As one of the more popular light novel series in the mid-2000s, it was no surprise when Shakugan no Shana was made into an anime in Fall 2005. After good sales on DVD, the series got a sequel, Shakugan no Shana Second, and an OVA series Shakugan no Shana S in 2007/2009-2010 respectively. As the light novel series came to an end last September, the anime too is coming to an end this season. As it was a show I had on the “to watch” list, I finally got to marathon the previous two seasons and OVA series during the past couple of months. I thought the previous seasons ranged from good-decent, but nothing that made me want to import anything. That all changed once I got into Shakugan no Shana -Final-. This is BD volume 1 of 8. BDInfo/Screencaptures
Volume 1 comes in digipak packaging (though the size is a bit taller and wider than standard BD-size, smaller than DVD-size) and contains episodes 1-3: Lost Existence, What Must Come, and Starting a Journey, all from novel 16.
Lost Existence starts us off with a strong prologue of Shana fighting against a horde of Tomogara led by…Yuji! After shocking the audience with that revelation, we are told of how Yuji disappeared on Christmas Eve, at the very end of the second season only to reappear as the head of Bal Masque, the prime antagonist faction of the series. I felt it was a great introduction that made you want to see what was next.
And next was What Must Come, an excellent set-up episode that continues to place characters in positions for later in the story. We see the events that unite the Flame Haze under Sophie (or at least one example of it) and the beginning of Shana’s “what is strong” motif. Keisaku begins on his journey to Tokyo’s Outlaw branch, but ends up feeling the presence of Yuji, who’s come back to Misaki City.
Finally, Starting a Journey finishes the set-up for novel 16’s story by having Yuji reminiscence as he goes around the city. This allows we, the audience, to see that this is truly something that Yuji decided on his own free will. We end this volume with the meeting of Shana and Yuji first seen at the end of the final Shakugan no Shana S OVA.
Included in this set are the usual JC Staff alterations that add the usual ED animation instead of keeping the final scenes with the ED credits over them. We also get audio commentary on episode 1 by Rie Kugimiya (Shana) and Satoshi Hino (Yuji) on episode one. They reminisce over past seasons and how much better the animation feels compared to then. Kugimiya even goes “It’s like a movie!” near the end as they see the outside of Serei-den. As usual from Geneon, we have a 12 page color booklet that details the full year that Yuji has gone through, episode summaries, and character details for the Sakai family, classmates, and old Flame Hazes.
Visually, the series is standard JC Staff: nothing special, but pretty good quality around. Colors are a bit soft in areas, but it looks very pleasing IMO. Audibly, the music sounds well and everything is carried through clearly in the LPCM 2.0 mix.
Since this is the first volume, the limited editions come with a box that will hold volumes 1-4. Of course illustrations by Noizi Itou cover the front and back.
For reservations of this volume, retailers were given booklets that contain 32 pages of old DVD cover illustrations/key visuals/box artwork from Noizi Itou of the Shana anime series. For someone like me who loves Itou artwork, but hasn’t gotten the previous volumes, this was a great extra.
Finally, since I ordered from HMV instead of Amazon (due to their new shipping procedures), I also received an A3 size poster featuring one of the key visual artwork for the final series drawn by Noizi Itou.
Shana III was one of the series last year that truly surprised me at how epic it felt while watching it. Volume 2 is released in two weeks and I cannot wait to get it.