It’s no secret that the American adaptation of the famous manga “Shaman King” is very different from the original. Understanding what it is like to be an adapted shaman-king.
The manga by Hiroyuki Takei began publishing in 1998. The author himself was not yet famous at the time. Still, working as an assistant for the weekly Shonen Jump, he gained enough experience to tackle his own story. At that time, the author was about 24 years old, but even then, he painted well and was obsessed with perfume. So, the “Shaman King” was born, which became a mega-popular shounen and gathered a fanbase, almost like “Naruto.”
(Shaman King 1998)
A few years after the manga’s release, the rights to the franchise were bought by the American giant channels – Fox Kids (renamed Jetix) and Cartoon Network. Largely thanks to these companies, the anime “Shaman King” in 2004 was seen in Russia. But it just so happened that the American title omitted many story arcs and individual episodes of the manga. Hence, it quickly caught up with and even overtook the drawn story.
The anime creators decided not to miss the opportunity to earn as much money as possible and came up with their sequel to “Shaman.” Starting with episode 25, the plots in the manga and the anime diverge entirely, but this is far from the only difference between the franchise and the original. Some discrepancies upset manga creator Hiroyuki Takei so much that he froze print production for several years. Let’s figure out together with Anastasia Bakanova what they have done in America.
NOT BUG, BUT FISH. INDEPENDENT STORIES OF “SHAMAN”
To begin with, the American anime had something to be equal to because there was also a Japanese adaptation of “Shaman.” But the TV channels had a different vision: they completely adapted the project to Western culture and promoted it worldwide. The anime has a mass audience – not teenagers, as the original manga intended, but people of all ages, including children, whom this anime changed in its time. The Shaman King has turned into an actual family cartoon with a spectacular opening theme.
The most apparent difference between anime and manga can be seen from the first episodes. The names of the heroes have been changed for unknown reasons. Most likely, to make it easier for Western and European viewers to perceive them by ear. So Hao became Zeke, Ren became Lenny, Ryu became Ryo, and Manta became the boy Morty. Well, at least Yo remained himself. The abilities of the characters are also significantly different. For example, in the manga, Zeke (for convenience, we will call the villain so) had a superpower that allows him to read people’s minds.
(Shaman King 2021)
It is much sadder that after watching the anime, we still do not know the true motives of the main characters. Many flashbacks and story arcs related to the past of Yo’s friends and foes are omitted, although they are essential. How else to understand the motivation of the heroes? The same Chokolav from Yo’s team is not revealed as a character. It turns out that he had a complicated past: the death of his parents, a life of crime, murders.
And the Battle of Shamans became for the guy an opportunity to atone for all sins and make his dream come true – to save the world with the help of the Wind of Laughter. The same thing happens with Horohoro’s backstory. In the manga, we discover the actual name of the hero and explain his philosophy regarding nature.
When his parents separated, he spent more and more time on the lake, where the water lilies grew. He enjoyed watching the plants until the construction of a dam destroyed them. Then Horohoro realized that people are depleting the planet by mastering the land. He wanted to get abilities that would allow him.
To green the world.
The cartoon also does not show us how the relationship between Yo and Anna began. In the anime, the girl appears only in the fifth episode, when she comes to Yo’s hospital and openly calls herself his fiancee. In the manga, we learn that the Asakura family decided to marry the guys long before they met on the series. And they see each other, too, not for the first time: a few years ago, Anna and Yo accidentally collided on the street. The cartoon omitted another critical point – the release of Anna from the demon’s power. But this could significantly affect the story, and we would even find out where.
Yo got the amulet around his neck (but more on that later).
Let’s devote a separate paragraph to Zeke’s motives. In the anime, all his desires come down to the habits of an apocalyptic maniac. He wants to reunite with the King of Spirits to exterminate all people and, simultaneously, weak shamans, which smacks of neo-Nazism. As conceived by Hiroyuki Takei, Zika’s goals are not so superficial. Yes, he wants to become a dictator, but it is not selfishness that drives him. For many years he watched the world devour itself. There is no limit to the cruelty of people (hence large-scale disasters and wars), as well as their greed (hence the corruption and arbitrariness of the authorities).
According to Zeke, without humanity, the Earth would be cleansed and much better. The hero’s anger grew out of childhood. It is possible that Zeke would not have considered humanity a “cancerous tumor” if people, in particular the priest, had not burned his mother out of hatred of shamans. Manga, unlike anime, addresses all of these aspects.
Surprisingly, some of the manga characters don’t appear in the anime. For some, this is a plus, but it is a jamb that affects the plot for others. Take the same cat Masamune, the spirit that bound Yo and his twin brother. In the anime, we have no idea who it is. From the manga, we learn that Zeke, being a fighter against demons, tamed the animal and, after death, gave him a solid spiritual shell and furyoku (the supernatural power of a shaman, thanks to which he can unite with spirits). Masamune even defeated Zeke once and became the spirit of Yo. And when the young shaman helped Anna free herself from the demons, the cat sacrificed himself. The energy left behind a necklace that Yo wears in the cartoon. True, in the anime.
This amulet is more of an adornment than a critical detail.
Not all of the commands in the adaptation have survived either. Don’t ask where the super-powerful group Gandar disappeared, which, according to the manga, helped Yo in the fight against Zeke. Shamans with the spirits of the god class trained their friends and even sent them to hell to increase the furyoku. By the way, in the animated series, there could be no talk of hell. Let’s not forget that anime has been adapted for family viewing, under the age limit of 13+. Children shouldn’t see such scenes.
For the same reason, Zeke’s wanderings in the underworld are not mentioned. But let’s not condemn the anime for that. New interesting characters also appear in “Shaman.” For example, a gang of girls, “Lily-5”, also participates in the Tournament. At first, the shamans, including the leader of the group Sharon, are hostile to Yo but soon change their attitude towards the guy. In one of the episodes, Yo’s company saves the Lily-5 team from the battle with Hao, which has spent all the fur.
WHAT IS THERE WITH TRANSLATION?
The cartoon creators turned out to be good creatives but bad translators (we are not talking about the Russian translation since it was created from the American version). The translation of almost all of the anime does not match the Japanese original. Many phrases are simplified as much as possible and even intentionally replaced not to burden the viewer with sober reflections of the characters.
For example, in Episode 3, Lenny says to Morty: “Your friend thinks that he can get a reward and get a crown, but he has nothing to hope for, he is just a pathetic shadow of an authentic shaman, and he will be the first on the list of those who will die at my hands. ” And here is what the original replica sounds like: “The stars shine like beacons and show us the way—those who do not see the light go astray and die. ” The fantasy of the creators even comes to fictitious comments in moments where, according to the manga (and according to the Japanese version of the anime), the characters are silent. Due to the adaptation, the specific Japanese humor, built on wordplay, is also lost.
Alas, Google translator is powerless here.
The primary weapon of American production, oddly enough, has become censorship. In the anime, scenes with murders were cut, wounds and traces of blood were repaired. And this is if we take into account the fact that in the manga, the main characters die several times, and some people even get their hands off and rip open their stomachs.
In some episodes, attempts to remove everything “non-childish” reach the point of absurdity: in the American cartoon, instead of real weapons, half-blurred toy guns were drawn, and the crosses in the cemetery were replaced with monoblocks. Do you remember the scene where one of the hunting spirits exchanges an empty talisman of control (a yellow piece of paper) for another bare amulet (another yellow piece of paper)? Only these things shouldn’t be open. In the original version, you can see that they have different hieroglyphs inscribed on them. It seems that the anime tried to eliminate any hint of the source.
Covered up signs with Japanese symbols.
And finally, we got to the final. The endings are, of course, different, as the manga ended later than the anime. In the cartoon, the conclusion remained open – Yo and his friends, feeding on the power of all shamans, still defeat Zeke, after which a star flies over the continent, marking the beginning of a new Battle of Shamans. It seems to be a happy ending, but no one thought Zeke was immortal and could be reborn. In the manga, the logic is present: Zeke becomes the King of Shamans and destroys all living things. The rest of the showdowns are already taking place in the spirit world. All the heroes of the manga appear there, including Zeke’s mother. She convinces the King to give humanity a second chance.
Manga and anime can be viewed as two separate yet unique stories. Anime is an entirely different title, from signs to the finale. All the differences between a cartoon and a manga cannot be considered minuses. If you like Shaman King, you will most likely find something to love both options for. Or all three versions of the story because another adaptation of the manga is planned for 2021. All 35 volumes of Hiroyuki Takei will be filmed without departing from the original plot.Tags: Anime, Anime culture, Anime movies