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|Shaman King character|
|First appearance||Manga Chapter 1|
|Voiced by||Yūko Satō (Japanese)
Sebastian Arcelus (English)
Rowena Raganit (Tagalog)
|Relatives||Anna Kyōyama (wife)
Hao Asakura (twin brother)
Hana Asakura (son)
|Spirit Allies||Amidamaru, seirei-class samurai spirit (presently)
Matamune, seirei-class cat spirit (previously)
Spirit of Earth
|Shamanic Mediums||"Harusame" (katana)
"Futsu-no-Mitama no Tsurugi" sword antiquity
Yoh[a] Asakura (麻倉 葉 Asakura Yō) is a fictional character and protagonist of the manga series Shaman King created by Hiroyuki Takei. Yoh is a shaman with a lazy demeanor who is accompanied by a six-hundred-year-old samurai ghost, Amidamaru. When first introduced, Yoh appears as a young teenager who wishes to become the "Shaman King", the world's ruler, in an attempt to grant his own wish of living a peaceful life. However, as he befriends more people in the shaman fighting tournament to become the Shaman King, it is revealed Yoh has an twin brother named Hao Asakura who wishes to destroy humanity. As a result, Yoh's objective changes to stop his brother's hatred to mankind.
Yoh also in the prequel Shaman King Zero and in the sequel Shaman King Flowers. He also appears in the anime adaptation of Shaman King where his Japanese voice actress is Yūko Satō, and his English dub voice is provided by Sebastian Arcelus. He also appears as the protagonist in all the Shaman King video games and appears in multiple crossover fighting games alongside other characters that appeared in the same magazine that Shaman King debuted. Critical reception to Yoh has been mostly positive, based on his interactions with other characters. Merchandising based on him has also been released.
For Takei, Yoh was the hardest character to make; 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 still an ideal relationship.
Yoh is the protagonist of Shaman King who befriends a fellow student from school named Manta Oyamada during his introduction. When Manta is badly beaten by local delinquents led by "Wooden Sword" Ryu, Yoh reveals himself to be a shaman and comes to Manta's defence with the help of a six-hundred-year-old samurai ghost, Amidamaru. Yoh and Manta soon become best friends and have numerous adventures involving local ghosts until Yoh reveals his actual purpose in coming to Tokyo: he has come to train for the Shaman Fight, an event that occurs once every 500 years, where shaman from all over the world will battle to become the Shaman King and gain the power to change the world. In order to ensure he trains properly, Yoh is soon joined by his fiancée Anna Kyoyama, an itako from Aomori, who drives Yoh relentlessly and brutally so that he may stand up to the powerful opponents he will have to contend with in order to become Shaman King. While Yoh possesses an overly laid-back personality and lazy demeanor, he is noted as being a perceptive individual who is generally able to remain cool under pressure. His most distinctive trait is a pair of orange headphones and a necklace with three bear claws, both which he wears almost constantly; his usual attire consists of his school uniform with his shirt unbuttoned along with a pair of sandals. He is the latest descendant and heir to the Asakura family, a prestigious family of shaman whose lineage dates back to the Heian era.
Despite Yoh's claims that he wishes to become Shaman King merely to live an easy life, his primary motivation is the promise he made to Anna when they first met and he saved her life after her powers, fueled by her deep-seated hatred of humanity and the resulting loneliness she felt, nearly destroyed her. Because Yoh's own loneliness in childhood, resulting from being regarded as an outcast by his peers for being a shaman, he deeply treasures his friends and will not hesitate to do anything to protect them.
It is revealed in the series Yoh was born as the younger of a pair of identical twin brothers to Keiko Asakura and Mikihisa Maki. Before Yoh's birth, it had been predicted that the family's progenitor, Hao Asakura, would reincarnate himself for the second time as one of Keiko's children and attempt to become Shaman King. The circumstances allowed the Asakuras to spare Yoh and Yohmei raised his grandson with the hope that he would be able to defeat Hao once and for all, thwarting Hao's plans to create a shaman only world.
In 1995, Yoh's grandmother Kino suggests that Yoh be engaged to her apprentice, Anna Kyoyama. Accompanied by the spirit Matamune, Yoh went to Aomori and fell in love with Anna at first sight. However, her unchecked ability to read minds resulted in Anna closing her heart off and developing a hatred of humanity, which manifested as powerful demons. Matamune, who had once been the original Hao's greatest friend, used his power to help Yoh save Anna; Anna began to open her heart again out of the love she had developed for Yoh and Yoh resolved to become strong enough to summon Matamune again in material form.
Upon entering the Shaman Fight, he meets a number of shaman who would become his friends and allies. Upon the second round of the Shaman Fight, Yoh becomes the leader of "Team Funbari Onsen", which includes "Wooden Sword" Ryu and Faust VIII as his teammates. When Yoh learns of his connection to Hao and learns more about his past and personality, Yoh becomes determined not only to stop Hao from realizing his plan to create a shaman only world, but also the considerably more difficult task of saving Hao by defeating the darkness in Hao's heart.
In Funbari no Uta, a series of short stories written by Hiroyuki Takei and set six or seven years after the conclusion of Shaman King, it is revealed that Yoh and Anna have a son named Hana. The child wields Yoh's Futsunomitama Sword and travels around with Ryu Umemiya in search of the Five Elemental Warriors. An older Yoh and Anna do not appear until the conclusion of the short series, apparently on their way to Funbari Hill, as they have been travelling around the world in order to resolve various conflicts. In their absence, Hana was raised by Tamao Tamamura with no awareness of who his actual parents are, though Tamao intends to tell him when his parents return at last. Yoh and Anna also appear in flashbacks in Shaman King Flowers, the sequel from Shaman King series set about six or seven years after Funbari no Uta with Hana. Shaman King Flowers also revealed Yoh became a father when he was 16 years old.
Yoh appears as a playable character for the Nintendo DS titles, Jump Superstars and Jump Ultimate Stars. He also appears as a main character in the various video games based on the Shaman King series.
He has been featured various times in the Animage's Anime Grand Prix polls, ranking as one of the most popular male anime characters. Merchandise based on Yoh have been released, including action figures, key chains, and plush toys.
Critical reception to Yoh's character has been both positive and negative. Justin Freeman from Anime News Network qualified Yoh as "easy-going" person. He criticized the fact that "Yoh is a vessel for his ephemeral allies, but in reality they up end being a vessel for him, to the benefit of no one." Writing for Mania Entertainment, Eduardo Chavez commented that Yoh is "such a laid back casual character", and that "Yoh's attitude to not go beyond his own abilities might be a little lazy" but he thinks that is "a smart approach to conserve mental and physical strength." Chris Beverdige also from Mania said Yoh is "very much a laid back slacker." Alexander Hoffman of Comics Village declared "in this first novel, letting the relationships between Yoh, Amidamaru, and Manta flesh out is more important that developing every spiritual entity that shows up." Active Anime's Holly Ellingwood praised the Yoh's "much more idealistic and noble [position] than that of his rivals." A reviewer for The Star noted that while it was predictable that Yoh will meet other Shamans to become the Shaman King he noted it would be entertaining how the character will develop more powers. While reviewing the manga's twenty-second volume, Margaret Veira from Active Anime remarked the scenes in which Yoh starts feeling rage to the point she said "you can feel the anger emanating from the page! It feels so real!" In the book "Summoning the Spirits: Possession and Invocation in Contemporary Religion", author Andrew Dawson called Yoh the "Japanese Shaman" as he is not based on any religion unlike other characters appearing in the series despite noting some his relationship with the spirit of Amidamaru who is closed on Buddahood. Dawson also praised Yoh's character for being relatable with most of the readers of the series.
- ジャンプアルティメットスターズファーストアルティガイド. Shueisha. 2006. p. 21.
- "「S.F.O.V」 I (シャーマン・ファイト・オブ・ヴォーカル) With Deteremined Passion/事理(ジリ) (Single, Maxi, Soundtrack)". Amazon. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- "Shaman King to Return in New Short Manga in November (Updated)". Anime News Network. September 24, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- Interview with Manga-News.com (French)
MN – Quel est donc celui qui est le plus facile à dessiner, et au contraire le plus difficile?
HT – Anna est la plus facile et Yoh le plus difficile. Par là je n'entends pas que le coté dessin pur mais plutôt l'aspect évolutif du personnage et son caractère. Pour Yoh, il a été pour moi plus difficile à faire évoluer dans les critères que demande le Jump magazine.
(Translation: MN - Who is the easiest to draw and who is the most difficult?
HT - Anna is the easiest and Yoh is the most difficult. By that I don't mean drawing, but developing the characters. For Yoh, it was hard for me to develop him because of the criteria required for Jump magazine.)
- Shonen Jump interview with Hiroyuki Takei, 2005.
Q: The fact that Yoh is engaged to Anna from the beginning of the story is unusual for a shonen manga. In many ways, their relationship is more mature than the relationships between male and female characters in usual shonen manga. Has your own marriage influenced your depiction of Yoh and Anna?
Takei: I think it reflects quite a bit of my own personal experience. I wouldn't say it is a direct copy. But the relationship both characters have, is quite an ideal relationship, I would say.
- Shaman King, volume 19, chapter 164-166
- 第24回アニメグランプリ 2002年6月号 (in Japanese). Animage. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- 第25回アニメグランプリ 2003年6月号 (in Japanese). Animage. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- "RIO:bone 麻倉葉&甲縛式O.S白鵠" (in Japanese). Amazon. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- シャーマンキング フィギュアキーホルダー パート 3 (in Japanese). Takara Tomy. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- "Shaman King: Yoh Asakura 12-inch Plush". Amazon. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- Freeman, Justin (December 5, 2004). "Shaman King G.novel 1". Anime News Network. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- Chavez, Eduardo (October 14, 2005). "Shaman King Vol. #07". Mania. Archived from the original on November 10, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- Beveridge, Chris (October 19, 2004). "Shaman King Vol. #02". Mania. Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- Hoffman, Alexander. "Shaman King Volume 1". ComicsVillage. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- Ellingwood, Holly (March 10, 2007). "Shaman King Vol. 12 (Advanced Review)". Active Anime. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- "Good fight". The Star. April 16, 2006. Archived from the original on July 17, 2015. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
- Veira, Margaret (June 8, 2009). "Shaman King Vol. 12 (Advanced Review)". Active Anime. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
- Dawson, Andrew (2010). Summoning the Spirits: Possession and Invocation in Contemporary Religion. I.B.Tauris. p. 174. ISBN 978-1848851627.