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Title: Return of Faust
Series: Shaman King #13
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Copy
This volume starts out with a nearly naked Yoh drifting through a bizarre landscape and eventually entering an ocean. He then wakes up in the Patch village where Silva explains that Yoh had a vision from the Great Spirit. Yoh looks outside and sees a massive column of souls, all of which make up the great spirit. All the contestants who made it through the maze have to face the great spirit and have a vision. If they survive the vision, they move on in the competition. All of Our Gang survives but Lyserg has gone off on his own after seeing “something” that involves Yoh’s father.
Yoh runs into Anna and everyone runs into another shaman named Joco. He reveals that the next step in the competition is a tournament of 3 man teams competing against each other. With Lyserg gone, Our Gang can’t form the requisite 2 teams and Joco wants to join Our Gang.
Joco has done a ton of research and monologues to Our Gang, and us the readers. Hao’s team is being opposed by the X-Laws, but there is another group of Shamans banding together to oppose Hao, a group of Buddhist monks. Each group is being led by a Shaman in the Kami Class. Joco is a terrible punster and has named his spirit ally Mic the Jaguar, ie, Mick Jagger.
Ren takes this time to create his own team of 3 from Our Gang and Horohoro and Joco are the “lucky” ones chosen. Manta goes looking for Yoh and runs into Faust. Faust brings Manta to Yoh and asks to join Team Yoh. Ryu rejects his request out of hand but Anna, as Queen Shaman to be, makes an executive decision and puts Faust in play. Of course, Anna’s choice springs from her desire to open a hot springs in the future and having a shaman doctor indebted to her will be a great attraction for the hot springs.
2 months go by and the 3 man teams are all transported to a deserted island named Tokyo where an Arena style fighting tournament is going to take place. There are 21 teams and they must battle each other in a ladder style order. First up is Team Ren. They are fighting Team Earth, one of Hao’s sub-groups. Team Earth consists of the 2 monk team Boz along with a mysterious masked man. Ren and Horohoro leave Joco to deal with Boz and Joco shows what he’s got.
While Joco easily defeats Boz, that was Tecolote’s plan all along. He uses bones as his medium and begins using the bones of Boz to fight Joco. Joco won’t attack Boz, as another attack will kill them. We then get a flashback into Joco’s past about why he has vowed to never kill. Joco’s parents were killed and he ended up becoming the head of gang. One Christmas he tries to kill someone who turns out to be a shaman and Joco can see his spirit ally. This decides the shaman to take Joco on as his protege, even if Joco doesn’t want it.
Ok, this volume brought the game back. It did feel like there was a missing volume, since Yoh wakes up in the Patch Village and everyone else is there too but hey, if the manga-ka wants to mess around, that’s his business.
Lyserg’s desertion wasn’t unexpected but he sure was replaced quickly with Joco. I didn’t care for Joco upon his introduction as I hate puns, but once the fighting started, he was solid. I also liked his backstory and introduction to being a shaman.
The further along this series goes, the more and more it adapts the fighting shonen stereotypes. Tournaments inside a ring is such a staple that it is now a cliché. In the anime Yu Yu Hakusho (which I highly recommend if you want fighting shonen out the wazoo) the ring tournament takes up almost half the series and since we’re only on book 13 of 30+ here, I fancy we’ll see about that same ratio. Expect lots of shenanigans and cheating by Team Hao.
The beginning of the book, with the vision of the great spirit being nothing but a collection of the total souls ever in existence or ever to exist, was a cheap knockoff of the philosOphy of nirvana. Not a big fan of that line of thought at all. Obviously the manga-ka is enamoured of the idea though. I expect to see more buddhism-lite ideas to trickle forth over the upcoming volumes.
However, overall, this got me excited again. I’m going to go read the next volume right away!