Reviewed by: Dallas Marshall
Released by: Viz
Publishing Country: USA
Author: Yashichiro Takahashi, Noizi Ito, Ayato Sasakura
Age Rating: 16+
Page Count: 194
Yuji Sakai is a normal high school student who is bored with his life. All of the sudden a huge doll like creature attacks him but he is saved by a mysterious red-haired girl who tells him that he must join her in her fight against the creatures called the "Crimson Denizens." Her name is Shana, she is one of the "flame haze." He also has discovered that he is in actuallity dead and that he has no choice but to join her in her fight.
Shakugan No Shana is a promising yet very generic manga series, right within the first few pages that is painfully apparent. The plot revolves around Yuji Sakai who is a bored high school student but is then thrown into a larger than life situation when everyone around him stops and a large doll-like thing (which is more cute and funny than intimidating) begins to suck everyone into a void. He is saved by a red-haired girl (who is more or less intimidating than the doll) who defeats the doll and then tells him that he must join her in the battle against the creatures that are called "The Crimson Denizens," and her name is Shana and she is one of the "Flame Haze" who hunts these creatures.
Sound familiar, if your a manga and or anime fan, it should. Every predictable manga archetype is within the pages of this manga which made me feel antsy while I was reading it at times because I felt an overbearing sense of having read it all before over and over again. Nearly every traditional aspect of manga story-telling was done within this anime. The cute but deadly anime girl with the stoic samurai-esque demeanor; The main male protagonist who is an utter wimp; Fights with supernatural monsters which are done by one who is supernatural (Witch Hunter Robin anyone?); And last but not least, guy walking in on accident to girl undressing followed by her screaming. You would think that a girl with a stoic demeanor would have no problem with such a situation; but not in this manga, stereotypes are key! It was like clockwork while reading this manga. Oh, and did I mention that the main character is actually dead? Its like watching an episode of Earth Girl Arjuna, but with half the interesting plot and multi-dimensional characters.
The artwork has potential but it all comes off as being just another cookie-cutter manga with cutesy loli-esque girls, mothers that look more like little girls than a maternal figure, and of course a patron bishi thrown into the mix. It has potential however there are some very cool battle moments which are drawn in a vary sharp and wickedly contrasting fights. But in the end, it all comes off as just being "one of the manga gang" conforming to what is popular instead of trying something new.
This manga is promising and it has some very cool ideas and concepts within its plot-lines. I just found the names of some of the characters and places to be very cool. Such phrases as, "The Crimson Denizens" and "Flame Haze" all evoked cool images within my mind like a splinter effect as well as fit with the plots impending sense of Shana's duty to destroy the "Crimson Denizens." Man! Just saying that word sounds so cool!
It's not that I did not like this manga in fact I found it to be acceptable. But all in all it just does not have enough pizazz for it to rise above other manga within or without of its spectrum. Shakugan No Shana is traditional manga with nothing to bring to the table but manga that is within the comfort level of most fanboys. And to be honest, I am alright with that; but even I cant take it in huge doses.