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insusceptibility

Shakugan no Shana

, also known simply as Shana, is a series of Japanese light novels and related media works written by Japanese novelist Yashichiro Takahashi and illustrated by Noizi Ito centering around Yuji Sakai, an ordinary Japanese high school boy who inadvertently becomes involved in a perpetual war between forces of balance and imbalance in existence. In the process, he befriends the title character: a fighter for the balancing force, whom he takes to calling "Shana". The series incorporates science fiction, fantasy, and slice-of-life "school days" elements into its tale.

Shakugan no Shana began as a light novel series first serialized under the seinen label Dengeki Bunko published by MediaWorks with the first complete novel released on November 10 2002 in Japan. In time, a manga series was created with art by Ayato Sasakura first serialized in the manga magazine Dengeki Daioh, in February 2005. Both the light novel and manga are currently being released in Japan. So far, there have been eighteen light novels and three manga volumes. The most recent light novel, book SII, was released in Japan on June 10 2008. An anime version was adapted by the animation studio J.C.Staff and contained twenty-four episodes. A Playstation 2 video game released in March 2006 followed and a second video game for the Nintendo DS was released in March 2007. Additional anime adaptations include a thirty-minute Original Video Animation and a movie that was shown in theaters in April 2007. A second anime series was announced with the title Shakugan no Shana Second, which started airing in Japan on October 5 2007.

Viz Media announced at Comic-Con 2006 that they have licensed the right to release the English translations of both the Shakugan no Shana light novels and the manga series. Additionally, Geneon has licensed the first anime TV series in America and the first DVD was released on September 5 2006. The DVDs are now out of print indefinitely as Geneon withdrew from the American market. On July 3 2008, Geneon Entertainment and Funimation Entertainment announced an agreement to distribute select titles in North America. While Geneon will still retain the license, Funimation will assume exclusive rights to the manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of select titles. Shakugan no Shana was one of several titles involved in the deal.

Plot

Yuji Sakai, a high school student, expected his very normal life to last forever. However, this expectation is quickly shattered one day while on his way home.

The world suddenly freezes in time, leaving Yuji to watch in horror as blue flames engulf the people around him. Soon a monster resembling a large doll appears and begins sucking the flames into its mouth, until it notices Yuji. Surprised with Yuji's insusceptibility to the time-stop (fuzetsu), it jumps with glee.

Just as the monster prepares to consume Yuji, a sword-wielding girl in black attire with flaming red eyes and hair appears, swiftly and confidently destroys the monster, before noticing Yuji moving freely. The girl calls herself a "Flame Haze" who hunts the "Denizens of the Crimson Realm" and the "Rinne" they send to do their bidding. When Yuji notices a blue flame in his chest, the Flame Haze tells him that the "real" Yuji died some time ago, and that he is a "Torch", a temporary replacement for erased humans. Torches take on the forms of those erased persons, but after a period of time, they will vanish from existence and the memories of the living. Unfazed by his apparent death, Yuji befriends the strange girl and names her "Shana" after her sword. The reason Yuji was able to move in the fuzetsu is that he is not a normal Torch, but instead a special kind called a "Mystes": he has a treasure inside him, known as a "Hougu", a device possessing special abilities of sorts, and an extremely powerful and valuable one at that. The hougo inside Yuji allows him to remain in existence rather than fading away like other torches. Shana resolves to protect Yuji from the Denizens, who would use the treasure to disrupt the balance of the world, and Yuji decides to join Shana in her fight.

Shana's fight is actually a long-standing struggle between the Lords and Denizens of Guze. The Denizens steal Power of Existence, the energy that forms the basis of the world, from living people and utilize it for their own selfish ambitions. Some Lords inhabit humans creating Flame Hazes in an attempt to retain balance by hunting renegades from Guze. Flame Hazes create Torches in place of the consumed to save the world the disruption of many existences being lost at once, allowing the Torches to gradually burn out over the course of time.

Main characters

Yuji, the main character of the story, is just an average high school student. However, his world is turned upside down when he discovers that he is already dead and does not have much time before he disappears. Fortunately, Yuji is a Mystes who contains a treasure known as the . Unlike normal torches, the treasure inside him restores his Power of Existence every night at midnight. With the Reiji Maigo, Yuji has the possibility to live on like an average human as long as he makes sure that his Power of Existence does not run out before midnight. Later, he begins to learn to use the yet untapped potential of the treasure kept within him. He cares deeply about Shana, but has yet to reveal if he truly has feelings of love for her; also in the first season anime leading up to the final episode, he starts to see Shana as her old view of the world, where he is just a Torch and she is just a Flame Haze. With this going on, he distanced himself from the closeness than the two originally shared, leaving Shana hurt with the new feelings of love she has developed but cannot explain. However, Yuji and Shana have since repaired the damage to their relationship. /

The female lead of the show and a Flame Haze. Initially she is concentrated solely on her duty as a Flame Haze, going as far as to not bearing even a name. She sees Yuji only as a Torch, an object, marginally interesting because of his status as a Mystes. However, she slowly opens up to Yuji, coming to think of him as a person, despite being a Torch, and eventually comes to love him. Until she met Yuji, she was identified by only her Flame Haze title "Flame-Haired Burning-Eyed Hunter," or her katana, . Yuji, in his need to humanize her, chose to name her "Shana" after her katana. Shana has a habit of saying "Urusai!" which means "Shut up!" three times in a row whenever Yuji asks her questions or makes remarks that disturb her original point of view. But in reality they really care for each other. She has a great fondness for melon bread. Shana later comes to the startling conclusion that she loves Yuji, and even confesses it to him in the last episode of the first anime series when she thought she was going to die, but he does not hear what she said. Shana is continually torn between her mission to protect the balance, and her love for Yuji. Due to a decision she made near the end of the first season of the anime version, the closeness they once had began to erode as Yuji kept a distance from her because of it. However, it seems that Shana and Yuji have repaired the damage from their previous relationship. /
He is the Lord of the Crimson Realm to whom Shana is bound. He expresses his will through a divine vessel called the Cocytus, which (in Shana's case) takes the form of a pendant. His name is actually the name of a demon in mythology. Alastor is considered to be one of the strongest of all Lords or Denizens; in fact being one of the true Gods of the Crimson Realm. But even so, he tries to keep the Denizens from consuming Power of Existence. /

Margery is a tall, well-endowed and mature blond Flame Haze with a drinking habit. She uses the book Grimoire, which is the divine vessel through which Marcosius, to whom she is bound, expresses his will. Her main powers focus around chanting spells and turning into a werewolf. She casts spells by chanting an . Her name comes from Mother Goose, as does what she chants. Eita and Keisaku look up to her because she saved their lives once, and act as her subordinates. She holds a vendetta against a Crimson Denizen with a silver flame. She is also known as the Interpreter of Condolence. /
The Crimson Lord to whom Margery Daw is bound. He expresses his will through the divine vessel Grimoire, which takes the form of a book. His name is actually the name of a demon. He talks wildly, makes comments without remorse, and often teases Margery, often earning a retaliatory punch. He does genuinely care about her, however, perhaps not in the form of friendship but as a companion in battle. The dynamic of their relationship is quite different than that between Shana and Alastor; Marchosias will serve as Margery's vehicle from time to time and occasionally suffers physical abuse at her hands, but they seem to be equals in their quest.

Yuji's classmate. She has a crush on him, but is a bit too shy to tell him directly. When Shana becomes her love-rival, she vows to tell Yuji her feelings and to let him decide between her and Shana. She is a shy and pure person, who later finds out about Torches and Flame Haze.

Terminology

As its name suggests, Power of Existence is a power that is contained within any biological or magical entity and functions as fuel for one's very existence. Thus, it is not limited to reside in living humans. Crimson Denizens can drain it from humans and Torches, while Flame Hazes are able to use the remaining Power of Existence from Torches. When all of the Power of Existence from a human or Torch is lost, the very existence of the human or Torch is annihilated. All humans who had memories associated with the human or Torch will have that memory erased; however those who know of the hidden physics of the world retain all of their memories, such as Crimson Denizens, Flame Hazes, and humans and Torches who have been exposed to the hidden workings of the world.
A Torch is a replacement entity for a human, whose Power of Existence has been significantly depleted. Torches are "shock-absorbers" for the sake of the balance in the real world. They are only temporary, and will disappear after a certain amount of time, eradicating all traces of existence related to the Torch.
A Mystes is a special kind of Torch, who contains a Treasure Tool. The main character Yūji is an example, albeit a special one who can sustain his presence indefinitely due to the power of his Treasure Tool, Reiji Maigo. In general, Mystes will eventually be extinguished like normal Torch, unless the Mystes feeds on Denizens or Flame Hazes like Tenmoku Ikko did to refuel himeself, though it is very unlikely for anyone else to be able to do the same.
A Flame Haze is a servant whose duty is to maintain the world's balance. Each Flame Haze has contracted a Lord of Crimson Realm, with exceptions like the Flame Haze whom has contracts to twin lords. Flame Hazes mostly fight against Crimson Denizens who consume great amount of power of existence and endangers both world, although some work to restore the balance of the world that has been disturbed.

The Lords use Flame Haze as their medium because if they are to exist like other Denizens, they will also require Power of Existence. However, the Lords can manifest in the human world, although this means they will consume a vast amount of Power of Existence. This sudden surge of Power of Existence will usually exceed the limit their Flame Haze may contain, and will result in the death of the Flame Haze. When someone becomes a Flame Haze, they will have their existence burned, making them as if they never existed before. Flame Hazes become a new existence and live solely to protect balance of the worlds.
Crimson Denizens are mostly evil entities who usually do not care for the balance of the two worlds, collecting and using Power of Existence for their own purposes. Unfortunately for the few that respect and do not seek to upset the balance, some Flame Hazes do not distinguish between them, and thus become targets. As in human world, some Denizens will stand out and are known as .
Lords of Crimson Realm are Denizens whose power stands out among their peers, such as the Trinity of Bal Masqué, Friagne, Pheles, or the Lords that bind themselves to Flame Hazes. Most of the Lords in the series inhabit Flame Hazes and work to maintain the balance, but some are similar to the Crimson Denizens and use Power of Existence for their own purposes.

For the Lords of Crimson Realm who work to maintain the balance, they take care of the balance of the world by monitoring the Power of Existence and utilizing their Flame Haze to terminate those Crimson Denizens who harm the balance. Lords represent themselves as magical objects, in Shana's case, a pendant. They can manifest fully, but to do so requires tremendous amounts of power. Lords that are even more powerful, such as or are known as of the Crimson Realm, and each of these Gods are bestowed upon the duty of materializing the very laws of the Crimson world; for example, Alastor is known as the , while the Snake of Festival is the , each having abilities that suit these names.
Rinne are created servants for the Tomogara. They are unstable existences and require Power of Existence from their master in order to survive.
Also known as Unrestricted Methods, they are powerful magic spells. These spells can be used for any purpose, from restoring the fragments of a long-lost painting to transforming normally untransferrable objects in a whole city into a big hunk of Power of Existence, however are mostly used in battle in the series. They can be invoked by chanting (some high-class Methods may require centuries of work to activate), and consumes Power of Existence. Power of Unrestraint can be seen as a blue insignia upon casting.
Treasure Tool is the name of magical objects which can provide special abilities or even Power of Unrestraint. A Treasure Tool is created when a single Denizen and a human, each representing their own world, has the same desire to one another; if worked out with the right Power of Unrestraint & physical materials, a Treasure Tool for the sole purpose of fulfilling that desire will be created; Reiji Maigo, which is sought by many for its ability to replenish its owner's Power of Existence at midnight every day, was originally created by the Lord-Mystes lovers, Pheles and Johann, under their desire of "being together forever," using a single whole clock tower for the physical material part. Most Denizens, Flame Hazes, and even humans who aid them possess one or more of these, and would try to acquire as many as they can for many reasons, like getting an upper hand in critical time during battles.
Seal is the most common of all Power of Unrestraint, and it also refers to the special dimension the Method creates; here the Crimson Realm and the real world intermingles, and all sorts of causalities, including time, is stopped for ordinary living beings. The mad scientist Lord Dantalion originally created the complex and flawed version of the Seal; later, the genius spell creator Denizen Leanan-sidhe fixed it into the easier modern version, which quickly spread over all related beings in the world. Flame Hazes are able to create such Seal at will, as may Crimson Denizens. However, battles in the Seal can damage real world objects, and harm the paused living beings, though thankfully for both it is possible to reverse the effects, if one uses enough Power of Existence. However, if the Seal is ever unlocked during a battle, the damage is irreparable.
Crystal Altar is a Treasure Tool that functions as a miniature projection of the real world. It can be used to observe the location of Torches and Power of Unrestraint, and other things related to Power of Existence. From Margery's story, it is told that Crystal Altar was made about three milennia ago by a God-class Crimson Lord called the , who had taken a liking to the act of "ruling." He created a human city and then watched over that city using the Crystal Altar. However, he was sealed in an alternate dimension after many battles with various Flame Haze. Friagne, who discovered and took possession of the Crystal Altar then brought it with him to Misaki city. While one may be deceived that it looks like the city's replica, the Altar itself is actually shaped like a small bronze mirror, hidden inside Friagne's enormous pile of Treasure Tools.

The Crystal Altar was originally intended to be used with the Gehinnom, an enormous stone bowl found inside the Bal-Masque's headquarters filled with iron grain which moves to make quick, accurate replicas of the desired area nearby; but as the Altar is missing, it is normally seen containing the three weapons of the Trinity, who are none other than the closest subjects of the Snake of the Festival.
The facilities or organizations that support the activities of Flame Haze with finance, information, transportations, etc. They were merely hotels each with Treasures called Tessera, the regular dodecahedronal objects that conceal the presence of Flame Haze. Then a half-retired Flame Haze became the keeper to one of the Outlaw and made improvements, turning it into a place to trade information. The plan turned out successful after many years later as many other Outlaws had followed and thus the networks and connections were established throughout the world.

Novels and adaptations

Light novels

There are currently nineteen novels out for Shakugan no Shana. They are numbered from I through XVI, along with volume 0, S, and SII, which consist of short side stories. The most recent novel, book SII, was released in Japan on June 10 2008. These novels are called light novels, which feature a light amount of text and occasional black and white illustrations. The series was authored by Yashichiro Takahashi with illustrations by Noizi Ito. The series is serialized under the seinen label Dengeki Bunko, published by MediaWorks. The first novel was released in Japan on November 10 2002. At Comic-Con 2006, it was announced that VIZ Media licensed the novels for the US market. The first English language volume was translated by Yuki Yoshioka & Cindy H. Yamauchi and released on April 17 2007. The second volume was translated by Yuki Yoshioka & Cindy H. Yamauchi with Mark Giambruno.

Manga

The first manga, by manga creator Ayato Sasakura, is currently serialized in the monthly seinen manga magazine Dengeki Daioh, which started on February 1 2005, published by MediaWorks. The first bound volume hit shelves October 27 2005. At Comic-Con 2006, it was announced that VIZ Media licensed the manga for the US market. VIZ released the first volume of the manga (translated by Yuki Yoshioka & Cindy H. Yamauchi) on April 17 2007. Later volumes were translated by Yumi Okamoto & Mark Giambruno.

The second manga under the title Shakugan no Shana X Eternal song -Harukanaru Uta-, by Shii Kiya, is based on the events of the tenth novel and began serialization in the seinen manga magazine Dengeki Black Maoh on September 19 2007, published by MediaWorks.

Anime

An anime version of Shakugan no Shana, directed by Takashi Watanabe, was aired in Japan between October 6 2005 and March 23 2006 containing twenty-four episodes. The anime was produced by the Japanese animation studio J.C.Staff. The series has been licensed for North American distribution by Geneon, and the first DVD of the series was released on September 5 2006.

In addition to the first season, two mini omake episodes depicting Shana super deformed were released on two separate limited edition DVDs that were bundled with the first and fifth Japanese region 2 DVDs that was on sale on January 25 and May 25 2006. Both episodes were included in the sixth English region 1 DVD that was released on July 3 2007. A similarly themed episode featuring Hecate was released on a DVD bundled with the "All About Shakugan no Shana" book. Later, an original video animation was released on December 8 2006. The events of the story takes place after the storyline of the first season's thirteenth episode.

A second season, under the title , was officially announced on May 30 2007 and aired in Japan between October 5 2007 and March 28 2008, containing twenty-four episodes.

Music

Kō Ōtani was in charge of the music direction in the anime. Shakugan no Shana had two opening and ending themes. The first opening theme, "Hishoku no Sora" by Mami Kawada, was used for the first sixteen episodes and the OVA. The second opening theme, "being" by Kotoko, ran the rest of the series to episode twenty-four. The first ending theme, "Yoake Umarekuru Shōjo" by Yoko Takahashi, ran for the first fourteen episodes and the OVA. The last ending theme, "Aka no Seijaku" by Yoko Ishida, was used between episodes fifteen and twenty-three. The last episode's ending theme was "Hishoku no Sora".

The first opening theme for the second season, Shakugan no Shana II, is "Joint" by Mami Kawada and ran from episodes one to fifteen. The single was released on October 31 2007. The first ending theme for the second season is "Triangle" by Mami Kawada, which also ran for the first fifteen episodes. The second opening theme for the second season is "Blaze" by Kotoko, and the second ending theme is "Sociometry" by Kotoko. The third ending theme in episode twenty-four is "sense" by Mami Kawada.

The Shakugan no Shana original soundtrack was first released on January 25 2006 by Geneon. There have also been three other soundtracks called the Assorted Shana albums. Volumes I, II and III which were released on February 24, March 24 and April 21, all in 2006 respectively, were published by Geneon.

Video games

A video game named Shakugan no Shana for the Playstation 2, developed by MediaWorks, was released on March 23 2006. An A4-sized book named spanning thirty-six pages was that included illustrations by Noizi Ito was included in preorders of the game. The player takes on the character of Yuji Sakai in the game. The game plays out like a visual novel but with the addition of a battle system and dating sim elements. Choices that are made throughout the course of the game will determine which of the five endings the player will get upon completion of the game.

The Playstation 2 game was ported to the Nintendo DS and released on March 29 2007. Preorders of the DS game was eligible for receiving a calendar that spanned April 2007 to March 2008 and a collection of rough sketches named by Noizi Ito. The NDS version adds onto the PS2 version with the addition of an image gallery that allows the player to see what Shana and Yoshida Kazumi looks in different clothing and a battle mode that lets the player fight against the computer with a character other than Shana.

Movie

An animated film was first announced after the ending credits of the last episode of the first anime series. The movie was released in Japanese theaters on April 21 2007 as one of the three movies released at Dengeki Bunko's Movie Festival. The movie is not a sequel to the anime, but is an adaptation of all the events in the first novel and contains events that were not in the anime series. The DVD was released on September 21 2007 in two different editions, the special edition including the director's cut version, the original version and extra material, and the normal edition including only the director's cut version.

Reception

Reviews
Reviewer Score Notes
Theron Martin Overall (dub): B+
Overall (sub): B+
Story: B+
Animation: B
Art: B+
Music: B+
Review of DVD Vol. 2
from the first season
Chris Beveridge Content: B+
Audio: B+
Video: A
Packaging: A-
Menus: B+
Extras: B-
Review of Vol. 1
from the first season

Anime

Chris Beveridge of AnimeOnDVD.com notes that the first volume has "...forced me to take in the first four episodes two at a time because the morbid nature of it made me feel uncomfortable. Few shows can really do that...I'm looking forward to seeing more...". After having watched the other DVDs, Beveridge commented that while "...Shana isn't a groundbreaking show..., it "...has proven to be a real solid title and one that only gets better and better. The fourth volume did not prove favourable though since the pacing seemed off "[with] the arc from the previous volume ending so quickly on this volume and then going into a storyline that feels out of character for the show, the darker tones and serious nature don't feel quite so compelling.

Theron Martin from Anime News Network comments that "...Shakugan no Shana makes a habit of setting certain expectations...but always managing to at least slightly exceed those expectations." and that "[its] story elements may be typical, but its execution is not. On the technical front of the series, Martin observed that "Shana's Flame Haze transformation...is still the visual highlight, but other details...all show equal care, even if their effects are less obvious.

Manga

Theron Martin also reviewed the manga but did not seem all that impressed stating that "...by almost any reasonable standard, the inferior version of the two." Martin also notes that "The anime version also much more fully realizes some personalities than the manga version." and critiques the art in that "[the background] art never holds more detail than absolutely necessary...The action scenes are handled well enough, but still pale in comparison to their renditions in the anime version.". Martin concludes the review by warning the readers that "[if] this is your first exposure to the franchise, look to the anime version to see it done right."

Sales

Since the first novel's release on November 10 2002, the novels have collectively sold over six million copies. The manga adaptation has sold over 1.2 million copies since the first volume hit shelves on October 27 2005.

References

External links

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