Archive for Shakugana no Shana

Shank a Girl Named Shana~

Posted in Blubber with tags on August 18, 2009 by masterchibi

A month or two ago it come to my attention that Shakugan no Shana was getting a third season of sorts.  So I had to go and reach back into the back of my mind to find what memories I had of this series. Third season, eh? Well the first season was pretty damn good on all accounts. Then there was the second season. Oh right, the second season. Ugh. Someone out there in that crumbling Japanese economy thought to themselves, “Hey, let’s bring back Shana for a third go around! What otaku doesn’t want more of this type cast little bitch?”

I don’t motherfucker, not after that atrocity we were given as a second season, so I’m going to hate all over it, and the fact that we’re being blessed with some form of continuation that will likely prove itself to be sub par and quite forgettable. I don’t care how the manga or the novels or whatever the original source material played out, you’ve ruined an entirely worthwhile set of characters and engaging plot, so I’m going to start bitching about it.

So read on to see why I’m up in arms about the return of this fiery little archetype, why I hate the second season, and why I really would love to shank a girl named Shana.

-: The Difference Between Directions

There’s two things inherently wrong with Shakugan no Shana right now. The entire second season, and the fact that there’s a third. To understand why these streak marks are what they are, we have to go back to the first season, where it all started, and to be honest, where it should have all ended. Please regard my synopsis as just quick summaries from memory, at this point I am assuming you have seen what is out of Shana at this point. I won’t go into deeper details and what not, and if you haven’t seen it, well then I’m jealous.

Basically, what we have in the first season is boy meets magical / action tsundere girl. While walking home from school one day our main character, Yuji Sakai, suddenly realizes that everyone around him has stopped moving except for what seems to be a giant monster at the end of the street. The monster is wobbling back and forth with its mouth open, apparently inhaling blue flame coming from all around the shopping area. We cut to Yuji, who is now picked up by this monster (a giant demon baby of sorts) in hopes of downing him as a snack. Is this the end of Yuji (I wish)? No, of course not, along comes the midget-esque, flat chested, flame haired hunter Shana, brandishing a sword that cuts off the demon’s arm. Yuji falls to the floor, Shana continues to kick demon baby diaper ass, and we see the supposed leader of the attack show her head. An older woman, she too guns straight for Yuji, thrusting her arm right into his chest, rummaging around in there in hopes of squeezing his heart or something else reminiscent of the Temple of Doom I’m sure. Once again, Shana comes running to save his ass (this will very much be a recurring theme), only this time she slices completely through Yuji’s shoulder to get to the leader. So he’s sitting there crying like a bitch while the leader shows her true form, that of a pig tailed rag doll. The doll teleports away, and Shana turns back to Yuji who is still whining and crying like a bitch (this is also a recurring theme). Using some convenient magic, she fixes his shoulder and goes to repairing the rest of the shopping area.

Sounds decent enough, right? Yeah, nothing out of the ordinary, but this is why I was pulled into the show from the first episode. It’s in this scene that Shana explains to her where that blue flame came from, and why Yuji is still kicking. When an existence leaves this world (by whatever means) an substitute is put in its place so as to not upset the natural balance. Eventually these ‘stand ins’ disappear, and existence they had been filling in for is flat out erased in every form imaginable. Memory, photographs, and so on. These ‘stand ins’ are referred to as ‘Torches’, given that moniker likely due to the fact that they have this blue flame hovering around in their torso. Yuji acknowledges this, only to look down and notice that he too has this flame, thus making him also a ‘Torch’, and already dead lord knows how long ago, with an uncertain amount of time left for him to even be left in his current state.

That’s where I took a look at the first episode and said, “Hey, I wasn’t expecting this, this is actually pretty interesting, I think I’ll keep watching.” Having only seen fan art of the show before I had only low expectations, but this first episode managed to deliver, so I decided to go along for the ride. For the most part, the first season is pretty good. The original premise kept me sitting down to watch more (along with the ‘coupley notion’ you all know I’m fond of in anime) until the end. I would suggest it to most anime fans that can stomach a little bit of cliche and moe along with their bouts of action, character development, and story telling. Sure, they introduce other characters, go into the backstory a bit, bring up another love interest, etc, but this show was all about Shana and Yuji. It doesn’t break any ground in that sense, but it does just fine on its own to warrant watching it.

So with a solid foundation to work with, you would think that a second season would be pretty easy to work with, right?

Please go back where you came from.

Nope. The second season manages to take everything that made the first interesting and entertaining and just throws it out the window. At the end of the first season, Yuji and Shana hook up. There is no need to debate this, as they literally walk out flaming ruins and whatever else is torn to pieces at that point, hand in hand, with Shana and Yuji being comfortable with the notion of being with each other, despite that which surrounds them. Literally within the first ten minutes of the second season’s first episode they RESET THE ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP. I don’t even remember how it happened, but she denies that entire deal where they save the god damn city and walk with another hand in hand just so she can go back to fulfilling her role as a tsundere bitch for the rest of the season.

This pissed me off instantly for many reasons. One thing I kill for in a show is to have an actual intimate relationship to be established between two characters. Most romantic shows or what have you, end with this happening. Someone gets kidnapped, or someone almost dies, whatever, it’s basically a necessary slap in the face to the main characters to wake up and realize that they like the other guy, girl, alien, etc. Taking this into account, I saw that season one ended with a couple, which lead me to believe that season two would naturally begin with a couple. This is where the second thing I kill for comes in, actually developing said relationship. This almost NEVER happens in anime, so when season two of Shana rolled around of course I became excited. We’ve got two people in love, and twenty six episodes to work with them, right? Right?

No. You get nothing. Good day sir. Take your ‘established’ relationship and tell it to go fuck itself (oh it does). Take any prior development between Yuji and Shana and tell it body slam itself off a cliff into a ravine full of dirty needles. Then we can start all over again for some inane reason, only this time we’ll make things completely overdramtic and oversaturated with horribly forced dialogue and mannerisms. You get entire episodes that focus on Shana and that other bitch whose name I don’t feel like recalling right now just watching Yuji from afar. Talking to his father about love. Her trying to confess to him again. Oh the list goes on and on, but the problem here is that we already went through ALL of this development in the first season.There is no viable point in making her go through it again at all, let alone throwing two other characters into the mix. We have to sit through a good fifteen episodes of this shit all thanks to:

This character, Hecate / Konoe is from the first season. She ‘synchronizes’ Yuji towards the end in hopes of filling up her empty existence with his memories, feelings, what have you, but it backfires because she’s still a lonely, empty little loli. She was more or less the ‘villain’ of the first season, for the lack of a better term. In the second season (I’m totally going to spoil this for you) she returns, but in the guise of a clueless little twat that just happens to attend Yuji’s school. Great. Now we have a love square. Just so we’re on the right page, that shit never ever works. Things becomes old and stale fast when you have to swap out between three characters constantly in hopes of developing them somehow, but in the end you tend to make the object of their affection even less appealing to the viewer. You chuck the fact that the main character is a twit with a string on his back to pull when it’s convient and just start cheering for a girl to end up with him purely because you like that character, again, even if you hate the character THEY like. It ends up as a sporting event and just degenerates everything. Anyways, returning to ‘Konoe’, this character sucks out EVERYTHING from the show as long as she’s in the show. Yuji is such a fucking altar boy that he has no problem with walking her home and back, or sitting next to her in class, or being next to her every damn moment they’re in school without any other motives otherwise. At one point he could have put a dog tag and leash on her, because that was the extent of what she did on her own, but it gets uglier because Shana and ‘that other bitch’ ® are sitting on the sidelines just watching this happen. They become incredibly jealous, their forced development begins, and my eyes start rolling to the back of my head so quickly for fifteen episodes that you would think I was a human slot machine. Around episode fifteen the ‘shell’ goes back to Hecate (the real name of this loli) and lots of other almost interesting stuff happens. Whatever. Who cares.

I really wish there were perfect words in the English language to describe how mind numbingly boring and life sucking these first fifteen episodes are. Where the first season had a balance of developing characters, action, and story, the second season of Shana literally becomes every other third rate high school shit harem show you’ve seen far too many times. One scene have her and ‘that other bitch’ standing in class pounding on the windows as Yuji walks away with Konoe. ALL THEY’RE DOING IS WALKING HOME FROM SCHOOL, but they’re treating this shit like your grandmother’s shitty soap opera. Shana and ‘that other bitch’ do nothing about this for fifteen episodes because they know Yuji’s balls left his body at the begining of the second season, so we have to wait for her to phase out of reality for the entire matter to be concluded. This brings me to…

That other bitch, aka the other point of the love square, or the original love triangle, also known as Yoshida. She is the most useless character in the entire second season. You could have a cardboard cutout with her face selling cat food and you’d get more out of her then the completely lack of DOING ANYTHING AT ALL. I really want to stress that point. It’s one thing to reset the situation for Shana, it’s another to have this character just be part of the background for the whole season. Even with the first fifteen episodes being the bile that they were, this chick is still worthless. Konoe was the one fufilling the other love interest portion of the show, Shana is the one we care about seeing win at the end, and Yoshida is just fucking there. The only (read: ONLY) worth she has to the show falls with that necklace that’s sitting pretty between those mammeries of hers. One of the characters in the show gives her the necklace telling her that if she needs help, or wants to help another that to use the necklace to do so, but in doing so the power needed to call her is being supplied is her own life. Awesome. As soon they dropped that bomb you can see me just repeating, “Call the bitch call the bitch call the bitch” incessantly to myself. Unfortunately (spoiling you again) she never calls her for the rest of the show, even in the very last episode, where she could have things easier, but instead chickens out completely, making my lack of interest in her even lower, which I didn’t know was humanly possible.

So where’s that leave us?

  • A perfectly fine and workable realtionship from the first season gets thrown away to ‘re-develop’ the characters.
  • Shana loses her appeal quickly as the show becomes a bore fest of a high school harem drama.
  • Konoe becomes the leading cause of horribly contrived development for Shana and worthless interjections from Yoshida.
  • Yoshida becomes completely and utterly useless in every imaginable understanding of the word.

That leaves us with only other character worth talking about, the one they’ve all been itching to ride into the sunset since the start:

Utterly average every fuck who just happens to have the fate of city / world / universe resting on his shoulders. Now I can hate on him for being like every other nice loser oblivious schmuck in every other harem ever created, but that would be too easy. I can question what good he is to anyone in the show without that eternal night light in his chest, but that wouldn’t go very far either. Instead, I’ll go a step further and just start laughing at what he becomes. You see, once the shit really hits the fan in this show, this guy’s twig and berries decide to come home. Out of nowhere he suddenly gets the surge of intillegence and strength that goes completely against everthing the show’s built him up to be (aka nothing) up to now. He never displays this manner of behaviour for the entire first second and 3/4 of the second season, and I’m supposed to just up and accept the fact that he can suddenly lead the pack and be of some use?

Yeah fucking right.

That’s not happening, sorry. I can’t stomach the notion that this guy actually has the cojones to do anything, because the transition is too quick and jarring to be applied properly. It’s like saying Ghandi suddenly wants to head up the NRA, or Mother Theresa becoming the Secretary of Defense. Suuuuuuure. I really was laughing at the show at this point.

What’s there to say at this point? The main characters lost all their prior development, and what they were given to work with the second time around was atrocious, the love triangle becomes a square and then becomes  a triangle again. Yuji becomes MacGyver somehow, and everything falls to the last episode amist the Christmas season.

That’s has to be the biggest stab in the back. The way this show ends is by giving Yuji the decision to go with Shana or Yoshida (why) by meeting them in the shopping area of town to go on a date. The whole damn final episodes finishes, up through the damn credits even, and instead of actually seeing Yuji infront of us, walking to either girl, all you’re shown is a shot of Yoshida then a shot of Shana waiting, then Shana suddenly smiling towards the camera. You don’t see him. You don’t see him and her together. All you get is a them a shot of a Christmas tree as they pan downward to footprints in the snow and him uttering some shit, then credit towards to the sponors, end season two. Does that mean he went to her? I guess? Why didn’t they just show him then? What’s the footprints supposed to symbolize? Are they really going to drop something ambigous like this for an ending? Yeah they are.

This second season sucked ass. It had so little of what made the first season entertaining, and even when it did, it was too little, too late, too forced, and it just wasn’t cutting it. The character development was a joke, the realtionship aspect was non existant, the action was passable, and it strains me to reccommend it to anyone, so I won’t. Don’t bother with the second season. It might appeal to some of you who can actually tolerate the changes made, but if you enjoyed the first season, and wanted a proper expansion of it, well, you’re not going to get it here. Sorry. You really have to question a show whose best character development happens to side characters involved in all the bullshit going on. You really do.