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Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 4, 2012 by  



A fun, action-packed anime series with a teenage love story!  “Shakugan no Shana” is an older anime series being released on Blu-ray, but with two newer seasons set for release in HD, one should not have too high of hopes when it comes to video or audio quality.  But grateful that FUNimation  released this first season on Blu-ray, because I’m looking forward to the next two seasons, which should look even better on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2005-2006

DURATION: 1-24 (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 14+

Release Date: August 21, 2012

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi

Music by Ko Otani

Original Work by Yashichiro Takahashi

Character Design by Noizi Ito

Character Design by Mai Otsuka

Art Director: Shin Okui

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Director of Photography: Shingo Fukuyo

Producer: Kohei Kawase

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Tabitha St. Germain as Shana (“Enpatsu Shakugan no Uchite”)

Satoshi Hino/Kristian Ayre as Yuuji Sakai

Ayako Kawasumi/Chantal Strand as Kazumi Yoshida

Hitomi Nabatame/Janyse Jaud as Margery Daw

Kenji Nojima/Brad Swaile as Keisaku Satō

Masashi Ebara/Paul Dobson as Alastor (“Tenjou no Gouka”)

Mitsuo Iwata/Trevor Devall as Marchosias

Shizuka Itou/Anna Cummer as Wirhelmina Carmel (“Honjō no Shite”)

Takayuki Kondou/Alistair Abell as Eita Tanaka

Wielding a blazing sword, Shana is a fiery huntress whose sole purpose is to fight demon-like beings that consume human lives. To reduce the impact on the human realm, Shana turns the slain into shadows of their former selves. Once a flame that represents their remaining life goes out, they fade from existence. This should have been Yuji’s fate, but when he discovers he holds a special power that ignites a newfound strength in Shana, they join forces in her ongoing mission to maintain the balance between the ordinary world and the supernatural.

In 2002, Yashichiro Takahashi and illustrator Noizi Ito created the Japanese light novel series “Shana”.

Published by ASCII Media Works from 2002 through 2011, the light novel series would receive two manga adaptations serialized in “Dengeki Daioh” and “Dengeki Maioh” and in 2005-2006, a PS2 and Nintendo DS video game and would also  receive an anime series adaptation by J.C. Staff.  A second season titled “Shakugan no Shana Second” was aired in 2007-2008, followed by a four-episode OVA in 2009-2010 and most recently, a third season titled “Shakugan no Shana Final” airing in 2011-2012.

In August 2012, FUNimation will be releasing the first season on Blu-ray and DVD.

“Shakugan no Shana” is a series in which there are two worlds…the Crimson Realm and the human world.  For the Crimson Realm, the main people living in that world are Crimson Denizens and these individuals can manipulate the “Power of Existence”.  Those who excel and are powerful are known as “Lords of the Crimson Realm” and those who are even powerful are known as Gods.

But there are those who are Crimson Denizens who do not care about the balance between both worlds and have their own goals, some that are bad, some that are good.  Some of the Lords have contacted humans, these Denizens are known as “Flame Haze” and their primary duty is to maintain balance between both worlds and to stop and destroy any Denizen using their powers to disrupt the balance between both worlds.

In Misaki City is a teenager named Yuji Sakai.  A normal guy who lives with his mother and goes to school and hangs out with friends, his world is changed when he gets involved in a conflict involving a young female Flame Haze  and Yuji is impaled by a Denizen/monster.   As Shana defeats the monster, she informs Yuji that he is actually dead and he has been dead for quite some time.

She then tells him that he is a Torch, a temporary replacement entity for a human who’s “Power of Existence” is depleting.  She introduces him to a world where he can see blue flames attached to certain people, these people are already dead but will soon disappear from this world.

He tries to befriend the Flame Haze who has a cold demeanor and names her Shana after her sword.  He also learns that Shana works together with a Lord of the Crimson Realm named Alastor, to which she is bound.  Alastor tries to help Shana by mentoring her but also watching out for her.  He is also quite fascinated with Yuji because unlike most humans who try to live their final days in sadness, Yuji just wants to hang out with Shan and learn about this new world and use his last days of life to protect his friends.

But when Yuji’s blue torch was about to be depleted, he is still alive and it is revealed that Yuji is a special torch known as Mystes and these Mystes contain a Treasure Tool, a magical object created by the Denizens that can provide special abilities or Powers of Unrestraint to a Flame Haze.  They learn than with Yuji, he has the power to restore his Power of Existence, his torch every night at exactly midnight.

And because his nature is unlike any human that Shana has come in contact with, not only does she get more powerful when she is with him, she starts to become fascinated with him to the point that she trains Yuji to be strong, as they will be in battle often with other evil Denizens.

But as the two spend a lot of time training, Yuji treats her like a good friend.  Let’s her stay over his house and she eventually gets close to her mother and for the first time, Shana experiences emotions that she has never had.  And that includes “love”, as she starts to find herself jealous when other girls are near him and she has this need for wanting to be with him no matter what.

Is Shana, the Flame Haze falling for Yuji?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to other characters such as Kazumi Yoshida, a teenager who has a crush on Yuji and is jealous of Shana, that she declares Shana her love-rival.  Also, another Flame Haze is in the city.  Her name is Margery Daw, a well-endowed, blonde alcoholic.  She uses her book Grimoire, a divine vessel to which she is bound to and her main goal is seeking revenge against a Denizen that uses a silver colored flame.  She chooses Yuji’s classmates Keisaku Satou and Eita Tanaka to be her guides, but more than often, she uses them to crash at their place, so she can drink as much alcohol as she wants.

As Shana and Alastor train Yuji for upcoming battles, in the first season of “Shakugan no Shana”, the two will confront powerful Denizens along the way, but what they aren’t expecting is a Denizen who intends to destroy the city and also unknown to Shana is that her trainer, Wilhelmina has given her an order to destroy Yuji in order to protect the balance of the world.  But can Shana kill Yuji, a boy that not only does she see as a friend, a but a boy she has fallen in love with?

VIDEO:

It’s important to note that “Shakugan no Shana” season one is an anime series made back in 2005-2006.  So, this is essentially an upconverted anime series.  While watching on DVD, for most people, picture quality would look good but on Blu-ray, while the anime series is colorful and vibrant at times, it’s also a bit soft and has banding issues.   It’s not the best looking upconverted anime series on Blu-ray but I am glad that “Shakugan no Shana” was released on Blu-ray because I want the other newer series to be released on Blu-ray as well.

But animation was good, but not as fully-detailed.  Art backgrounds are good but not great.  If anything, what I did enjoy about the series is the many locations incorporated in this TV series.  A good balance of animation and CG, it’s just that for people with high expectations of anime series on Blu-ray, this is not a series to have high hopes for.  It’s more or less an upconvert of an entertaining anime series that gets better overtime and will lead to two more seasons which do look better, especially “Shakugan no Shana Final” which aired in Japan in 2011-2012.

AUDIO:

Similar to what I mentioned about the series being older, it’s a series that is presented in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (English and Japanese).  There is no difference in the lossless soundtrack and for those wondering why there isn’t an English 5.1 lossless track, it’s because this is from the original Universal Geneon recording and not a new soundtrack from FUNimation.  Still, voice acting is well-done on both soundtracks and dialogue and effects are clear from the front channels.  But for this older anime TV series, one should not expect a lot out of this soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set” comes with the following special features:

  • Naza Nani Shana – (31:10) Featuring eight “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box!” omake segments (shown at the ending of each episode).  Presented in Japanese or English with English subtitles.
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan – (3:22) A short anime titled “Shakugan no Shana-Tan” featuring an anything goes kind of style (even a bit perverted at times).
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan Returns – (6:08) A short anime for “Shakugan no Shana-Tan Returns”.
  • Textless Opening Song “Scarlet Color Sky”
  • Textless Opening Song “Being”
  • Textless Closing Song “A Girl Will Be Born at Dawn”
  • Textless Closing Song “Crimson Calmness”
  • Textless Closing Song “Scarlet Color Sky”
  • Trailers – Featuring FUNimation trailers.

An anime series with a lot of action but also a lot of heart, “Shakugan no Shana” is an anime series I enjoyed for its characters.

There is a typical banality when it comes to human and a being from either another planet, dimension or world but those tend to be comedies (and sometimes those released in the U.S. seem to be perverted comedies), but “Shakugan no Shana” is quite intriguing because its protagonist seem so opposite, but yet overtime, these opposites start to become attracted towards each other.

So, in some way, the series is a love story about girl loves boy but is not sure how to understand her emotions because she has never had this feeling before.  But aside from that banal storyline, instead of being overplayed and overdone because other anime series have done that, “Shakugan no Shana” brings in this sci-fi and fantasy element as Shana is a fighter, a darn good fighter from another world. the

At first, you wonder why she is so smug, blunt and mean.  But overtime, you start to warm up to her because you learn that she has been taught to think a certain way and act a certain way because of her job and what is expected of her.  But on Earth and staying with humans, she starts to learn about kindness, love and other human emotions that lead to kissing.  And for this warrior, she is not exactly sure what kissing means or what love is but she knows that she gets flustered when Yuji is not near her, especially when she sees another girl who is in love with Yuji and wants to declare her love for him.

And while this series does have a lot of action and Shana engaged in major battles, for those who want fan service, get a little of that through the character of Margery Daw, your typical well-endowed woman.  But suffice to say, this is is one wild character that otaku’s will enjoy watching.

As for the Blu-ray, it’s an older anime series, so I knew the upconvert was not going to showcase great video quality and the fact that it was original created by Universal Geneon, that FUNimation would not be redubbing it, thus not giving it a 5.1 lossless soundtrack.  So, for those who have high hopes for this series to look or sound incredible on Blu-ray, don’t have too high of hopes because it’s not all that great when it comes to PQ or AQ. But it does look much better on Blu-ray compared to its DVD counterpart but it does have its fair share of softness and banding.

But once again, I don’t mind that this anime series was released in the U.S. because there are two more seasons that will look much better on Blu-ray and glad that FUNimation went back in giving this first season an HD release, in preparation of the release of the next two seasons on Blu-ray and DVD.   There are several special features included as well.

Overall, “Shakugan no Shana” was a fun anime series.  And I enjoyed how a love story and action anime series was combined and balanced for those who enjoy either genres.  If you are looking for a not-so-serious sci-fi , action anime series but also a series that has a teenage love story, then definitely give “Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set” a try.  I’m looking forward to season two and three!






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