Shakugan no Shana (灼眼のシャナ, Shakugan no Shana or literally Shana of the Blazing Eyes) originally started life as a light novel (basically, it's an illustrated novel aimed primarily at children). Then in 2002 it was translated into a manga, and got the anime treatment in 2005, and even generated a couple of video games. This review though is for the movie version released in 2007. The synopsis on Anime-Source for the 2005 anime is listed as thus:
Not long after he had entered high school, Sakai Yuji's normal days were finished. He saw something strange on his way home; people were frozen in fire, and a monster looking like a large doll assaulted them. When he was about to be killed, a girl in black cloth holding a large sword appeared, and cut the monster into halves. Although Yuji pulled though the crisis, the girl informed him of a hopeless fact..... He's already dead.Fortunately, it fits the movie just as well as the anime. The movie basically tells the story of the original novel. How that fits in with the first season of the anime I'm unsure as I've not seen it.
Anyways, the plot is a decent bit of fantasy fluff, building up to the big fight in the end. For what its worth, it's a decent plot. There's nothing exciting or necessarily new about it, but it's handled efficiently and is well done.
For the characters, there are three main characters. The first is Sakai Yuji, who is the male protagonist. He's an average high school student, at least until he discovers the little fact that he's dead.
Second is the female protagonist, named by Yuji as Shana. She's a "Flame Haze" someone who fights the creatures that are going around eating the existences of regular humans.
Finally, the antagonist is called the Hunter, Friange (at least if I remember correctly). Truth be told, we're not given a whole lot of characterization for him, which seems to be a bit of a drawback with things based upon light novels.
Probably the character who gets the most characterization growth is Shana herself. At the start of the movie, she considers him an object, and considers herself about the same. It is Yuji, and his need to humanize her, that she acquires a name and slowly comes to accept Yuji as human.
Artwork is really well done. Of course since it is a movie, that is to be expected. The character designs themselves I liked, and enjoyed the particle effects that her hair and eyes would take when she was in "powered" mode.
As usual, I was fairly oblivious to the music.
Overall, I enjoyed this movie. There were a few scenes that served no purpose outside of fan service but that was just lingering too long on a character's legs or something similar. At the moment, I'm hoping that it'll provide enough of a background that I can understand the second season of the anime and not feel hopelessly lost while watching it. Yet standing on its own as a movie, it's a fun story, with great characters.
In the end, I have to give this a 3.5 out of 4.