Posted on August 27, 2012 AT 01:00pm
Shakugan no Shana is not a new anime and many fans are probably familiar with the series. Many sites even offer episodes free for viewing but FUNimation has now brought the series to DVD and Blu-ray.
The story is simply, complicated but in such an intriguing way. Shakugan no Shana begins with Yuji Sakai, your typical young man, going to a typical high school, with the typical problems. One day after school the world takes on a strangeness, things freeze, and a demonic creature appears. Yuji seems to be the only one not affected, until a girl with flaming hair appears and defeats the monster. This young lady is “Shana” one of the many Flame Hazes. Her job is to maintain the balance of the world by not allowing Denizens of the Crimson Realm to consume too many humans. Those that are consumed, Shana turns into torches, made from the remnants of human life. Slowly these torches burn out and the person that was there just ceases to exist, or to have even existed in the first place. An important job since it keeps the human population from freaking out and maintains that important balance of life.
Yuji finds out he himself is a torch. He is already dead and had no idea. However, there is more to Yuji than meets the eye. He has the rare ability to replenish his torch light fully every day and can walk freely about in frozen time. News quickly spreads amongst the Crimson Realm that Yuji carries this special “treasure” and it becomes Shana’s job to protect him and those around him from the Denizens that would come to claim Yuji.
Viewers will like Yuji almost instantly. His personality is already well formed from the beginning of the series. That being said, Shana is presented as a blank slate, a character that is not fully defined and developed. This is a wonderful treat. Fans will be able to watch Shana develop and grown into her own and allows the viewer to really become attached to her. A smart move on the writer’s part since attachment will bring the viewer back over and over. The story pacing is well thought out. It never gives away everything all at once and you don’t find yourself saying “not again” when new battles arise. There is a nice balance between the part of the story that follows the every day life of Yuji and the more dramatic life he shares with Shana fighting the Denizens. You won’t tire of watching.
The visuals are well done if you keep in mind the series is actually about 6 years old. The older style does lend itself some artistry though some people may not like the unfinished look of minor characters. Action scenes are still wonderful, even as old as they are. The Blu-ray does look slightly better than the DVD version but not enough to make a significant difference. There are extras and as entertaining as they are, I am not sure explaining Shakugan no Shana in chibi-style is somethign everyone will enjoy.
The voice audio is in English dub or the original Japanese. I love the choices of the actors for the English voices. They are well cast and distinctive. Anime fans will also recognize some of the voices from other animated shows. Tabitha St. Germain was the perfect choice for Shana. She captures Shana’s personality splendidly and portrays it without making her come off as a whiny brat. The opening and closing music is “Japanese pop” style and are fun to listen to but you’ll must likely start skipping it just to get one with the story.
SUMMARY: Shakugan no Shana deserves a place on any anime fan’s shelf. The fascinating story line and perfect character development pacing will bring you back again and again.
- THE GOOD: Well paced story, good character development, original story idea
- THE BAD: Animation style is older and could be considered out of date
- THE UGLY: N/A
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