The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Shakugan no Shana Second

Title: Shakugan no Shana Second
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 24 episodes
Date: 5 Oct 2007 – 28 Mar 2008

Synopsis:  High school student Sakai Yuji has been long keeping a secret.  He’s been dead for a while now, and only a magical artifact keeps his sliver of existence alight.  After being rescued by a girl named Shana, he has sworn his alliance with this mysterious girl who fights beings not of this world.  Even after a series of adventures and conflicts, Yuji finds himself still living his daily life as normal, but this peace is soon shattered when the face of one of his mortal enemies boldly walks into his classroom.

The Highlights
Animation: Top-notch.
Action: Engaging, bold and energetic.
Story: Expect to arrive back at episode 1 by the end of the series.
In comparison to the first: Heavier emphasis on drama than action.

I’ll be honest. I have half a mind to go back to my old Shakugan no Shana(1,2) review, change one and a half paragraphs, and do a copy and paste. Stylistically, the two shows are quite different, but my old piece captures a general enough picture of the homemade, franchise recipe that it can help me save a few hours. Simply put, this show’s selling points are a tsunderé loli, shounen action, and a kindhearted eunuch with a personal harem. Not your niche? The exit is to your top left.

The original Shakugan no Shana ends in a completely open-ended love triangle. This sequel gives the shape a few more sides and lets it out into the wilderness. With fan service almost nonexistent, this harem setup actually turns out to be quite innocent and heartwarming. Watching Shana, Yoshida Kazumi and Fumina Konoe fumble around their awkward love lives is inexplicably cute. Unlike the original, this setup is not continually broken, fixed, and then broken again, but it is allowed to develop over the course over the entire 24 episodes. Characters grow, relationships deepen, but in the end, nothing happens.

I honestly feel bad for the people responsible for writing the script for this show. They have to keep events interesting enough so that people will stick around, but at the same time, all events must be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. As the episodes go on, it becomes apparent that they’re not very good at this. Too many episodes come across as predictable, insipid and sometimes, downright foolish. Even the epic final few episodes feel stupid when you actually sit down and think about it. The creators have long ago realized that they have the moé equivalent of Dragonball Z, so they’re churning out different incarnations of the same stories over and over again, raking in the money.

What distinguishes Shakugan no Shana Second from about half of the cash cows out there is the sheer amount of attention put into the aesthetics. The folks at J.C. Staff aren’t content with just using the name to sell the goods – they’ve taken every measure to make sure this anime absolutely shines on screen. The animation is a joy to behold; it’s consistent and it’s exceptionally fluid. The music is good to the ears and the seiyuu are solid, albeit put to limited use. Fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed giving energy and excitement to even the most predictable fights.

Apologies for the crass sarcasm, but for those who haven’t looked it up yet, “eunuch” is a castrated man typically in charge of a castle’s harem. Ignoring the various other connotations, the Shakugan no Shana franchise is the castle; Sakai Yuji is Mr. “I have no balls”; and Shana is good enough to be the whole harem… though, Kazumi and Hecate do help. Because of this, I expect there to a third season of drama, moé, action and meaningless stories. As for now, watch Shakugan no Shana Second if you enjoyed the previous season, and expect to return to “Go” thoroughly entertained but shortchanged 200 Monopoly dollars.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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