The characters shift to the big screen to tell a familiar tale.
What They Say:
Wielding a blazing sword, Shana’s sole purpose is to fight demon-like beings that consume human lives. During a volatile war to stop a foe from devouring every life in Misaki City, Shana cuts Yuji in her crossfire. When the villain discovers this teenage boy is gifted with an immense power, he holds Yuji hostage to lure Shana into a trap that could to destroy the huntress and the entire city!
The audio presentation for this release is pretty solid as we get both the original Japanese language and the new English language dub from FUNimation. Both of these tracks are done in Dolby TrueHD lossless 5.1 so it’s definitely a big step up in overall quality compared to the TV series in terms of action and scale. It has a good mix of action and dialogue so that the forward soundstage gets a good workout overall when the action itself gets going while the rear channels add more to the action sequences and the ambient sounds and music when appropriate. Dialogue is fairly standard and generally center channel based but it has a good, rich feeling for both of them. It’s not the kind of mix where it just sounds louder but the kind that has a a bit more warmth and impact to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally in theaters in 2007, the transfer for this theatrical movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The feature runs just under ninety minutes with a handful of extras here, giving it plenty of space to work with. The film takes the look and feel of the TV series and ups it a few notches with a more detailed, fluid and colorful world but still retaining the overall atmosphere of the series. The visual presentation here with the encoding is pretty solid throughout with some strong source materials, giving it a very vibrant design when it goes big. The feature has a lot of familiar darker scenes but also some good daytime material that lets you see the balance it works with. The details come through very well and the dark scenes hold up quite strongly with little in the way of noise or problems. The source material is very clean and problem free with no line noise issues or cross coloration creeping into it..
Similar to the individual parts of the TV series releases what we get here is the standard sized Blu-ray case with a slipcover that holds it and replicates the artwork. The front cover is quite bright as we get a white background with some very eye-catching character artwork that has Shana with her traditional school style outfit as she holds her sword and her red hair flows al around her. It has a serious look and part of it is a little problematic because of how it feels just a bit scrunched, but that’s the nature of the design of it. The back cover continues on with the white and provides for a good piece of character artwork of Shana from the movie along with a small strip of shots from the show that focuses on the dark yet colorful action. The premise for the feature is covered well enough and we get a clean listing of what’s included, both for formats and extras. The technical grid is mostly easy to read as it has white text on green with a dash of blue and it lays out the specs clearly. The set has artwork on the reverse side where we get a full two panel illustration showing off the main characters here that looks really good. No show related inserts are included.
The menu design for the release is simple and effective but it feels like it’s something from a bit of an earlier Blu-ray design release. The menu has the logo and the mystical/flame kind of approach for its main screen that doesn’t use any character artwork and just a bit of instrumental music. It’s not bad but it doesn’t sell the show too much. Where it feels clunky is in that the menu slides in from the left and has a bit of a judder to it rather than a smooth flow. Submensu load quickly but with that kind of shift to it and they’re easy to navigate and problem free. The discs default to the English language with sign/song subtitle track.
The extras for this release are pretty good overall though it runs with some familiar aspects that have been seen with other Shana releases. The extras give us another five minute What? Why? segment that goes into some of the mechanics of the series and how it works, largely covering familiar material considering what the film is about. We get another Shana-tan segment that’s just utterly adorable as well as the original Japanese promos and the US trailer for the film.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the success of the Shakugan no Shana TV series that ran from 2005 to 2006, it’s no surprise that a feature was given the green light. The light novels were proving successful, a game was in the works and the anime series captured a lot of attention. Like a lot of anime movies though, the choice was made to re-adapt what had come before, or at least part of it, rather than go with a new story. This is always controversial because you have hopes that you can launch a film franchise based on it and you have to start at the beginning. But that keeps you from satisfying a lot of the fans who either want a fresh and original story or an adaptation of one of the works that was done but not yet animated. And the Shakugan no Shana world has the potential to do so much with what came in the past in really exploring Shana,
With the movie, what we get is a look at the first arc of the series that involves the introduction of the Flame Haze Shana as she’s come to Misaki City to deal with a problem that Flame Hazes are created for. We’re given the introduction to the way the world works in how there are Denizens that are supremely powerful that cause trouble in the real world by taking “existence” from people in order to feed. There’s a lot of different types of Denizens but there are mainly two branches that exist, those that just feed and those that protect humanity. Those that feed create sealed zones wherein they devour the existence that is a person and generally replaces it with a Torch, a fake human that then dissipates over time and doesn’t cause a lot of trouble as those that knew the person forget about them completely.
There are also those Denizens who don’t want Earth and humanity to fall to ruin because of the way the greedy or evil types will just ravish and ravage the world. So they created Flame Hazes, vessels that will roam the Earth in contract with their Denizen, using special weapons and a variety of magics to deal with the crafty Denizens that do get through to feed. This is an ages old battle that’s hidden in the shadows but has had ripple effects at times. Shana’s arrival is due to a larger than normal number of Torches that exist in the city and she’s investigating what’s going on, which takes her into contact with a young man named Yuji Sakai. He gets caught up in a seal when a Denizen attacks, but unlike everyone else, he’s able to move and talk in it. That throws Shana off and she manages to survive and save him.
Yuji’s an unusual Torch, something he wasn’t aware of, as it means his time could come to an end at any moment. Because of his unusual nature, Shana and her Denizen, Alastor, spend some time keeping an eye on him because of his nature and we see over the course of this feature that he’s very different than they expected. Some Torches carry special Treasures in them that move from person to person when they die, making him a Mystes. And he’s definitely one of the more unique ones out there with his ability and that just raises the stakes a good deal for him, which has him latching onto Shana more to survive but also in turn gets her to humanize Torches more than she had before as she was essentially a strong, able and focused warrior.
While the film does work the origin story fairly well without overdoing it, conveying what it needs to do, it also weaves in the story that was prominent at the start of the series involving the Denizen named Friagne. Using one of his puppets that he has very, very strong feelings for named Marianne, he’s working a creative and large scale plan for Misaki City that calls for a large number of Torches to be created. This works through the background until it becomes the central focus and we see his machinations, the introduction of another Flame Haze and the eventual third act big moments as everything goes to battle. Friagne is a good villain to have here in this way as he’s serious, focused but also has just enough flair so that you don’t see him taking himself too seriously. He has a big and passionate goal to work towards, but he’s not coming across as obsessively cruel or evil. He’s like Shana in a lot of ways where he doesn’t have much thought to spare when it comes to humans or Torches. He just sees his goals and works towards them. The difference with Shana is that she has Yuji in her life and because of his nature, she’s shown more about people and their lives than she would have realized otherwise. But even that’s kept simple and at just a surface level, but it’s enough to change her path.
Coming into this movie just a few months after seeing the first season of the TV series again, it’s definitely a case of deja vu for obvious reasons. There’s a lot to like here overall as it’s a well paced story, wonderfully animated and done tighter for obvious reasons. This gives the film a very good flow and feel to it that makes it engaging even if you’ve already seen it in the series. I really liked the attention to detail that it works with in the animation and character designs and the quality of the animation in general. The film does have the main problem of the been there, seen that aspect, but even with it just being a few months since I saw it, I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would and it’s definitely fun for the extras and as a piece to show others to draw them into the franchise overall.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box: Review Lesson, Shakugan no Shana-tan Theatrical Version, Promotional Videos, Commercials, Textless Closing Song
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 22nd, 2013
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.