Creator: Hiroyuki Takei
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
RRP: $7.95
Shaman King v13
Reviewed by Lori Henderson

Moody old Faust is back! And teamed with…Yoh? When the competitors and their friends finally make it to the Patch Village, things are not what they expected. Strange new alliances are formed – and someone close to Yoh might get left in the lurch - testing everyone’s strength and possibly changing their loyalties forever.

This volume starts with the last few chapters from Shonen Jump before moving into completely new territory. The Shaman Fights finally start! But the excitement for this volume is less about alliances and more about the actual start, as the first battles starts here.

Yoh and the gang finally make it to the Patch Village, and pass the final test; staring into the Great Spirit. But, they are separated. Lyserg isn’t with them when they wake up. But there is a new obstacle for them to worry about. They must make three man teams to compete. Ren makes his own team with newcomer Joco, and Horohoro. Yoh’s team has Ryu with Faust VIII joining at Anna’s insistence. Then the competitors all go to an arena built on a deserted island where thousands have come to watch the fights. Ren’s team is up first, against one of Hao’s allies, Earth. What looks to be a quick fight, turns into a real battle for Joco, both physically and emotionally.

A good volume over all, the obsession that Ryu has over Lyserg gets very annoying very fast. He wasn’t a very interesting character in the first place, and I never saw him having much relevance to the gang anyway. I actually felt more for Faust than for Lyserg in the few scenes he appeared in. But it’s really the start of the first fight, with Ren’s team that makes this volume a great read. Joco is allowed to take center stage, fighting the “small fry” Boz. Introduced as just a jokester with intel, he really shows his Shamanistic strength and worth as we finally see his oversoul in action. Joco isn’t just fun and games, or all talk. But his attempt at a quick, clean win only plays into Tecolote’s plans. Like so many of the other fights we’ve seen in this series, the characters motivations for wanting to be in the competition come to the forefront. We start to learn Joco’s motivations as we are treated to his back story at the end, as he struggles with the battle.

It’s these internal struggles as well as the battles without that really make Shaman King an enjoyable title. Everyone has a reason for fighting, even the villains, so even if you don’t like a character, you do understand them. And for a fighting tournament manga, that’s what’s really important. You have to care about the characters to want to keep following them through every fight. And so far, Shaman King has a great cast of characters to care about.

With the fights finally underway, the action should really pick up. It’ll be great to see Yoh and Amidamaru in action again. And with the release schedule picking up, we won’t have to wait long.

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16 September 2008
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