Anime of Tomorrow
Shakugan no Shana (review)
Final impression – a triumphant beginning (10/10)
Autumn 2005 to winter 2006 (24 episodes + 1 OVA) (title literal translation – Shana of Burning Eyes, English synonym – Shana the Fire-Eyed)
High school has started and Yuji Sakai is already making the most of his youth. But on his way home one day he steps into a sealed zone that is separated from the normal flow of time. In here, he is attacked by monsters intent on devouring this strange human who can move within their trap. But at the last second he is saved by a beautiful girl with flaming red hair; easily overpowering his attackers. But despite protecting him from the monsters, it turns out Yuji Sakai is already dead. His existence was eaten by a denizen of the Crimson World some time ago and all that remains of him is a tiny spark that will soon burn out. He decides to spend his last few days before he disappears in the company of his savior, aiding her in any way that he can before he is gone without a trace. However, a fortunate turn of events may give him an unexpected reprieve from oblivion.
Shakugan no Shana is a spectacular story. It starts with the initial, horrifying concept of the enemies of humanity consuming people’s very existence as energy, leaving nothing behind to remember them by. It’s a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that is dramatically mitigated by Yuji’s ability to keep a positive attitude about the whole situation. He never despairs and is always thinking about how he can best make use of his limited potential. It’s a testament to the tremendous strength of character people can exhibit when cornered by the most trying circumstances. The series expands on its intellectual, action-filled beginning and moves into a more romantic theme as the steely Shana realizes that she’s not an emotionless killing machine and her feelings for Yuji go beyond mere camaraderie. Even the final battle is more than it superficially appears to be because the plot never misses a chance to include a thought-provoking discussion about the characters’ inner motives. And then to top of the amazing writing is the gorgeous art style of Ito Noizi and excellent music courtesy of Mami Kawada, KOTOKO and several other bands and singers who knew just the right style to set the mood for this epic series. In short, the first season of Shakugan no Shana struck a perfect balance between fighting, philosophy, artistic tone and romance to create an amazingly profound first season.