Anime at times can truly emphasize the many joys of life, but what happens when you find out that you are dead, and that you are not yourself but really just a stored memory about to fade away? 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 be shown that the torch that he is now and all the other torches he now sees are only temporary lifes used to balance the world’s power of existence, lest it becomes distorted and create mass destruction. As the slayer, otherwise known as a flame haze explains, he is just a torch destined to disappear from the world, not even leaving behind a trace of his former life.
Thankfully for Yuki, Shana, the Flame Haze that saved Yuji realizes that Yuji may be more than just an ordinary torch and thus has extended life, for the time being at least. Now given some hope Yuji struggles to help Shana fight the Rinne. Throughout the series he comes to her aid and teams up with her against those that threaten to cause imbalance to the world. All the while the battles become more and more fierce, and all the while Yuki knows that he might one day just fade away.
Alright, now as you see the plot summary can be a bit confusing. 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, you watch the full 24 episodes of the 1st season of Shakugan no Shana.
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 I may be 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 with a likely love developing sub-plot. Unlike Full Metal Panic, there are no really filler episodes to speak of and the tone is rarely as comedic.
The animation, while verging on 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 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 uber-fan of female vocalists; however, I liked all the opening themes for the most part, and really just I completely loved the ending themes. The first ending theme, “Yoake Umarekuru Shōjo” by Yoko Takahashi is great with Shakugan No Shana, especially because of how the ending of each episode blends so well with this ending theme. I mean I’d just admire the transitions sometimes on their own. My favorite song from the whole bunch though is 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 has 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 another basic romance/action story. I guess I will reiterate the point that if you thought it’d be all action you may be disappointed. Yuji as a character doesn’t always help either because at times he can come off a little lame, but once you get into it I think you’ll beembedded in the story itself caring about what happens to what characters just as much as I did. Oh and if you really liked the 1st season then be sure to check out the OVAs and the 2nd season as well.
Score: 4.5 out of 5