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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Shakugan no Shana

I know, I know. I missed two weeks in a row. I apologize for that. So for today, I'm going to do as many as possible (bad idea). Probably three in total though.

Shakugan no Shana is an anime about a guy, Yuuji Sakai, who realizes he's dead and has become a replacement for the existence he represents (torches). There is a problem however, (For the lack of a decent translation) there are the Guze no Tomogara who exist in an alternate world and use the existences of the human world to be able to live on. This eventually creates a problem as the balances of the world shift. There are counters to this however, and those are the Flame Haze. Right as Yuuji is about to have his existence consumed he is saved by a Flame Haze known as the (loose translation) Red haired, Fiery eyed hunter, whose alias is the Nietono no Shana, which is her blade. Yuuji, having the common sense like all of us, feels that her "name" isn't personal enough and calls her simply "Shana."

Shakugan no Shana has a very unique twist to that "existence of an alternate world" style of anime. Yes, there's that alternate universe, but instead of moving back and forth between them (inuyasha), Shakugan no Shana has one where the alternate world invades ours and all the fighting is done here. IF, and let me repeat IF, I had to make a parallel, it would be close to Bleach. However, that's only on the surface.

The animation is pretty clean. I like all the effects they do and they mold computer graphics with the animation pretty well. I don't think I really see a part where it feels as if there's a disjunction when watching. Some minor details seem to have no justification to them whatsoever, but when I think about it, it's really not a big deal. It's just a matter of "uhh, is it worth my time pointing that out?" and my head says no. Character designs are unique. They're not exceptional, but they seem to fit well into the world that's created. No one really stands out except for a couple Tomogara that I could name but won't. Interestingly enough, the animators noticed this as well and also animated the crowd to stare at the couple as they passed by.

The story progresses in a way that's different from what I expected. Right off from the pilot, you have Yuuji Sakai thrown into a predicament and introduced to the heroine of the story: Shana. There's some nice battles and a bit of backstory given. The more I watched however, the more I realized this wasn't a super action filled anime. I'm not giving it less points for that, but because of the pilot, I never expected the team to do a lot of development with the characters. Typically, characters aren't given much depth until the animation team has exhausted a bit of their animation prowess, but the relationship between Yuuji and Shana ignite almost immediately. In my mind, I think it was a good move as it doesn't give the world that apocalyptic sense where it's just straight up action all-the-time, everywhere. They talk during the pauses between the times where the Tomogara slip across the barrier and it helps give the world a more "natural" sense. It isn't like Yuuji has found some secret underworld war, he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time (or right place at the right time).

I believe Shakugan no Shana has been licensed and there are a few DVDs out. I can't really tell how many are out yet, but enough to spark one's interest. It's definitely of the better anime that have come out in the past couple of years or so.

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