Hoshin Engi, also known as Soul Hunter, is a Japanese manga series by Ryu Fujisaki. Hoshin Engi is inspired by the Chinese literary classic Investiture of the Gods, a shenmo novel. The story involves the Chinese mythology and history of China, in particular the last members of the In (Yin Dynasty aka Shang Dynasty) and the plot to overthrow them.
The manga series was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from 1996–2000 and compiled in 23 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. Viz Media acquired the rights to the manga, with bimonthly releases starting June 5, 2007. The manga has been re-released and re-compiled into fewer larger volumes with new cover art, illustrations and afterwords. The 18 kanzenban volumes were released periodically between July 2005 and April 2006 in Japan only.
The story has been adapted into a 26-episodes anime series titled Senkaiden Hōshin Engi, broadcast on TV Tokyo in 1999 and released in North America on DVD as Soul Hunter in 2001. In January 2009, Shomei TV announced their intentions to remake the anime series if they received 10,000 signatures.
A new 23-episode anime television series adaptation titled Hakyū Hōshin Engi and featuring a new cast aired from January to June, 2018. Fujisaki also wrote a short manga series that was serialized in Weekly Young Jump from April to June, 2018.
First series (1999)
Hoshin Engi was adapted into an anime television series titled Senkaiden Hōshin Engi, produced by Studio Deen and directed by Junji Nishimura. The 26-episodes series was broadcast on TV Tokyo between July 3 and December 25, 1999.
In North America, the series was first licensed by ADV Films in 2001 under the name Soul Hunter. In 2016, Discotek Media re-licensed the series for a single DVD collection release on June 28.
In January 2009, Shomei TV announced their intentions to remake the anime series if they received 10,000 signatures.
Second series (2018)
A new 23-episode anime television series adaptation titled Hakyū Hōshin Engi, produced by C-Station and featuring a new cast aired from January 12 to June 29, 2018. The series is directed by Masahiro Aizawa, with Natsuko Takahashi in charge of the series scripts, characters design by Yoshimitsu Yamashita and music composed by Maiko Iuchi. Crunchyroll streamed the series, while Funimation produced a simuldub.
A video game based on the manga was created for the PlayStation and the Wonderswan. Several audio dramas were released in 2005.
Four characters of Hoshin Engi appear in Jump Ultimate Stars for Nintendo DS. Out of these, only Taikobo can be controlled by the player. The other three appear as either support (So Dakki) or help komas (Otenkun and Subushan).
The 26-episode anime storyline somewhat follows the main plot of the manga, with the young (72-year-old) “doushi” (Apprentice to a Sennin) Taikoubou told to go from the Sennin (Immortal) world to Earth (and specifically Yin China) to hunt down 365 renegade evil spirits in order to bring down the fall of Queen Dakki, a Fox spirit who has enslaved the Emperor.
Taikoubou recruits Nataku, a human/weapon hybrid, and Raishinshi, a would-be vigilante, in his quest to hunt down Dakki. He is later joined by Youzen, the Tensai (Genius) Doushi of Kunlun and Kou Tenka, the son of the duke Kou Hiko. He also rides a talking ‘hippopotamus’ (actually a Reijuu) named Suppushan, who remains the most popular character of the series.
Ki Shou, the Lord of the West, is a man who is unwittingly destined to found the Zhou dynasty. Imprisoned for trying to stop Dakki’s evil, he suffers a grievous guilt when his son is murdered and served to him as a meal, causing him to refrain from eating. Escaping from his captors, he returns with an army to overthrow the Yin with the help of Taikoubou.
In the midst of this historical drama, the Immortal High Council (a group of three Immortals seemingly of a higher position than Genshi-tenson) is plotting some form of magical spell that requires the capturing of many souls, which made them deliberately lie about the purpose of the Houshin Project to Taikoubou.
The anime ends with Dakki’s death due to the combined efforts of Taikoubou’s group and Shinkouhyou, with the Juunisen making a short appearance near the end and no mention of Jyoka.
- He is a disciple at Konronsan and Genshitenson’s best pupil. He received the Hoshin project from Genshitenson, and became a strategist to defeat the collapsing Yin Dynasty and to help the Buo of the Shu. Although he wears very strange clothes, he has the sharpest mind in Konron. Taikoubo was the son of the leader of the Kyo tribe, and was named Ryo Bo, but he lost his parents in a Yin human hunt. After twelve years on earth, he became a disciple, and with 30 years of study, attained Senin level power. Though, Taikobo is still an average Senin with a low rank, he is the personal disciple of the leader of Konronsan, Genshitenson, so his position in the Senkai (spirit world) is high. At the beginning of the story, he receives a retractable baton-shaped Paopei (Magic Tool) called Dashinben, which grants him the power to create and control wind. Later, because of the Orb of Revival, the Dashinben gets an upgrade, a larger shape and improved abilities. Eventually, his Dashinben is upgraded by fusing with the paopei ‘Kyokoki’ that can absorb Konronsan’s energy for recovery, and the super paopei, ‘Taikyokuzu,’ that negates all other paopei’s power,draw magic seals and can heal injuries. Basically, his speciality is fighting by wits, and using cleverness to swindle his enemies, so that sometimes even his allies boo him. His constant companion, main ally, and mode of transportation is the spirit beast, Supushan. Taikobo’s real age is at least 72 years old, and contrary to his boyish appearance, love of peaches and sweet things, and dislike of shots and medicine, his speech and mannerisms are that of an old man. His personality is aloof, and he has a strong belief in a peaceful human world. Additionally, he is left-handed, but during the fight with Inkou (the older), he lost his left arm up to the elbow. Soon after, he received an artificial arm created by Taiitsu Shinjin.
- Although Taikobo is often criticized by other characters for being very ‘un-protagonist-like,’ he was voted first in a Jump magazine character poll twice. From time to time, the author changes his drawing into a simple shape, with a circle and two points for a head and a stick figure like body.
- Taikoubou’s spirit beast who has the appearance of a white hippo (his original design was more like a dragon). Suupuushan uses the inflection “~su” at the end of sentences. He has adult-like and serious personality. Originally, he lived in his birthplace in the Suupuu valley in Northern Europe with his parents, Suupuupapa and Suupuumama, but Suupuupapa, Genshitenson’s spirit beast, was greatly wounded in a battle with Chou Koumei, and was forced to retire. In order to support the family, a young Suupuushan went off to work. From the beginning, he carries the Orb of Revival, which he uses to come back to life in a temporary adult form after he was killed in the battle with Chou Koumei. In his adult form, his voice and speech patterns change, and, like all adults of his species, can eat paopei energy. The battle with Bunchuu activates a licence designating Supushan as an adult, and from that point forward, he is able to transform at will. Later, he receives a second Orb of Revival, recovered from the ruins of Kingo Island.