Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Flame-Haired, Red-Hot-Eyed Hunter

Because this is fast become Dreamscape-aholic (again), let me focus this blog on something else for a change. I just watched the anime series Shakugan no Shana on a whim and... um, it PWNS HARD. Granted, I've watched about 5 other series recently, but none of them, although good, warrant a long blog post. And, I watched all of the first season of Shana in a week :D

Shakugan no Shana is a Fantasy/Comedy/Romance/School Life anime (much like Haruhi), but with a lot more of the fantasy aspect, and a lot more <3 moments. It centers around a 'Flame Haze' called the 'Flame-Haired, Red-Hot-Eyed Hunter'. She has no name, her only mission is to maintain the balance of the world by destroying any evil Guze no Tomogara. These Tomogara live to harvest the Power of Existence off of humans, which destroys the human in the process. In order to do this without causing major damage to the world and alerting people to their presence, the Tomogara employ use of 'Fuzetsu', which basically close off a section of the world for an amount of time (much like Closed Space in Haruhi)

The Flame-Haired, Red-Hot-Eyed Hunter, when outside of a Fuzetsu

The other protagonist's name is Yuji Sakai, a high school student just starting his first year. His life seems normal enough, until one day his world changes forever... he is killed. He becomes trapped inside a Fuzetsu and is involved in an amazing battle in which he is saved by, and seemingly killed by, a beautiful, red-haired girl. This girl tells him that, although she nearly cut him in half, he isn't dead, because he already is dead. He is simply a torch, the remainder left behind when your Power of Existence is sucked out.

Yuji Sakai

A torch only has enough power to maintain itself for a short while. It is meant to slowly let a person pass as to avoid major shock from one just disappearing. People close to the torch slowly forget the person even existed as the torch of that person slowly dies out and becomes nothing. Yuji refuses to accept this fact and, unlike all of the other torches the flame-haired girl has told the truth to, tries to at least live the rest of his short life as well as he possibly can. He tells the girl that he is not just a torch, that he is still Sakai Yuji, and that she is not just a 'Flame Haze', as she calls herself. Yuji names her Shana, after the blade that she carries.

Shana within a Fuzetsu.

Yuji learns that he is not just a torch, but a Mystes, a special torch that is a vessel for a Hougu, a magical object that can perform a variety of unrestricted spells. The Hougu that Yuji in particular has, the Reiji Maigo, can replenish ones power of existence fully at midnight, every night. Which causes Yuji to not die out even though he is a torch. There are many, many Tomogara that would love a power like this, seeing as Power of Existence can be used to cast many spells. This is the main focus of the series. Shana working with Yuji to stop the various Tomogara, Shana and Yuji's relationship, and the development of her character from just a Flame Haze to a human. There are also many other Flame Haze that she encounters on the way, that either hinder her or help her from destroying the Tomogara who seek to destroy the balance of the World.

Margery Daw, a drunkard, yet a very powerful Flame Haze <3, becomes an ally to Shana early on.

Friagne (literally 'The Hunter'), is the first of many Tomogara attempting to take the Reiji Maigo.

From watching the first episode, it was clear to see that the animation was well above par. It is very fluid, sharp, and just all around beautiful. The anime series was based on a series of Light Novels, illustrated by none other than... Noizi Itou. I'm really becoming a fan of her work... her art style has been seen in Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, Shakugan no Shana, and Nanatsuiro Drops, all series that I have liked very much. The Opening sequence is just so amazing, and the music is perrrfect. Juts by watching it, I could tell this was going to be a very good series. The first episode opens up, showing Yuji's first encounter with Shana... although the Rinne (a creature used by a Tomogara to harvest the power of existence) was hella creepy, I enjoyed watching it and the first episode a lot. When the ending came, I was surprised again at the amazing music and sequence (there is even a cool lead-up to the ending song at the end of every episode).

This led me to watch the entire series, in the space of a week. I have so much of a lack of life that I can sit down and watch 4-5 episodes of it every night. All I can say is that Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai was my favorite anime so far, and this FAR surpasses it, becoming number one on my (albeit small) list of animes. It has all the elements I love. It has a large amount of action, yet not an overwhelming amount, some blood, a lot of romance (:D), kawaii girls (although all good animes already have a lot of this :)), and just a very very very good story. And there is still a whole second season to watch (although it just started airing).

I am very glad I discovered this anime, and it is by far the best I have seen yet. If you are a fan of anything ranging from Magical Girl to romance to comedy to action anime, I whole-heartedly recommend this series. I found it to be Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu^2. All the content of Haruhi, but with sooo soo much more enjoyment. You will be glad you watched it. Everything from the OP of the first episode to the ED of the last episode is just amazing. It really has a gripping story and is very, very beautiful.

Watch it now!!! :D


OneofThem said...

You spoilered me! Actually, no, you didn't; Wikipedia did it first. :P

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