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Title: The Road to the Tao Stronghold
Series: Shaman King #8
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Copy
Yoh and Ren conclude their fight to a draw. The Great Spirit declares they both get to advance and Tao joins the group that has coalesced around Yoh. Now that the prelims are over, the real tournament will begin in a month.
Yoh is confronted by BoZ the Rocking Monks, who are acting as lackeys for someone named Hao. Ryu appears and saves Yoh and cuts their hearse in half. Ryu is also a contestant in the Shaman Fight and now a shaman in his own right.
Ren heads home to confront his father. Jun had already done so during Ren’s fight with Yoh and the father Yuan, put her into his dungeons. Ren cuts through his father’s forces only to be crushed by one blow by Yuan and put into the same place as his sister.
Bason, Ren’s spirit cohort, escapes and begs Yoh and Co to come rescue Ren and Jun. Manta arranges transport and the gang all head to the ancestral home of the Tao’s. Horohoro and Ryu tell the others to go on while they take care of Yuan Tao’s special goon squad, a set of 5 suped up dead bodies, each a fusion of human and something else.
Ok, I felt cheated. While I figured out that Ren and Yoh would end up as friends, the “Great Spirit” declaring the draw as a win for both of them just felt like the manga-ka was taking the easy way out since he couldn’t figure out a way to reconcile Ren’s animosity with the need to make Ren and Yoh friends. Eh, whatever.
I find all the setup in this book pretty impressive. Yuan Tao is dang impressive, both physically (he “accidentally” crushes a panda bear he is petting) and psychically (not even Ren could have created the special hybrid creatures). Of course, it’s all overshadowed by this “Hao” character, whoever he is.
I like the group dynamic. Horoho with his enthusiasm coupled with Ryu’s humorous machismo works perfectly. I am really looking forward to their battle in the next book. Ren is going to make a great backbone to Yoh’s laidback stoner approach to life.