Shakugan no Shana III (Final) – Episode 19Posted: February 20, 2012
I was writing this post yesterday, but then Windows decided that it didn’t really care much for my opinion of “I’d like to restart later” and restarted on its own. It wasn’t too big of a deal since WordPress saves your drafts every few minutes, but it crushed my motivation to continue writing. But I’m getting the post out now, so whatever.
On another note, for those of you gamers out there, there’s a browser game that just got added to Steam today called Realm of the Mad God. Think 8-bit cooperative Touhou in a more open world. It’s pretty cool, and it’s free, so if you have a bit of time to kill, I suggest giving it a shot. I’ve only tried it for a bit, but I’m pretty sure it’s a game you can play in a few minutes at a time if you wanted to. It’s probably what I’m going to do.
I find it amusing that right after I write an editorial about why I find dialogue so entertaining and important, Shana comes out with a decently dialogue-heavy episode that just further strengthens my feelings towards the subject.
I’ll cover one or two side points about the episode briefly, but the majority of this post is going to be spent on probably one of the best scenes of Shana yet. I’ll say why I liked it so much, attempt to dissect as much as possible from it, and other fun stuff. But first, a small part I liked at the beginning of the episode.
Shana flying into a tsundere-ish rage was actually pretty damn hilarious. I mean, I do think we were supposed to take her feelings seriously in a way, but it was still intended to be funny. Partially a tongue-in-cheek scene, I guess.
Holy shit I loved this scene.
Why? I’m not 100% sure why; trying to figure out why I like the things I do is a never-ending challenge for myself, since I can’t seem to find a common thread that isn’t vague as hell. As for why I think I liked it so much, I think it’s because I get a lot of excitement out of seeing characters arguing and having their beliefs collide against each other. These are my fight scenes. Forget swords and magic flying everywhere (though that’s still fun to watch), it’s when character’s motivations and beliefs are put to the test and challenged that I’m on the edge of my seat. It also helps if it revolves around something that will drastically change the plot based on whoever wins or doesn’t win.
Something I heavily respect about Shana is that it’s almost always having characters question their beliefs, or testing them. I just find it interesting. Shana isn’t a plot-driven series, but it isn’t really a character-driven one either. The show is mainly about the characters, but it’s the plot along with the other characters that help the focus remain on the characters. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I respect it for focusing so heavily on the characters and their interactions and development, while still having a coherent plot that isn’t irrelevant.
Alas, I’m getting a bit off-topic. Lets get back to talking about this awesome scene, shall we?
This scene is another example of something that I love about Shana: it knows its characters and how to use them to their full potential. Think about it, they could have just had a scene at some point where Johann was extracted, and maybe helped fight Yuuji/Snake or something. Or maybe Yuuji would find some way to extract him from the Midnight Child/Reiji Meigo himself and killed him. Or perhaps they could have just ignored the plot point of Johann being in there completely.
All of those examples are far less exciting than what actually happened. Johann is able to extract the Midnight Child/Reiji Meigo, which isn’t too farfetched a plot point; he has his own personality, so there’s only parts of Yuuji’s plan he doesn’t agree with, rather than the entire thing; and he’s probably the only one who has a remote chance of affecting Yuuji’s mindset. So far Yuuji/Snake have pretty much shrugged off everything said by the Flame Haze, and even Shana herself. He’s so confident in what he needs to do that he won’t accept any more “outside opinion”. However, just like Snake, Johann has been inside Yuuji this entire time. Yuuji isn’t arguing with a conflicting opinion here, he’s being challenged by someone that truly knows him. It’s completely different from how Snake was, and it threw Yuuji through a loop. Seeing how chummy he is with Snake, the idea that someone who knew so much about him would oppose his plan was probably something Yuuji would have never expected.
Speaking of Johann, there’s one more point I want to mention before I start my dissection of the scene. It’s a similar opinion I had in regards to Ano Hana back when that aired, but basically I don’t see what’s so grand about Pheles. Yes, she has a nice design and is great to look at, but honestly her personality is pretty thin. She’s like Yuno from Future Diary except without all of the scheming and insane homicidal tendencies. That really just leaves her as a character that’s “Johaan!’ this, or “Johann!” that. It gets annoying after a while.
Honestly, I think Johann is the far more interesting of the two. At least it seems like he has a head on his shoulders. There was something naïve, yet admirable about his arguments of unwavering confidence that love can accomplish anything. Not to mention, his big decision at the end of said argument that sold me to his character. But I’ll get to that later.
Now, what exactly the hell was this argument about? It was definitely confusing, but after watching this scene at least 50 times (no, I’m not exaggerating), and from varying sub sources, I think I can make a good attempt at figuring the whole thing out. So lets see what we can find out, shall we?
The first piece of information that’s important to keep in mind is that we now know that there’s another element to the plan that Yuuji/Snake has yet to divulge. We know this because Johann was disagreeing with Yuuji about not telling the whole story to Shana, and if you think about it, every time we’ve gotten information about the plan (except for the small bit with Yoshida that pretty much already happened), Shana was around to hear it. So, because for the most part we know what Shana knows, there’s another part of the plan we have yet to find out.
Taking it a step further and flexing those context clues abilities, we can discern that it’s a plot point that isn’t pleasant at all. Johann mentioned that everyone would be unhappy at the end, and Yuuji mentioned something about the penalties that came with his plan, I think it’s not too farfetched to guess that Yuuji doesn’t expect to survive this ordeal. It would make sense if you think about it, Yuuji mentioned that telling Shana everything was dangerous, and if Shana knew that Yuuji didn’t expect to survive, she’d no longer be restrained about releasing Alastor and utterly annihilating everything. So, unless the reveal turns out to be otherwise, it’s a safe bet that part of the plan involves Yuuji not surviving. Or at least something pretty bad happening to him.
Now that we have a fair assumption on what the secret is, we can figure out exactly what went on between Johann and Yuuji’s argument. Judging from what Johann said, if Shana knew the whole story, and went along with it, whatever bad thing would happen to Yuuji would not actually happen, or at least it’d be less likely to happen. However, whatever it is must be contradictory to how the Flame Haze normally think, because Yuuji assumes that Shana wouldn’t go along with whatever it was, meaning the option she’d be left with would be releasing Alastor. Obviously, Johann doesn’t agree with this, he thinks that because they’re in love, Shana would understand whatever it is and go along with it.
But now we reach the confusing part. Why did Johann leave him the Midnight Child/Reiji Meigo? Well, from what we can tell, Johann isn’t opposed to Yuuji’s plan itself, just the outcome that would befall him. That means first of all, that Johann isn’t a direct enemy or anything. Judging from the arguments being used, Johann is opposed to Yuuji not believing that trusting Shana is the best route to take (love route). However, Johann seems to have a brief revelation halfway through their argument. Now, here’s what I think the deal was: as I said, Johann thinks that Yuuji doesn’t see telling Shana the whole story to be the best route to take. However, after arguing with him a bit, Johann realizes that this isn’t specifically the case. Yuuji actually does think that telling Shana is the best way to go about things, but he doesn’t see it as worth the risk, and therefore not telling her is the more reasonable path to take.
That’s why Johann got that all-knowing smile and attitude when he said that Yuuji wasn’t taking love seriously. It’s not that he doesn’t think it’s the best solution, he just isn’t willing to risk the plan on what he sees as a gamble. So now, rather than see Yuuji as wrong, Johann sees him more as naïve than anything (kind of ironic, eh?). And it also explains why he decided to leave the Midnight Child/Reiji Meigo with Yuuji/Snake. If Johann took it, then the plan pretty much goes down the shitter. Yuuji simply will see himself as outmaneuvered, and then he’s done for. That’s not what Johann wants, because remember, he isn’t actually opposed to Yuuji’s plan overall, and now that he sees Yuuji as naïve, taking him out isn’t the best route. Rather, Johann wants to teach him a lesson. He can’t do that if he kills him. Johann most likely will find a way to interfere with the plan so that it’s revealed believing in Shana was/would be the best route.
This scene is actually the first time where I think Eclipse made a blatant error in translation, because the NicoNico translation of Johann’s final line to Yuuji makes a lot more sense.
Eclipse –> “I’m going to blow away this moment you guys had.”
NicoNico –> “I’m going to change your situation.”
The Eclipse line doesn’t really make much sense, other than maybe making Johann out to be some kind of jester. The NicoNico line is more logical, because that’d be Johann basically saying, as I said, that he’s going to flip his plan around to teach Yuuji a lesson: not to underestimate love.
Not to mention I think I read somewhere that the NicoNico translator had access to the light novels. At least I think I did.
This entire argument also makes sense out of the whole “love is the strongest unrestricted spell” that has been thrown around so far in the show. Man, and I thought they were just throwing that around to be corny.
Anyways, that’s all I wanted to say (holy crap I wrote a lot). This is just another one of those episodes of Shana that makes me love this show even more.
No we’re not talking about how Yoshida dodged her death flag or the Mystery Machine flying around in the sky. Shuttup (or should I say, shut up, shut up, shut up! oh god I’m so clever).