Shakugan no Shana III - Overall Series Impressions & Total Series Rating
This thread is to be used for discussing the entire episodes of Shakugan no Shana III ... your thoughts about the show, overall impressions, expectations and hopes about Blu-Ray/DVD-exclusive footage etc.
A few subjects you might want to ramble on about:
And so on.
The poll represents your total series rating. In other words, how you would rate all the episodes combined (1-10)? If you'd rather rate the whole series by technical/artistic merits, you can do so. An example:
Animation Quality: 1-10
Voice Actors: 1-10
Emotional Involvement: 1-10
Average = Total Series Rating
Or a combination of the two. Or your general gut feeling.
Feel free to discuss and more importantly, have fun :)
Shakugan no Shana was one of the series that brought me into anime. Shana, her telling people to shut up when she slices them and her melonpan eating have been a memorable sight for the last couple of years. Unfortunately, the second season was quite a drag and had soiled the series in my eyes for being a bore and probably one of the worst romantic storylines I’ve seen in anime. But now Shana and crew are back for a final showdown and a conclusion that will end it all.
I have to admit to being very skeptical despite the decent S OVAs since the first few episodes were a bad sign as it showed of a rusty series that was still stuck in the past. It also had to pick up after season 2 which meant watching the show was going to be a constant uphill struggle. Could the red haired Flame Haze show that she can still compete in 2012 and not be thrown away like yesterday’s news? Fortunately, JC Staff shows that they can do something when they’re not screwing around and bring the end of the novels to life.
“The battleground for the end”
Well, the backgrounds and character designs were very well done and easy on the eyes. I’ve always liked the character designs, though it proved useful in introducing the wild and wacky hordes of different monsters and flame haze that would appear. The animation got a bit lame in some episodes and a lot of the fights were underwhelming because they’d keep cutting from one situation to the next. Though that might be a fault of the editing. But at least those flames surrounding Shana are cool, and the battle locations are quite nice as well. I’m no animation expert, but outside of the fights Shana III looked pretty good without too many QUALITY issues.
“Urusai Urusai Urusai!”
In terms of what you hear, Shana has always been exceptionally strong and pleasant in the ears. One of the sole benefits of watching Shana II was the great soundtrack when it came to tense moments, and III builds on this even more, so that the battles feel more epic. They might have overplayed “Art du sabre” a bit too much even if it’s one of the best tracks in the series. Though it might have overshadowed the series itself. The first OP was terrible, with the shalallalla crap (Sorry, Kotoko, it didn’t work this time) but Mami Kawada shows why everyone thinks of her when it comes to Shana songs in OP2 Serment. Both ending songs are strong as well as the special ones and they were all used exceptionally well in the end of episodes.
But it doesn’t stop there. Although I like to bash Rie Kugimiya characters, she’s actually a very talented voice actress that should be given more variety in her roles. She did an excellent job as Shana, and unlike the other terribad clones of her, Shana’s voice is actually pretty good to listen to. Pigeonholing does suck. Satoshi Hino was no slouch, and did way more than his generic idiot/guy in distress voice as Yuji. Though I wasn’t a big fan of Douche-Yuji’s snake voice. That just felt out of place. Regulars Shizuka Itou as Wilhemena and Hitomi Nabatame as Margery Daw added their ususal talent to this anime. And let’s not forget Marina Inou as Pheles. Oh, and Yuki Kaji’s voicing a new character that doesn’t suck. And for some reason Houko Kuwashima’s (Ahem, Tomoyo from Clannad—well I never said I was fair) in here too voicing Rebecca Reed. Shana’s always been held up by these VA’s, and season III is no exception
“A bunch of shit happens”
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“Wait who the fuck are you? At least there’s these people I know”
“Wait, what do you mean Archon no longer hates Kazumi?”
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Misc. Enjoyment: 7
Shana III was pretty unsteady in this. I was never exceptionally compelled to watch this show; in fact I had stopped following the anime weekly after a certain point. However, I was still usually pleased to see what I saw, though I really wished for better fights.
There is a certain satisfaction in seeing an anime resolve itself though. So many animes would like to leave you hanging. Or they are afraid of the status quo changing. Hell, I’ve accused this series of the same thing or any other series starring Kugrie. But for “Final” they managed to ditch that fear and took a plunge. It was better for us all to see the show going all the way and not backing out for once, getting rid of one of my gripes with the franchise.
I’m sorta disappointed in some parts, as I expected it to be some kind of epic struggle, which it was, however the concept seemed way ahead of the execution. Still, I can leave this franchise on good terms, and that is something that I can easily take home. I don’t regret sticking to the very end for this series. Congrats to JC staff for caring for once. You’ve alleviated some of my 7 year old gripes, so for that I am happy.
Farewell, Shana. Farewell, Yuji, you dumbass. May there be melon pan wherever you go
Spoiler for A quick definition of the overall score:
The only big problem is having too many new characters, most of whom are poorly developed due to time constraints and sheer number, but the mains got enough attention and took the most important actions, so that it didn't really matter.
The other minor issue is that there's barely any plot since the majority of the show is composed of battles, but it's the end of the series and the two previous seasons covered most of that, so can't really fault it. All the mains have already been developed in the past two seasons, so no problem there either.
Otherwise, the show serves its purpose as the grand finale.
Shakugan no shana is amazing. Actually, no I can't find the right words within my vocabulary to say how awesome it is. I've had the best memories while watching this anime, and its been a fun adventure, seeing what happens next and the developing romance between Shana and Yuji. Oh, and not to mention the fight between Yoshida and Shana over Yuji. Everything that made up Shana- urasai urasai urasai!, her determination, her love of melonpan and especially the romantic feelings she projects to Yuji.
Shana has and always been my favourite character of the whole series. I loved her determination and courage to fight and become stronger which made her awesome. Even if Shana approached an obstacle, one that seems hard for her to get out of, she would always come through it till the end stronger and looking more bad-ass. That is pretty much the aspect I love so much about Shana. Sometimes I wish I could find the courage like Shana had.
Anyway, the other characters were unique, but likeable. It wasn't just Shana who had developed- Wilhelmina, Margery, Yuji and the other main characters. They've changed so much to be awesome bad-ass characters. But of course, it was Shana who had changed the most.
The animation was definitely better than the first and second seasons. If you've noticed Yuji eyes were gigantic in the first season but now they look awesome in this season.. except it would've been better if he didn't look like a chinese warrior all the time.
The soundtracks and opening/ending songs are great, because its what makes up the anime. If you listen to a battle soundtrack from season 1, you'll get the memories of Shana and the other characters fighting. The opening/ending songs are all excellent and of course, my favourite one would be the very first one. The first opening song brought great memories of me watching this series for the very first time as it introduced the world of Shana.
Second season was a disappointment, but that didn't stop my obsession over Shana.
Overall, I loved the story the most. Season 1 was the best for me because it introduced the Shana world and the story of a courageous girl who loved melonpan arrived in Misaki looking bad-ass and meeting a torch named Yuji. I will never forget how much the story of Shakugan no shana has changed me, changed the way I viewed things and has touched my heart. It will always stay in my heart as one of the best animes I've seen. :)
It'll be so hard to find a series like this one, since Shakugan no shana is very unique :D
It was... okay. I mainly feel more positive to it because of the well-done end. However, the content in-between wasn't really interesting.
The development of the story itself wasn't bad, but it was rather boring, despite the fact it was fantasy and action. I guess the pacing had a problem?
I know for sure one problem was the sudden great increase of characters. Too many new characters, too fast, no depth. New moves suddenly, as well.
Bear suddenly turns into multi-head Bear! <-- Err.....
The human side was pretty lame, because of so many new characters that honestly meant nothing. You get some 4 god Flame Hazes, but all they did was kill the enemy. So? Thankfully, there were older characters like Kashim that actually made an impact. Thankfully.
On the enemy side, you get the same thing. What was that vampire conductor guy? The couple(?) had a few lines and that was it. Designs sucked badly too. Dark Furby?! Beetleman?! Llamaman?! Lionman?! Just a snake?! Just an eel?! And what was the point of the kid too? You'd think at least one would play an important part of the story, but they didn't really do anything as a character.
Good old professor was the only thing worth noticing. Oh, and I guess lolicon Sydney too, dying to follow his loli to the other world.
And then while watching the supposed-to-be-exciting-but-not story, it ends when a god comes from the sky and opens up a hole to a new world.
I like Yoshida-san and all, but the whole setting change was disappointing. You say she is gonna die when she uses it and when she finally uses it, you go "Oops, there was actually an excu... I mean, loophole and you actually won't die!".
OP/ED both sucked too. The 1st season song that played in the last episode really made me feel it. Now those were good times.
To be honest, as the seasons go, it was like:
1st season - Wow! *buys novels*
2nd season - Not bad.
3rd season - Well, it finally ended.
Maybe the fire of passion just dimmed after so much time. *shrug* But I guess I felt that Shana's era has already passed.
I didn't feel as much "Thank gosh it ends" like I did with Zero no Tsukaima, but I am happy it is over now.
Hirai-san is back too.
Found it a little nostalgic when Hishoku no Sora played.
... 7 years, what have I been doing with my life? :V
Season 3 really, really did feel like they fast tracked a lot of content. About half way into this season I found myself asking "Why should I care about this plan/these new people again?" but you know what, JC Staff managed to salvage what they could after the shenanigans of the second season and I did enjoy reading up extra on a series that over the years I totally grew out of touch with. Easier than it was back then since you can find all of it in one place now :V It was pretty clear they sacrificed development of most of the introduced characters to speed things along, but that also took away any tension from the buildups to the two major battles. Seriously, I found myself laughing when all the Flame Hazes started to lose their shit after Yuuji announced his plans for Xanadu.
The minuses out of the way, the folks they did choose to develop they did well enough. Looking back to where they started, there was certainly growth with the Shana core. Yoshida wasn't totally worthless this time, Eita decided to choose his own way, and Satou finally finished going through puberty - even managed to get laid in the process. High five. Margery I think was the point of reference to for the kind of grudge all Flame Hazes had. She managed to overcome her PTSD and stuck around long enough for a part in the finale. Shana kinda swapped places with Yuuji from the 2nd, having her own training arc. I liked how the season highlighted her capacity to lead most of all. Her general badassery aside, she still had to sort her own feelings out in the midst of all the chaos. Rather than dwelling on it she clawed her way back. Yuuji was great. Just, great. Being an antagonist with an objective better than the supposed heroes, man, I always love that. SnakeYuuji stayed dodgy for the most of it and was probably the main reason I continued to watch.
The season for me was spotty at best, since I believe an anime should function well enough standalone, not that the other material isn't worth looking into. As a final season, though, it did its job to wrap up this series. For its concluding episode, it was flashy, touching, and sorted out the two major character arcs.
Shana gave us a story about a world that is so fragile that it's literally breaking at the seams, and those that exist to protect that fragility. Your frame, in cliche anime fashion, is one such guardian and a human who was caught up in it. A little bit of overhead learning some new terms/mechanics of this world but is easy to get past. From LN, manga, anime, games, and a movie, Shana was not too shabby for its run. SnS to me is one of the more watchable series out there, fairly accessible in terms of content and could definitely recommend this to people.
Oh, and I dunno about you guys, but this is the scene where I fell in love with Shana.
lets just say that due to 2nd season, im going to give the show 8/10.
Archon's review really was extremely well-written and makes lots of great points, even if I did like Shana III a fair bit more than he did. Just so you know, Archon, I'd rep you for that review if I could. :heh:
Archon's right about some of the weaknesses he picked up on - Too many characters (or at least too many given how many were brand new and needed proper introductions), the plot was occasionally hard to follow, etc...
But ultimately, those flaws didn't mean a lot to me, and I'll explain why.
Shana III did a few things particularly well that I think it deserves a lot of credit for. First of all, if I was to use just one word that I think sums up the strengths of Shana III it would be this word:
After a bit of a shaky start, this anime then proceeded to have simply spectacularly superb momentum. From the first time that Shana and Yuji met one another again (way back in Episode 5, IIRC) right through until the end, this anime went at a beautifully bold brisk pace and hardly ever let up (doing so only once when it truly needed to).
This was the core similarity I found between Guilty Crown and Shana III which made them my two most anticipated anime watches during Winter 2012 (yes, I know I might raise some eyebrows with that comment :heh: ). Both were consistently compellingly charging ahead, no looking back.
The differences were that Guilty Crown looked a bit better, but Shana III was executed much more smoothly and also enjoyed a better finale.
So this is one area where my perspective is very different from Archon's. If anything, I find modern anime often has a tendency to dick around too much, leaving me wanting its plot to get a move-on already. :heh: And when compared to that, Shana III is like a breath of air so fresh it's from a gust of wind left in the wake of a Shana sword slash!
It also seemed like something big, bold, bodacious was happening almost every week on this show. From Shana clashing swords before clashing lips with Aizen!Yuji, to Khamsin donning his Super Robot Ceremonial Garb in order to help the rambunctious Rebecca Reed totally trash Bal Masque's HQ, to Sophia killing a giant Fish of some sort, to the Scooby Van hilariously rushing to the rescue of the increasingly attractive Kazumi, to Professor Dantalion receiving such a humorously poetic end of a great villain career, to the big climax of Episode 24, it was just one non-stop thrill-ride of truly amusing action-adventure!
And it felt epic. And I don't mean just in the more modern sense of the term, but rather in The Lord of the Rings sense of the term. Shana III felt larger than life; it felt like what a War to end Wars should feel like.
And so I happily rate Shana III a 9/10. Due to the flaws well-stated by Archon, as well as a shaky start, I can't give it 10/10. But it does deserve a 9, imo.
Ranting all three seasons of SnS is a difficult thing to do, since all 3 seasons are in different levels: First season was good enough to grab me, second season was a disappointment and the final season was often perfect!
I am not going to state the reasons, Archon made it pretty well above.
The only thing I wish it could have been a lot better was the graphics. I watched Another, Natsume Yuujinchou, Guilty Crown and other series and even though in some of them the plot isn't as good as in SnS the artwork is much better. Sometimes the animation seemed poorly done.
This series deserves an 8/10, though above I voted only for season III.
Heh, good points, Triple ;)
The introduction of so many characters completely made those new characters worthless in most audience views. Since they never got to know them for more then 1-4 episodes, if they adapted Eternal Song before season 3. Then things will fit so much better, also a fix on that gap between season 3's introduction, and season 2's ending.
10/10 here. My reasons you may ask? I intend to keep them a secret :p
Anyway, I LOL reading your comment above! :heh:
I have thoroughly enjoyed Shana since I first saw it on a dubbed DVD so many years ago. I don't recall where and why I picked it up, but I instantly loved it.
Memorable moments of Season 1 include Shana learning about kisses, Yuji offering himself to fix the damage during the battle in the classroom, Shana defending Yuji from Wilhelmina's attack during his kidnapping, and Shana and Yuji hand-in-hand as she summoned Alastor (or shot by Trigger Happy, if following the movie). We learned that the initially cold flame haze had fallen in love with this mere Torch.
And though it receives much hate, I liked season 2 as well.
Memorable moments in Season 2 include: Wilhelmina making "medicine" for Yuji's mom, Pheles arriving, Yuji growing stronger and finding his destiny, and Shana-tachi owning Sabrac. Most memorable of all was Shana's smile at the end of the last episode.
Season 3 -- unfortunately, it felt rushed even for someone like me who knew nothing of the light novels. But despite that feeling, it still delivered on the story, the battles, and the love. Yuji, that confused and scared and weak Torch from season 1, became the one to change the laws of nature, who used a god of Guze for his dream -- a dream to protect those he loved, especially Shana. And when I found out that Yuji brought back Hirai, my jaw just dropped -- genius ending! Season 3 was completely memorable; the releases couldn't come fast enough. Again, my only critique is that that Yuji's response to Shana's acceptance seemed under-emotional, and both their responses to his restoration as an existence was so matter-of-fact instead of joyous. Meh. Minor. Saddest thing was seeing the photo on Hirai's attache with Yuji missing. He is "still out there" but few remember him in the world.
And the "S" OVAs were fun as well, especially the soul-switching telescope one!
Gave the series a 10! Definitely in my top 5 of anime favorites.
Hmm. I'm not totally certain what I'd rank the series as yet, so for now let's talk about what I liked and disliked. Starting with what I disliked.
Too many characters, and too many titles
At first I thought the anime was doing an ok job balancing so many new characters along with a bunch of returning characters, but in the end things got a bit out of hand. This was especially bad with some of the Flame Haze characters, where every character was essentially two different characters, both with long titles, and in some cases more than one title. It was a bit much to keep track of at times, and I also I felt that overall the story was spread a bit too thin in some cases. Sure, there were new characters I enjoyed like Rebecca, but at the same time there were a whole bunch of characters that were just there, ones who felt like they should be important, but were given so little focus that it was hard to really care about them.
The disconnect with the previous seasons
This is particularly bad regarding Yuji's character and actions, and there is a related issue with Bal Masque's behavior. Characters seem to suddenly change, and plot points or retconned, ignored, or given tenuous explanations.
This is also a problem the 2nd season had as well, though not as extreme. Remember how different Hecate was in Season 1 compared to the later seasons? Remember how at the end of Season 1, Bal Masque was acting like the whole "fount of existence" thing was itself their primary goal, and how in the start of season 2 Bel Peol is suddenly saying that it was all done to serve some larger purpose?
Unfortunately for the 3rd season, the disconnect involves Yuji, a much more important character than Hecate. Though at the end I could at least understand why Yuji did what he did, it was a very rough bit of character development, and it wasn't something I would have guessed Yuji would do based on the first and second seasons.
Then you got the issue of Bal Masque, which just compounds the Yuji issue. If Bal Masque had always given the impression that they had a clear goal they were working towards, and that all they were doing was for the purpose of achieving that goal, it might have been easier to accept Yuji joining with them after he realized their goal wasn't so bad after all. But that's not the way they were portrayed. Even with the season 2 retcon about the end of season 1, Bal Masque still seemed unfocused and somewhat scatterbrained in their actions, doing evil just because, rather than a focused "ends justify the means" anti-hero/villain group like they were apparently supposed to be. Which as I said above, made it hard to accept Yuji joining them, especially at first.
I guess in a way, the above issues aren't specifically with the 3rd season. They are in fact issues with the first two seasons failing to lay the groundwork for season 3. Regardless of where the fault lies, these issues affected my enjoyment of season 3.
Plot threads with conclusions but no (or incomplete) beginnings
This is something that hurt the final episodes of the series I think. We got the climaxes of several different plot threads in addition to the main story... problem is, some of those plot threads hadn't really been developed much. Or at all. This meant the ending was a bit unfocused at times I think.
For example, let's consider Sale and Chiara, and their relationship with Mammon and the professor. Now, I know that Sale is an artificial Flame Haze, and the professor is apparently his creator, but I don't even know what "artificial Flame Haze" really means. There were only a handful of lines that even revealed this relationship (some posters missed it entirely), and in the end, Sale killing the professor didn't really have the emotional investment you'd expect from a man killing his creator/father.
And then Mammon... I got the impression that there was some definite relationship between him and Sale/Chiara, but i couldn't tell you what exactly. Overall, though Sale and Chiara were better developed than some of the new characters, at least as far as their relationship to each other was concerned, but it felt like a huge chunk of their story was missing.
Which apparently was the case. More on that later.
Then we get the resolution of the story of the corpse collector, Lamies. Apparently, he was trying to restore a portrait, though some translations, including the official nico nico one, don't make that clear.
But why did he (or I should say she) care about that portrait so much? Umn...
Then we get Pheles and Johann. Well, actually, their story specifically was one where we got the beginning, but when Shahar announces the existence of the "heir of two worlds" to everyone, she brings up all these events involving some ancient Flame Haze and Crimson Denizen that were apparently in love with each other and trying to do something similar, except they were stopped by the previous Flame Haze of Alastor, and this all related to events that we saw very brief hints of in earlier flashbacks, assuming this all involves the conflict that Shiro and Wilhelmina were involved with, and I am completely lost.
Apparently, all these events were explained more fully in the Light Novels. Volume 10 is focused on Alastor's previous Flame Haze, while the majority of volume 15 is focused on Sale and Chiara. Lamies story is told at some point as well, though I'm not sure where.
Ok, but unfortunately, I don't have the Light Novels. Even if I had perfect English translations of the entire series, the anime series should be able to stand on its own, without requiring people to run to the novels to figure things out.
It's easy to blame J.C. Staff and the anime production committee for "butchering" the novels, and indeed that is what some have done, but I don't know all the details that went on behind the scenes of the anime production, how much guidance they were given, and how much is really their fault. But in the end it doesn't really matter whose fault it is, there are issues with the anime that prevent me from enjoying it as much as I would like to.
With that out of the way, let's move onto something more positive. Before I discuss what I liked, let's discuss what I didn't care for one way or the other.
Animation and art, ok.
Generally speaking, if I am invested in a story, I don't really notice things like the animation quality or the visual style, unless they are really really good, or really really bad. I don't recall Shana's animation being particularly memorable, so I guess it was at least ok.
As for art style, I recall finding the CG animation used for the Snake of the Festival as looking a bit odd in a few scenes, and I was disappointed that so many of the Crimson Denizens in the massive scenes were so generic. On the plus side, I liked Yuji's new design, I thought the design of the abyss was pretty cool, and I liked the scenes of Xanadu's creation.
Overall, the visuals did not wow me, but they did not disappoint me either.
Now, onto the things I liked!
It's hard to judge voice acting in a language I do not understand, but as much as I could tell, the acting was pretty good. I really enjoyed some of the speeches of various characters, mainly Snake of the Festival/Yuji. I like the voice of that one Crimson Denizen, Decariba or whatever his name was, it was really cool. Overall, while the voice acting didn't utterly wow me, I definitely enjoyed it a lot.
Ah, now things are looking up. I really liked the soundtracks of the previous two seasons, and I really liked the soundtrack of this one as well. My favorite song is definitely the one that seems to be the theme of the Snake of the Festival, but there were many nice tracks. I also thought both opening and ending songs were good as well, and liked the way they often would integrate the ending song with the last moments of the episode.
The storyline parts I liked: Snake of the Festival
I complained a lot about various aspects of the plot, but in fact I enjoyed many aspects as well.
I loved the Snake of the Festival and the core twist behind him. You see, I am a video game player as well as an anime watcher, and so I am quite familiar with the ancient god/demon that was sealed away long ago and is revived by the villains to destroy/rule the world. "Sealed evil in a can" this trope is called on tvtropes.
I've always wanted someone to do a twist on it, where the ancient sealed evil is actually a misunderstood good guy. And while I don't think Shana is the first to do that twist, it is the first time I have seen it, and I think it did it very well.
I mean, just look at the SoF. Ancient god sealed by the (apparent) good guys. Ominous appearance, being a snake with black flame. Somewhat sinister and incredibly awesome theme music. Revived by the (apparent) villains. Likes to give grandiose speeches about changing the world, and is voiced by Aizen's Japanese voice actor.
Everything superficial about him screams evil, and at the same time screams "he's so cool I want to root for him anyways." And in the end, it turns out he's not evil. He's not without his flaws, but he's definitely not evil. And ultimately he wins, and helps out everybody.
The "bad guy" wins and it is a good thing. I like that.
Epic scale and intensity
While the many characters and plot threads did sometimes prove too much for the series to handle, at the very least the season did manage a very epic feel. Gods and monsters and the possible end of the world and the creation of a new world. Massacres and wars and the alteration of reality. It definitely had nice scope to it, and it provided a true climax. Some series feel like they are building towards something massive, then end in an anti-climax where nothing much happens. Not Shana season 3. It felt like it was building towards something major, and it did.
This also relates to another good quality of the series: intensity. From the moment we see Yuji take his throne as the new leader of Bal Masque, the series hits you and makes you wonder just what the heck is going on and what is going to happen. And it never lets up, aside from some slight dragging in some fights near the end. Compared to the previous seasons of Shana, which had clearly defined story arcs, the 3rd season was one massive story where you couldn't stop at any point without being driven mad wondering how it was going to all end. I think Triple_R was talking about "momentum", he was kind of referring to the same thing.
Ok, I like sad endings sometimes, but I also like happy endings, and I like happy endings to stories that seem like they shouldn't possibly be able to have one, but do, and still make sense.
From the moment we learned what Yuji was, Shana was basically saying "there's no way this can have a good ending." Even after we learned that Yuji wasn't going to fade away any time soon thanks to the Midnight Lost Child, the more we learned about the world, the harder it became to imagine any truly conclusive happy ending. Yah, maybe they can defeat Bal Masque and kill them all. That won't stop future Denizens from going after the treasure if they learn of it. That won't change the fact that Denizens still consume people's existence, or the fact that the whole world is really screwed up.
And then we get season 3, which tells us "by the way, Yuji's evil now", and it becomes apparent the series is doomed to a tragic ending. Except, ultimately, it ends in a better manner than most could have imagined back in season 1, and it does so well.
One of my favorite authors is Brandon Sanderson, and one of the things he likes to do is reversals and subversions. Take a common fantasy trope or theme, even (or especially) one he's used himself, and put a new spin on it, or turn it on its head.
I felt like that was what the final season of Shana tried to do, and it mostly succeeded. I talked about this a bit earlier with the Snake of the Festival and why I loved him, but it goes somewhat beyond just him. I'm reminded of the scene in episode 23 shortly after the creation of Xanadu, when the Snake of the Festival orders Bal Masque to go to Xanadu and complements them for their hard work and sacrifices, and there's that really awesome and triumphant music that just makes the scene so awesome, and then a part of your brain realizes "wait, weren't these guys the villains?" but you realize it's hard to really think that anymore, even considering the spotty characterization Bal Masque got in the anime.
So I love Shana 3 for what it tried to do, even if it was a bit rough in it's execution. Right now, I'd probably rate the series Very Good, but I'll wait a bit longer and reflect more before deciding for certain.
Well, just finished the serie.
Oh my... Let's say my feeling about it were QUITE NOT the same than the majority of people here.
SnS, so far, has been a serie about a rather sinister world, with some rare but dangerous demons hidden in the shadows and a few guardians of order keeping them in check. A story of one of these guardian, cold and uncaring, learning humanity with a victim of these demons, and seeing the human life through the eye of a high-schooler.
I expected this serie to somehow follow up in this manner. What I got has been something that could be called "Saint Seyia : the Tomogora Sanctuary". I rarely felt such a disconnect between seasons of a serie, and though the story and characters were the same, I really didn't feel like I was seeing SnS, but rather a weird shônen.
We always saw Flame Haze as very independant, very powerful, self-reliant and autonomous guardians, protecting wide areas and looking for the few Tomogora that would happen to pass by, keeping a low profile.
Now we see whole LEGIONS of them fighting in battle ranks in the open, looking like regular grunt with laser, with a military-like headquarter and organization. I actually went to check on the forum ot be sure it was not some fanfiction take on the world or anime-only invention, because it was so far from everything we saw before that I had a hard time taking it seriously. Many characters were also derailed or retconned, but I think this part is more about problems in the plot, which I'll cover a bit later.
The serie starts at a dreadful pace, about four ep where NOTHING happens. Then it's about 17-18 ep of fight, fight, fight and fight, with something like 2-3 ep worth of breathing room (or at least something else than fighting). Some action is good, but for a serie that was so far thankfully short on the fighting scenes (which rarely took more than half an ep), it was really a complete change of style, and really tiring. In the end, between the terrible pacing at the start and the fight-only rest of the season, it managed to both feel very stretched and still nearly empty.
I'm not really fond about the lack of character interaction neither. The little that happens is significant (one of the good side is that we FINALLY got rid of the atrocious artificial dragging-on of the romance), but it's still far too little. No slice of life and very little "human world" left, it's 95 % of the time either in a Fuzetsu or in a battle somewhere.
The main draw I had to SnS was the characters. Among all the fighting and the "scenario" (I'll get to why I use quotation mark in a second), there was very little of them save for launching big energy beam of yelling at each other.
And now for the big, big problem. The story. The plot. The scenario.
Yuji who, about two hours after having fought against demons and Bal Masqué with all his heart, willpower and anger, suddendly decide to join them. Okay, right. Hu... well, nevermind. I can understand the reasoning in the end, but maybe they should have used a bit of these first dreadfully... EMPTY first episodes to actually set it up and make it believable.
Then... then what I saw was about 23 episodes of what I can more or less describe like this :
Yuji : "I love you, and have a plan that will make everything all right, and I do it mainly for you, but I'm not going to explain it to you because you wouldn't accept it"
Shana : "I love you too, and I've also an idea that will make everything all right, and I also do it mainly for you, but I also won't tell you about it, and I won't ask you what your plan is, because it would resolve the story in two ep and we have a full season to last"
Seriously, I rarely felt a scenario that was more RETARDED, and I put it in cap because that's really the only word I can find to describe it.
Everything could have been solved in five minutes if they just took a bit of time to speak it over, but instead of that, they spent the whole season killed each other for... well, for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, because of the reason stated in the very beginning of the sentence.
And they don't even have the excuse of hating each other, on the contrary. So all this pointless scenario is just a perfect example of "idiot plot".
Though to be honest, the amount of plot holes, deus ex machina and absurd reactions is rather a staple of this seaons :
Yuji and his "we don't want to fight you" speech while letting his minions slaughter people who have stopped fighting. Err...
Yuji getting mad and fighting the insertion of the "don't eat humans" law, while the very reason he started it all is BECAUSE he wants humans not to be eaten. Hello ?
The very possibility to put a "law" in a world by firing at it of putting an insignia. Seriously ?
The out of the blue Oracle. Yeah, cool. Thanks for passing by.
I'm still scratching my head about the godawful amount of Flame Haze that went to the Tomogora world. What the hell are they going to do here ? Be sure to have still some fights to not forget the old days ?
And so on.
The story was just choke-full of contrived coincidences, contrived reactions, contrived reasonings. The overwhelming feeling I got was essentially that the author wished to have Shana and Yuji fighting each other, and both sides being somehow right, and shoehorned everything to fill this pattern without bothering too much about the consistency and logic of the rest. Also, it was painfully obvious that HUGE chunks of lore and fluff and characters were simply missing. Maybe lots of the plot holes actually had a good explanation in the novels, for what I know. And maybe half of the events that happened would make more sense if we were actually told about them (I still don't have any f-ing idea what Rammie was all about).
It certainly didn't feel "organic" at any moment, and felt very artificial and forced. Like someone who really want a certain scene to happens, and warp, twist and distort the whole story so it's force-fitted into a specific configuration.
So here I ended. There was a few actually good moments (Margery and her boyfriend, cuuuute, the death of Behemoth was moving and a few others), there were actual attempts to hide the huge gap in the plot (often too little too late), but there was nearly nothing left of the SnS I liked from the first season. The setting didn't feel the same, the style certainly wasn't the same, very little character interaction, nearly only fighting and a completely retarded plot full of holes.
In the end, I didn't enjoy this season, and finished it more because I wanted to see it through due to previous investment, and due to a morbid fascination about "what will the next /facepalm will be ?". It was simply not fun, and though the production values are good, I felt rather insulted by the idiotic story and didn't find anything of the good parts I liked in the first and small parts of the second season.
Final score : 4. A very poor experience.
This season was a complete and utter letdown for me. I was really into Shana three years ago (S1 and S2 used to be 9/10's for me-today 8/10's), but season 3 was a trainwreck in my eyes.
So many things went wrong. To name some...
-Things make practically no sense, and episode 14 was very facepalming for me. It proved why the (boring) war was completely pointless.
-Adding so many characters out of nowhere, and not even bothering to develop them. Why am I supposed to care about these people? Who are they? Where did they come from? They basically popped out of thin air. I mean Bal Masque went from a couple of people to an entire army.
-The very erratic pacing. It's completely out there, it ends up being really slow, and then decides to be really fast.
-The gap between season 2 and season 3, when I went into season 3, it was a bunch of "What?".
I was going to give the series a 4/10, but then the ending came in, and it was decent. That's the only thing that holds together my 5/10. Really, the only redeemable thing for me in this entire season was the ending.
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