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Shakugan no Shana: Season 1 Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese & English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Run Time: 625 Mins.
  • Discs: 7 (3 x Blu-ray + 4 x DVD)
  • Studio: Funimation Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 21, 2012
  • List Price: $59.98

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4/5]

Shakugan no Shana (灼眼のシャナ) is an anime series based on the light novel series written by Yashichiro Takahashi, it follows the ongoing battle between the inhabitants of a world parallel to our own known as the Crimson Realm. Powerful creatures, known as Denizens, able to manipulate the Power of Existence that flows through all inhabitants of the world to fuel their immense power, control the Crimson Realm. Sometimes these Denizens fail to observe the delicate balance between the two worlds, claiming the lives of humans at an alarming rate and leaving behind mere shells of humans as stand-ins, known simply as “Torches,” who will eventually vanish and be forgotten by everyone who knows them. It is up to humans who have entered into contracts with a few of these powerful Denizens and become “Flame Hazes” to fight against these unwieldy creatures and protect the scales from being tipped out of balance.

Taking place in Japan’s Misaki City, Shakugan no Shana is mainly the story of the Flame Haze known as “The Burning-Eyed, Flaming-Haired Flame Haze” and a Mystes (a Torch who can see and feel the activities of the parallel, crimson world) named Yuji. Yuji and this Flame Haze meet as she is battling a Denizen in the streets of Misaki City. This is when the high school student Yuji first becomes aware of the battle taking place in his city and the Flame Haze informs him that he is already dead. Unwilling to accept a simple explanation, Yuji tags along following her and finally, the Flame Haze, whom Yuji will name Shana because of the flaming sword she wields, decides to stay with Yuji – he is a special sort of Mystes, as will be revealed later in the series. The two begin to develop a bond that will help them battle the impending forces of doom in the city and Shana will eventually require Yuji to help fuel her strength to continue doing battle.

As a series, Shakugan no Shana is not a wholly original anime by any stretch of the imagination. The basic plot can be seen in numerous series. Most recently, I reviewed The World God Only Knows Season One and Two, which is similarly themed – high school boy helps beautiful demon girl battle and collect forces of evil from the demon realm. The execution of Shakugan no Shana is what makes it click, however. The tsundere characteristics of Shana as a character, while, again, not wholly original or unexpected, do help develop the depth of the character, especially later on as we are given more back story. Animation on the whole is nothing cutting edge, but it is strong nevertheless with uniquely identifiable character traits and intricate backgrounds.

Video Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

This is one of the poorest transfers I have seen from Funimation in a long while. Obviously up-scaled from standard definition, the 1080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 encodement suffers from just about every issue one could imagine – video noise, posterization, color banding, and motion artifacts. The colors look bland and washed out most of the time. About the only issue that isn’t so bad here, quite surprisingly, is aliasing, which does pop up from time to time, but only very slightly.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

At least the lossless Dolby TrueHD 2.0 stereo (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is a big step up over the video, even though it is only stereo. I listened to the original Japanese track as my reference and it had clear dialogue with a reasonable amount of stereo panning. Low frequencies could have been a bit more extended, but otherwise, it has a solid midrange and good punch. The literal Japanese subtitles are also concise with no grammatical errors that I could spot.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The supplements consist mainly of OVAs that explain a lot of the complex terminologies and multiple chracter types that exist in Shakugan no Shana plus two comically-oriented OVA shorts in which Shana is animated in extreme chibi form.

The supplements:

  • Naze Nani Shana (1.33:1; SD):
    • “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box!” #1
    • “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box!” #1
    • “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box! Seals and Unrestricted Methods”
    • “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box! Rinne and God Vessels”
    • “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box! Love and Goals”
    • “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box! The Tuner”
    • “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box! The Ball Masque”
    • “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box! Fountain of Existence and Manifestation”
  • Shakugan no Shana-tan (1.78:1; SD; 00:03:22)
  • Shakugan no Shana-tan Returns (1.78:1; SD; 00:06:08)
  • Textless Opening Song “Scarlet Color Sky”
  • Textless Opening Song “Being”
  • Textless Closing Song “A Girl Will Be Born at Dawn”
  • Textless Closing Song “Crimson Calmness”
  • Textless Closing Song “Scarlet Color Sky”
  • Funimation Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

With its blend of high school romance, sci-fi/fantasy and hyperactive action sequences, Shakugan no Shana is fun entertainment, even if the Blu-ray’s video is well below average.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Shakugan no Shana: Season 1 on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

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[amazon-product]B0083QJV6M[/amazon-product]

Purchase Shakugan no Shana: Season 1 on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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