It’s the age of reboots. Fruits Basket, Inuyasha, and now Shaman King. What was once a cancelled manga in the late 90s and early noughties has been kept alive by its creator all these years and is now being introduced to a new generation through a 2021 anime. Here’s 5 things you need to know about Shaman King. Mangaka Hiroyuki Takei was a long time manga fan before he became a creator, and started applying for jobs in the industry to support his family.
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This led to him eventually winning the Tezuka Award while working as an assistant and eventually pitching Shaman King to Jump. The initial theme was buddhist statues, and he really wanted to capture a spirituality that he felt other Jump manga hadn’t captured before in this way. He’s a big fan of spiritual themes, and while he’s not clear exactly how he came up with the idea of shamans, it’s very much what he’s interested in, and he likes the idea of battles of will rather than of physical violence.
The Archipel documentary with Takei is probably one of the most enlightening and sobering looks back at the series. This was a cult hit at the time, and it became very clear to him that he was not suited for creating something mainstream, especially after meeting One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda. During his time, he would focus on the sort of things he wanted to create, rather than the sorts of things readers would actually want to see.
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This kept up the creativity, but Jump is always going to prefer a mass appeal. One of the takeaways from the documentary is that despite all this, Takei still believes in Shaman King over a decade later. He’s managed to finish the series through later entries and added more to the world through Shaman King: Zero and Flowers. And he’s done it all while staying true to himself. He ends the documentary by saying that he wants to create something that he’s really proud of while speaking about wanting to get to work on his next series Shaman King: Marcos.
Hopefully he’s proud of the new anime as well. The original 2001 anime was directed by SeijiMizushima, a director primarily known for his work on the original Fullmetal Alchemist,Gundam 00, and more recently, Concrete Revolutio. While the manga was running, he was introduced to the series by an animator and he loved it. In fact, he declared that if it ever got an anime, he would work on it. And through that sheer power of force and will, both him and the animator worked on the show.
On reflection, Mizushima says that the show had so much talent on it, that it felt like a seriously big deal at the time. Mizushima still introduces himself as the Shaman King director to this day, clear on the impact the show had globally, but it’s not just because of the popularity. He’s still a big fan of the series, keeping up with all the manga spin offs, watching the Archipel documentary and when the 2021 anime was announced, he said that he was looking forward to watching it as a fan. While it’s disappointing that he won’t be involved in the new show, it’s heartwarming to think that after nearly 2 decades since directing the show, he’s still cheering on Shaman King from the sidelines.