Shaman King: Yes, One Spirit Really Did Eat His Own [SPOILER]

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of Shaman King (2021), now streaming on Netflix.

Shaman King is a series full of ghouls, ghosts and spirits of the dead, communed with by the titular shamans and mediums in the anime and manga. One of them is Amidamaru, a bulky samurai who simply exudes power and respect -- the exact opposite, in fact, of his former rival Tokageroh, who has a green-skinned, lanky and sickly appearance.

Tokageroh was once a villain, but he had a change of heart upon meeting series hero, Yoh Asakura. Before becoming a hero himself, however, Tokageroh's vile acts included the consumption of one of his own relatives. But though superficially evil, this shocking twist in his origin might be rooted in tragic circumstances.

Tokageroh's Role In Shaman King

Tokageroh is one of the ghosts prominent throughout Shaman King, showing up in Episode 10 of the old show and the fourth of the reboot. He originally lived during Japan's samurai era, 600 years ago, and was a ruthless fiend, or at least, claimed to be. Becoming a proficient fighter, he developed his own martial arts style and had a gang of fellow bandits.

Their attempt at pulling a fast one on samurai Amidamaru, however, backfired horribly. The violent samurai easily bested his opponents and killed all of them, including their leader Tokageroh. Tokageroh's rage at being so easily beaten kept him from passing on into the afterlife, with this fury deforming his spirit's appearance and giving him an elongated forehead and green skin.

In the modern-day, during Shaman King's story, he would try to get revenge on Amidamaru by possessing Umemiya Ryunosuke to fight Yoh and his old foe. Yoh discerned that Tokageroh wasn't actually that bad of a guy, proven when even when given the chance to possess and kill Yoh, Tokageroh was unable to go through with it. Eventually allying with Ryonosuke and the others, the ghost confirmed Yoh's suspicions about his moral character. Unfortunately, this doesn't subtract from one of the darkest things that he had done in his previous life.

The Cannibalistic Horror Behind Shaman King's Ghost

As mentioned, Tokageroh and Amidamaru lived 600 years ago. During this period, there was a great famine in their region. The lack of food and resources is most likely what forced Tokageroh to do something truly despicable: Without any other food, Tokageroh was forced to eat his own mother, laying the foundation for his dabbling in villainy. Given Tokageroh was established to have truly loved her and missed her company, it really is a horrendous act.

His attempt at coming off as an evil person in Shaman King likely stemmed from guilt over having to consume such a dearly beloved family member in his poverty-stricken hunger. After all, Yoh could tell that he really wasn't that bad of a guy. Even his former actions as a bandit could have simply been a response to how rare resources were during his time. Even so, eating his mom remains the worst thing he's ever done, adding a rare sense of horror to a series in which spirits are otherwise rather tame for undead ghosts.

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