The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Shakugan no Shana

Title: Shakugan no Shana
Genre: Action/Romance
Company: Media Works/J.C. Staff/Shakugan no Shana Production Committee
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 6 Oct 2005 – 23 Mar 2006

Summary: Death is nothing like what high school student Sakai Yuji expected it to be. In an instant, he is killed with nothing but his maimed soul left in the wake. Before the last remnants of Yuuji could be absorbed, a mysterious young girl with blazing red hair saves the boy, and informs him of the dark state of his world. Now Sakai must aid the young girl, Shana, as she wards off invaders from another world.

The Highlights
Animation: Above par.
Seiyuu: Great voice actors wasted on such a dry script.
Melodrama: At its best, tolerable; at its worst, physically painful.
Sakai Yuji: Causes involuntary spasms among viewers due to sheer idiocy.

I’m at a loss for words. Shakugan no Shana is a show that’s so redundant and overwhelmingly clichéd that my palm and my forehead should have become very good friends by the end of it. Yet, here I am 24 episodes later eager to watch more. No, this is not a sleeper hit. Shakugan no Shana is a fusion of a typical high school drama with a shounen action anime; however, instead of a hardheaded young boy as the main character, this show has a tsunderé loli.

Now that I’ve reduced my readers down to the niche that this show intends to target, I’ll candidly admit that this show has become a guilty pleasure of mine, so don’t expect too much from this anime. There is nothing that redeems the series except that it offers a lot of mindless fun. The fight scenes are oddly reminiscent of Dragonball Z and the melodramatic love triangle quickly becomes insufferable. Plot holes and inconsistencies plague the show like bees on honey, but it still manages to hold an elusive charm all the way through.

Like any other shounen action series, Shakugan no Shana is really a cycle of events that is spun over and over again. Some random antagonists cause trouble, Shana and friends fight and initially lose. A little while later, the main male character, Sakai Yuji, (Shana’s love interest) gets hit on by another girl, which sparks a shouting war between the girls. Being the generic male lead that he is, Yuji stands around with a baffled smile wondering what the girls are fighting over. Somehow, everything works out (gets postponed) before Shana finds the strength to overpower her opponent in battle. Rinse and repeat with new characters and minimal gains in the romance department.

Given the structure of the show, it’s nice that most fights last seven minutes and the show usually doesn’t take itself all that seriously. The above average animation, the strong seiyuu, and decently choreographed fight scenes help pass the time at an unexpectedly quick pace. The gothic music is too heavy for its own good, but that’s a relatively minor quibble.

Ultimately, the amount of enjoyment you derive from this show is contingent how much moé, high school melodrama and shounen action clichés you can take before throwing your computer out a window and stabbing yourself with a fountain pen. Love these gimmicks? Shana is right down your alley. Hate them? You’ll probably do all of the above before the show’s end. Don’t know? Then shut up and enjoy Shakugan no Shana as a no substance sugar treat.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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