Review: Shakugan no Shana III (Final)


Anime: Shakugan no Shana III (Final)
Animation Studio: J.C. Staff
Number of Episodes: 24
Length per Episode: Approximately 24 minutes

After finishing my last post, I decided to screw around on the Internet and watch more House M.D. instead of getting straight to this post. It is now 6:45am. So I may not finish this before going off to bed. It doesn’t matter too much though, because it’ll still be out today (Monday), and I’ve posted the last two days, so I’m sure you guys can wait a few extra hours for this to come out. But who knows, maybe I will finish it.

I won’t be addressing any specific scenes in this review, because that’s kind of what my episodics were for. There may be a few exceptions, but even then they’ll probably be vague references, if anything. It won’t make this review shorter, though, because I still have plenty to say (unsurprisingly), and I’ll probably wind up implementing some kind of retrospective of the series into this review.


For a while, I considered spending a chunk of this review refuting points other people have made against the season and show in general, as I tend to do in a lot of posts in order to offer a differing opinion. But you know, I don’t really want to. Maybe it’s just because of my mixed feelings about the show finally being over, but I’d rather spend my time saying what I liked about the season/show rather than use up the post defending it. It’s like how I don’t really care anymore when I see people that never liked the show or think it’s horrible. Odds are I’d never be able to convince them otherwise, and it doesn’t really matter because I enjoy it. It’s not as if my enjoyment of a show depends on other people liking it, too.

The only thing I will say, which is on the other side of the spectrum and may sound odd coming from me, is that I think too many people see the first season through nostalgia-goggles. No, it wasn’t bad, hell it’s what got me so into anime, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as some people make it out to be. It’s as if it’s some kind of epitome of quality, and I think it’s why there were fans that didn’t like the second season nor this one due to it. Honestly, this season was my favorite by a long shot.

There were always signs from the very beginning that the show was going to come to this. Some more obvious than others, but when you have a conflict as large as this fighting between the Flame Haze and Crimson Denizens, there’s honestly no way it was going to end without addressing it (otherwise it probably would have been a pretty dull and standard ending). Not only that, but we got a war with heroes, villains, and questionable stances on both sides of the fighting. You don’t get a more interesting conflict than that.

It always does come back to Shana and Yuuji, though. Kind of obvious, considering they’re the main characters, but honestly, the plot probably wouldn’t have even moved without them. The story needed a Yuuji to take the risk and extreme path the conflict needed, and a Shana to point out how risky and extreme that path was, and offer a more realistic solution. You could say they served opposing ends of a spectrum. Not to mention you could take the fact that they both carried gods as symbolism or a metaphor for how grand their positions in the story were.

I thought the new side characters that were introduced were also really interesting. Yeah, some of them were merely there to serve as cannon fodder, but we also got Rebecca, Sale, and Chiara, among some others. And that’s just the Flame Haze side; the Crimson Denizens had Pirsoyn, Snake, and Decarabia, among others. I like Shana and Yuuji just as much as any other fan, but these guys were also fun to watch. It also made both sides more personal, because it showed both sides had your canon fodder soldiers, and also notable personalities that had their moments.

I really liked the ending. As I mentioned in my last post, there were winks to the fans, but also this surreal feeling that nothing in the show had ever happened, with some exceptions, such as Yuuji’s little brother being born and the fact that Yoshida probably remembered everything. It works really well as an ending, because it just further adds to the sense of fantasy that the series has always been. Even with the school shenanigans, Shana had taken over someone else’s existence.

Another, maybe less-appreciated aspect of Shana is the dialogue. Some of the effect may be lost, since we’re just seeing a translation, but you’d be hard-pressed to find generic dialogue in this show, maybe with the exception of some of the school shenanigan moments of the first two season, but even then it still works. Shana didn’t know squat about humans, so having the occasional generic dialogue of a school show actually works by serving the purpose of showing Shana what humans are like.
To actually quote the translator of the show from Commie:

The dialog is simply not normal. However, unlike Symphogear, it’s written well. It’s consistent in style, and it fits the context, but that won’t make it any easier to translate.

I’ve always had a nagging thought in the back of my head in regards to the series, though. I occasionally wonder if I give it too much leeway. Whenever someone has a criticism for it, I’m always quick to think up an excuse or reason why they’re wrong, and I wonder if I’m just desperately (and unconsciously) defending the show, or if I’m actually right. It’s why while I loved the series, I was also somewhat hesitant about recommending it.
After this season, I honestly don’t think I’m grasping at straws. For one, it seems way too easy for me to come up with these defenses for me to be trying desperately to come up with an excuse. But more importantly, it doesn’t even matter. People are far too quick to throw the term “fanboy” around, when it’s really just a label that’s used when people are unable to comprehend that differing opinions exist. In order to be a “fanboy”, you have to find something likeable about whatever it is, after all. The feelings of unbridled adoration for something had to stem from somewhere. Now, perhaps it’s just because I’m older and wiser (*snicker*) since when I first watched the show, rather than this season being so good, but at this point I really do think I could argue the case for Shana. I no longer feel wary to recommend it, and I don’t have an inkling of shame to say it’s my favourite series, for more reasons than just being what got me into anime.

Shana is just one of the few series that absolutely leads me by the nose. It’s never “oh, I hope this happens”, or, “I expect this will happen”. It’s always me grabbing some popcorn, starting an episode, and gasping at every other line that’s said (the popcorn part my or may not be true). Shana could have probably done nearly anything, and it would have left me with jaw pains from it dropping so much. Obviously there is a limit, even someone’s favourite series can self-destruct, but Shana is a series that knows how to handle itself.

It pains me to see this show end. Shana was an unforgettable ride, with some absolutely incredible moments. I also don’t regret watching it, because it was the highlight my day, every time. Having it end leaves a void in me, as I never looked forward to any show more than Shana. Other shows are still fun to watch and can be good, but Shana was just pure, unbridled entertainment for me. Knowing that I may not get that feeling again for a long time straight up sucks. But I know that one day, a show will come along to give me the same joy and entertainment that Shana did.

So until then, I’ll be sitting here, watching anime, and waiting for my next “Shana”.

RATING: 11 out of 10. (oh-ho-ho, didn’t see that coming, did you?)


7 Comments on “Review: Shakugan no Shana III (Final)”

  1. Son Gohan says:

    I think that the first season is still the best one. When I started watching SnS back in 2006, I really enjoyed the world created by Takahashi-sensei: the Tomogara, the Flame Hazes, the spells, the Treasures, etc. I liked that every character had a pompous “nom de guerre”. I loved the interaction between Shana and Yuji.
    The second season spent too much time on that terrible Konoe Fumina original plot and we didn’t get to see Snake Yuji like every fan had hoped.
    As a result of that procrastination, this final season felt rushed. Dozens of Flame Hazes and Tomogara were introduced but I never got attached to any one of them (barring maybe Rebecca). For instance the Hyakki Yako, who played a big role in the final episodes, were never properly introduced. The problem I think is that they skipped the side novels that dealt with the previous war and introduced many of these characters. I hope we can get those novels in the form of OVAs. I’d love to see Mathilde in action.

    • Riyoga says:

      I was absorbed into the world too, but I’m just not someone who thinks the luster fades the more we see of it. A lot of people tend to think the first movie in a trilogy is the best one, while I don’t usually tend to agree. While the first may be the one to introduce the setting and such, I think that the second or third makes the best use of it’s setting (as is the case with Shana).

      I’m one of the few who enjoyed the second season. I thought the first half was funny, and was interested in all of the interactions that happened. Of course I’m also not a novel reader, so I’m free from the possibility of getting Adaptation Disappointment.

      From someone who didn’t read the novels, yeah, there were times where this season felt rushed, but I felt there was enough there that it never felt like I was being left out of the loop. There was stuff that could have been expanded on, but with the limited time they had, I think they did a pretty good job for anime-only watchers.
      I already mentioned in my review the characters that I liked, and as for Hyakki Yako, while they didn’t serve as cannon fodder, I felt they were only slightly above it as far as importance goes. They basically just served as a plot device. Yeah, it would have been interesting to get more information on them, but it still worked.

      I’d love more Shana, so OVAs of more stories from the novels would be fantastic. Unfortunately, the disc sales of this season don’t seem to be doing too hot, especially when compared to the previous seasons, which I think is a shame.

  2. Great review. I too feel that the first installment of a series sometimes gets an unfair amount of praise relative to its sequels. Sure it introduces us to something we’ll come to love but the completion of a story is always much more important than the beginning. Not every series can finish off what it may have started so well but I agree that Shana is a great example of finishing stronger than it started.

    While I always think it’s important to discuss the flaws and shortcomings of a show, I think it’s substantially more important to discuss what you do like about it and what keeps you wanting more. Again, I say this because I am a fan who is very selective with what I watch and my personal ratings reflect that whatever I do watch, I tend to like very much. So it’s no surprise that the things Shana adhered to are the things that it did very well. The biggest and most significant two things being: keeping you entertained and making you care about the interaction between Yuuji and Shana.

    The first aspect was certainly the easiest. We’ve talked before about how well Shana gave us good doses of action, and that was really important in the beginning to draw in an audience and maybe that is another part of that lingering nostalgia. The second part is certainly the most important in Shana, or any show for that matter. Writers want their audience to care about the story and how their characters shape and mold that story. As an anime fan, you can’t many with a better character-driven story. Sure, not all the characters in Shana had much to go on, but that was because there were a lot of characters involved. Yet the ones that mattered most were the ones who deservedly got the spotlight. From the very start we knew Shana and Yuuji would drive this show and reflecting back on this final season makes you realize how much they’ve been through and how much they’ve meant to each other.

    There are other shows that were in similar situations to Shana in having been adapted from novels or manga and having these animated adaptations drawn out over more than a few years. With those conditions sometimes hurting an anime adaptations chance at success or to relate with it’s audience. Not once though, did I think Shana had taken a wrong step or gone in a bad direction. Even with Shana’s flaws, I found myself entertained and infatuated with its mythos, narrative and characters. And as you said, Shana gives us something to hold on to but also something to look for in things to come.

    • Riyoga says:

      Another fantabulous addition, thank you.

      Good point on mentioning how important Shana and Yuuji’s relationship and interactions were. In my excitement, I guess I completely forgot to mention it.
      Yuuji may get flack from the anime community for his supposed lack of a personality (which I’d obviously argue, and already have), but his interactions and relationship with Shana are things of wonders, and any other show hoping to get anywhere near the same amount of affection from me needs to be on their level.

      I’m keeping my eyes on the author to see what he does next, if anything.

  3. bakaraptor says:

    All things considered, this was probably my favorite season as well, though not by much. I consider all the seasons to be around the same level of “good but not great”. Yes, even the second one.

    Yuuji really stepped up this season in ways I never saw coming. Shana also put the tsundere act behind her and grew up, not just for the climax but throughout the whole season.

    Two major complaints:

    1. Lots of side characters with little development were given long fights. It’s frustrating to transition between the major character showdowns and the side fights I’m not emotionally invested in.

    2. Yuuji’s excuses for not telling his whole plan from the start and saying he couldn’t be with Shana were pretty cliche.

    • Riyoga says:

      Admittedly, I probably wouldn’t like Shana as much as I do if it hadn’t gotten me into anime. Though also admittedly, it probably wouldn’t be by much. I don’t know why, but I just can’t help but find everything that happens interesting.

      Fair enough on the complaints. I was willing to forgive the first one because I knew they didn’t have enough time to cover the massive amount of material the novels had, and I felt like the characters that really needed development and such did get it. The others just seemed there for the ride anyways, and accomplished the minor things that Shana didn’t have time for, such as killing the Professor.

      As for the second, I was okay with him not telling her the plan. Maybe it didn’t make perfect sense, but since the show was going for the “ideal solution vs. realistic solution” theme, it didn’t really bother me.
      Yeah, his reasons for not willing to be with Shana were cliche and also pretty dumb, but Yuuji has always been cliche and dumb, so I thought it fit. He may have been horribly wrong, but logically, his mindset made sense.

      …Maybe I do give this series too much leeway.

  4. Darth Revan says:

    is it still your favorite anime?

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