Crimson Denizens and Rinne, beings from a parallel world, seek to devour humans' precious existences. To restore the delicate balance of the world, Flame Hazes hunt these entities down.
Yet such things are unknown to Yuuji Sakai, who starts his day like any other and heads to school. His day, however, takes a turn for the extraordinary when he witnesses everyone around him freeze in place and is left the only one able to move. Immediately, a Rinne begins devouring the souls of those around him, but as the creature sets its sights on Yuuji, a katana-wielding Flame Haze with blazing red hair saves him.
After his protector fixes the damage done, she explains why Yuuji was able to move: he has become a Torch, a remnant of a dead human being that will eventually fade from memory. Furthermore, he is also a Mystes, a Torch that houses an unknown treasure. Before his flame burns out completely, a Crimson Denizen will try to seize the treasure he holds, so the fiery hunter decides to watch over him. As Yuuji comes to terms with being dead, he resolves to live his life the best he can with the time he has remaining.
If you have seen the Shakugan no Shana series then you have probably seen this movie and maybe thought to yourself...wait i've seen this before right?
Story: This movie was basically a remixed version of the first 6 episodes of the first season. Since it has to be compressed to 90 minutes or so, it was obvious it would not feel as great as the original series, but they still managed to get all important point across. The later minutes of the movie however, had the most alterations and where IMO the most enjoyable ones from the movie.
Art: Movies always tend to have a higher animation
value than regular series and its no different here. Shana`s flaming hair and her eyes were absolutely gorgeous to look at and every character was very well drawn and animated, the later fighting scenes were REALLY well drawn...I already mentioned this but Shana in flame haze mode was really stunning, the animation quality matched that of Kyoto's IMO.
Sound: Its used most of the original series soundtrack and since I love that soundtrack i did not mind listening it again, they did add some extra movie only onces and they were great to listen too. 9/10 seems about right for this.
Character: Like I mentioned before, compressing 6 episodes into 90 minutes takes its toll also on the character development. It was well done but the series does it better (of course).
Enjoyment: I really liked this movie mainly because of the final minutes where the biggest changes were made, and its obvious since without them it would have been the same thing as rewatching something you've already seen before.
Overall this movie has some superb animation with some solid story and great sound, all fans of Shana should not miss this.
If you'd watched the first season of Shakugan no Shana, you'll be left wondering why the movie seems like an exact replica, as well as what appears to be a reused story plot from the last episode. To clear up the doubts, the movie IS what happened in the novels, while the episodes made altercations.
The first part of the movie is essentially a recap of the first few episodes of Season One. However, despite time constraints, characters like Yuji and Shana are fully developed, and we also get to see Fraigne the Hunter and Yukari in a new light.
The plot starts to deviate near the
second half of the movie to great effect, turning the minor villain Fraigne into the real villain he is.
On the whole, the movie is a great refresher into the intro of Shakugan no Shana, as well as fleshing out an otherwise lack-luster Friagne.
Tip: Watch for out sneak appearances of Wilhemina within the movie. She appears 2 times. ;p
The best way to describe this movie is as an enhanced recap, its summarises the events of the first Shana novel/ the manga/ the first of arc of the anime with a few extras added here and there.
The story of Shana is a beacon of originality in a sea of cliches and genericness that make up the majority of the action genre. It explores coming to terms with the unimaginable and the value of human life. This freshness of the plot grabs the viewer's attention and the removal of the somewhat lame love interest in the anime only improves the experience. The
story moves quickly and is very well paced, the film's eighty seven minute lifespan flies by as a consequence.
As expected from Shana, the animation is really top notch, beautiful backgrounds, awesome effects during the fighting scenes and excellent character designs from Noizi Ito. It'd be nice to see some of the other characters from the series make an appearance (characters who were clearly present at this point in the overall story) but it cant be helped due to the restrictions of the movie format and in fairness the characters are who are present, are done so majestically. It's also good to see the movie having superior animation to the TV series, unlike other movie adaptations such as Azumanga Daioh and Clannad.
The audio experience is also of the highest quality, as to be be expected of Shana, with none other than Ko Otani (provider of the music for the Shadow of the Colossus videogame) providing the musical score here, the music is dramatic and really helps to build up an atmosphere. The use of the insert song "Akai Namida" (performed by Mami Kawada) is a masterstroke and it really lets the viewer sypathize with the situation. The ending theme "Tenjou wo Kakeru Monotachi" by Love Planet Five showcases the talents of the members of I've Sound who are so often providing for the Shana franchise. It's a real treat as the credits roll. Voice acting is very solid, each character retains their seiyuu from the anime, giving the same high quality delivery of lines.
The characters in the movie are something of a double edged sword, the mains Shana and Yuji remain pretty much the same as their anime incarnations, not a bad thing at all. Friagne gets a LOT added to his character, he's represented as a genuine threat rather than an eccentric who is soon overshadowed and forgotton due to other villains. His character is really fleshed out and he's a lot more likeable as a character than his incarnation in the anime series. Unfortunately some of the other characters are completely unnecessary, Yoshida Kazumi and Margery Daw in particular, the movie format doesnt allow Kazumi's storyline to develop and Margery comes across a lot weaker than she is in the anime, plus her personality has been changed somewhat.
Nevertheless, this a very enjoyable movie, the unique concept of the plot keeps viewer interest then treats them to some awe-inspring fight scenes, with a particularly impressive final battle. Certainly one of the better recap films out there, though it is adviseable you try and watch it before checking out the anime/managa/novel because prior knowledge makes it a tad predictable.
Now that I've finally seen Shakugan No Shana: The Movie, I'm able to remark on it plus a few things about the series in general.
Let me start off by saying that, on the whole, I like this movie. I didn't get any opportunity to see it until after I'd already read the first light novel (which the movie takes much of its story from), read the first manga volume and seen all of the first season (and most of the second) of the TV series. So I'm afraid my opinion of the movie was shaped just as much by these things as it was by
the movie itself, and in some ways this doesn't really work in the movie's favor. I'll explain below.
Let's begin with the negatives. I read somewhere (I don't remember where, but it might have been LJ) that someone felt that the movie does a much better job telling the story than the TV series. I very strongly disagree with this. The advantage of the TV series was that it had a full season of episodes to tell the story and it was able to move at a comfortable pace, giving us explanations at a satisfactory rate and developing the characters smoothly and nicely. The movie is only 86 minutes. The filmmakers barely gave themselves time to even tell a story (come on; 86 minutes ISN'T that much time), and consequently the movie, especially the first half, feels enormously rushed. We're whisked right through the opening scenes, barely given a sufficient explanation for what was going on (even the manga did a better job of this, and the manga is inferior to both the light novel and the TV series) and hardly given the amount or depth of character development the TV series allowed. If I had seen the movie before the TV series and before having read the light novel or the manga, I would have been somewhat puzzled. The fast pace and hurried explanations wouldn't have allowed me the understanding that I got from the TV series or the light novel. Streaking right through the plot is not an effective way to tell a story.
Secondly, the filmmakers tried to cram too much in there, which resulted in there not being enough. Sound contradictory? It might not once I elucidate: we're given Yuji's story, Hirai's story, Kazumi's story, Shana's story, Friagne and Marian's story and a bit of Ike's and Margery's story (more on Margery below) and, again, that 86 minute mark proves too little to effectively accommodate them all. We get enough for Yuji and Hirai, and BARELY enough for Shana, but not for any of the others. We really don't even get enough time for Shana's growing attachment to Yuji to make much sense, and we wonder why she really starts to care about him at all. In the TV series it's obvious why, but here it really isn't. Kazumi's story is especially disappointing because, after such a promising start, her story is abandoned halfway through the movie, and we don't even see her again. It's left on a low note, with her essentially giving up what she wanted to do, and that's what we take with us. With this being the case, it would have been just as well to leave her out of the movie altogether (or greatly reduce her role, with no specific plot line focused on her), since in the end she contributes nothing significant to the story.
I also had a problem with Wilhelmina's gratuitous cameos. I know why they were done, but it was too glaring (I mean that in more than one sense, too, for every time she appeared on screen, she'd turn and glare at the camera). They should have limited her to ONE cameo, and they should have kept her from looking towards us. Such a far less self-conscious cameo would have been much more of a treat than what we got. When she appeared again, doing just as she did before, I actually rolled my eyes. If I roll my eyes during a movie, this is a bad sign.
Now then: Margery Daw. WHAT THE HELL IS SHE DOING HERE? Yeah, yeah, I get it; she's here for the same reason Wilhelmina is: giving the fans what they want. But you know, when giving the fans what they want is detrimental to the story, it's a bad idea. Now, I have nothing against Margery as a character; she's fun to watch in the TV series, and Marcosius is always good for a laugh, but in the movie she's barely given any real significance in the grand scheme of things, and no real development. She participates in every battle once she shows up, and her participation does no good at all. She is, in a nutshell, in the movie to be in the movie. Margery and Marco weren't even in the first light novel at all, and when they were placed in the movie, Margery essentially got one of Shana's actions from the book, then stuck around like the fifth wheel that she was for the rest of the time, and making a largely unceremonious exit at the end. Margery and Marco were an intrusion. THEY DO NOT BELONG HERE.
I have one other gripe I want to address, because this very nearly ruined the film's climax for me. Let me get to it by explaining something. Alastor, Flame of Heaven, is a King of Guze, and exists in this world by inhabiting the body of Shana, his contractor. He speaks through the pendant she wears around her neck. In the TV series we never actually see what Alastor looks like; the one time Shana mentions summoning him, he's summoned but we don't get to see him. That was effective because it upheld the mystery of his character. In the light novel, when he is summoned during the climax, he is never really described, and we are left to imagine his appearance for ourselves. This, too, is effective. In the movie, however, we see Alastor's true form. Without revealing what he looks like, let me just say I was sorely disappointed. I know what the filmmakers were attempting to do, but they didn't quite get there. Instead of seeing a form majestic and kingly, we see something that looks evil and, worse, rather uninspired. Since Alastor is, really, a force for good since he fights to maintain the world's balance, giving him an evil appearance is far from suitable, even if the intent was install a bit of irony. Irony isn't ALWAYS effective, folks. It sure wasn't here. The better thing to do would have been to use a different, more awe-inspiring design, or to have kept him obscured in the flames so that we never truly got a good look at him. When I saw the design they chose for him, I groaned. Yes, I groaned. I couldn't believe it. (Yeah, I know; how many movies have I made, right? Well, I bet I could make a pretty good movie if you could lend me some money; I only need about $49 million. I'll pay you back if the movie is a hit, and I'll credit you as a producer, too. What do you say?)
Now, after having said all of this, you may be wondering how I could have said I like this movie. Well, now that I got the negatives out of the way, let's get to the positives.
First, the movie wisely chooses to stick to the story of the first light novel, and during the second half of the movie especially, does a fairly good job retelling it. Like I said, Margery gets in the way, and Kazumi's story is abandoned, but the plot is not too drastically changed. It's rushed, yes, and the filmmakers should have allowed themselves an extra twenty minutes to flesh things out a bit more, but the story is at least intact. We do miss characters like Oga-chan and some of the other classmates (who appeared in the light novel), but since the movie left no room for them, it was a good idea to leave them out instead of trying to squeeze them ineffectively in like they did with Margery.
Friagne the Hunter is done a great service here. He gets just about the right amount of screen time, and his relationship with Marian is nicely demonstrated. He also is presented as being more powerful here than he was in the TV series (where he was something of a "little guy" compared to the series' main villains, Bal Masque), and he uses his Hougu with splendid results. They even put in a tiny scene at the very beginning of the film depicting Friagne using Trigger Happy to kill an unnamed Flame Haze, finally showing us just how dangerous he's supposed to be. He puts up one hell of a fight during the final battle (easily holding off both Shana and Margery), just as a good villain should, and when Marian sacrifices herself for him, his reaction is perfect. A well-handled villain makes all the difference in a story, no matter what its medium. And they got the villain right.
The animation is breathtaking. It stands above the TV series animation-wise, just as a movie should, and while it looks like it stole a few shots here and there during the first half directly from the first couple of episodes (a cost-cutting move, most likely), most of the familiar scenes were obviously reanimated, given more dynamic camera movement and greater fluidity. The fight scenes were especially well done and were very exciting to watch, and the CGI was very smoothly used alongside the characters to great effect. Visually, the movie doesn't disappoint.
A few little things were added that were actually not used in the TV series, which is a bit surprising. Before her storyline is abandoned, we see more of Kazumi's home life, including a group picture of her class. In a particularly nice touch, we see the photograph suddenly alter itself right around the time Shana takes over Hirai's existence, which was a great idea. Hirai's disappearance from this world is handled with slightly more dramatic flair than the TV series, not necessarily making it more effective, but making it different enough to be fresh and interesting. (I suspect the movie's flair for the dramatic is one reason why some people feel the movie does a better job telling the story than the TV series. However, superficial drama does not a better story make.)
Speaking of heightened drama, the music is different here than in the TV series, and a very beautiful song is performed when Hirai is about to vanish. This was a good move on the filmmakers' part, since Hirai, even after she is gone, is important to the story, and having such effective music for her final scene helps us feel the distress and frustration Yuji experiences. Another very beautiful tune is played at the end of the film as we see Shana and Yuji standing together, finally sharing a friendly, trusting moment with one another (an effect nearly mired by Margery zipping around overhead). The music, really, is one of the best things about the movie.
Overall, the movie is enjoyable (if more on its own merits than compared to other versions of Shana), and any anime fan would likely enjoy watching it. Due to its flaws, I award it a 7/10, but I still regard it as recommended viewing. I hope, if they ever choose to make a second film, they're more careful in their approach to storytelling.