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Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1(TV) (2009)
Shana and Alastor, Lord of the Crimson Realm, continue to do battle with the Denizens, who are trying to steal the Power of Existence from mortals. In the last battle, Yuji is revealed to be a mystes, a "torch" of nearly unlimited Power of Existence. Since the Denizens want to capture Yuji and use him to upset the balance of the Realm, Shana resolves to protect Yuji. Yuji then vows to join Shana in her fight.
For more about Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 and the Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 Blu-ray release, see Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 9, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Josh Grelle, Kristian Ayre, Tabitha St. Germain, Cherami Leigh
» See full cast & crew
Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 Blu-ray Review
Is this the end?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 9, 2013
The final season of Shakugan no Shana gets off to a visceral start with a literal bang. The huge battle that brought the second season to a close is recapped, and we are smack dab in the middle of what almost looks like trench warfare from World War I, albeit with huge mutant dinosaurs and a number of other elements that are distinctly out of this world. But then this long running franchise, with which I've some celebrated issues, does something quite remarkable: it retreats from the trenches (so to speak) and gets back to the one singular element that it has too often forgotten in its manic adventures through the years: its emotional core, one that is built around the feelings of friendship, loyalty and family (whether or not that family is defined as blood relations). One of the reasons I vastly preferred Shakugan no Shana the Movie's redacted story line to the actual series' more drawn out depiction of the same events is that it pared things down to their absolute minimum (at least for the most part). And one of the things the feature film did so very well was to give Yuji's shock at seeing a friend simply disappear before his very eyes some quite affecting emotional heft, something that quite frequently got buried underneath the nonsense of the series' more tangent filled approach. Ironically, that's the very element that gives the start up to the third season its own brand of emotionalism, and in this case it may even be more affecting, for the one doing the disappearing this time around is none other than Yuji himself. Suddenly Shana is partnerless, and rather amazingly, she becomes an at least relatively vulnerable character rather than the epithet spouting tsundere which has been her calling card for the previous seasons. The opening arc of this third season of Shakugan no Shana is in some ways the best thing this series has ever done, finally (some would emphasize that as finally) investing the characters and story with some real feeling and depth.
ADR Director Alyssa Galindo makes no bones about being extremely confused by Shakugan no Shana's third season, since she hadn't been associated with the show before. For those of you curious about some of the backstory and other elements in this franchise, you might want to glance over our previous coverage of the many Shakugan no Shana releases:
Shakugan no Shana: Season 1 Blu-ray review
Shakugan no Shana: Season 2 Part 1 Blu-ray review
Shakugan no Shana: Season 2 Part 2 Blu-ray review
Shakugan no Shana the Movie Blu-ray review
Shakugan no Shana S: OVA Series Blu-ray review
There's an unexpected poignancy to these opening episodes that is distinctly at odds with the kind of noisy, silly ambience that filled up a lot of the first two seasons of the show. I mentioned in a somewhat different context in my Shakugan no Shana: Season 2 Part 1 Blu-ray review how some episodes in that season reminded me more than a bit of Tenchi Muyo in Love 2, and that same feeling swept over me again in these opening episodes, especially since (and this is no major spoiler) we soon find out Yuji does indeed exist, but is in a different dimension, rather like Tenchi in the aforementioned movie. The separation of Yuji and Shana sets up some interesting dynamics in this early going, especially since Shana is rather upset when so many people have forgotten that Yuji ever existed (this is obviously a call back to Yuji's similar feelings about Hirai in the first season of the series).
One of the infuriating things about Shakugan no Shana is its over arcane terminology, which is bandied about with alacrity and can lead to some serious eye rolling. And so unless you're completely conversant with the series' mythology, my saying that Yuji aligns with Bal Masque or that his sojourn into the realm of Crimson Denizens has revealed a startling truth about the true nature of his being. Part of what's so frustrating about all of this is that in a very real way the series really doesn't need all this high-falutin' verbiage to get its point across. The relationship between Yuji and Shana is what is key, whether they're battling demons or facing the trials and tribulations of "everday" life.
There are some fun subplots that unspool during the first half of this (supposed) final season. I still continue to be fascinated by Margery, the hard drinking older woman who does not suffer fools gladly. Margery gets her own fairly major arc in this season which, as this first volume comes to a close, may actually result in a fair degree of happiness for the character. Meanwhile, yet another epic battle awaits Shana, but there's little doubt about who will end up victorious.
Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This continues to be one of the more maddeningly disappointing looking anime on Blu-ray, which is even more odd since this last season is of more current vintage. But this outing is plagued with many of the same problems as the previous seasons, including a kind of lackluster overall image quality. While colors are at least decent (and often more than that), everything is very soft, line detail often has stair stepping and banding is also quite prevalent. It really is a shame, for say what you will about the series itself, Shakugan no Shana often features some very winning animation.
Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As with Blu-ray releases of previous seasons of Shakugan no Shana, Season 3 Part 1 again offers Dolby TrueHD mixes in English (5.1) and Japanese (2.0). Without trying to sound like a broken record, this third season pretty much continues in the tradition of the first two seasons. The English dub offers some surprisingly effective surround activity and this season is awash in LFE in several key sequences. Dialogue remains well prioritized and cleanly presented. The Japanese mix is obviously narrower and shallower, but it also offers excellent fidelity and quite wide dynamic range.
Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 1 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Fans of Shakugan no Shana know a lot of the series is given over to battles, but the most salient conflict I've experienced is the slow war of attrition I've gone through with this sometimes frustrating show. And guess what? I think the show is winning. I found myself drawn into this third season with unexpected ease. While the series still has an annoying tendency to traverse the same rut it's been in before, this third season gets off to a fantastic start with Shana and Yuji being separated. If things don't quite sustain that level of interest, there is still plenty going on in the background that longtime fans will enjoy. Unfortunately this new Blu-ray continues with the underwhelming visual quality. Fans will no doubt easily overlook that shortcoming (or, if not easily, at least with a certain degree of tolerance), but I still recommend that newcomers get to know this franchise through the movie, which distills a lot of information into a readily digestible form.
Shakugan no Shana: Other Seasons
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