7/31/2007

Behind the Curve: Shakugan no Shana (Manga 1 / Novel 1)

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There are many reasons to adopt a new series. Perhaps it's a widely popular one, and you're curious to see what all the fuss is about. Maybe a favorite voice actor, artist, director, writer worked on this series as well. Maybe you read the manga, or played the visual novel, or just read about the series in a press blurb or something and was intrigued. A figurative dart thrown at a wall?

Sometimes, it's like that, where you walk into a bookstore, and the first thing that catches your eye is that one thing Mikoto keeps raving about.

And so I sat down with the English release of manga and light novel for an hour.

Yeah, English light novel. Is that a first? Not too familiar with even the Japanese scene for that, but I follow the Haruhi light novels religiously and are kind of jealous that another series gets their novels translated. Oh well, there's always Baka-Tsuki!

Impressions on Shana after the jump.

Well, it probably says something that I sat down and actually read both books cover-to-cover in one sitting, but to be honest the game completionist in me likes to finish what was started.

Shakugan no Shana, nevertheless, seems like a promising genre-mixer, putting together both elements of typical romance with more than a handful of supernatural fighting action. Perhaps it's bad to compare but a similar genre-mash would be, I believe, sola. Both series seem to straddle the sexes, with the action appeasing the guys and the romance aspects appealing to the girls. Of course, Shana feels bat-over-the-head enough with the romance to possible be aimed more towards guys, and ironically that part is the stuff I find more attractive than the action. That's probably just a natural fault of a viewing history of harem-types and magical girl shows, though.

Shana, to be honest, isn't all awesome and win. Many of the aspects have that "been there before" feeling to it. For example, the (to me) obvious nature of the romance between the blatantly tsundere (for lack of a different word) Shana and Yuuji, as well as the going-to-try-hard-and-be-damn-adorable...but going to lose appearance of Kazumi, feels very cut and dry. I haven't analyzed the fights too much yet but the villains are naturally cocky in that "I'll kill you later" way, not to mention Shana's power level of OVER MEME.

But, this is only one volume into both the light novel (apparently first), and the manga, which seems to follow a lot of aspects of the light novel. Plus, my criticism of the battles shouldn't be too trusted; they are an aspect that never really fascinated me enough to analyze closely, which probably causes the romantic aspect, standing alone by itself, to fold in like a house.

Together though, the two aren't half bad, as Shana's slow progress towards discovering what this school 'aspect' is quite typical (for the usual Supernatural Standout) but still funny as always. There were some heartwarming - if not in-your-face - moments between Yuuji and Shana, and a shy girl is always fine too. There have been a few twists of course still, such as Yuuji's hidden treasure thing which I've forgotten the name of, but sounds pretty nifty in that it keeps him from dying, or regenerates him, or something, as well as Shana's God-in-the-amulet thing.

As you can tell, my comprehension of this story so far is highly advanced; another volume of two, when it's released, hopefully will clear things up. It's an interesting concept at this point, although I don't know what really the Ultimate Goal is. Shana will definitely be an anime/manga/series I'll have to keep my eye on - it won't be an Instabuy at any rate ($150 for the anime is a bit out of reach) but if any more of the manga shows up, it'll merit a read.

-CCY

(Picture borrowed from http://wakaranai.animeblogger.net, because it was the first thing on Google. Yay credit!)

2 comments:

This comment has been removed by the author.

Hotlinking ftw. xD

(previous comemnt deleted due to a typo)

In my opinion, one of the only things that the anime does better than the light novel and manga is go deeper into the fate of a torch while dealing with a disappearance of a friend, certainly explains that better than the books. Another plus is that you can actually SEE the battles without trying to imagine them using the description the light novels give you. It's okay if you don't want to invest in $100 on the anime though (even though the first opening is kickass). xD

The descriptions sort of got watered down in the American edition too, for example a three-lined description would be toned down into a one-lined description that sums up the meaning of original decription (or something close to it). Sort of gets you confused, but other than that it's a almost solid translation.

Even though the manga is a good read, I recommend you follow the story through the light novel since the manga sort of... stops at some point (normal hiatus though).