Shakugan no Shana III (Final) – First Impressions
November 25, 2011 Leave a comment
Well the end of Skakugan no Shana is drawing near with this final season of a series that started off life, as a game in 2006, was then adapted into a series in 2007, had a second season and now this. I shall start off by saying however that I am not the biggest fan of Shana, I have watched the series and while I enjoyed parts of them there were whole sections that I simply found boring. So I have started this series aware of my own issues with Shakugan no Shana overall, but also hoping that I will actually enjoy the series in its own right.
First off, this series is pretty impossible to watch if you haven’t already watched the first two series, this happens to be a problem for me, but ill explain why later on. The story itself takes place a couple of months after the events from season two, however Yuji has disappeared, not just physically but his entire presence has gone as if he never existed in the first place. Both Shana and Kazumi were standing in their respective meeting points waiting to see which letter (Love letter) Yuji would answer and who he would choose. Those letters still exist and so Shana does not give up hope and searches for Yuji even though others may have given up on him.
And here comes what appears to be the big twist of the series, they do find Yuji, but he is now the new leader of Bal Masque, the group of Denizens who are in a constant and what appears to be a never-ending war with the Flame Haze’s. His appearance has changed, although his face stays the same, albeit a bit older.
Now at this point I felt a bit lost, I have watched the first two series, but since I have not watched then since around April I wasn’t entirely with the story. While the story is potentially interesting, it moves too fast, with the basic assumption – as far as I can work out – that those who are watching this series are completely familiar with the overall story and characters. At points I was confused, wondering what was going on and whether or not certain bits of speech were important. In fact the speeches are other plot elements were quite annoying as well, often being soliloquies and monologues about philosophical points to do with the destruction and re-birth of the world as far as I could tell. Overall my major issue with the story and plot is that it feels like it’s trying too hard, there is a little too much philosophy and politics, and actually, so far it lacks the humour that I liked from the first two series. We haven’t had what has become Shana’s catchphrase of ‘Urusei, urusei, urusei’, and no random beatings, its all a little too serious for my liking.
We are also told various things, such as Yuji has gone to the ‘dark side’ as t were in order to save Shana; essentially if she keeps doing what she is doing, Shana will burn herself out, quite literally. There are possibly other reasons that are explained in the light novel series that this anime is apparently based upon, unfortunately because nothing is really explained I don’t really know what is going on. That is a big problem for me, and I feel that it is a big failure on the scripts part since any script or story that assumes – as I feel this one does – that the viewer has an intimate knowledge, not only of the source material (in this case a light novel) but also of the story and universe overall is doing something wrong. It is too convoluted, and honestly doesn’t make much sense half the time, I feel that it is also trying to put in philosophical and religious points in same clever way, but it simply is not working and looks a little silly.
We then get onto the characters as well, now in terms of character development this series is a little strange, since of course a significant amount of the development has happened in the previous two series. Unfortunately both of those series were aired several years ago; Shakugan no Shana in 2005 and Shakugan no Shana II in 2007. Because of this time gap I feel that much of that development is lost, and actually by simply throwing the viewer in at the deep end in the way that this current season does seems to be destroying much of that development so that the characters are back where they started. There hasn’t been all that much development during the recent episodes either with Yuji appearing to carry Shana off, but I just don’t really see any development in his character, apart from the obvious.
The artwork is ok, but isn’t especially impressive, there are some nice fight scenes and some very nice effects for various special attacks. But I actually think some of this seasons lighter shows such as Horizon and even Mashiro-Iro have equally, if better artwork overall, which is saying a lot. The soundtrack is ok, but again nothing has really caught my attention as yet.
Overall this show has left me with the feeling of being disjointed and without any real notion of what it wants to do. The story meanders all over the place and there are large sections where I honestly have no idea what’s going on, or whether I should even care. The dialogue is leaden and just sounds preposterous, and the little speeches to do with religion and philosophy just feel out of place and worse still pretentious.
I remain unconvinced by the characters, who have very little development in terms of their overall importance and place within a series. Now while some may argue that the development happened in the earlier series, I would suggest that there is such a big time gap between series that this one should have been treated as if it was a brand new series for the purposes of certain story and character elements. I also have immense problems with the story, which disjointed in places and in others all over the place, and actually looks as if it has been copied wholesale from the light novel series.
Now I may not be the biggest fan of Shana, but I did enjoy certain elements of the original two series, and I honestly think it should have ended at series two. This ‘final’ season of shall simply feels to me like a classic example of companies trying to milk what is seen as a relatively popular and financially sound franchise. My overall impressions of this series then are ones of simple boredom, I have yet to see anything to really grab me and I may even drop the series all together, it is not a good series and may in fact be one of the worst this series. Considering we have Horizon one of the most nonsensical series this season, that is saying a lot. I’m sure Shana enthusiasts and fans may enjoy this series but I simply cannot see its appeal, even Shana herself is dull.