First Impressions: The Tower of DRUAGA -the Aegis of URUK-

Tower of Druaga -the Aegis of URUK-The first episode was about the complete opposite of what I was expecting. I was going in expecting some lame, boring fantasy/action series and what I got was an episode that had me nearly laughing out loud from start to finish.

I think it’ll still be hard to tell what this series is like from this episode alone, but from what I can tell, these are characters playing a MMORPG ala .hack, but this series is deciding to lampoon action/adventure/sci-fi shows in general. Not even Star Wars or Star Trek are saved! (I so knew the “I am your father” line was coming there, though…)

I’m definitely going to keep on watching this, at least for the time being.

My other fear going into this was that GONZO would somehow mess up the subs. While I don’t know Japanese, and thus can’t say whether things were actually translated correctly, the dubs were all done in good English and all that, so I can’t take any points off there.

If this series ends up being what this episode indicates, we may have already found our hidden gem for the spring season.

Edit: How is it possible to misspell the word “dubs” not only once, but twice AND in two different ways to boot?

Edit 2: Here is where you can watch it subbed:

Crunchyroll (bigger, better quality, but can be choppy)

You Tube (smaller, but less choppy)

BOST (apparently don’t have an account, so I haven’t been able to check this one out). Cost 100 points (approx. $2), unless you registered before April 2 and enter a code to get it for free. If you do buy it or have the code, I’d say this is easily the best quality of the three. You can get a season pass for 1000 points ($19.90)

Yet another Edit: Don’t believe BOST’s “Coming Soon” screen if you visit their site. Once you enter the promo code if you have it, or if you buy it using your BOST points, you can both view it and download it in “ipod” and “PSP” formats – whatever those constitute.

Shakugan no Shana – Anime Review

The Essentials

Shakugan no ShanaName: Shakugan no Shana, Shakugan no Shana Second (Season 2)
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Romance
Episodes: 48
Released: October 5, 2005 – March 22, 2006 (Season 1), October 4, 2007 – March 27, 2008 (Season 2)
Based On: Shakugan no Shana light novel by Yashichiro Takahashi
Director: Takashi Watanabe
Produced By: J.C. Staff
US Distribution By: Geneon Entertainment (Season 1)

Major Japanese Cast

Yuji Sakai: Satoshi Hino
Shana: Rie Kugimiya
Kazumi Yoshida: Ayako Kawasumi
Wilhelmina: Shizuka Itou
Margery Daw: Hitomi Nabatame
Keisaku Satou: Kenji Nojima
Eita Tanaka: Takayuki Kondou
Matake Ogata: Yumiko Kobayashi
Hayato Ike: Hirofumi Nojima
Alastor: Masashi Ebara
Marchosias: Mitsuo Iwata
Hecate: Mamiko Noto
Sydonay: Kenta Miyake
Bel Peol: Sayaka Ohara
Dantalion: Nobuo Tobita
Chigusa: Tomo Sakurai

Major English Cast

Yuji Sakai: Kristian Ayre
Shana: Tabitha St. Germain
Kazumi Yoshida: Chantal Strand
Wilhelmina: Anna Cummer
Margery Daw: Janyse Jaud
Keisaku Satou: Brad Swaile
Eita Tanaka: Alistair Abell
Matake Ogata: Nicole Bouma
Hayato Ike: Matthew Erickson
Alastor: Paul Dobson
Marchosias: Trevor Devall
Hecate: Brenna O’Brien
Sydonay: Eli Gabay
Bel Peol: Paula Lindberg
Dantalion: Michael Dobson
Chigusa: Lalainia Lindbjerg

Scores

Animation: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Story: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Music: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Coherence/Story Arc: 8/10 (x 2 = 16 pts)
English Dubs: 8/10 (x 1 = 8 pts)
Gut Score: 10/10 (x 5 = 50 pts)

Total: 182/200 (91%)

Review

Shakugan no Shana is about a boy, Yuji, after he “dies” when he has his existence eaten by Crimson Denizens – members of a parallel universe. He is guarded, reluctantly at first, by a Flame Haze – those who defend this world against the Denizens – whom Yuji names Shana due to the fact that she doesn’t have a name of her own.

Normally, when someone has their existence eaten, a Flame Haze leaves behind a torch – a temporary replacement for that person – which soon burns out and it’s as if that person never existed. However,Yuji is different in that he has a “treasure” hidden inside of him, the Midnight Lost Child, which regenerates all of his power of existence every night at midnight. As a result, a flurry of Denizens descend upon Yuji in hopes of acquiring this virtually unlimited source of existence.

In the mean time, Yuji tries to live in both his old world and the world of Flame Hazes and Denizens, having to deal with both his friends at school, including a crush by one of his classmates Yoshida, while at the same time increasingly helping Shana fight off Denizens. Over time, the secrets behind what the Midnight Lost Child is and what it may contain are eventually revealed.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to watching this series is getting familiar with all of the background story and terms that one must pick up on before one can fully get into this series. While all this complexity may make this series a little hard to get into for the impatient, it also means that this series has quite a bit more depth to the world that it’s set in than many other series, and this depth just increases as the series progresses.

This series also plays to a variety of genres as well. Shana attempts to successfully balance between an fantasy and action series with being a romance drama series and, for the most part, is able to maintain this balance pretty well, though fans of either genre may with there was less of the other in the show.

My story score on this show is tentative, however, based on the assumption that there is going to be a 3rd season based on how open the end of the 2nd season was. The openness wouldn’t really be great if this were the end, but I think it’s fine if this is the middle of a trilogy of seasons in the series (which means I’ll end up coming and re-reviewing this if we do get a third season).

Shana also excels in most of it’s technical aspects, with sharp animation and a good soundtrack. Indeed, when the Flame Hazes get into a battle is when the animation seems to shine the most. The dub for the first season may be this series’ weakest point, and even that isn’t really bad.

Overall, I think this is a series quite a few people can get into, but fantasy and action fans will probably enjoy it the most.

First Watched: April – July 2007 (Season 1), October 2007 – April 2008 (Season 2)
Do I Own: Yes (First Season)
Do I Recommend: Yes