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DVD Review

DVD cover

Shakugan No Shana
Volume 4


Starring (voice): Rie Kugimiya, Satoshi Hino, Ayako Kawasumi and Hitomi Nabatame
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 10 November 2008

Had Yuji Sakai turned a different corner his life may have remained that of a high school kid, but Sakai did turn that corner and his life changed forever. What do you do if you discover that rather than being human you are little more than a shell, a shell destined to fade away, as you are nothing more than a replacement for an already dead person? Sakai is about to find out...

Finally, in Shana: Vol 4, (Shakugan No Shana) the show gets its finger out and starts to look like the interesting anime it always promised to be as we get a background look at how Shana became a Flame Haze. What? You thought they grew on trees? This DVD includes another four episodes (13-16) of a 24 episode run, with so-so extras.

Episode 13 - Declaration of War behind the School: and as these thing go, when we last saw Shana she was in the nefarious clutches of the slightly incestuous Denizens and they tore her limb from limb in a graphic sequence that would make grown men cry and turn to religion... No, I’m just yanking your chain. This thing goes on for twenty-four episodes so these sort of perilous situation loose their power when you realise that you're only half way through the series and they’ll not going to kill off the title character. No bizarrely, and quite unexpectedly, she escapes - who would have seen that coming? Not content to allow Shana to get all the glory, Yuji goes off and finds a bigger boy, in Margery Daw, to lend a hand. Oh the humanity and our hero turns into a big girls blouse.

Episode 14 - A Great Person: After the less than edifying previous episode, we get to move away from Yuji’s embarrassing inability to grow a pair and the show starts to pick at the old interest bone with a look at how Shana ended up as a Flame Haze. Sad to say what we don’t get is the scene with all the Flame Haze’s beating up the bloke who gave them a name - which brings forth visions of a particularly cheesy seventies soft metal group.

Episode 15 - The Day the Flame was Born: and we continue the tale of an unassuming child whose home, well... castle, is attacked only to discover that her maid is a Flame Haze. You could have blown me over with a feather. There are no long cues to sign papers, no training period, just guys trashing your home forcing you to seek out the help of a rather dodgy bloke, who has obviously never had a girlfriend, who promises to tell you wondrous things if only you sit on his lap. If only George Lucas could think up such original material.

Episode 16 - The Flame Haired, Burning-eyed Hunter: and Shana is a fully fledged Flame Haze, complete with silver boots and funny eye makeup. Oops, now we're back to seventies bands. To complete her transition to fan service hottie, in  a precariously short skirt, she has to defeat Tenmoku Ikko and take his sword. Considering the help he gave her, this all seems a little bit harsh. Still that’s the role of old blokes - to snuff it so our hero can take the next step in their journey to greatness, Oh! George where were you when they were thinking up these original ideas?

On the extras front, while the Maze Nanai Shana Video is always worth a watch, the production art is limited as you can’t use it as wallpaper. You do get a textless ending sequence, what is it with anime discs and their insistence of offering textless opening and closing sequences, does anyone actually want these? Me thinks I smell the foul odour of filler in the wind, Jim lad, worse still is that you get the DVD credits as an extra - give me a break!

Audio is vanilla 2.0 English or Japanese with subs, the show really could do with something more dynamic than this, that said, the print is spectacular capturing colours and motion perfectly.

It's picked up a bit as a series even if originality of ideas seems to have been the casualty.


Charles Packer

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