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An Anime Novice's Take On... SHAKUGAN NO SHANA SEASON III

Love triangles! Flame hazes! Intense supernatural battles! This is all very well and good, but what in the World of Crimson is actually going on?

Love triangles! Flame hazes! Intense supernatural battles! This is all very well and good, but what in the World of Crimson is actually going on here? I was handed the third and final season of SHAKUGAN NO SHANA Season 3 to review, and despite hazy flashbacks thrown in every episode or two, I’m still not quite sure who the good guys are, or why we care.

Yuji doesn’t live here anymore.” How bleak.

The first episode starts with the complete absence of a beloved lead character, Yuji. His mother, his classmates... everyone has forgotten everything about him. Everyone, that is, save for two: Shana, the fiery, immortal supernatural being, and Kazumi, her human rival.

Through some minor sleuthing, I figured out that last season, Yuji was involved in an epic battle with Denizens - - creatures from another dimension who devour human “Power of Existence” to survive. Somehow, Yuji, formerly a "Torch" with the power of Midnight Lost Child (the power to reboot his own Power of Existence every night, don't you know) got swallowed up into the Crimson alternate universe and merged bodies with "Snake of the Festival," the big bad of SHAKUGAN NO SHANA.

The show also stars Alistor, Shana’s Crimson Lord, who takes the form of a sparkly pendant; Margery, a busty blonde Flame Haze with ample attitude; and Satou, her human buddy who seems to constantly be on a train. There's also a seemingly endless parade of Flame Hazes, Crimson Denizens, Crimson Lords, and more gods shaped in the form of various objects, and powers that manifest as giant, multicolored smoke animals, and... and...

Does any of this make sense to you yet?

At this point, recounting the plot seems a futile effort. If you’re familiar with the show, you don’t need my clumsy interpretation... and if you’re not, you should definitely not do what I did and start at the third season.

Here’s what I do know (at least, I think I do): Flame Hazes protect humans from Crimson Denizens. Good Crimson beings are known as Crimson Gods. When Yuji is transported to the Crimson Realm and merges with Snake of the Festival, he becomes leader of the Denizen gang, Bal Masqué and thus, Shana’s enemy.

With all the lovin’ that these two clearly feel for each other, this is a big no-no. And from what I’ve gleamed about the first two seasons, this twist is an interesting shift for the massive cast of characters. Yuji, our hero ‘til now, is something else - - but is he still in there? If I had more of an appreciation for the nuances of these relationships, I think I’d be interested in what happens to these powerful kids.

Though my confusion was a tad frustrating, there were a few saving graces. First off, Shana’s super slick Flame Haze powers. Her jet black hair turns - - you guessed it - - red as she manipulates fire and spouts impressive flame wings. Her adversaries also inhabit some place called the Palace of the Stars, a bizarre Labyrinth-esque sky castle that was a trip to watch. I found myself wishing the entire show was set there (perhaps we’d get a sneak peak of Bowie around the corner?).

And lastly, in theme with one of my favorite ‘80s fantasy flicks, Yuji/Snake are out to create a new world where Denizens no longer need to suck the life out of humans... a world called Xanadu.

Here’s where good vs. evil becomes a little less clear. These guys are trying to stop being evil, but the Flame Hazes are still out for blood. Either way, any show that has a utopia called Xanadu is A-OK in my book.

Am I the best person to be recommending SHAKUGAN NO SHANA? Probably not. But I do think it offers some interesting (if seriously convoluted) concepts, an increasingly blurred line between good and evil, and some majorly silly characters.

My advice: start from the beginning, take notes on Crimson genealogy, and if you get lost, just think like Margery. “You’re a god from an old fairy tale who was banished from eternity? So what are you doing here?

Rachel Heine is an anime novice, film buff and food blogger based in Los Angeles. She writes and edits for arts & culture online magazine, Buzzine, and runs her own personal blog at PopandSizzle. Follow her Twitter: @RachelHeine

sickVisionz moderator on April 18, 2013 at 5:57 a.m.

I've seen literally everything Shana related and enjoyed each more than the last, but I started watching the opening episode of this season and I just couldn't get into it at all. It made me question what I had ever liked about this and ultimately I think I like Rie Kugimiya (Japanese Shana) doing Tsundere characters. Shana doesn't start S3 like that and the plot, other characters, and my desire to see how the story ended weren't enough to trump that loss.

Anyways, you should probably start from Season 1, the movie, or just read the frontpage of a wiki. There are some shows where you can jump in at any point but Shana has some twists and turns along the way that could make thing confusing, along with the rule set and vocabulary the show uses.

Donwunon April 18, 2013 at 5:07 p.m.

Dropped this show after season 2 and even wrote a full review about it on MALas to why.

After season 2 ended years ago i just remember feeling deflated and pissed off with the love and predictable story elements and from what i understand it looks like i jumped off the boat at the right time.

takashichea moderator on April 18, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.

I haven't tried this show. I heard about Rie Kugimiya's legend of Tsundere from and @sickVisionz when I was doing the Tsundere mash up. Pretty much, I should have NOT start out pitting Rie Kugimiya's characters against others.

Let me call these two awesome wiki editors who did a fabulous job on the Shana pages:

and

Oh yeah, I started anime series on the later seasons, too. (Like One Piece) I wasn't too lost. Maybe, I should have skipped Haganai's first season. Not much happened, but I'm still on episode 9. Though, Shana looks really confusing to start in season 3.

Aleashaon April 19, 2013 at 4:16 a.m.

@takashichea: Thanks! It is definitely one you want to start from the beginning with otherwise you will be utterly confused.

Dig Deeper into Shakugan no Shana

On his way home from school one day, Yuji Sakai's world freezes and a young girl wielding a large sword who informs him that he's actually already dead, but still existing in the world-- oddly enough. The girl sticks around to see what happens, and he names her after her sword: Shana.

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