Shaman King Flowers Chapter 1 Review: Off to a decent start

Hello! I guess it’s a little bit late considering it’s been around for a few months now but I’ve decided to do chapter by chapter reviews of Shaman King Flowers.

Ah, the start of something great, I’m sure! Now I guess I should give some history on the original series before I delve any further into the review and summary of this chapter, shouldn’t I? It makes sense since while one probably can just start reading this without having read the original, I don’t recommend it. Shaman King Flowers is meant to tie into the original story while standing on it’s own two feet. As the series continues, I think that it should be able to effectively do this and come into it’s own story without relying on the last one.

The original Shaman King was written and illustrated by Hiroyuki Takei and focused on Yoh Asakura, a boy who also happened to be a Shaman, one who acted as a link between the Physical and Spiritual worlds. In this series Shamans are capable of interacting with Ghosts in a multitude of ways as well as doing battle with them by forcing them to possess their bodies or place them into an object which acted as a medium. Yoh was determined to become the Shaman King, a Shaman powerful enough to use God (yes, THAT God) as their Spirit Ally and effectively do as they wished for 500 years until the next Shaman King Tournament (unattainable goal, tournament arc…yep, smells like Shonen to me too!) Along the way, Yoh was joined by a colorful cast of characters but the main ones were Manta Oyamada, a small boy who could see Ghosts and Yoh’s best friend, Amidamaru, Yoh’s samurai spirit ally, Anna, Yoh’s deadly Tsundere fiancee, Ren Tao, Horohoro, Chocolove McDonnell, Lyserg Diethl, “Wooden Sword” Ryu and Faust VIII as well as their spirit allies. The simple tournament turned into a quest to save the world when it was revealed that Yoh’s evil twin brother Hao was also in the tournament and was planning to destroy most of the worlds population if he won.

The series was good, the characters were developed and enjoyable and the fights were plenty and awesome! Hiroyuki Takei’s art style is really what makes the series enjoyable for me since I especially love the way the characters are drawn. The manga was adapted into a 52 episode anime which was dubbed by 4kids and the manga was distributed by Viz so check them out if you want to. The series had a great ending…the second time. The Viz version of the manga, that being the original was ended in a way nearly identical to the Inuyasha anime. It has since been redone and reprinted into a 27 volume manga called Shaman King Kanzen-Ban which included the real ending to the series. Shaman King Flowers was announced in 2011 and it was announced that the series would focus on the child of Yoh and Anna. And that brings us to where we are now! So let’s dive right in!
We start off on a scene that’s identical to our introduction to Yoh from the first series.  This boy is Hana Asakura, our protagonist and the son of Yoh and Anna. Hana appears to take after his father in terms of where he chooses to spend his time and even in his overall appearance but it doesn’t take long to notice that he’s practically drowning in his mother’s side of the gene pool. Moving right along, Hana laments that he’s “sick of this shit” by which he’s tired of being called out by his school thugs and challenged to fights. After smiling like an insane serial killer and revealing that his Spirit Ally is Amidamaru, Hana presumably takes care of large thug army without breaking a sweat and goes home to be physically scolded by Tamao Tamamura, who runs the Funabari-Onsen Inn and has become the Anna of this series but of a more calm and elegant nature if that makes any sense. It seems that Hana has made a habit of using Amidamaru as nothing more than a tool/weapon in his fights and has broken Tamao’s rule against doing so. She goes on to say that it’s her duty to care for him and that he has a duty to preserve the house until the next Shaman Fight in 500 years. She comments that he shouldn’t be wasting his time and that it’d be troublesome if he was exposed while using his powers.

Hana handles this rather realistically by storming up to his room and complaining about why he should have to worry about something so far away and then asks Amidamaru why he’s even a Shaman in the first place. The samurai responds by saying that it’s all for his own good and that even if it’s his duty to serve Hana, he doesn’t appreciate being used for such trivial and careless fights. He philosophizes a bit and ticks Hana off by mentioning something that Yoh said. Hana is pissed because while his father and Amidamaru both have a lot of experience and were able to take part in the Shaman Tournament, he himself has nothing to look forward to in life.

Amidamaru thinks a bit about all the experiences he had with Yoh and the others and leaves to have a drink with fellow Ghost, Tokagero who seems to really understand where Hana is coming from. As Tamao and Ryu enter the small cart, Tamao says that she’s felt a strange presence and that while she has her Ghosts looking into it she also wants Amidamaru and Tokagero to be on guard as well. We then cut back to the cemetary where we see two people standing and talking.

They go into some cryptic exposition saying that it’s wise to assume Hana Asakura is using a samurai spirit if he was capable of taking out all those thugs by himself. They call him a “descendant of a hateful clan of legendary Shaman and legendary Spirits” and reveal that their ancestor is now King so they can “close the curtain on a fake history fabricated from fiction”. Turns out that these two are direct descendants of God and that they should be called the main line of the Asakura family. The boy uses his Over-Soul, the process of placing a spirit into an object and drawing out it’s power, to cut what’s revealed to be Amidamaru’s grave stone in half. When Hana comes by this the next morning he’s pissed since the grave was his favorite chair and assumes it was one of the punks from the previous night that did this as an act of revenge. Amidamaru then notices how clean the cut is, which prompts Hana to want to ditch school to hunt down whoever destroyed his chair. While yelling at Amidamaru, a boy comes up to him and asks him for directions to their school and reveals himself to be a Shaman, with a samurai spirit and the two boys prepare to fight each other. Back at the Inn, Ponchi and Konchi inform Tamao who’s responsible for the presence she’s been feeling. The names are Asakura Ruka and Yohane, from the other Asakura line that broke of during the Heian period and that they’re direct decendants from Hao. Tamao is visibly disturbed, as they were supposed to have died long ago and is told that the boy has made contact with Hana who he is intent to kill.

I thought that this was a decent way to start off the series and even if you’ve never read the original series you won’t be too lost. Sure I recommend it but the focal character in this is Hana and this is his story. The rest of the older characters that appear are important, yes, but at this point only Amidamaru and Hao have much bearing on the plot and the latter hasn’t even appeared yet. When I first read this chapter, I didn’t care much for Hana. I found him to be a spoiled and entitled little brat who’s in desperate need of a reality check. Reading the chapter again for this review, I found myself liking him a bit more. He’s not really spoiled since he hasn’t really had anything, other than his power, handed to him on a silver platter. He’s bratty because he’s bored and doesn’t have anything or anyone to properly challenge him or to properly prepare himself for. Looking at it from his perspective as opposed to someone still thinking of the last series, Hana was just born at the wrong time. Instead of reminding me of Yoh or Anna, Hana reminds me more of Yusuke Urameshi from YuYu Hakusho and that’s because both are extremely talented fighters who at the start of their respective series have really, nothing much to live for and no proper outlet for their strength. For fans of the original manga, coming into this somewhat startle you if you’re expecting Hana to resemble Yoh in overall likability. No, you’ll probably be looking at him the same way you looked at Anna because that’s who he truly resembles if we’re trying to match personalities from the last series. You’ll also be fairly surprised to see Tamao as she is now, no longer the shy little pink haired girl pining after Yoh.  Ryu doesn’t seem to have changed much and neither has Tokagero. The most interesting character from the previous series in this though is the samurai Ghost, Amidamaru. When paired with Yoh, Amidamaru was the experienced and dutiful samurai serving a lazy but kind and respectable lord. Yoh treated all spirits as equals and one of his defining moments early in the original series was his distaste for Ren Tao using and thinking of spirits as nothing more than tools and weapons. Amidamaru did anything Yoh asked of him because they both had a mutual and equal respect for each other. They were friends. His relationship with Hana is more reminiscent of Ren’s treatment of his spirit Bason at first. Hana seems to demand if not outright expect the utmost obedience and respect of Amidamaru but doesn’t give any back. Hana treats him like a slave at best and I really have to wonder if this is because Amidamaru is something of a hand-me-down from Yoh to Hana or if it has something to do with Amidamaru’s already established loyalty to Yoh and his servile nature. He tries to be a guide to Hana but gets yelled at and used for it and I have to wonder if Amidamru will continue to allow Hana to treat him this way or if he’ll ever set the boy straight and tell him that he’s not there simply for the boy’s convenience, he’s there to protect him and be used in times of need. I doubt it but I do hope it happens or else someone else can set Hana straight about how to properly treat a spirit. And now we get to the antagonists. I find it rather interesting that there was some unknown branch family to the Asakura clan with direct ties to Hao and I find it even stranger that these two are his possible kids. It kind of makes one wonder if Hao is behind this or if the kids are acting on their own free will.

Now there are already 3 chapters of this out online and if I don’t have a review of the second and third chapters up within the next few days, it’ll be over the next couple of weeks. Leave your thoughts on this chapter and the review in the comment section bellow!

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