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

Synopsis: When high-school student Sakai Yuuji is suddenly attacked by monstrous demons, he is saved by a pretty and mysterious young warrior-girl. This is only the beginning of his ordeal, as he learns of the dark and magical world which revolves beneath his own, and must to come to terms with the startling truth about himself.

The Highlights
Characters: Most definitely two dimensional.
Fight scenes: Clich├ęd and lacklustre.
Ending Theme: Classy and emotive.
Art: Clean but unemotional.
Story: Starts well, ends badly.
Seiyuu: Bored.

Yes, the artwork seems a trifle rushed. Yes, the characters appear two (or less) dimensional. And yes, the main character isn’t as engaging as she could be – and borders on annoying at times. For all of its flaws, this series for me still retained a certain elusive charm which kept me watching through all of its 24 episodes.

Shakugan no Shana starts mercifully on a high note, with an interesting twist on an otherwise cliched storyline. Unfortunately, it is not long before the marionette-like expressions, lack of detailed side characters and lifeless backgrounds begin to permeate the atmosphere with a feeling of laziness on the director’s side, and lack of time on the animators’ – as though each episode was finished late on a Friday evening… and it’s karaoke night.

If you were to analyse the components which comprise this series, you would be hard pressed to find an explicitly terminal fault. Each section, be it animation, character design or seiyuu performance falls only slightly under par. It’s almost like an inverse form of synergy: the whole is decidedly less than the sum of its parts.

For the first few episodes, only a slight interest in the primary plot-line and the interaction between the leads kept me watching. After a while the range of characters does increase in quality and quantity somewhat, and I began to appreciate the series on its own merit – though behaviour such as the lead character’s extremely calm (read catatonic) reaction to the sheer inequity of his situation stopped the series short of true enjoyment.

The primary ending sequence is worth mentioning; vaguely reminiscent of early Naruto it actually lends some atmosphere to the final scene of each episode. In contrast the general sound track is a rather formulaic and uninspiring requiem of Gothic organ and sombre strings.

If you are looking for a deep, detailed slice of supernatural action with a multitude of characters then watch the seemingly endless Bleach. If you are simply looking to pass some time with a series which will date you but never break your heart, Shakugan no Shana may be the girl for you.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Scoot

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