As an old weeb from days past, I’m often asked what era I think was the greatest for anime. And that is an arbitrary question. All eras of anime have both great advancement and problematic history. But the most nostalgic, for me, will always be the Nightcore hellscape that was the 2000s anime era. Tropes galore, often animated on a shoestring budget and so many episodes, that you couldn’t wrap your head around finishing. But there were a few standouts that are still worth checking out like Shakugan No Shana.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say Shakugan No Shana is one of the best Supernatural anime out there and you need to watch it ASAP, but, for a throwback watch? It’s not all that bad. I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up this anime. I was nostalgic about shows like Hell Girl and Ouran High School Host Club which, I know, are two very different anime from each other. But I just have weird cravings sometimes and Shakugan No Shana fit the bill perfectly.
But that’s just the magic of a decently animated show from the 2000s that had even a modicum of the plot. It pulls you right in and transports you back to a time when you were just getting feel for what anime had to offer. And a lot of it did involve trial and error. Shows you thought were cool and edgy could be slow-paced or boring in hindsight or the cutest, wholesome shows on paper could be hiding the most deranged ecchi subplots. But overall, it expanded alongside the internet.
I don’t want to call Shakugan No Shana an Isekai, because it isn’t, not in the traditional sense. But there is enough crossover with how the protagonist is leading a normal life as a high school student, only to have it turn upside down. However, it doesn’t feel stale. Shakugan No Shana is definitely a product of its time. But if that was something you enjoyed, then keep on reading!
The Premise: A Shojou Fantasy Come To Life!
Yuuji Sakai is just your average high schooler trying to get through the trials and tribulations of secondary education However, his life turns upside down when he’s trapped in a pocket of time where he is being attacked by creatures known as Crimson Denizens.
The Denizens are these illusive creatures from a parallel universe, hungry for the taste of human life, the energy resource they survive on. The creatures only leave behind remnants known as Torches – barely functioning souls of the victims.
However, some are still fighting against the massacre, and those people are known as the Flame Hazes. So, when Yuuji also ends up becoming a Torch, a ghost fire flickering about, he meets Shana, a Flame Haze that helps him out. Together, the two try and find an end to the ceaseless genocide of humans by the monsters that hunt them.
The Breakdown: One Of The First Female-Led Hero Adventures
Shakugan No Shana comes across as much more dynamic than you’d imagine. For one thing, the way it blends genres without being tired is impressive. But its greatest strength isn’t in an original plot, considering the show seems heavily influenced by previous anime such as Hunter: The Reckoning.
Now, its strong points are how it executes a typical supernatural story well. There aren’t any groundbreaking revelations happening here. No plot twists to make you ponder or that’ll surprise you. But the themes it does encompass, it does them justice. The slice-of-life aspect is cut short by the existential dread and both things play off of each other nicely.
Though, then again when I say this is a trip down memory lane, I mean it. You have all the greatest hits from early 2000s animation. A high school story, with some magic. A Tsundere female lead that isn’t as irritating as you’d think and, of course, a soundtrack that is so perfect for the era.
The Verdict: Great When You’re Craving Some Nostalgia
Do I think Shakugan No Shana is groundbreaking? No, of course not. But is it worth picking up next time you’re feeling the blues? Absolutely.
The show hits all the right buttons, fanservice and all. Recommended if you want a reminder of the vibe that was Y2K Anime!