Shakugan no Shana II

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mahius's avatar By on Jul 23, 2015

Shakugan no Shana II is the 24 episode sequel to a fairly decent action fantasy anime. Based on a light novel (which I haven’t read due to lack of availability in English) incorporating unique magic elements with a typical modern-day Japanese high-school setting. I enjoyed the first season, though it has been a long time since I watched it and my tastes have changed. But this seems to follow on from the good impression of season one, despite containing things that ought to annoy me, it didn’t. Certain aspects of the story are explained better, though unlike season one, it does take a while for the real story to start, since it has the wishy-washy slice-of-life highschool stuff going on. So what exactly does this sequel add? Before I start, I must disclose my dislike for harem/ecchi and that includes love triangles. I will also mention that I never reviewed the first season, so I’ll start from scratch, but for characters and story I’ll assume readers have watched it (may contain season one spoilers).

Animation

The quality is quite good for a 2007 anime. I watched it in HD 720p, I think one might be able to get it in 1080p even. There was the odd moment, when I noticed the quality was a bit down for a background image, but these moments aren’t too often. Watching it on a big screen and at 720p (despite the screen’s native 1080p resolution), I did notice the lines were a tad blurry, but that could just be the resolution, might be fixable by watching it at 1080p.

The animation style seems very generic as all heck, when it comes to the faces and character design. Someone walked in and mentioned that the male protagonists looked like every anime protagonist ever. They aren’t far off the mark. The main female protagonist also seems to have the generic tsundere look about them, small, flat (yet reasonably realistic in that regard) chested and what I’ve now realised are trope tsundere eyes. Thus, I’ll be keeping an eye out in future anime I watch, to see how many tsundere characters have eyes like that. The most unique out of the character might be some of the enemies and Wilhelmina, just a tad. Still, despite the unoriginal character design, it’s done fairly well with no issues. Now the overall character, designs, once you start to notice the clothing has had much more effort put into making it stand out. While some outfits like the school uniform and Wilhelmina’s maid attire can be said to be generic, some of the other outfits seem much more interesting, like Hecate and Pheles.

The final usual section, which has been mostly non-existent or short with some of the recent reviews. For an anime of this animation style, there is very little fan-service, thus this cannot be defined within the ecchi genre. I’m positively surprised, even with curvaceous characters like Margery and Wilhemina in her strange maid outfit. Yeah, there’s one scene where Margery is changing clothes outside, but there’s no one around and a change is needed due to her clothes getting scuffed up. I remember from season 1, they made quite a fuss about Yoshida being particularly developed for a teenager. Barely any attention drawn to it here. The weirdest it gets is one scene where all the girls are showering and there’s that trope pervy chick who gropes both Yoshida and Shana, Shana complaining both times.

Sound

Wow that intro, it blew me away. The same artist also does the outro which is also good. I’m not particularly fond of J-pop, but this I can actually enjoy, it’s almost a sort of J-rock/J-pop hybrid. Both ‘JOINT’ and ‘triangle’ are by Kawada Mami. The second intro/outro by Kotoko, while decent isn’t as good as the first. The music in the anime itself is done very well, good fast-paced background music for the fight scenes and more chilled out stuff for the other scenes where relevant. They even play some rocking tunes in the climax of the last episode. Good overall sound design, the music is actually quite familiar and I’d recognise it if I heard it. And of course, with a soundtrack this good, I had no choice but to get it (along with the OST for the other seasons and extras). A coincidence, but I’m listening through it as I write this review.

The anime is available in both English and Japanese. But if you follow what the page on Anime Planet says, it appears to be Japanese only as no voice actors for the English dub are listed. English versions for most of the Shakugan no Shana anime are available. I wouldn’t have a problem with watching the Japanese dub of this anime, I’ve got a subbed version of the movie waiting for me to watch it. Except for one thing… Rie Kugimiya. This big name Japanese voice actress has done voices in a lot of anime, but I’ve mostly noticed her being type-cast in roles as terrible and bitchy tsundere characters. To me, her voice is cringey and annoying, thus I’ve developed a dislike for her voice and I try to avoid anime with her voice where I can. So English dub it is then.

Shana is voiced by Cherami Leigh, the voice of characters including July in Darker than Black, Elicia Hughes in FMA Brotherhood, Mai Taniyama in Ghost Hunt, Asuna in SAO and Himawari Kunogi in XXXHOLiC. Josh Grelle voices Yuji, having also voiced Tomohiko Kazami in Another, Akihiisa Yoshii in Baka to Test, Kenichi in HSDK, Ren Kannagi in Kaze no Stigma and more. Alastor is voiced by Kent Williams, who has also voiced Nishimura in Baka to Test, Mao in Darker than Black, Sid Barett from Soul Eater and various other roles. Brina Palencia voices Kazumi Yoshida, having done Ennis in Baccano, the Kinoshita twins in Baka to Test, Priscilla in Claymore, Yin in Darker than Black, Rei Ayanami in the Evangelion remake, Nina Tucker in FMA, Juliet in Romeo X Juliet, Holo in Spice and Wolf and so many more roles. Collen Clinkenbeard as Margery Daw as well as Nice in Baccano, Youko Takahashi in Baka to Test, Riza Hawkeye and Rose Thomas in FMA, Mitsuki Hayase in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Cordelia in Romeo X Juliet, Yuuko in both Tsubasa Chronicle and XXXHOLiC and Reina Sohou in Witchblade. Other VAs include Lindsay Seidel as Fumina Konoe, Justin Cook as Marcosias, Carli Mosier as Wilhelmina, Greg Ayres as Keisaku Sato, Ian Sinclair as Eita Tanaka and Brittney Karbowski as Matake Ogata.

Characters

So what has changed with the characters since season one? Corncerning the lead protagonists, Shana seems to be a tad more accepting of her own feelings for Yuji, but is still too much of a coward to tell him how she feels. Yuji himself undergoes training and tries to figure himself out, one thing he is sure of is that he wants to be able to protect himself. They all seem to mostly forget that he’s a torch and technically dead already, being kept alive by the Midnight Lost Child treasure tool he carries in him as a miestess (until…). He’s still as ignorant as ever when it comes to the feelings of Shana and Kazumi, even though they both tell him they will wait for him to choose between them. We get a bit of backstory about his parents and why his mother is on her own and why she looks so young.

Margery Daw gets quite a lot of character development here, not in the least her backstory, revealing why she became a flame haze and about her first run-in with her arch-nemesis Thousand Changes, nearly 100 years ago in 1920s America. But we also find out about the one being she hates the most and what fuels her passion as a flame haze.

Satou and Tanaka stand out a bit more in this sequel, especially as they start to differentiate from each other a lot more, particularly in aspirations. Tanaka focuses more on his relationship with Ogata, while Satou has his mind set on being useful to Margery. Certain events really help to show the differences in personality, Satou is a relatively calm and collected individual, while Tanaka panics and let his feelings get the better of him. The both of them seem much less like the delinquents they were originally said to be and still no word on Satou’s parents, whose booze is being pinched by Margery Daw.

Wilhelmina also is developed as a character, her relationship as Shana’s guardian gets a boost with some help and advice from Yuji’s mother Chigusa. She still occasionally takes leave to find things out and is a handy source of info. It turns out she has a bigger connection to the Midnight Lost Child treasure tool, since she was friends with the creators of it.

The creators of the Midnight Lost Child are the Eternal Lovers, an unaffiliated crimson denizen, the Beautiful Whim Pheles (pronounced Fee-liss) and her man Johan, a human who grew up with her and became her lover. I won’t mention any more for fear of spoilers, but I will say that there is still a lot left unknown about the Midnight Lost Child.

I’ll quickly mention the new character Fumina Konoe, a rich and somewhat stoic girl who can’t take care of herself, being entirely dependent on others. She’s an innocent individual who reminds me of the character Mashiro from Sakurasou Pet na Kanojo. But most importantly, she looks a surprising amount like the main antagonist Hecate the Master Throne. Oh and that other guy Hayato Ike has a crush on Kazumi Yoshida. As if the love triangle wasn’t painful enough.

Story

As I mentioned in the intro, the story takes a while to take off. Before I go into it, I’ll just lay down the foundation from season 1. The 3 flame hazes: Shana, her guardian Wilhelmina and Margery Daw managed to stop the group of evil crimson denizens, Ball Masque, from abusing Yuuji’s life force via the ‘Midnight Lost child’ at the end of the last season, though nobody (even the villains) of them were killed. Shana and Kazumi are rivals for Yuuji’s heart. So what happens in this series? Ball Masque is still around, so surely they come back right?

Well, for the most part, they take a back seat, just brewing their plans in the background. The only denizen really fought is one in the first couple of episodes and is the only one to receive a solid conclusion, if you know what I mean. After that, it’s a slice-of-life style high-school shenanigans, i.e. zero plot, for the next several episodes as all the characters get used to the new character Fumino Konoe. Later, we get some back-story on Margery, the Midnight Lost Child, a little on Wilhemina and they even explain the trope existence of the protagonist’s single, yet young mother. That was a pleasant and heart-warming surprise, the bombshells were dropped. The plot revolves a lot more around Yuuji and the ‘Midnight Lost Child’ carried within him, rather than a variety of crimson denizen enemies turning up, which was done in the first season. I guess a change is welcome.

However, there are some issues and plot-holes with the story. It might just be that I haven’t watched the first season recently (and can’t remember the details), but a lot of the deeply ingrained lore lacks continuity and seems to be newly introduced. Like a lot of the things with the Midnight Lost Child, just happen to be discovered now. Certain characters from season 1 rarely make an appearance, like the old man (though he might have left, I can’t remember). Another small issue I have, is that the overall plot, or the most important arc takes too long to develop and thus the climax occurs a bit too late. The resolution is just about squeezed in, leaving not much room for a decent conclusion. The pacing of this season ends up terrible. The most annoying thing about the story however, is the insistence of keeping up the façade of romance.

The funny thing is, it’s not completely lacking in that department. It’s just that it comes from the places least expected and not the love triangle between Yuuji, Kazumi and Shana (now a love quadrilateral since Ike fancies Kazumi), which is teased to death. It’s nice to see something actually develop between Tanaka and Ogata. And then there’s the relationship between the two creators of the Midnight Lost Child. Mentioning Chigusa might be kinda spoilery, but that one is the most pleasant surprise. And I also got the feeling that there’s something brewing between Sato and Margery, though it could just be my imagination. The love triangle itself, see’s Shana and Kazumi facing off fair and square, regarding Yuuji’s affection. And that common feeling for Yuuji actually brings the two closer together, I’m surprised it brings them closer together. Though no closer to Yuuji. In true anime fashion, various interruptions prevent Shana from telling Yuuji her feelings. And also in true anime fashion, Yuuji’s choice between the two girls is interrupted. Potential a self-spoiler or maybe foreshadowing, but Kazumi seems pessimistic about the whole deal. Kazumi’s love for Yuuji is tested towards the latter half, with an interesting development. They hype up the fact that Yuuji must choose so much and yet, it barely even happens. I think by the end of it, a choice might have been made, but they have the audacity to make it vague and not be concrete with it. As I mentioned, the conclusion in inadequate. Even if there is a season 3.

[My Opinion] A new segment, I'll add to these reviews on occasion, where I'll rant on something that has no bearing on the review itself and is just the literal gushing of my thoughts, just for a bit of fun. Here, what I want to say is that Kazumi Yoshida is the one who deserves Yuji. Tsundere characters don't deserve love, cos it seems they don't want it. Or at the very least, they are mean and treat their crush like shit. It reminds me of real life, where people of either gender, claim to love people who are actually horrible and mean, often mistreating them. It makes no sense how people can actually like being with someone who doesn't give a damn about their happiness. Just one of many reasons why I don't believe in love. Also, Shana's JP VA is Rie Kugimiya, so burn in hell.

Conclusion

If you watched season one and enjoyed it, there isn’t much of a reason not to continue with this season. A lot more backstory, some development with the characters and some actual romance, though not exactly from where it’s needed. It felt like there’s a lot less action, but only because very few battles had solid conclusions and little progress was made as a result. It’s different in that it’s not the struggle against various crimson denizens like the first season had. For folks in general, I’d recommend giving season one a try and watch this if you liked it. It’s not the same, but explores the plot in a different way. Overall, I enjoyed this sequel okay, it’s not terrible, but it isn’t mind-blowingly great either. Whatever the case, I’m glad I watched this. I gave the first season too high a score, if I were to review it and score it properly, I’d give it a 7.5 or 8. This is on par if not a tad worse for wear.

Family-friendliness Rating: 3/5 Mature references (lower is better)

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 (higher is better)

7/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
PurplePeopleEater's avatar By on Aug 12, 2014

The first season wasn't that great to begin with. It didn't really get much better. This season barely has any action and is rather bland. The relationships develop better, but other than that, it wasn't good. Right from the start it was lame. The way it started like the first season but then the whole dream thing, just boring. I don't know what else to say except this anime just isn't what I expected at all. I give it a 5 because the animation and sound was still good and the characters were better developed, but the story just wasn't worth much.

4/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
4/10 characters
5/10 overall
kingofdemons's avatar By on Mar 14, 2015

Story: Now in this 2 part I thought it stepped up to a higher level more action and new people we got to see still it is killing me that the girls are still fight over Yuuji I mean come on grow some balls you too and do your stuff that is all thank you lol

Animation: In this 2 Blu-Ray/DVD I thought the Animation got 25% better or it was still the same do not know but still very nice Animation/Art love it alot

Sound: Like I will do with 90% of the anime I see spot on with the Sound/Music/Everything 

Characters: Love all the Characters to death TTTTTTTOOOOOOO DDDDEEEEAAAAATTTHHHHH

8.7/10 story
7.9/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
8/10 characters
8.9/10 overall
Yuji123's avatar By on Jul 19, 2014

This Anime is the best anime ever i mean everything about it was awesome everybody who participated in this anime to make it the way it is now u guys are awesome the story everything is a 10++++ for me Shana & Yuji is the best anime characters i have ever seen so much emotions. i wish J.C staff would make a season 4 or a movie about what happen next i bought every single dvds they got for this. this anime only beats Naruto, One Peace, and Hunter X Hunter Good Job!!!!!!! ^_^ 

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
PhdInCartoons's avatar By on Apr 24, 2013

Story

The story is a little more well rounded than the original series, in a dramatic sense. Relationships are mope complex and allowed to change over the course. Episode to episode it isn’t that brilliant and at times is very predictable. 

Animation

The animation is very good. It makes up for all the melodrama. It is very good to look at and at times lulls you into thinking higher of this series than you should. The action sequences are also done very well. These can sometimes let down anime that look good but not this one. 

Sound

The music is very good and fits the anime quite well. Due to the work gone in to setting tone earlier on you start to be put on edge just by hearing familiar tracks, which is how music should be used. The vocal acting is also well done even though at times the characters do not say very much. 

Characters

Here is where there is a nice change from the original series. Characters are no longer stuck in a loop, repeating the same stuff over and over, there is now actual development. Characters have some believable growth which is nice to see finally happening. 

Overall

If you enjoyed the first series then you will enjoy this. It has turned up the drama a little but at the same time turned down the annoyingness of the characters. If you could only just bear the first season then it might not be for you, although it is slightly better. 

7/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.8/10 overall