Shakugan no Shana started out as a light novel series written by Takahashi Yashichiro. It’s been very successful, inspiring a radio drama, manga, anime, video game, and a movie. The question then becomes whether it’s worthy of the hype, fails to meet it but isn’t bad or is just over-rated tripe. I don’t have time to look at everything related to Shakugan no Shana, so I’m just going to watch the first of the TV anime.
The story involves a young man named Sakai Yuji who comes to a frightening discovery when time stops around him and monsters appear and begin consuming people. He’s saved by a girl with a sword who goes through a long exposition dump revealing that there are monsters called Tomogara who consume existence and she’s a guardian of some sort called a Flame Haze. She fights the Tomogara and creates torches to act as a sort of buffer to gradually drain the existence of those eaten by the Tomogara and then disappear and be forgotten. Yuji soon learns that he’s immune to the time stopping effect because he’s a special kind of torch with a treasure inside. The concept could be interesting, but the execution is horrendous. Everything moves ridiculously slowly. The anime could be ten episodes long, at most, and lose nothing but it’s twenty four episodes. That’s fourteen episodes of filler and pointless padding. It makes the whole anime really boring and tedious to watch. That isn’t the only issue. The dialogue is stilted, there are multiple plot holes and the characters all have competence levels that change substantially based on the power of plot contrivance. The fight scenes aren’t even good since there’s just a lot of padded build up and then they end really quickly. I will grant that the ending suits the series well since it’s also incredibly stupid.
If the filler and padding were used for character development, I wouldn’t be calling it filler or padding. The characters are just annoying. They’re all complete and utter one-dimensional twits. The only character who develops at all is Shana who keeps accumulating obnoxious traits. She starts out as a typical tsundere. Then she becomes a typical tsundere and creepily co-dependent. If Yuji had any sense he’d get a restraining order at that point, but since he’s dumber than a brick that doesn’t happen. Then she adds whiny to the list and officially becomes one of the most annoying, unsympathetic characters ever written.
The art is lazy. The backgrounds are very undetailed and the characters are very plain. Sometimes their lips don’t even move while they’re talking. If the art is good for anything it’s that it’s so dull it makes a good sleep aid.They throw in fan service with the main protagonist randomly, which is disturbing since she looks to be about twelve and you get unnecessary scenes of her in the bath.
The voice acting is bad. Most of the voice actors are type cast and none of them seem to be putting any effort into their performances. Which is either really bad directing or actor apathy. The music is the best part of the anime and it’s just stock and mediocre.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. The female characters rarely talk to each other except about guys. Seriously, this may be the only anime I’ve seen with a female protagonist and several female supporting characters where they can’t have a conversation that isn’t about men. The only real exception being in a flashback.
My final rating for Shakugan no Shana is a 2/10. It’s terrible. The characters are what really kill it. If they were better written it might just be a dreadfully dull anime, but they’re so insipid and obnoxious that it becomes a real chore to watch. I can only recommend it to those people who are dreadfully dull or looking for a quick insomnia remedy.