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.
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.
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.