Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why I like Shakugan no Shana (even though I probably shouldn't,)

(Okay, I'm done writing about heavy stuff for a while. I'm going to actually write about anime.)

To be fair, I thought about titling this "Why Not Shana?" but Shana isn't a title that should be in anyone's top ten. And it never was a contender for my number nine spot even from the point when I popped in the first disk. Or even after I saw the first episode at Otakon.

Really, there's nothing about this series that really shines. The artwork is all right. It isn't anything horrid, but the character designs aren't all that surprising. And the inclusion of Willemena (or rather her maid outfit) sent shudders up my spine as soon as I saw it. The story is pretty much sucked straight out of it's predecessors. It's just the current spiritual sucessor to shows like 3X3 Eyes, Chrono Crusade and Blue Seed. Right down to the bombastic, big breasted, exorcist or should I say flame haze or whatever this iteration is calling it.

But all that said, I really like this show. And a lot of it has to do with Shana and Yuji Sakai. Now sure, you could toss Shana into the tsundere basket and say that she's just another character. But I think that's doing the show a disservice. What I actually find compelling is that the creators decided to make Shana a woman at all.

When I compare it to Blue Seed, the roles are completely reversed. The tough competent lead in that one is a guy, who treats the female lead like a obligatory nuisance. In Shana, it's the female lead who treats the male lead as an obligatory nuisance.

And the male lead, isn't the normal milquetoast, "Oh does she love me or hate me?" character. He actually has morals and values and compassion for his fellow man. He actually does stuff (which is always a big thing for me and protagonists). He tries to understand Shana, and yes, he does try to change her. But for the most part, he remains a thoroughly interesting a compelling hero.

Topping all of that off, there was something about this series that actually elicited an emotional reaction. For instance, I was actually concerned that he might actually fade away even though I knew that there was another four disks in the series and they weren't going to kill off the main character. I'm not sure if it had to do with killing a character off so early, or if it had to do with a well-used soundtrack. But to be honest, to get any kind of emotional reaction out of me when it comes to a series like this is like squeezing blood from a stone.

So while, it might just be more of the same. It was definitely a good "more of the same".


CCY said...

(I haven't seen the original Shana yet, but I watched the movie and am following the second season, so if I'm talking out of my rectal openings, you know why.)

I would agree that Shana is a relatively by-the-numbers action series, but hey, if it ain't broke, or something. I like me a bread-and-butter sandwich between all the more adventurous fare.

Also, as you mentioned, the somewhat existential aspects of the show (I think that's my new favorite word) are powerful to watch; I wasn't so concerned for Yuuji (might be a difference of how it was portrayed in the movie vs. the anime) but rather for Yukari, the Torch who burned out pretty early. She tugged at my heartstring s for sure, and this beginning part made me wish the rest of the show dealt with this Torch concept more.

0rion said...

Really, the entire Shana anime, while fun, has been a huge disservice to the original story.

Having just finished the 16th Shakugan no Shana novel, I was reminded of just how compelling the story is. The anime is extremely vanilla by comparison, foregoing the deeper character and relationship development for mediocre looking battle scenes, not to mention all this recent filler material.

super rats said...

Shana is a property I enjoy more through art books and figures than I do through the anime. It's one of the series I feel is better enjoyed by not watching it. That is and isn't a backhand at Shana. I really enjoy Itoh's Guren artbook and Max Factory's figurine. The anime felt like it wasn't deep enough or fluff enough.

Cameron Probert said...


Thanks for point that out, I'd forgotten the girl's name. Overall I became less concerned about Yuuji over the course of the show. But I still had some concern for him.

@ 0rion

I can understand that. Granted, I haven't read the original books, and I'm not one to immedeately say the book is better than the show or movie. But the show taken on itself was enjoyable for me. If I'd read the books first, I'd probably be saying the same thing, or just wishing they'd named it something else.

@ super_rats

I can definitely understand. I'm not much for figurines, mostly because I have this thing about merchandise (granted I have two wall scrolls, and that's about it).

But on the other hand, I like a little depth to my fluff. But I can understand the other side of it too.

Iknight said...

The first few episodes of the first series had what I believe they call Great Concept (even if it was a little unoriginal). But I gradually drifted away from it.

I'm prepared to believe Orion when he says the novels are more compelling.