The manga and anime series Shaman King features several characters created by Hiroyuki Takei. As a result of being focused on shamanism the series' cast is divided between humans and spirits, the latter not being able to go the afterlife due to their alliance with the former. The series primarily focuses on a teenager named Yoh Asakura, who reveals to his classmate Manta Oyamada that he is a shaman when fighting a group delinquents led by Ryu. Wishing to lead a peaceful life, Yoh has been training from an early age to become the titular "Shaman King", who will be able to change the world according to his will. During Yoh's training, Manta meets Yoh's demanding fiancée, Anna Kyoyama and Yoh's spirit partner, the samurai Amidamaru. In his journey to become Shaman King, Yoh also meets with a number of rival shamans who seek to become Shaman King for their own reasons and visions of the future, some who become his allies and others who become his enemies. The series' sequel, Shaman King: Flowers, deals with Yoh's son, Hana Asakura, and his development as a shaman. In terms of developing Shaman King, Takei has noted that he creates the characters first and develops the story around them.
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Takei; in particular, the fox and raccoon-dog duo of Konchi and Ponchi were inspired by Ren and Stimpy. For Takei, the female lead Anna Kyoyama was regarded as the easiest character to draw and the protagonist Yoh Asakura was the hardest; Takei explained that it was difficult to develop Yoh's character because of the criteria set by Weekly Shōnen Jump. The engagement between Yoh and Anna being introduced at the beginning of the story has been regarded as unusual for a shonen manga for its maturity and partly reflects Takei's own personal experience, but it is still an ideal relationship. A number of characters in Shaman King previously appeared in Takei's preceding work, Butsu Zone, though Takei regards both Shaman King and Butsu Zone as occurring in different worlds akin to Osamu Tezuka's Star System. Notably, Anna Kyoyama was based on the lead character in his debut one-shot, Itako no Anna, who also inspired a character with a similar design and background in Butsu Zone; Takei has remarked that Anna is his signature character. The members from the Gandhara faction, particularly its leader Sati Saigan, also appear to be heavily based on the main characters from Butsu Zone. Yoh Asakura (麻倉 葉, Asakura Yō) is an easy-going teenage boy with the ability to see ghosts, he quickly becomes friends with Manta and reveals that he is training to eventually become the Shaman King.
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Though he is too lazy to train properly, he is motivated by a promise he made to his fiancée, Anna Kyoyama, to give her an easy life once he becomes Shaman King. While he remarks that he wants to become Shaman King in order to live a carefree and easy life, those closest to Yoh know that he wants to create a world where no one has to suffer from loneliness like Yoh did as a child because he was a shaman and nobody understood or accepted him. Unexpectedly, he is not only the latest descendant of the Asakura family, a family famed for their spiritual powers, but also the twin brother of Hao Asakura, who is a reincarnation of the immensely powerful founder of the Asakura family and the primary antagonist of the series. As a result, Yoh is the Asakura family's greatest hope of finally defeating Hao at last and saving the world from impending destruction.
During the Shaman Fight, Yoh is the leader of Team Funbari Onsen. In the manga, when it becomes apparent that currently known methods of training will not allow any shaman to defeat Hao, Yoh is sent to Hell to train, an honor given to him by Lady Sati, and is granted the power of purification. He becomes one of the Five Grand Elemental Spirits and gains the Spirit of Earth. Anna Kyoyama (恐山, Kyōyama Anna), nicknamed Anna the Itako II (二代目イタコのアンナ, Nidaime Itako no Anna), is Yoh Asakura's fiancėe and a powerful itako (a spirit medium in the 2001 English anime), with the ability to summon and channel spirits even from Heaven. She is unrelentingly brutal with Yoh's training in order to ensure he wins the Shaman Tournament and becomes Shaman King. Anna attends Shinra Private Academy along with Yoh and Manta. She has previously appeared in Hiroyuki Takei's other works, including Butsu Zone and Itako no Anna, and is notably the mascot for the Aomori Prefecture's police force. After being abandoned by her birth parents due to her abilities, Anna was adopted by Kino Asakura, Yoh's grandmother who resides in Aomori, as one of her apprentices. Her surname, Kyoyama, was given to her by Kino and is an alternate reading of the characters for Mount Osore, where Anna was found.
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Though most itako are blind, Anna is fully sighted and extremely powerful; her considerable spiritual strength allows her to seal Hao's guardian spirits Zenki and Kouki and take control of them. Her powers originally included the ability to read minds, which caused her to create powerful demons from negative emotions until she was saved by Yoh and Matamune and the ability was sealed. Out of deep gratitude for how he saved her life, she believes that it is her responsibility to train him hard so that he can achieve his dream of becoming Shaman King. Despite how badly she seems to treat Yoh, she openly admits that she loves him, expressing jealousy when she thinks he is interested in other girls and breaking down only when she believes that Yoh is truly in danger in contrast to her unflinching confidence in him under other dangerous situations. Her strong will and blunt personality often inspire fear in her close friends, particularly Yoh.
She is one of the few who does not openly express fear to Hao, who is intrigued by her attitude and acknowledges her strength and how she reminds him of his mother, Asanoha Douji. However, she sincerely cares for those important to her, especially Yoh, and merely is dedicated to be "the ultimate Shaman Queen" and wife to Yoh, the first real friend that she ever had in her life. Manta Oyamada (小山田 まん太, Oyamada Manta), known as Mortimer "Morty" Manta in both the uncut and edited dubs of the 2001 anime and English-dubbed video games based on that adaptation, is Yoh's best friend and the first human to try and understand Yoh without any discrimination. An intelligent and thoughtful boy who carries a book with him every day, he attends Shinra Private Academy with Yoh and Anna. He is physically very short, a fact that he is extremely sensitive about, and has been mistaken as a Koropokuru, a shy nature spirit from northern Japan.
Though he is not a shaman and unable to use his spiritual powers like Yoh and Anna, he is capable of seeing spirits and faithfully stands by Yoh. Throughout the series, Manta acts as the primary narrator of the events in Shaman King. In the manga and original Japanese anime, his family owns the Oyamada Electronics Company and therefore is very rich. His parents disapprove of Manta's friendship with Yoh while his younger sister, Mannoko, seems to enjoy making fun of Manta. He has a strained relationship with his family, who plays little role in the story and, following their initial appearance, they have never seen again in the manga until a brief appearance by Mansumi toward the end of the series, where the Oyamada president leads several battleships to destroy and capture Shamans. In the manga and Japanese anime, Manta has an assistant, Tamurazaki, though he is mostly Mansumi's lapdog and winds up gunning down at least one of Hao's followers.
While he is unable to help Yoh to become stronger as a shaman, Manta uses what advantages he has to support his friend, such as his incredible wealth to help Anna reach the United States to bring the Ultra Senji Ryakketsu to Yoh after he has left to find the Patch Village. In the 2001 anime, during the Shaman Tournament, Manta becomes a shaman with Mosuke, Amidamaru's best friend who forged Harusame, as his Guardian Spirit. His relationship with Mosuke soon parallels Yoh's own relationship with Amidamaru, as well as their existing relationships with their best friends. Because Manta is untrained as a shaman, he is unable to maintain spirit form from losing furyoku quickly and generally communicates with Mosuke through his laptop. During the final battle against Hao, Manta is able to use his laptop to form a hammer-shaped Over Soul to knock out Hao's shikigami and force his friends to calm down long enough to regroup and defeat Hao. In the manga, Manta is generally an observer throughout the Shaman Fight and often questions his presence in a battle that he cannot directly contribute to. At the conclusion of the series, he appears at the head of the Soul Train to save Yoh and his friends from falling into oblivion, expressing happiness and relief that he could finally help Yoh. Several years later, he attends college in America, studying ways to combine shamanism with business, and brings presents for his friends at their reunion at Funbari Onsen. Hao Asakura (麻倉 (ハオ), Asakura Hao) ("Zeke Asakura" in the English dub of the 2001 anime) is the main antagonist of Shaman King, currently the second reincarnation of his original self and the twin brother of Yoh.
He is the most powerful participant in the Shaman Tournament, with Furyoku at 1,250,000, an extremely high level compared with the other characters' Furyoku levels in Shaman King. While he exhibits ruthlessness towards his opponents, he acts surprisingly easy-going and affable, similar to Yoh's personality. Originally, one thousand years ago, Hao was the founder of the Asakura family and a powerful Onmyōji priest who possessed incredible spiritual powers, including the ability to sense the thoughts and desires of those around him. Regarded as a master of the Wu Xing pentagram, he was able to control the five elements that give form to creation. However, his compassionate heart was overcome by his deep-seated desire to avenge his mother's death and his growing hatred of humans because of their selfish natures. Failing to win his first Shaman King tournament because of the combined efforts of the Asakura family to stop him, Hao was able to reincarnate with full awareness of his past life in time to participate in the next tournament and again for the current tournament. In his second life five centuries later, Hao was reincarnated as a member of the Patch Tribe, who would be an ancestor to Silva, and massacred the Seminoa tribe. After successfully taking control of the Spirit of Fire, an elemental spirit that embodies the essence of one of the five elements of nature, he attempted to become Shaman King again. Despite possessing such advantages, he was defeated by Yohken Asakura, one of his descendants, and the spirit Matamune, who reluctantly put aside his love and loyalty for Hao for the sake of saving the world.