Shakugan no Shana Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-4215-1195-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Shakugan no Shana Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     May 29, 2007
Release Date: April 17, 2007

Shakugan no Shana Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takahashi Yashichiro / Sasakura Ayato
Translated by:Cindy Yamauchi
Adapted by:Cindy Yamauchi

What They Say
Saving the World Is Easier Than Falling In Love
Yuji Sakai is beginning what he thinks will be another boring year of school. But everything changes when the world around him stops, the surrounding people are engulfed in blue flames and a freakish doll-like creature begins sucking them up! Before Yuji suffers the same fate, a young redheaded girl with a sword appears and saves him. Yuji is drawn into the struggle between these creatures from another world: the Crimson Denizens and the girl Shana, called Flame Haze. He too has a crucial role to play in the conflict, despite the fact that...he's dead!

The Review
Even with a bulky looking logo, Viz's version of Shana is a solid looking title that does Sasakura's good looking art. The cover says it all really - teenage shoujo with fiery eyes is giving some attitude as she carries her big sword! One could summarize the entire contents of this manga with that image; so, it serves its purpose well.

Inside the printing is clean. The book is relatively free of alignment problems and the tone looks sharp. Chapter headers and the volume header have been kept intact and Viz also provided all of the omake from the MediaWorks release also.

Sasakura's art really carries this title. The designs really utilize moe sensibilities to their fullest as Shana excuses youth and angst with her bishojo school stylings. The rest of the cast also looks good but where Sasakura really excels is capturing the special moments. Whether it is action or not he can frame a scene and give it purpose.

Solid translation from Yamauchi. The adaptation was really able to capture the contrasting attitudes of the main characters in this title. Getting the nuance in such extreme personalities really made this read work well. SFX were all overlaid and the retouch was very good. Viz did a good job overall making this a quick fun read.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Practically every shounen manga has one of these lately - the meek male lead. These characters generally look like wimps. They talk like pushovers and under most circumstances they rarely are ones to depend on. Shakugan no Shana's Yuji is no exception to that. He isn't special in any way. Actually, you could say he is not memorable at all. Lucky for him, though, the kid does have a will because it ends up defining who he is and what this manga is about.

One night, on his way home from school, Yuji stumbles upon a disaster in the making. Some demon has gone on a rampage killing people indiscriminately. Not knowing what to do and who is what, Yuji, caught in the chaos, is literally sliced in two by the only being capable of taking Denizens down. And as he stares at his sliced torso and agonizes as feels the horrible pain of his oncoming death, he realizes his strength is not fading. Yuji, despite the fact his organs are exposed to the elements, is going to survive this and that girl who cut him up possibly knew that!

That girl is Shana. She is a Haze Flame, assigned to kill the legions of Denizens who have begun to invade this dimension. Shana has no connection to this world or its people. She is strictly here to do her business (and occasionally indulge herself in a melon bread). So when she cut Yuji open, she didn't flinch. When she put Yuji back together, she did not even bother to introduce herself to the guy she could have killed. When she appeared in Yuji's homeroom the next day, she immediately took the closest seat to Yuji she could find and began her next assignment - invading Yuji's personal space!

Now Yuji's life is practically ruined. He was almost killed. He found out he is not your average human when he survived a skewering. And now his every move is being watched by a cold young woman who does not respect humanity in any way. Yuji should be freaking out, but then again he is your proto-typical shounen lead. Instead, he falls for the girl and joins her in her fight against an evil force he barely comprehends.

Just your everyday shounen title really.

Shounen manga is no stranger to the demon slayer manga. This manga category is also a wonderful source for some great bishoujo slayers as well. Young angst ridden beauties that excite and titillate male audiences with their swords and their bras are favorites for this genre. Moreover, powerful women provide a good alternative to the spineless male leads that fill shounen manga these days. Such is the power of the bishoujo slayer; her power is in her ability to break our heart at anytime.

In Shana, the red-eyed beauty breaks the heart of the lead male by literally slicing through the teenager with an enchanted sword! And this happened in the very first chapter to prove a point - if your heart is not into it you won't be able to survive around her. Shana informs Yuji that his will be meaningless to her if his flame is not intense enough. That flame has to burn with strength for her and honestly isn't what everyone wants in their relationships! And as one would imagine, despite a difficult first impression it was easy to see why Yuji would want to build a personal relationship with the girl known as the Haze Flame.

Passion and honesty (some melon bread) should be the basis for great relationships under almost any circumstances, yet in this title those themes are important elements to the plot. If it weren't for passion, Shana would not give Yuji the time of day. Without passion there is no desire and if Yuji does not desire to live he serves no purpose. No purpose to Shana and no purpose to the world at large. Honesty opens up the way for knowledge and trust. Opening the dialog factually earnestly reveals the path for narratives to develop. We see both in this volume. Sadly these moments are wrapped around long scenes filled with techno-babble. Any rhythm built up is lost and the pacing slows down to an awkward rate. As such, Shana feels more like a supplement than a stand-alone version of the popular novel property. Maybe watching the anime would fill in the blanks or speed up the read, but on its own this version of Shana is more fanservice and metaphor than modern day action fantasy.


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