I will say at the beginning of this anime i did feel a little hopeless. The anime imposes a scary thought into your head, what if i flicker out? What if no one REMEMBERS me? That is the main theme of this anime. Not whether or not you existed, but whether or not you are remembered.
This is a story about loving someone who isn't necessarily human, but human to you. I warn you, the first three or four episodes are sad, because you will most likely be empathizing with the Torches. But, overall, the anime is enjoyable, meaningful, and somehow, it makes you look for the silver lining.
Watch the first 4 episodes, and then after that, you can basically assess whether you will enjoy the art style and theme or not.
With many twists and turns, this anime definitely has you addicted to each and every episode. Each episode develops the characters phenomenally each step of the journey, and creates a dramatic tension that could almost be understood as the recognition of one's self and values. The only problem I had with the story was the fact that... Yuuji never kisses Shana. I waited for that every episode after they mentioned the "oath". . Also, i have never heard someone describe the feelings attached to a kiss so accurately and empathetically.
The effects are... amazing. I will admit i was thrown off by the overly big eyes at the very beginning when i looked at the cover for this anime, but somehow they suit the style and artistic quality of the anime. The effects when Shana has her burning hair are astounding, and the lighting effects are magnificent. I watched a splash in the water, gaping at how intricate and amazingly crafted it was. Art is without a doubt a perfect 10 for this anime.
I loved the voice actors for every character, and enjoyed the OP and ED sequences very much. I would've rather had a slower song for the OP, but when you get to episode 13 (i think), the OP changes and it becomes suitable for the episodes. I enjoyed the ED very much. I'm usually one to skip the credits each episode, but i watched with awe for most of them. And i enjoyed the art in the background =]
This is the first anime i have ever given a 10 on characters for. Most characters are flat, that don't change substantially from episode to episode, but SHakugan no Shana shows the difference between Yuuji and his understanding of his own situation, and his own acceptance of him becoming a Mistes, and also Shana's relationship with Yuuji (No matter how many times she avoids it by yelling "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!") develops so intricately into the plot. This was one of the most wonderful character development sequences i have ever come across. You will fall in love with Shana and Yuuji for their admirable qualities (and some of Shana's detestable manners). I can guarantee that.
Everyone loves a good sad anime every now and then. And then to be lifted up from that sad anime into a happier light. That's what this anime does. It makes you involved with every single character, and makes you enjoy every aspect of the visual effects, the sound effects, and the general aura that is exhumed from whatever device you're watching it from. It's got a lot of good moments, though it doesn't have the outrageous "Anime Comedy" animation that i've seen in others (Where the characters get huge teeth to bark with, or their heads get huge and their bodies become small, other effects like that). So if you enjoy that particular aspect of Anime Comedy, i say look elsewhere.
I would give this one a perfect 10, but i feel that the storyline could move quicker towards the beginning, and admonish the fact that people want don't want to be put off by the sadness. I think if you watch this, i will give you the same advice that i have given for other animes: Watch the first 3 episodes, and if you like it, watch it, or ditch it (Even if it is "Orphen: The sorcerer stabbing something or other").