There's a lot of noise about Shakugan No Shana (or Shana as we'll call it for now). It's the tale of a young man named Yuji Sakai, our everyman in the insanity to come. Yuji may think he has a boring life ahead of him, but he's wrong - Yuji is dead. He just doesn't know it - yet.
Enter Shana, a cute redhead with blazing eyes and a long sword, who steps in to battle a huge doll like creature which Yuji witnesses attacking people in the centre of Tokyo - after a victorious battle, the scene of devastation vanishes, and people go about their business, much to the amazement of a shocked Yuji. He soon learns that such attacks are commonplace, as demons (aka Crimson Denizens) feed on the city, and are fought by those like Shana, who is also known as the Flame Haze. The human victims of these conflicts do not lie dead in the streets, instead they are "replaced" with duplicates, who slowly fade away to ease the balance in the human world. Yuji is such a duplicate, known as a "Torch", but his flame is special, and contains a treasure which the demons want for themselves.
Much of what makes Shana work is Yuji's spirited adaptation to his condition - though saddened by his own death at the hands of these creatures, he selflessly throws himself into events, with a resolve that borders on noble. Shana, initially hostile, begins to respect him, and possibly more... This is in stark contrast to the usual male lead in such series, and as such it's a genuine pleasure to follow. The artwork by Ayato Sasakura is also clean, with excellent panelling and use of space. It's not quite as crisp as Ken Akamatsu's work (Negima, Love Hina) but it's very close.
The first two volumes work as an excellent introduction to Shana's world, and it'll be interesting to uncover the mystery ehind Yuji's "treasure". With the anime being released by MVM in the May, this is an excellent taster and highly recommended.