published in Empire No.79, Sydney
Contemporary anime continues its embrace of death with powerful energy. The first volume of Shakugan no Shana starts like all good teen anime: the central figure dies and is transported into another dimension while co-inhabiting the earthly realm. Young Sakai is the innocent student this time, and Shana is the spiritual ‘Flame Haze’ with whom he strikes up a problematic and taxing relationship. Devoid of the usual comedic impulse, Shakugan no Shana focuses on dense philosophical ruminations on what it means to bother living. Sounds heavy, but the drama propels things with, well, incredible liveliness. A series bound to evolve forcefully.