Shakugan no Shana III – 09 Review

I think, everyone will agree that leaving a miserable office worker like Felcor in charge of defending the headquarters was a really bad idea…

Shakugan no Shana III Episode 09 – Miracles Happen If You Pester God Long Enough

So while the leader of the bad guys embark on their mysterious journey to Fairy-Wonderland, Nirvana or whatever this series calls it, the good guys manage to surprise the bad guys by appearing out of nowhere. People usually don’t do that, appearing out of nowhere, I mean. But what people usually do in Shounen-series is killing monsters and the Flame-Hazes do plenty of that in this episode. Meanwhile the war in the rest of the world is getting so exciting that we don’t get to see anything of it. Far more interesting, the writers thought, was showing us that Flame Hazes own an airline and travel around in a nice private jet while joking and pondering the contents of Vanilla-pudding.

Synopsis:
While Rebecca and Khamsin ponder the possibility that they should do something more sophisticated than just smashing everything to pieces, Felcor realizes that shit has hit the fan. Using Magnesia which is an impregnable defense he protects the gate-thingy from the flame hazes. That’s when the Lion Man appears making some trouble. Willhelmina also is present running through the floating castle undetected because of an unrestricted spell or something like that.
In the other parts of town Shana still wears fancy dresses and wishes that some shit will happen which will free her. The Rinnes though lead her away and Shana this is the perfect chance for her to be saved. So she stops realizing that it’s a bit silly just wishing for some shit to happen. Therefore she wishes even harder because the more grating the whole thing gets the sooner someone will end this misery. And then: shit happens. The roof of the tunnel collapses and buries the Rinnes but also hurts Shana who’s unconscious. As she wakes up she realizes that during her levelling up she should’ve spent her attribute-points more wisely instead of relying on her Flame-Haze-given attribute-bonuses. Since she’s now human she has to face the consequences of messing up her character-development. And that means she’s lying on the ground unable to move at all. Using just her willpower (because that’s where her xp went during levelling up) she slowly tries to get up but then one of the Rinne’s reveals to be some kind of survivor for still being present to fight the good fight. So the Rinne grabs Shana’s ankle which scares the shit out of her. That sensation is improved by the discovery that Yuuji is a narcissistic asshole which probably only shocks Shana because someone trying to change the whole world just has to be a narcissistic asshole. But Shana loses her mind (she didn’t give her wisdom-attribute much consideration either during levelling up, it seems) and so she gets a strange power-up enabling to jump up from the ground and using her dagger to kill the Rinne thereby destroying her dagger’s blade (well, her strength seems to be pretty high then, so that’s where the points went apparently). Realizing that even some more shit needs to happen she calls for her sword which is in some room very far away but it still heard the call because yeah, Shana is just that obnoxious with her pleading and whining. So the samurai-dude (the mystes who made the blade) appears out-of-nowhere starting a killer-spree that puts Kill Bill Vol. 1 to shame. Finally he ends up standing in front of Shana releasing her of the ridiculous restrictions that made her a mere human. She also takes the blade again and is ready to kick some ass… but this time she’s actually wearing a fancy dress instead of an un-stylish coat because that’s more useful, right? The girl who spent her childhood killing monsters just loves wearing fancy dresses. That’s a nice way to end this franchise, right?

That’s putting it mildly actually. Shana couldn’t even defeat my feelings of boredom watching her start every plan for a rebellion with the list of things she can’t do… No wonder she ended up relying on some shit to happen.

Review:
Six episodes of preparing a war, two episodes with some scenes alluding to a starting war… and now? Well, it’s not a war. Shounen-Battle-series strangely always have a hard time making war part of their stories. They are so entangled with their ideals of honour, personal combat and sentimental power-ups that the brutality of war simply seems misplaced in a shounen-battle-story. But it’s epic and really ‘cool’ (or that’s what probably teenager think seeing shounen-series), therefore this series is one of those who try to include war in their story – and fail.
I think the story suffers quite a bit from failing to convey its epic vibe. All this big plans, infiltrations and giant battles seem simple and like nothing special (although they shouldn’t be). When they got this other floating fortress out of the ocean I expected an exciting battle between the good and the bad guys each using their fortresses. But this episode wants to make me believe that the good guys sneaked up on the other fortress and they simply appear in the Bel Masque base as if someone simply had forgotten to lock the door. And it continues with these ridiculous scenes of ‘strategy meetings’ and the important people of Outlaw pretending to talk about war. War should be frantic, chaotic, grim and unpredictable and yet we see them sitting relaxed in an airplane pondering and joking about responsibility. Even if realism is the last thing you should expect out of a series like Shakugan no Shana there are certain moods and tropes one should adhere to when creating such a scenario.
The battle scenes are also getting boring with the good guys infiltrating Bel Masque they’re welcomed by a rather meager defense and so we see those two flame hazes destroying Bel Masque and killing the Crimson Denizens in the dozens. And that is boring… Of course they try to change that by letting a lion-men appear and suddenly there are also funky traps all over the place but since everything’s happening at once and everyone can see everything happening in Bel Masque the appearance of a certain Samurai changes everything. So in the end those two flame hazes are in the same position as they started in this episode. For them nothing changed. You may see they lost a bit of their stamina, mana, ‘flame haze’-power-juice, whatever… Anyway the fact is: It doesn’t matter. They feel exhausted when the story thinks they should feel exhausted and not earlier. That’s how these shounen-battle-series work and I don’t expect anything more from a series like Shakugan no Shana in that regard. But they should at least try to show fights instead of this random banal crap currently going on. Like Willhelmina running around unseen because of an unrestricted spell… Yeah, seemingly the flame hazes had a unrestricted spell enabling them to run around Bel Masque undetected as long as they don’t meet one of the Trinity (not Jesus and the rest of the merry band, I mean of course this series’ strongest villains), I assume.

Yeah, how about we throw some dice to avoid overthinking things here? I’m pretty sure watching this war will get more exciting if more time is spent on making decision instead of talking about them…

Regarding unbelievable powers I have to say that all I’ve been talking about now is totally normal for a generic Shounen-series, nothing great and definitely flawed but typical. But where things start to get ridiculous in this episode is when Shana takes the stage. My god, what a mopey and whiny character she is these days! Thankfully at the end of this episode someone ends her misery (not that he rang the doorbell either to announce his entrance). But before that she makes sure to hit a new low of self-pitying depressiveness. Since she’s condemned to being a prisoner of Yuuji and got her powers taken away she’s prone to ask herself constantly what to do (without coming to any conclusion) and she pities her human powers. Of course she now wears fancy dresses all the time extra to that and she lets herself be treated like a princess while pretending to rebel some time soon. So where things get really ridiculous is when the Rinne try to escort her to safety during the infiltration-attack from the good guys. And Shana thinks that this is her chance to escape – by being freed. No, of course she doesn’t try to escape by herself. She’s just human after all. And in a tunnel she simply refuses to go on praying for someone to help her or something big to happen (because that helps, right?). And something happens: The tunnel breaks down over the heads of the Rinnes but Shana is injured as well (nothing major, though). But since she’s human her few little injuries mean that she’s completely (!) paralyzed and we as audience have to watch her grovel on the floor for a whole minute while she’s using her willpower to slowly stand up. Though shortly before she can stand up a Rinne grabs her leg telling her to go with it and as Shana turns around she sees that the Rinnes have Yuuji’s face. In a fit of shock and revulsion she jumps up (remember, a few seconds ago she groveled on the floor unable to move at all) and uses her knife to carve away the face of the Rinne thereby chipping away the whole (!) steel blade (because that’s what a mere human can do, isn’t it?). Shana’s part in this episode before she’s freed by the samurai is just ridiculously bad.
And yeah, the samurai, talk about deus ex machina. Shana screams for her sword to help her and apparently the old samurai appears out of nowhere to help her out killing everything in his way. I waited for Shana to do something heroic or at least try to do something resembling that but this pitiful way of waiting for a miracle isn’t heroic at all. Before her rescue it seemed like only by the grace of God she could actually walk upright and not grovel on the floor the whole time crying for shit to happen because humans are so weak after all (it’s not like Shana’s weak being human is what made her weak). Her rescue was a poor effort of story-convenience which also wasn’t very exciting because it meant that the main-character of the series just waited the whole time for something to happen. That’s not the stuff heroes are made of.

The ninth episode continued to show how the good guys successfully move forward in taking over the bad guys’ headquarters. Thankfully Shana’s suffering was ended by a series of events happening to her. On one hand that means, we get no scenes anymore with her pitying herself but on the other hand the way this part of the story found its conclusion was one of the worst moments of the third season. Overall the story seemed to wait for Shana to let events free her as everything else in this episode was pretty much predictable or banal. Hopefully with Shana getting her powers back this series finally remembers that a Shounen-Battle-series is about kicking ass.

Episode-Rating: 4,5/10

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About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on December 6, 2011, in Anime, Reviews, Shakugan no Shana III and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I like Shana, but I can’t argue on that 4.5 score, because that’s how bad this season 3 is. 🙂
    The fights are always one-sided from the start, we can’t see really good ones.
    What was Yuji-snake thinking? Bringing Trinity (yeah, Jesus, His Father and Holy Spirit) and a whole merry band with him? How about your castle, dude… Seeing last week’s scene, the only one Yuji-snake need to bring is the green haired loli, because she can detect power and sense the road they have to take. There’s nobody to fight in there? He should have put the rest of his men to guard Seireiden. Or did he think that nobody is able to infiltrate? Too stupid for Sakai Yuji’s level.

    And that Granny Panties is a real eyesore.
    Riding private jet, acting like an important person.

    And the appearance of Japanese warrior in armor is even more ridiculous.
    Slashing all the fodder characters just like that, even killed(?) Fecor. And in the end, helping our whiny little girl. Are we supposed to be excited seeing this? No, I am not.

    And, Rebecca and Khamsin. Hellooooooo?
    Aren’t you guys here to save the loli?
    Why are you breaking all things like madmen?
    What if the explosion and debris killed the loli instead?

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    • Too stupid for Sakai Yuji’s level.

      Well, he’s supposed to be arrogant and considering that if he reaches his destination he becomes God, I guess, he doesn’t really care for what exactly happens as long as he reaches his destination. But it’s still a gamble and the series struggles to make anything look in this series look like the epic struggle it’s supposed to be. Honestly, I didn’t even think about the implications of Yuuji making himself God while watching this. There’s no urgency and the plot fails to convey a bigger picture needed to make things look epic. Right now it all looks boring, generic and like nothing special. But while he needed his whole merry band to follow him on his holiday-trip to Godhood and back… I have no idea. First I expected the bridge to his destination to be a sort of test since it’s only a bridge on an allegorical level and actually a state of mind Yuuji has to achieve to reach his destination which means that visually he still crosses a bridge but it’s one working in ways that challenge his attitude and his spirit so that he can reach the destination by experiencing these challenges… but I guess that’s a bit too sophisticated for a series like Shakugan no Shana and they’re literally just walking to that place.

      And, Rebecca and Khamsin. Hellooooooo?
      Aren’t you guys here to save the loli?

      I think that’s Willhelmina’s job since I hope that she does all the running while knowing where she has to go (for whatever reason). But Rebecca and Khamsin? I suppose the infiltration-team was supposed to gather information on the enemy’s plans but all they did was trash the place so far and realizing that there’s an ominous hole in the sky which seems kinda important. So, yeah, not the most subtle infiltration-mission, I guess…

      And that Granny Panties is a real eyesore.
      Riding private jet, acting like an important person.

      It’s again the trouble of the series not being as epic as it think it is. She doesn’t seem like a war-leader, even her general with the scar for an eye seems especially competent. And the old dude from the “Gods of stuff and shit” who’s supposed to be neutral but joins them in case Yuuji wants to disrupt the balance… Now that’s just plain boring in how predictable that part is.

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      • Err… yes. But they should at least be worried that their trashing around would accidentally squished their friend Wilhelmina and the loli she wanted to rescue.

        O, Yuji-snake SHOULD worry! Becoming a god is useless if the gateway’s destroyed by his enemies, making him and his merry band unable to come back.

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      • @M0rg0th acording to the light novel the long and great battles which make this series epic will begin in 1 or 2 episodes so dont worry the series didnt lost it epicness

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    • @eterychan well you will see a good battle very soon which is not one sided at all and pretty long.
      what more good the first epic one sided battle will be against one of the generals so soon it will be great again.

      Like

  2. I’m a little confused at the moment at how the plot developed here…

    Is there any particular reason why the bad guys had to start a war right when Yuji decided to go become some kind of God? Conveniently emptying his castle of any defences and actually giving a sliver of a chance for the good guys to mess with his portal?

    Hell, any reason behind kidnapping Shana before becoming a god and thereby not giving the good guys a clue about what he is doing? Unless he needs that pendant for something…

    The way the first seasons played out and showed the bad guys, you’d think the Flame Hazes were at a clear advantage in pure strength. Otherwise why do the bad guys go to such lengths to be secretive and don’t just fuck entire cities up? But no suddenly the bad guys are a huge threat out in the open, kicking ass and taking souls. If they were this strong from the get-go, then I find it hard to believe the world is such a peaceful place. I mean, what changed from season 2 to 3? Yuji went bad guy, but he isn’t even fighting… so Bal Masque’s strength didn’t change…

    I won’t even bother talking about how silly it is to have battles with thousands of mooks when a general can show up and wipe them out with some uber power attack, that’s just typical shounen series for you.

    Anyway, this kinda became a rant but if someone could explain how these things are supposed to make sense, maybe i wouldn’t cringe so much during every episode… Right now I just want to scream at everybody in this show.

    Like

    • Is there any particular reason why the bad guys had to start a war right when Yuji decided to go become some kind of God?

      As far as I understood it Yuuji planned it to be a diversion until he becomes God because he had to get a first-row-seat for Shana and that meant alarming every Flame Haze in his hometown that something bad is gonna happen soon. I think hubris also played a part in it.

      Unless he needs that pendant for something…

      Hmm, the series made it sound like Alastor is a really dangerous guy and he could sacrifice himself to do some heavy damage to Yuuji. But since he has Shana in the first row directly within arm’s reach Alastor can’t do anything. Since he’s one of the good guys.

      Yuji went bad guy, but he isn’t even fighting… so Bal Masque’s strength didn’t change…

      I imagine the Crimson Denizens to be a chaotic bunch of monsters until Yuuji with his god-complex came along telling them they can ride ponies and play in musicals as long as they fight for him. He united them and I guess that could make a difference if the story handles it right. Not that Shakugan no Shana does… It makes it seem exactly like you have described it and it also generally shies away from showing this ‘epic’ conflict.

      Right now I just want to scream at everybody in this show.

      Wait, even at Rebecca? Her optimistic attitude was truly refreshing when everyone was mopey and the main-character Shana was the queen of the mopers. At least she somewhat resembled distinctly could become a character to root for.

      But yeah, it’s a bad series, very shounen-generic and it’s a series who cares more about appearing to tell a cool story than actually telling it.

      Like

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