Shaman King: How to Get Started With the Anime & Manga

After years of being an also-ran series from the early 2000s, Shaman King is finally back in the limelight thanks to the rebooted anime. This new show is made with the intention of being more accurate to the manga source material, having been produced with the fans in mind. Said fans have kept the Shaman King franchise alive for two decades now, and it's resulted in a myriad of adaptations, sequels and spinoffs.

Along with the two Shaman King anime, there are even more manga sequels and prequels which greatly expand the story past what either show adapts. Here's a look at how to read the Shaman King manga, as well as watch both of the anime adaptations.

What is Shaman King About?

shaman king

Shaman King's storyline involves the teenage shaman Yoh Asakura, who can commune with the spirits of the dead. His lackadaisical nature belies his ambitions to win the Shaman Fight that's held every 500 years. This would allow him to commune with the Great Spirit of life and reshape the world in his own image. Aiding him in these battles against other shaman is the spirit of the samurai Amidamaru, who fights on his own as well as powers up Yoh's abilities.

Along the way, Yoh connects with his harsh but loving fiancee Anna and befriends his classmate Manta, who's unconnected to the Shaman Fight. Together, they travel the world, ally with other shamans and face the evil Hao, a shaman who hates humanity and also has a surprising connection to Yoh.

Where to Read Shaman King

Shaman King was created by Hiroyuki Takei, debuting in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump back in 1998. The first run of this series amounted to 31 volumes due to the initial abbreviated ending brought on by the Takei's fatigue with the demands of Jump editorial. Once Kodansha acquired the series license from Shueisha, however, the mangaka went back and completed the series, giving it a total of 35 volumes and the ending he had originally intended.

In 2011, Takei would expand the series, freed from the constraints of the Weekly Shonen Jump schedule. The first new series was Shaman King: Zero, a series of prequel one-shots about various characters in the series. Sequels Shaman King: Flowers and Shaman King: The Super Star followed Yoh and Anna's son, while Shaman King: Red Crimson and Shaman King: Marcos were spinoffs following other families.

Since last year, Comixology has made almost all of these series available in English, including all 35 volumes of the original series as well as Zero, the two sequels and Red CrimsonMarcos, which began publication last year, has also been added, though it's currently only available digitally. Kodansha has also began publishing 3-in-1 manga volumes for the original series, and these can be bought through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and other retailers. Amazon also carries some of the original volumes.

Where to Watch Shaman King

There are now two Shaman King anime: the original from 2001 and the 2021 remake. Takei supervised the first anime but had to leave its production when the constraints of the manga got too heavy. By around the show's 25th episode, it began to diverge quite a bit from the manga, eventually having to create an original ending due to the manga still running.

2020 saw the announcement of a new anime series that would be more accurate to the manga and adapt all of its material. This new show began airing in Japan back in April of this year, but it's recently hit Netflix in English -- dubbed and subbed -- outside of Japan. Though it cuts out many additions that the old anime made, this also means that the lack of filler gives it a faster, sometimes too abrupt pace.

Although the show can now be watched on Netflix, though there's no word on a physical release for it on Blu-Ray or DVD. Likewise, Discotek Media will be releasing a Blu-Ray collection of the original series sometime soon, though a release date is currently unknown. The original DVD collections are long out of print, so those wanting to watch the series should either see the new show or wait for the original to be re-released.

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