Lasting Impressions : Shakugan no Shana (Anime)

Shakugan no Shana

(This post contains spoilers for the anime Shakugan no Shana, Shakugan no Shana II (Second), and Shakugan no Shana III (Final). If you have not seen these series and do not wish to spoil the ending(s), then please do not click the link.)

Back in 2006, I learned of an anime titled Shakugan no Shana. This anime, released in 2005~2006, left a lasting impression on me as I finished the series in one long night. The ending left a fantastic feeling of gratitude and accomplishment as Bal Masque’s plans were thwarted and peace once again returned to Misaki City. Of course, I had yet to learn of the greater mishaps that would come in the later seasons.

In 2007, the continuation of the series, titled Shakugan no Shana Second, began no air. This season, while focusing on school-life and romance, held quite a bit of action towards the end. The beginning episodes were a bit too slow for me, but yet, they were a breath of fresh air as there wasn’t as much focus during the first season on school life and daily activities. It was there, but not so much as the second season. However, the second half of the second season contained so much action and awesome that it’s hard to contain my excitement for. I can’t tell you how many time I was like “Hell yeah!” during some of the later parts, but I’ll get more into that later. The ending, while a little vague, left a good impression, while leaving many questions unanswered. Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be a third season until 2011.

Going into battle, although death is inevitable.

Shakugan no Shana (Final) began to air late 2011, finishing early 2012. This season completed the story that began in 2005, at least, the animated form of the story. I have not read the light novel, so I may miss details missing from the animation. However, the time between the second series and the third shows with the superior animation quality in the third season, although I can’t say the story shows the same improvement.

Now, my statements above are more so a quick look at the first few seasons. A few first impression, details, and information from back when the shows were still airing. Now, after a consecutive viewing of all three seasons, I can offer my insight into each one.

First, I’ll begin with the first season of Shakugan no Shana. This 24-episode season introduces the viewers to protagonist Sakai Yuji, a “Mystes” who “befriends” a “Flame Haze” who wields the blade “Nietono no Shana.” At this point, you may be wondering what the hell a “Mystes” and “Flame Haze” is. In a nutshell, a Mystes is a being that was once human, but had their existence eaten by a being from another world, often called a “Tomogara.” Flame Haze are beings, once human, who fight these Tomogara and prevent them from eating humans. That is the balance of this world, and although you may not understand it still, the first season of the anime offers enough time for the details to sink in and allow the viewer to eventually understand the events that are going on.

Yuji conflicts over what pancakes he wants this wonderful evening.

The main focus point of the story revolves around Yuji’s acceptance and understanding of this new reality, and how he, a mere shadow of a human, can fight alongside these Flame Haze and protect the world, or in particular, his hometown. He partners with the previously mentioned Shana, and together, they form a bond that successfully prevents the main villains from accomplishing their goals. Honestly, the story comes together very well. I feel the 24 episode limit gave the show plenty of time for explaining details, and the show offers a good balance of school life and battle sequences, something that I feel is lost in the later seasons. During my first viewing, I found the flashbacks to be a tad boring, but upon review, I find them a vital part to the story, and more intriguing than ever. The finale, which becomes an all-out brawl between the heroes and villains, is expertly put together and leaves that satisfied feeling in your heart.

After the finale of the first season, season 2 begins immediately with a fight between new Tomogara, followed by a long sequence of school life, which develops the bonds between Yuji, Shana, and their classmates. The fact that Yuji is a high schooler really plays out during this sequence, as feelings are thrown about and relationships are started. However, after this long sequence of high school life, the battles come again and together Yuji and Shana must stop the Tomogara’s from eating the humans and disrupting the balance of the world. These action scenes are by far the best part of this season, and just thinking about them gets me pumped up.

Preparations Complete. It’s time for some ass kicking.

Episode 21 of the second season comes to my mind as I think about the season. That moment you hear Margery yell “Preparations Complete!” during that battle with Sabrac, JOINT (The first Opening song to the second season) begins playing and awesomeness ensues. Every time I think of that part, I get this huge smile on my face, and I get seriously pumped up. If there is one thing season 2 did right, it was the action scenes. However, the ending of the second season, which ends with Yuji picking one of his love interests, is left ambiguous and although signs point to him picking Shana, it wasn’t set in stone. Still, I felt this was a decent ending to this show.

 

It’s a good thing the ending left me satisfied, because I wouldn’t see another season until late 2011. However, as I heard KOTOKO’s “Light My Fire” for the first time, I knew I was in for a good time. Although I have always prefered Mama Kawada’s songs to KOTOKO’s, “Light My Fire” was an amazing way to start off the last season. However, I can’t say the last season was really up to par with the previous two. First off, everything Yuji concluded in the second season was destroyed as this season began. He finally came to terms with the facts around him, but he throws it all out the window the second this show begins again. Once you pair this up with his miscommunication with every “good” character from the earlier seasons, you know something is amiss.

Yuji, what happened to you?

Of course, in the end, everything turns out fine as Yuji completes his goal to help everyone who was on the good side to begin with. Which means, THIS WHOLE SEASON COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED HAD HE COMMUNICATED WITH THE PEOPLE HE TRUSTED THE MOST! Although this season was good, there was wayyy too much information given every episode, one of the main villains from the previous season was apparently too powerful and the only reason he died was because he was tired of being too powerful, and there was a shitload of characters that were introduced this season. Add on the fact that everyone has a complex title, and you get a mess of jargon that would take too much effort to attempt to remember. Although, some of the characters were pretty badass, which I have to give credit to.

On that note, every scene from the first season is seamlessly tied into this season. Unexplained mysteries that were unsolved from the very first episode were finally put to rest, and some of the earlier characters were given their moment to shine (Khamsin…) Unfortunately, I feel the ending to the series was everything I wished it wouldn’t. I know I’m not Yuji, but damn, did he really have to leave Misaki City? Why? Last I recall, he wanted to protect it. Not to mention, they brought up the fact of his younger siblings name, which was to contain the character for “three.” They never brought that point back up, which I was totally expecting some story for that.

Anyways, this wasn’t a review, nor was it a synopsis. This was my impression and rant about this series, and if it makes little sense, then ignore it. That last season really didn’t meet my expectations, but I guess it should have been expected. Either way, Shakugan no Shana gets a good grade in my book, and you know I’ll be picking up the Funimation BD’s once they come out. Peace.

-Ace

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