Today on Twitter, users Momomoranko and urushimacsrk, posted some photos from early 2001 advertisements for the Japanese Shaman King Trading Card Game from Weekly Shonen Jump. The first three images (shown below) are from 2001 issues #12 & #15, which were published on March 5th and 26th, 2001. For the eagle-eyed that’s Shaman King chapter 126 in the 15th issue.
To put this timeline in perspective, the actual set of cards wasn’t going to be released until May 31st (as shown in the 15th issue ad to the right). However during the Spring Tokyo Game Show 2001 (when it was an event held twice a year), TOMY did hand out “premium” packs which contained the first 5 shamans in the Card Game. This Spring event wasn’t until March 30th, so the card game had actually came out literally the next day. There was some minor changes to the cards (but not the art) between the “Premium” set and the “First” set.
But now let’s roll back the clock to March when these two ads were published. The main 5 shamans and their spirits from the “First” set are there; Yoh, Ren, Anna, Horohoro, and Faust VIII. Most notably is that Ren was completely redrawn from that first ad! Another minor change was with Manta which swaps his bookbag for a book. This change was most likely to put it in line more with the anime.
The next interesting thing is that we also see Shamans and Spirits that are NOT in the “First” set. Tamao, Jun, and Ryu were all included in the first expansion pack (EX) called “Merakiahen” (メラ気合い編), which didn’t get published until 8/30/2001. In terms of edits, Ryu was completely redrawn and that image was never used as a card art (as far as I can tell). Ryu also was included in the second ad, so it’s likely that he was considered to be part of the First set in early development. In the EX expansion, Ryu also has several different designs for the “Attack” cards, which may have been additional redesigns that Takei was testing. Both Tamao and Jun for their Shaman cards the art was completely redrawn. However these two pieces didn’t go to waste as it was re-used in the “Attack” cards for the EX expansion, with Tamao still receiving some additional changes.