Shakugan no Shana III – 01 Review
Well, I guess, it’s not like any shounen-series had a training-arc that included a strategy-session before… I might as well just accept that cavemen-crudeness simply works best sometimes.
Like predicted the third series of Shana tries to be a real tearjerker. After sitting through a lot of lamenting and reminiscing I can tell you this hint about the biggest plot-twist of this episode: Yuuji is a derp. He certainly didn’t become Mr. Darcy-material even after his… change.
Yuuji makes a bold decision: He wants butterflies to fly and sakura-trees to bloom the whole year and also there should be no violence anymore between abysmal monsters and righteous Flame Hazes (because he doesn’t like shounen-animes obviously). Therefore he disappears to the bad dudes side while he leaves his two love–interests behind who now lament his ‘passing’ and try to live with the fact that everyone treats Yuuji like Star Waras Episode I or Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull: as if it all never existed. Meanwhile Margery is still dead-drunk and one of her minions, Keisaku, wants to start working at Outlaw, the shady organisation of the Flame Hazes (you know, like S.H.I.E.L.D.).
Wait a sec… Yuuji had more relatives than his mother?
It’s a very silent episode that marks the start of Shana’s final episode and it’s clear that one of the main-purposes of this episode was to remind you of all the players who made a bet about the outcome or something like that anyway.
The first thing you will notice is that Yuuji is away! And you won’t miss it since it’s essentially told you a dozen times that he’s not here anymore… but he’s still there as ‘The Evil Dude’ and that complicated things of course.
Yuuji due to some rather weird circumstances is special explained in season 2 (and even better in the Light Novels) and now he’s ready to kick some ass. Because seriously – he doesn’t like the state of things… and he isn’t only talking about the world-economy. What he wants is something… something… well, it’s something, that’s for sure but this episode didn’t really make quite clear why the hell he wants to be evil now. I figure he wants to save Shana from the endless circle of fighting – in other words: he wants Shana to find another job. But the supernatural world of Shakugan no Shana doesn’t really think that much of job-hunting (who does actually…?) and solves the problem by making every supernatural job a thing for a life-time (like true love, in case you’re sentimental enough to believe stuff like that) or you can apply to work for a life-time in a shady organization called ‘Outlaw’ (They work ‘outside the law’, ‘OUTside the LAW’, get it? What a great pun, only problem is that the Oxford Dictionary gives ‘Outlaw’ a quite different meaning.). Anyway, so Yuuji thinks that the only one who will dare rattling the cage will be the bad duded so he makes the decision to become their leader and do… stuff, like heading west – wherever that right now is.
Meanwhile in the real world, Shana and Kazumi have a slight depression as they are robbed of their love-interest and their dialogues are pretty simple and focused on the sentimental side of things. It does work since someone, who really doesn’t like the series, won’t probably still be watching this and the emotional investment one has put into this series so far makes it possible to make these scenes effective. Even though it’s purely sentimental one already relates to these characters which make the goal of these scenes really straight-forward. It’s sadly the absence of subtlety that makes it difficult to see these scenes being appealing even to those viewers who aren’t fans of the Shana-franchise as it’s not only very direct – but also long-winded.
This episode uses far too much time, I think, to ponder the decision of Yuuji without any real consequences that transform into actions. Shana is basically just training to get stronger because it can’t hurt to be stronger. And Kazumi just makes the decision to not become an emo-teenager. (for now at least…). The pacing is really slow and the dialogues really circle around this one issue of Yuuji disappearing.
I’m impressed too. From being a blank main-character to being villain no. 1 with a derpy plan to change the world out of some idiotic notion that he has to do it. Way to go, Yuuji!
One of the proper 1st-episode-moments was Keisaku’s decision to really start his work at Outlaw and one can overall say that there was a strong tendency in the important plot-points of this episode that the tone will shift towards the supernatural and will see less and less of the daily life at school (hopefully that also means that Shana has less moments to show off her usual antics). I’m not someone who will complain about this as the action of this is one of the few redeeming factors of this show as these are the only scenes where the soap-opera-like sentimentality and shounen-fantasy-setting can be brought together convincingly.
Ultimately I can’t say that I like the theatrical way this conflict is set up with Yuuji being the ultimate derp about his villainy and Shana being the selfless lover trying to save Yuuji out of love. It’s just this kind of forced tearjerker where I just have to sigh in disbelief how someone could write something that cheesy. Well, but I’m in for a ride to see how it all ends with cheesiness winning the day. And I’m there on that day to ridicule the hell out of this series!
Provided you’re emotionally invested this was a very emotional slow start that reintroduced you to the setting and its characters. While those with lesser interest may feel bored due to the unnecessary slow pacing, in terms of atmosphere it gives a nice overview of what one should expect to see in the coming weeks.