SHAKUGAN NO SHANA (Shakugan no Shana, “Shana of the Fiery Eyes”) (??????) • Yasuchiro Takahashi (original creator), Noizi Ito (character design), Ayato Sasakura (art) • VIZ (2007-ongoing) • MediaWorks (Dengeki Daioh, 2005-ongoing) • 7+ volumes (ongoing) • Shônen Occult Fantasy Action • 16+ (infrequent violence, brief partial nudity, sexual situations)
Manga adaptation of Yasuchiro Takahashi’s light novels. Bland high school student Yuji is suddenly killed by a doll-like creature which freezes time and sucks out humans’ life essence in the form of flames. He is saved and resurrected–sort of–by Shana, a young girl who wields a samurai sword and serves the extradimensional Crimson Lords by protecting the balance of the universe from predatory outsiders. In order to keep an eye on him, she then transfers to his class, moves into his house, and kickstarts familiar romantic hijinks. Following the novels’ plot closely, the manga’s only real addition is glossy (but generic) art with tons of screentone and computer effects and characters whose eyes are bigger than their hands. (Even the monsters are cute.) Shana is a typical moe love object, an at first grouchy girl who soon reveals her soft side by eating melon bread and falling in love with the hero. (Her “tough girl” status is also compromised by the fact that she’s drawn like a 6-year-old.) All these clichés are of course appealing to someone, but like all too many supernatural manga, its real flaws are in the storytelling. Rather than showing us Shana’s world firsthand, the writer overexplains everything with page upon page of exposition, with characters sitting in school rattling off made-up terminology like “Treasure Tools,” “Mistes,” “Remnants,” etc. Instead of potentially interesting imagery and events, we get talking-head panels of people describing things–not great writing in a novel, but worse in a manga, no matter how cute those talking heads are. The VIZ edition is lightly censored for near-nudity. (Review by Sybil Theron)
Today’s winner is Stacy E. of Indiana. Congratulations, Stacy! Today’s review is by my friend Sybil Theron — thanks for reviewing Shana for me!
Last night I got an email with a manga-winner photo from Niki Smith, one of the creators of the Zuda webcomic In Maps & Legends. It’s an honor to be able to send some manga to such a great artist. Check out her series on Zuda if you haven’t already!