Friday, June 22, 2007

Shakugan No Shana Review

shakugan_no_shana, originally uploaded by perry_marco.

Once again I return with another series, still fairly new, but one that has been recently licensed by Geneon. Now, I watched the subs, so my review will be from that perspective, but I have great hopes that this show gets a good dub track, because while I understand how it's not going to be everyone's favorite, I definitely enjoyed it, but let me just tell you more about that in the review!

Review of Shakugan No Shana

Anime has taught us that life can be short, but what happens when you find out that you are dead, and whom you know as you is really a temporary replacement that will soon disappear with no one noticing that you've left this world. Those are the harsh realities Yuji Sakai faces one day, when he meets a Slayer with Flaming Hair and Blazing Eyes. She saves him from a monster known as a Rinne, and from what he presumes to be an early death, only to show that the torch that he is now and all the other torches he now sees are only used to balance the world's power of existence, lest it becomes distorted and creates mass destruction. As the slayer, otherwise known as a flame haze explains, he is just a torch.

However, when the Flame Haze that saved Yuji, who is early on given the name Shana by him, realizes that Yuji maybe more than just a torch; Yuji, struggling to assert himself as, well, himself, wants to help, just as Shana does, and so throughout the series, comes to her aid, and teams up with her against those that would cause imbalance to the world.

Alright, now as you see the plot summary is a little confusing, and there is a substantial amount I didn't go into. Hopefully though, from this you'll get a sense of the basic story, and will learn the rest if, and I recommend that you do, watch the full 24 episodes.

To talk a little about the story in terms of other anime, I guess it's fair to say that while fairly mature in parts, the anime can often be broken down to cool action, and high-school love triangles, because as you see about a third of the way through, the story takes a very romantic turn. Now personally, and I believe I'm right here, I am one of the few males I know that maybe has a greater tolerance, and sometimes even a preference, for shows that have some romantic element to them. Full Metal Panic being a great example, because like Shakugan No Shana, there is still some nice action and fight scenes to behold. Unlike Full Metal Panic, there are no really filler episodes to speak of and the tone is rarely as comedic.

The animation, while potentially looking more like CGI at times, comes across quite beautifully, as do the character designs. As you see there are a variety of other flame hazes that at some point make a presence, and every one of them for the most part, has a distinctive style which makes them just look quite cool. I also think that, while some of the backgrounds are made to be static for a reason, that the detail generally surrounding their day to day lives looks nice as well, and makes for a full picture.

Lastly, what excited me about this anime when I saw the first episode some time ago at club, was the music. Now, I generally am not a quick fan of female vocalists; however, I liked all the opening themes for the most part, and really just loved the ending themes. The first ending theme, "Yoake Umarekuru Shōjo" by Yoko Takahashi is great with Shakugan No Shana, if only for the fact that they blending the ending of each episode so well with this ending theme. I mean I'd just admire the transitions, thinking about how this was done so well. My favorite song from the whole bunch though, was the 2nd ending theme by Yoko Ishida, titled "Aka no Seijaku." The song flows nicely as well, but doesn't get such treatment as the first opening in terms of transition. However, I feel the song on it's own just as a peaceful power to it, if that makes sense, and finding out that it was done by Yoko Ishida, whom I got to see at Daigacon, added even more excitement, and makes me regret that I missed most of her concert. Alas!

So, all in all I felt the anime was definitely a good package, with a nice story and nice style bringing edge to what otherwise might be just passed off as another romance/action story. I guess I will reiterate the point that if you thought it'd be all action you may be disappointed, as I know some are with Yuji, who at times can come off a little lame, but once you get into it, I think you'll be almost embedded in the story itself, caring about what happens to what characters, just as I was. Oh, and if you really liked the show, then good news, because they're releasing a second season so to speak over in Japan as a follow-up, so more to look forward to for the fans out there.

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