamao is shyer and more feminine in personality, but could easily be mistaken for a boy at first glance.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Subverted. Although Tokyo is the meeting point for all the Shamans in the preliminary round, the actual tournament will take place at the Patch tribe in America. Also the location of the Preliminaries changes every tournament.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Manta after becoming a Shaman.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Turns out the necklace Yoh always wears was the medium in which Matamune materialized himself in the world. After using up all his Furyoku to help Yoh save Anna when they were younger, he turned back into a soul and was for all intents and purposes dead.
  • Training from Hell:
    • Monstrously difficult training that trigger PTSD flashbacks to think about, usually provided by Anna.
    • In the manga, it's taken to a literal extreme, though not at Anna's hands.
    • This is taken Up to Eleven: in Hao's case, as Yoh eventually reveals that Hao has endured 900 YEARS of Hell training, as opposed to their one day.
  • "Uh-Oh" Eyes: A subtle example. Whenever either Yoh or Hao are aggravated, their irises lose all color for whatever reason. It's never explained and seems to largely be an artistic quirk.
  • Understanding Boyfriend: Yoh's father Mikihisa was the first and only guy who didn't dump his mother Keiko upon learning that she could see spirits. In fact, they met when she was crying over the last Jerkass and he comforted her.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Tamao. Even though she likes Yoh, the chances of her getting together with him are nonexistant, as Yoh is engaged to Anna (and fell in love with her at first sight, despite the fact that Anna told him to die for blocking her path when they met).
  • Unstoppable Rage:
    • Subverted, shockingly. See, when Yoh and Faust VIII fight, Yoh gets really uncharacteristically enraged at Faust for trying to torture Manta. Said not only doesn't make him stronger, it makes him exhaust his spiritual energy much faster. Yoh learns from this, and puts it to use during his qualifying fight with Ren, who is stronger than him but much easier to provoke. Before long, Ren can't even tell when his hits are landing anymore.
    • This trope is Deconstructed especially in later fights. If you lose your cool, 9 times out of 10 you WILL LOSE your fight.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Though she isn't a villain, Goldva started laughing insanely and raving about the new Shaman King Hao.
    • In the anime, Hao becomes a lot less cheery and a lot crazier when Yoh breaks free. He is pushed even further over the edge when Opacho, his last and closest companion, runs away from him in fear.
    • Let us not forget that classic "Mikihisa in a really small towel" scene. Not to mention Ren in the brief period after he gets killed by Peyote's Over Soul, Grande Fantasma. Damn, all the main male characters take a freaking bath together! And the main male cast usually take a lot of baths, with different sets of main characters, depending on how far along the story you are.
  • Water Tower Down: Happens early on in the series- Yoh rushes into a burning building to save the children trapped inside, and manages to crack open the water tower on the roof with nothing more than a length of stairway banister thanks to Amidamaru's swordsman skills.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Hao's ultimate goal is to create a shaman-only utopia in order to 'save' the world from humans who are either, in his mind, contributing to its annihilation through ignorance or though simply not doing anything to stop it or change.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 161: Ren is dead, and Yoh has gotten Manta to bring the X-LAWS to revive him. Marco tells Yoh that they will revive him, on one condition. Yoh has to resign from the Shaman Fight. So Yoh does what any Shounen protagonist would do and abandons his Oracle Pager, signifying his resignation from the tournament. Even Marco is astonished and appalled by this.
  • What the Hell, Hero??: Everything Yoh does always gives these types of reactions but what could probably be the worst is that he takes coffee with the big bad, Hao! Most of his friends react horribly to this.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Wooden Sword Ryu wields, well, a wooden sword. Against people who metal swords, halberd and the like. But when he awakens to his shamanic powers, that wooden sword becomes as awesome as any other shamanic focus.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Horohoro/Trey
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Lyserg wants to kill Hao for murdering his parents.
    • Redseb wanted to kill Chocolove because he murdered his father. And he succeeded. Not to worry, he got better.


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