Northern Lights

February 8, 2008

  Kimi ni todoke nothern lights…
 
I’ve got a feeling that Im able to sing Megumi Hayashibara songs. That’s because I kinda notice that even though her songs are not the kind which fits my voice, somehow I manage to sing it quite successfully, albeit not 100%. So Nothern Lights, which is the second opening theme for the anime series Shaman King, isn’t any different eiter.
 
  Hikisakareta futatsu no kokoro,
  Yukiba no nai omoi ga mune wo shimetsuke,
  Naze kono toki ni deatta no ka to,
  Toikakeru sube wa saeta kage ni chiru
 
Like most anime songs that I sing, the verses, in terms of its tune on my voice, are quite manageable themselves. Usually it’s the chorus part which ‘trouble’ starts. I wouldn’t really say that this song has lines which are quite high pitched but in order to sing the chorus, you need to have a powerful voice. Uh huh. At times, I find myself needing to use up all the energy and air in my lungs to deal with it smoothly. Surprisingly, I did pretty well (ahem ahem). But there’s a down effect to this. Towards the end of the song, I find myself tired and out of breath. Thank goodness this entire song is only 3 minutes plus.
 
  Yuragu koto nai,
  Tsuyosa na dou naku,
  Susunda saki ni,
  Motomeru kotae ga aru
 
Also, I sometimes have trouble in my timing during the first lines of the verses. That’s because I felt that there were too many words trying to fit in into that short line. So it’s like either I’m a word too fast or too short. Yeah, it made me sound like I’m stammering.
 
  Soshite itsuka todoku yume wo,
  Ima shizuka ni kanji you,
  Kimi ni no ketsui boku no mayoi,
  Meguriai ga sashishimesu
 
Luckily too that this is a full fledge karaoke version so with all those back-up and background vocals, the song doesn’t sound ‘hollow’ or empty. Yeah, this is the only song whereby the karaoke version’s opening lines has put in the real voice of the singer in order to let karaoke-goers set their pace. Since this song immediately starts off with a short verse and there’s no background or instrumentals to get karaoke-goers ready or on stand-by, I suppose it’s a pretty good thing.
 
  Ai mo tsumi mo yume mo yami mo,
  Ima subete mi ni mattote,
  Kimi no chikara boku no kokoro,
  Kasanariatta shunkan
 
I’m still wondering why this upbeat and lively song is called so. I mean, no doubt it’s probably to fit the series as its lyrics are about some journey with obstacles, hope and all that. Maybe northern here refers to North USA but I don’t remember seeing any aurora lights in the anime because it took place in the heart of the desert. Ah, must be the lights of the Great Spirits.
 
  Nani ga umareru,
  Do you believe in destiny…

Shaman King

June 16, 2007

Wargh!!! I can’t believe it’s already been over more than a year. Uh-huh, that’s how long it took for me to watch the entire 64 episodes of Shaman King. Okay, so I didn’t really catch all of them. Probably 95% of them. See, that’s one reason why I’m not in favour of watching series with many many episodes. That’s because by the time I reach the end, I would’ve nearly forgotten what has happened in the beginning. But luckily, for this one, it’s still manageable. I hope.
 
So how can I start off with this one. Let me see… Okay, I could easily classify this series is to be of the supernatural genre. Don’t worry, there’s nothing really spooky unless with just the mere thought of spirits really do spook you out. I’m not sure if I could classify this one as a sports genre because it’s tournament based but it’s not anything like the normal sports you see in this world.
 
That’s because every 500 years, a tournament called Shaman Fight will occur. So people all over the world would of course want to participate in it and win the title. Is the prize a zillion dollars or having the latest technology gizmos and gadgets? Nope. Whoever wins the tournament shall be called Shaman King and the Great Spirit (supposedly the ultimate God or whatever super power being here) and gets his/her whatever wish granted. Isn’t that better than a fixed prize? Yeah, anything. Probably you could wish to live forever, have eternal youth, conquer the universe, bla bla bla. You know humans’ desires are limitless and scary.
 
So what are the conditions of entering this tournament. Well, you have to be able to see dead people! Just kidding. Or not. Not to say you need to watch that Bruce Willis movie The Sixth Sense, but one needs to team up with a ghost or a spirit so that they can enter this supernatural tournament. Therefore a shaman is defined as a person who connects between his/her own living world and the realm of the dead/spirits.
 
Fortunately, the entire series doesn’t just focus on the tournaments alone. Of course there has to be some drama, some character developments, some adventure, and most importantly comedy. Yeah, I guess it’s timely and fitting for such a long series. Without it, I couldn’t think of myself sitting in front of the idiot box not letting go even the slightest laughter. But after 64 episodes, I kinda feel ‘numb’ already and all those elements seem pretty decent and okay to me.
 
Not only that, the way they end it all seems to make me feel dissatisfied. Sorry if I spoil you guys but hey, after such a long series I felt it could’ve ended a little better. Don’t worry it’s a good happy ending with most of the loose ends been taken care of. But yet, I’m still dissatisfied. Perhaps I need to enter the Shaman Fight, win it and change the outcome myself, huh? Yeah, fat chance. Like that will happen.
 
So back to the story, we have our main male protagonist, the easy going, laid back, carefree and optimistic Yoh Asakura. In a nutshell, he can see spirits too. So why is he entering the Shaman Fight? His friend and future fiancee Anna Kyouyama thinks he’s a perfect candidate to be one and even win the tournament because of his nature to ‘think outside the box’. I’m not really sure how Yoh ended up with Anna being his fiancee. I mean, if you notice, Anna’s the dominative, very possessive, selfish and gets-what-she-wants kinda girl even though she has that monotonous look and sound. You could say Yoh’s scared of her in a way (which married guy wouldn’t? ;P). A premonition as future husband and wife? But you’ll mostly laugh whenever Anna gets into her ‘fierce’ mode or replies back with her sharp wit and sarcastic tongue. Not so much what she does, but the reaction of others around her. Not only that, Yoh does all the housework from cooking to cleaning while Anna just shakes her leg and bums around (sorry Anna, don’t hate me). Queen control.
 
With Yoh as a candidate, Anna is his special trainer, as she herself is a spirit medium. She’s bloody confident that her beloved Yoh will become the next Shaman King and she doesn’t hesitate to tell it to other irritated listeners, friends or foes alike. That’s because she wants to live the easy life and with Yoh winning the tournament, she’ll be able to do so. I guess she’s honest and knows what she really wants.
 
Which main guy doesn’t have a best friend as a supporting character. Yoh’s best buddy and classmate, Manta Oyamada is so short you really wonder if he’s a freak of nature or if he really drinks enough milk. Yeah, I think he’s only knee length tall. I’m trying to hold back my laughter. Anyway, Manta’s always looking out for his friend and even worries for him even though it’s not really his concern. Even though Manta himself can see spirits he isn’t really a shaman. Perhaps you need the will to control one’s spirits too. Throughout the series, Manta carries some sort of a laptop, which I feel is like to supply some information and answers to the gang about certain questions out of convenience. And sometimes, the maiden in distress. Yeah, sometimes he gets kidnapped by foes so that they could use Manta to lure Yoh out to do their bidding. Poor guy. Hey, did you notice his head is proportionately bigger than his body?
 
For me, I would classify this entire series into 3 parts. The first part being the pre-Shaman Fight, the middle part being the journey and the final instalment of course, the Shaman Fight tournament itself. Feels like a blockbuster trilogy, huh? So the first part of course introduces things such as the characters, the terms and such. To cut things short, Yoh teams up with a powerful and legendary samurai known as Amidamaru. Of course, not everybody who teams up with a spirit will automatically enter the fight. One of the 10 Guardians of the Great Spirit, Silva (looks like and American Indian native. So does the other Guardians), decides to test to see if Yoh is up to mark and deserves to be one. I mean, if everybody can enter, it’ll be just plain mediocre, right?
 
We see Yoh’s a quick learner as not only he learn terms such as furyoku (the amount of energy that a shaman has which is used in battles), Spirit Possession technique (the shaman’s body merges with the spirit), Over Soul (by using furyoku, the physical appearance of the spirit when it’s combined with some other object to give the spirit a new form, power and such) and usually once a shaman’s furyoku runs out, that shaman loses, which is the usual gauge for every fight. Yoh seems to adapt fast in using various new found techniques. In short, Silva’s impressed by it all and passes Yoh with flying colours.
 
So each candidate is given some sort of a weird orange wrist thingy called Oracle Bell which supplies them the rules, information about the next fight and such. Along the way, Yoh is gonna meet various other characters and shaman wannabes. Directly or not, he fights them, wins them and his opponent usually becomes his friend. Typical. But I feel that this Yoh guy must be some sort of a natural leader as his friends will go wherever he goes eventually.
 
Going over some of the friends he’ll make. First up, some chinese girl Tao Jun with her spirit, Bai Long (a dead famous martial arts actor which reminds so much like Bruce Lee) for some reasons I can’t remember wants to kill Yoh. Guess who wins? But this sets up a match between Yoh and her arrogant short-tempered but overprotective-of-his-sister little brother, Tao Ren who has some chinese war general, Bason, as his spirit.
 
Then a street gang leader named Ryuunosuke Umemiya or Ryu for short. This guy dresses like Elvis and his front portion of his hair so long it makes you wonder if it’s really heavy. Yeah, he even has his motorbike helmet accustomed to fit his hair. Though he has his own gang (they all look weird like a bunch of motley crews) and only thinks about girls and having fun, all that slowly changes when Yoh saves his life. Ryu wasn’t a shaman previously, but he got possesed at some abandoned bowling alley by some lizard guy, Tokagero, a thief who hates Amidamaru and uses Ryu’s body to get revenge. In the end, after all that, Yoh and Amidamaru combo won and Ryu felt grateful. Because his crew knew he had already decided, they decided to part with him. And I’m still wondering where those blokes have gone to because at the end of the show we won’t see them anymore. Yup, that’s it for them. I thought they’re close to each other. Maybe they all wanted to start a new life.
 
Next is Horokeu Usui AKA Horohoro from Hokkaido. This guy and his little sister Pirika, wants to save some magical fairy like creatures’ habitat that’s why he’s entering the tournament. And just like Yoh’s case, Pirika seems to give her bro a very harsh training which may be too much to bear sometimes. But if you’re going to win the tournament, you’ll have to be at your best, right? Yoh and Horohoro seems to be making friends and getting along very well. That is, they receive a message that preliminary round has begun and Yoh’s first opponent is… Horohoro! And they both think it’s gonna be a piece of cake. Remember, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
 
Is their friendship on the line now that they’ve to fight each other? In short, Yoh won but hey, they’re still friends. Pirika is really freaking and deeply saddened that her bro lost. But never fear, in this preliminary round, you need to win 2 out of 3 fights. Phew. So Horohoro still has a chance.
 
Yoh’s next match is with some mad doctor zombie-like called Faust VIII. This guy’s really violent and would even pound his opponents even if they’re down or lost the match. Faust wants to revive his beloved Eliza who was murdered back then. During the fight, Faust ‘disects’ Manta open, freaking him out, but in Yoh’s rage, Yoh eventually lost the match. Now that’s surprising. Well, actually the match didn’t really end. While Faust is going in for the killing blow, the match is interrupted by Tao Ren who ‘saves’ Yoh because since he is his next opponent, Tao Ren wants him to be alive and that he is only allowed to kill Yoh. So then the match officials decided that the match is won by Faust.
 
But before the start of the next match, Yoh underwent some donno what special training at his grandpa Youmei’s place. Something about going through a dark cave whereby no sound or light exists. Of course Yoh suceeds lah. Also here we’re introduced to Tamao Tamamura, I think another spirit medium who lives with Youmei, a shy girl who also has a crush on Yoh but because of Anna, I think she dares not make a move and eventually acknowledges their love. She has 2 weird diaper-wearing spirits, which is a fox and a racoon, which somehow resembles that Ren and Stimpy characters. Throughout the series, these 2 didn’t play any major role and their minor role is only for comic relief.
 
So it’s a do or die battle for Yoh as he and Tao Ren pull off some cool moves and techniques (okay, maybe exaggerated is the right word) so much so that in the end, both lost their furyoku and it ended in a draw. With that, somehow because Yoh’s the hero of the show, the Great Spirits allowed Yoh and Tao Ren to advance to the next round. Uh-huh. By right it’s supposed to be 2 out of 3. So Yoh’s record is a win, a draw, and a loss. A unique record which allows him to go through.
 
Before the next story arc, Yoh along with Horohoro and Ryu decides to go to China and save Tao Ren from the clutches of his evil father Tao En. Uh-huh, this guy’s really huge and is like a monster. Something about having lots of furyoku. Why do they want to save him? Don’t remember, must that friendhip thing. We find out that Tao En’s the one responsible for brainwashing his son to hate all humans, the reason why Tao Ren detests them so much. And with Yoh’s contrasting personality it’s all confusing him or rather making Tao Ren realized things. So with words filled with encouragement and hope, they manage to beat the crap out of Tao En, in a way save Tao Ren and Tao Jun realizing all this is wrong and decides to withdraw herself from using violence ever again. Though Tao Ren isn’t too fond of it all nor does he acknowledges that he’s friends with Yoh, but I’m sure it’s all deep down there. You know, body language, male’s ego and pride.
 
The second arc of the series as mentioned is the journey of those successful shaman candidates to the a place called Patch Village, somewhere in USA. Before that we’re introduced to the main villain of the series Hao, who has a striking resemblance to Yoh. To cut things short, Hao is Yoh’s evil twin brother as the latter will find out later. Hao too has his own bunch of followers as he commands the Fire Spirit. Then there’s this X-Laws, a group of self-righteous people under the name of God, who’s existance is to get rid of Hao at any cost, thus the reason why they’re entering the tournament. So those non-participating-in-the-tournament characters like Manta and Anna stayed back at Japan as they wave goodbye to our heroes who’ll be leaving by plane to the land of milk and honey.
 
Most of the second part in this journey, sees how Yoh and co getting lost in America, wandering around here and there. Yeah, since there’s no map to that Patch Village, those people have to actually find the place on their own. So during their journey there, they will as usual meet other shaman candidates who’re lost as well, some making friends and with some learning a lesson or two. So a newcomer to part of the fab four’s team is Lyserg Diethel (first I thought I heard lizard), who hails from London and dresses like Sherlock Holmes. This kid has a real serious attitude problem. Because his parents were killed by Hao when he was young, ever since then he wants to become stronger so that he could beat Hao. Besides, he’s been mocked by Hao that he’s weak. So after witnessing Yoh and friends’ amazing power, he wants to join them but they didn’t want to. So decides to join by force and fights them and is always saying that ‘please let me join you guys’ or ‘I want to be stronger so that I can beat Hao’ line. So bloody irritating this jerk. Besides, the only thing I find cool about him is his weapon, a wrist thingy with long wires and a crystal at the tip of it, in which his spirit, Morphine, a pixie inhabits.
 
I guess after all that ranting and pestering (that’s what I felt lah), Lyserg is part of the group. And it seems Ryu has taken a liking for him. Does that guy have a fetish for pretty young boys? Then there’s that group of 5 ladies called The Lily 5. As far as I can see, they’re the weakest group and it makes me wonder how they got this far. Yeah, they’re here for comical purposes. With Sharona, Lily, Ellie, Sally and Millie (yeah, Yoh’s group wondering why only their leader Sharona’s name doesn’t end with a ~ly), at times they bump into Yoh’s group and thinks they know the way to Patch Village and in a way follows them in hopes that they’ll lead them to the place. The blind leading the blind. Oh yeah, and that youngest Lily 5 member, Millie, seems to have a crush on Lyserg too. What’s with these people. I guess attititude isn’t a problem if you’re looking that good. Well, yeah. Lyserg’s not thaaaaaat handsome. Just okay.
 
Besides that, some filler episodes, some flashbacks here and there. It’s all in the recipe for a long series. Speaking of which, at times when Hao bumps into Yoh’s group, Hao’s eagerly asking him to become stronger. Why? It seems that 500 years ago, the last Shaman Fight ended in an unwanted way. Yeah, Hao was there too back then. Hao wants to create a new world, a world free from those corrupted and filthy insects which are called humans and to do so he needs to power of the Great Spirit. So why didn’t he manage to do it the last time? The other family members of the Asakura lineage put some spell to stop him, but that’s just delaying the inevitable. So he reborn himself 500 years later to try again. Then there’s this crap part. When Yoh and Hao were born, Youmei and his son, Mikihisa (who’s also one of the 10 Guardians) didn’t know which one is the evil Hao so he decides to kill them both. But before he could do that baby Hao suddenly began to talk with all that destiny and you-can’t-beat-me crap and disappears with his baby version of the Fire Spirit. What the?! And ever since then, Mikihasa wears some bird mask to hide the scars which the Fire Spirit burnt his face. But sometimes I felt it was perhaps the embarrassment of being unable to stop the evil. Just kidding. So Hao claims that Yoh’s body is actually his and will take back his rightful power once Yoh becomes stronger.
 
Then there are a few of Hao followers who can’t wait to ‘test’ Yoh and with Hao’s permission, they went but during the fight, they’re being killed off by the X-Laws. The X-Laws knows of Yoh’s lineage and would forgive his sins if he joins them in their fight against Hao. But Yoh isn’t to amuse of the way X-Laws do things and rejects their offer. Lyserg saw how powerful they are (must be their robotic angel-like spirits) and soon decides to join them, much to the dismay of the group and even the Lily 5. Yeah, Lyserg’s hopping ship. As long as there’s some team stronger than him, he wants to join them, no doubt he admits Yoh’s kindness and his other good points which makes him strong. That’s why Lyserg chose to leave to become stronger. This guy really has serious attitude problem. But Yoh decides to let him go simply because it’s his decision. Well, you can’t force somebody to stay, can’t you? By the way, each time the X-Laws make an appearance or fights, you can hear those weird church-like male voices or those monastery voices going on in the background. I donno. I find it funny.
 
Because of Lyserg’s departure, a new guy comes to fill in his place, some comedian wannabe Chocolove McDaniel, with a jaguar, Mick as his spirit. His jokes are particularly lame and has no relation to whatsoever is going on, meaning nobody laughs at them, except for Pirika. Wonder if she really understands it. Even Chocolove himself is surprised. And he comes up with them at the wrong time. Plus, his jokes always irritates Tao Ren and the latter will stick his spear at him. But because he’s a good informationist, the gang allows him to join. Until they find out, he too doesn’t know where Patch Village is. Luckily Yoh and co are indirectly being shown the way through the eyes of the slain Seminoa Tribe 500 years ago at the last tournament by a Seminoa Tribe descendant, Lilirara. Uh-huh, those guys back then were killed by Hao when they refuse to join him. Hey, doesn’t Hao look like Silva back then. Yup, you’ll find out later in the series Silva is somewhat related to Hao. They say it’s really a small world. Well, at least they know where they’re heading.
 
Meanwhile back at Japan, Youmei’s trying to ask Anna to go bring some book called Chou Senji Ryakketsu (what a mouthful. Let’s called it CSR for simplicity) to Yoh so that Yoh can become more powerful. I think. Somethings going on, can’t really remember, Anna manage to control Hao’s 2 mosnters which guard the book and bring them under her control. Though Anna didn’t want to go at first but changed her mind when Youmei said Manta will bear all the expenses. Haih…
 
With that, Anna along with Manta and Tamao left for USA. Then donno how, it seems Anna manages to get Faust on her side. Um… Something about opening her own hot spring inn? Anyway it’s for her own ends. Yeah, this guy doesn’t seem to be that crazy mad fellow anymore but instead spends most of his time lovey-dovey with Eliza. Faust also seems not to harbour anymore ill feelings for Yoh. At the same time, Yoh’s team is facing one of Hao’s most loyal followers, Hanagumi, which consists of 3 witches. Is it a Halloween theme for them? Those 3 girls don’t look like your typical fat ugly American witches but your typical anime bishoujo. Hey, doesn’t one of them have a spirit which looked like Manta?
 
So Anna arrives in time and lets Yoh and his pals experience the CSR. I don’t know, it’s like going through some out-of-body and mind experience lecture in some other dimension. And I don’t really understand what’s going on. Once Yoh and co has finished, the came out looking more powerful. And their Over Souls are really huge! Yup, they’re powered up. After showing their powers to Hanagumi, the trio decides to retreat since they’re under orders from Hao not to kill Yoh. And it’s like a big reunion for our heroes. Though Yoh is happy to see Anna and the rest, I wonder is he really happy. Behind every successful man is a woman.
 
Then there’s one funny part I want to mention. There’s this confrontation between X-Laws and some Egyptian candidates who claim that they are the right ones to be Shaman King. What’s so weird about them? Well one of them has a pyramid as his head! So Marco (the second in command of the X-Laws) along with newly recruited Lyserg teach those Egyptian freaks a lesson before their leader Iron Maiden Jeanne unleashes her spirit, some scary looking baby, Shamash, and eliminates them. Yoh who’s watching of course doesn’t approve all this but he could only watch. I would also like to mention that this Jeanne girl keeps herself locked up in some Iron Maiden coffin (filled with thorns and vines) to increase her strength while in a near death-like state and only coming out when necessary. Yeah, something about her suffering will bring justice to the world. Like Jesus Christ, huh?
 
So when Yoh and gang finally finds Patch Village, it’s like a convenient thing because the other shamans too arrive. Even the hopeless Lily 5. See, how convenient it is. And it’s situated somewhere in the desert you know those American Indian natives where they build their village next to some huge rock within the outside cave walls and the buildings there are made out of clay. Uh-huh that. Can’t remember the name. And the place is like doing business there. I mean not only shamans are there, but normal human who come as audiences are there too. The must’ve given them a map or something because they didn’t take long to arrive. Plus with that, people there have to spend some money on food or souvenirs, which in a way is a money making event, don’t you think?
 
Thus, the first round is a group match whereby shamans are grouped into teams of 3 each in battles. Faust and Ryu sticks by Yoh in a team called Funbari Onsen (a name with compliments from Anna) while Horohoro and Chocolove reluctantly pairs up with Tao Ren who names his team after himself, Team Ren. So we see our main guys battling other shaman hopefuls over several episodes with each of them being given a little ‘focus’ like Ryu’s with some Middle East girl and her dominative brother, or some guy trying to preach something to Horohoro, and some family branch member of the Tao wants to eliminate Tao Ren. Then of course, to improve their power and such, Mikihisa gave those guys some weird training, that is by writing their wish on a grain of sand and then he throws it away in the middle of the desert and asks them to search for it. Now that’s gotta be worse than finding a needle in a haystack.
 
If you’re thinking how the Lily 5 survived up to now, that’s because those ladies haven’t had their 1st match yet. And they’re waiting patiently for the time to come where they see some action. They’re even thinking they might be seeded and would only come on in the last match! Fat chance. But be careful for what you wish for because no sooner than that, they’ve received their message for their first match and they’re all excited about it. Who are they facing? The Star Team. Who? It’s Hao’s team!!! Also, Hao’s first matches have begun and every team he faces, he kills them at the end. Yoh and co are very worried about them and pleads for them to pull out. But since they say they’ve gotten this far, they’re not gonna do so. So some flashbacks we see how they got dumped by society or the ones they love (Ellie’s one was amusing because she was dumped so fast by her boyfriend who says he doesn’t want a girlfriend who can sees ghosts and says goodbye. Wow. That’s so fast!). Yoh throws down a challenge to them saying that if they can beat him, then they can go on and face Hao. With lots of determination and will, the Lily 5 in a way you could say that they beat Yoh. But after hearing some advice from Anna, they decided to follow it and make history. That’s because before the match with Hao’s team begins, the Lily 5 withdraws! In a way, this saved their lives and made Hao a little disappointed because he has the intention to kill those weaklings. And since then, the Lily 5 will be supporting Yoh and co from behind.
 
But before the Shaman Fight could reach the next stage, the X-Laws decides to take into their own hands and dispose off Hao and his accomplices once and for all by using some portal called Gate Of Babylon. In the midst of it, not really sure how, but Manta seems to gain a spirit of his own called Mosuke, a hammer wielding guy who’s Amidamaru’s best friend and he inhabits Manta’s laptop. Really. Throughout the rest of the series, Manta doesn’t use him much or just when he really needs too. Back to the X-Laws. Lyserg has now discarded his Morphine for some X-Law spirit because he thinks his old Morphine abandoned him at the time he needed her most. But this guy’s just being plain selfish. So as Hao’s followers fight and killed some X-Laws members, Jeanne eventually manages to summoned up enough power from the X-Laws and opened up the Gate Of Babylon and sucks everyone there into it, including Yoh and friends. But before Shamash could close the gate, Fire Spirit’s hands grabbed it along into the gate as well. Then I’m not sure what’s going on, it’s like everybody’s walking in some undead like zone. Huh? Then donno how, the next time everybody awakens, they’re back to their normal world. But it seems the Gates Of Babylon has failed because Hao and buddies are still alive and Fire Spirit is devouring Shamash. Is this the end of the world?
 
Since the X-Laws took the initiative, Hao is thinking that he doesn’t need the Shaman Fight to become the ultimate being as he’s going straight to the Great Spirits and obtain its power directly. With that, Yoh and the rest has to chase Hao and put a stop to this. During their journey there, the remaining X-Laws tried to stop him but got killed off, leaving Marco and Lyserg left. Then I think Lyserg realized everything and got permission to leave the X-Laws and soon he’s reunited with Morphine. Looks like he’s gonna join the fight with Yoh as Marco and Jeanne left to do 1 more important thing that they could do. And I was wondering what was it, because it’s just praying! Well, I suppose that’s better than doing nothing.
 
Meanwhile Silva and his other Guardian pal, Karim faces off with 2 of the Guardians who seem to have defected to Hao’s side. Why did they do that? That’s because they felt it was so boring and with Hao, things would get interesting. What the?! Too much free time on their hands, huh? Anyway, they fight and though it wasn’t show, Silva and Karim beats them. What ever happens to those 2 traitors is still a mystery.
 
Somehow Yoh got separated from his buddies during the journey there. The place may seem very near but it’s a long path there. I suppose this is a chance for Hao’s followers to strut their stuff as they take on Yoh’s followers. Something like buying Hao some time as he makes his way to the Great Spirits. I need to mention that Hao has a variety of followers ranging from different sizes, physique and character. Yeah, multi-cultural and multi-creature too. Besides those 3 witches, he’s got some big bald chinese guy with sunglasses, some Egyptian guy with a face veil, some Mexican guy with a guitar in hand, an ex-X-Laws defect member, an American footballer guy, and a little weird hooded guy (whose spirits resemble Lego blocks!). Yeah, it seems I don’t remember their names. Then there’s this small African kid, Opacho who always seem to be by Hao’s side no matter what but does nothing much.
 
Fight fight fight with some big collisions between the Over Souls. Bang! Boom! Crash! Kapow! A lot of battles in the mid-air. Then, Tao Ren somehow got a direct hit and is in critical condition. Is he gonna die? Faust alone can’t save him so he suggest to his other friends to combine their furyoku to heal Tao Ren, which they did. This act of friendship merely disgusts Hao’s followers as would their selfishness disgust Yoh’s. With a revived Tao Ren, more words of determination and such, before our heroes disposes them off. It’s quite funny to see Hao’s followers drop down from the sky like flies when they lost and come crashing to the ground. Meanwhile, Yoh faces the Hanagumi witches again. Fight fight fight, Yoh defeats them and those 3 ladies I think are in shock to have lost to Yoh as they just sat there after the match while Yoh advances ahead.
 
Hao and Opacho finally reaches the spot of the Great Spirit with Manta following closely behind. Soon Yoh arrives and the start battling each other. To add a little suspense to the show (or make it slightly longer), Hao defeats Yoh and absorbs Yoh’s soul into his body! Yoh’s buddies and even Anna arrived just in time to witness this horrifying event. Since Yoh’s gone (temporarily), they’re not planning on giving up just like that, aren’t they? After all, they’ve followed Yoh for so long and learned his ways, it would be a waste just to give up now, right? So it’s 6 guys versus 1. Although they outnumbered Hao but this shows quality is better than quantity. Hao’s pretty powerful as he’s got some power of the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit really works in a funny way. Everyone, including the Guardians doesn’t know how it thinks so much so they just say it’s up to the Great Spirit’s wishes. Yeah, leave everything to it. Even Anna tries to have a hand in it and uses those monsters she controlled from CSR but Hao easily manages to wrest control back and turn it against her.
 
As everybody at the village watches from afar and worries if the Great Spirit has accepted Hao or not (I mean, they couldn’t see anything from there being so far, right?). They could do nothing but just hope for the best. Yoh’s buddies seem to have teamwork, cooperation, friendship and that never give up attitude as they take on Hao relentlessly, even though they’re being dealt with serious blows one after another. And I think out of convenience, after a lot of words of hope and determination, suddenly Yoh opened his eyes. Yes, Yoh’s back. Hao’s wondering how all this could happen (so am I). I guess Hao’s so frustrated that his scary looks scared Opacho away as that little kid says he’s not the Hao she once knew. But Hao isn’t too perturbed by it and continues fighting Yoh as Yoh’s buddies take a well deserved rest after their gruelling battle.
 
If you’ve seen many good vs evil kinda shows, you’ll know what happens in the end, right? Yup, Yoh wins and triumphs in the end. With that, the world is saved, at least for now. Until Hao reappears 500 years in the future or mankind themselves self-destructs, which ever comes first. I don’t know why, soon Patch Village disappears as our heroes awake in the desert. So we see the aftermath of the characters. Since the tournament has been suspended indefinitely by the will of the Great Spirit (who else), we see Yoh, Anna and Manta going back to school like as though none of this ever happened. Their lives back to normal. Also it seems Faust and Eliza is staying at Yoh’s house too. Then Horohoro and Pirika are trying to fix some machine to start work on maintaining those fairy’s habitat but they didn’t realize that the machine’s just out of fuel. Ryu takes on a long bike journey but eventually meets up with Horohoro and has some barbeque with him and his sis. See, his biker gang all donno go where. Chocolove is still trying to be a comedian. Good luck pal. Lyserg is back at his home studying. Amidamaru, Bason and Mosuke are having some sake under a tree at the cemetary. The Lily 5 opened a flower shop with Silva and Kalim opening a makeshift fortune telling side stall next to it. Jeanne and Marco continued their preaching. Tao Ren’s household seems to be having a nice time together.
 
Then Tao Jun sends Tao Ren to deliver something to Yoh’s household. Probably Tao Ren’s thinking too much why his sis asks him to send those stuffs by hand rather by mail, so much so Tao Ren unknowingly reached Yoh’s place already. Maybe Tao Jun thinks his little bro deep down wants to be with Yoh. When Yoh returns from home, he’s shocked to see Tao Ren sitting in the hallroom. What’s even more shocking for Yoh is to see Anna doing some cooking! Wow. Now that’s a scene. And whatever has happened to Hao and his followers? Even Manta narrates he doesn’t know what has happened to Hao nor where he is. I smell a loose open ending for a sequel if there is ever one. Perhaps Hao’s followers have turned over a new leaf. Just maybe.
 
Overall, after such a long spell (I must have said the word long too many times), the ending didn’t do any much satisfying justice. But I guess it’s pretty decent and okay. Then I did some reading up. And it seems that it is most unlikely there will be a sequel for the anime because the manga version has stopped its production since due to declining popularity. Yeah, just like the Great Spirits wish to postpone it indefinitely.
 
And because it’s a loooong series, I kinda notice that in certain episodes there’s a drop in quality in the animation and art. Sometimes it’s quite obvious. It’s like as though they’re doing a rush job. And of course there’re some repetitive (recycled, in other words) action scenes because since the certain moves they pull off are quite the same so why waste drawing it from a different angle.
 
The character developments are quite sufficient for this series. No doubt that there are many many characters major and minor but I guess it helps contribute to the storyline of the series. So much so, some I can’t even remember their names. Is it worth remembering them all? Luckily I still could remember the main ones. The character designs are pretty okay, not that they have to most fashionable outfits, and some are just plain weird. Could you imagine if everybody wore the same Nike shirt and pants? Not only you couldn’t tell them apart, it’ll be ‘irritating’ because everybody looks like a clone. Yeah, Anna is still the ‘cool’ one.
 
Both the opening theme songs, Over Soul and Nothern Lights are your typical fast paced exciting pop theme songs which gives you an idea what this anime is gonna be about. I donno, I kinda find the first ending theme song, Trust You, to be a little ‘sissy’. No doubt is a slow easy ballad, but hey, that’s what I feel. The second ending theme song, Omokage, another slow ballad, sounds much better. By the way, they’re all sung by Megumi Hayashibara, except for the last episode where the ending song Tamashii Kasanete is sung by Satou Yuko.
 
There are several trivias for you to spot in the anime. For instance there’s a spoof team of WWF wrestling characters somewhere in the Shaman Fight. And if you’re a wrestling fan, you’ll be able to spot them very easily. Even though the anime and manga has ended, if you can’t get enough of this series, there’s still the trading card game and even a video game of it. Then there’re those tv specials and shorts, which are just a recap and short side stories just for comical purposes just before the second round. Nothing much to it really.
 
So for those who still have their dreams unfulfilled, looks like you have to wait for the next Shaman Fight which comes around again in the next 500 years. If you can’t wait that long, then probably you could go join a reality tv series. Yeah, that’s the trend and in-thing these days. Just keep in mind Yoh’s quote, "Ghosts are people too!". Yeah, they were… once.