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Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part Two” concludes the series with plenty of action and a storyline that gives closure.  An exciting series that got better with each season… If you have watched this series since season one, season three is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Shakugan no Shana: Season Three, Part Two

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 13-24 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 14+

Release Date: March 26, 2013

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi

Music by Ko Otani

Originally Created by Yashichiro Takahashi

Original Character Design by Noizi Ito

Character Design by Mai Otsuka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Director of Photography: Tomokazu Nakanishi

Producer: Isao Hidaka, Kazuma Miki, Kentaro Hattori, Nobuhiro Nakayama

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Cherami Leigh as Shana (“Enpatsu Shakugan no Uchite”)

Satoshi Hino/Josh Grelle as Yuuji Sakai

Ayako Kawasumi/Brina Palencia as Kazumi Yoshida

Hitomi Nabatame/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Margery Daw

Kenji Nojima/Greg Ayres as Keisaku Satō

Masashi Ebara/Kent Williams as Alastor (“Tenjou no Gouka”)

Mitsuo Iwata/Justin Cook as Marcosias

Shizuka Itou/Carli Mosier as Wilhelmina Carmel (“Honjō no Shite”)

Mamiko Noto/Lindsay Seidel as Fumina Konoe

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Aaron Dismuke as Orobas

Nobuo TobitaBarry Yandell as Dantalion

Takaya Kuroda/Brad Jackson as Sabrac

Misaki City becomes a battleground as the power struggle between paranormal armies rages on. The Flame Hazes face defeat as Yuji incites chaos in the last stages of his plan. Unshaken, Shana rallies her remaining allies with a spark of hope. As the Gods of the Earth add their firepower to the fray, Shana and Yuji clash once more in the ultimate battle that will either break their heated bond or save humanity from the grips of evil for good.

With Yuji now devoting himself to help the Crimson Denizens in his effort to prevent Shana from dying, but this does not set well with Shana who has vowed to destroy the Denizen.

In part two of “Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part Two”, the war continues between the Flame Hazes and the Crimson Denizen and Shana and Yuji go to battle.  It is revealed by the Snake of the Festival that he plans to create a new world, Xanadu,  a copy of the human world but one that would be a paradise for Denizens and those with the Power of Existence.  So, all Denizens can leave the world and no longer worry about the Flame Hazes trying to kill them.

It’s a battle in which lives are lost and where the Crimson Denizen seem to be the victors in this war…but Shana has one plan left in order for survival, but will Yuji continue to fight against her or will he help her?

Find out in the conclusion of “Shakugan no Shana Season 3, Part Two”!

What is “Shakugan no Shana”?

In 2002, Yashichiro Takahashi and illustrator Noizi Ito created the Japanese light novel series “Shana”.

Published by ASCII Media Works from 2002 through 2011, the light novel series would receive two manga adaptations serialized in “Dengeki Daioh” and “Dengeki Maioh” and in 2005-2006, a PS2 and Nintendo DS video game and would also receive an anime series adaptation by J.C. Staff. A second season titled “Shakugan no Shana Second” was aired in 2007-2008, followed by a four-episode OVA in 2009-2010 and most recently, a third season titled “Shakugan no Shana Final” airing in 2011-2012.

In August 2012, FUNimation released the first season on Blu-ray and DVD. In December 2012, FUNimation released the second season and the OVA and “Shakugan no Shana” movie are set for release on Blu-ray and DVD in January 2013.

“Shakugan no Shana” is a series in which there are two worlds…the Crimson Realm and the human world. For the Crimson Realm, the main people living in that world are Crimson Denizens and these individuals can manipulate the “Power of Existence”. Those who excel and are powerful are known as “Lords of the Crimson Realm” and those who are even powerful are known as Gods.

But there are those who are Crimson Denizens who do not care about the balance between both worlds and have their own goals, some that are bad, some that are good. Some of the Lords have contacted humans, these Denizens are known as “Flame Haze” and their primary duty is to maintain balance between both worlds and to stop and destroy any Denizen using their powers to disrupt the balance between both worlds.

In Misaki City is a teenager named Yuji Sakai. A normal guy who lives with his mother and goes to school and hangs out with friends, his world is changed when he gets involved in a conflict involving a young female Flame Haze and Yuji is impaled by a Denizen/monster. As Shana defeats the monster, she informs Yuji that he is actually dead and he has been dead for quite some time.

She then tells him that he is a Torch, a temporary replacement entity for a human who’s “Power of Existence” is depleting. She introduces him to a world where he can see blue flames attached to certain people, these people are already dead but will soon disappear from this world.

He tries to befriend the Flame Haze who has a cold demeanor and names her Shana after her sword. He also learns that Shana works together with a Lord of the Crimson Realm named Alastor, to which she is bound. Alastor tries to help Shana by mentoring her but also watching out for her. He is also quite fascinated with Yuji because unlike most humans who try to live their final days in sadness, Yuji just wants to hang out with Shan and learn about this new world and use his last days of life to protect his friends.

But when Yuji’s blue torch was about to be depleted, he is still alive and it is revealed that Yuji is a special torch known as Mystes and these Mystes contain a Treasure Tool, a magical object created by the Denizens that can provide special abilities or Powers of Unrestraint to a Flame Haze. They learn than with Yuji, he has the power to restore his Power of Existence, his torch every night at exactly midnight.

And because his nature is unlike any human that Shana has come in contact with, not only does she get more powerful when she is with him, she starts to become fascinated with him to the point that she trains Yuji to be strong, as they will be in battle often with other evil Denizens.

But as the two spend a lot of time training, Yuji treats her like a good friend. Let’s her stay over his house and she eventually gets close to her mother and for the first time, Shana experiences emotions that she has never had. And that includes “love”, as she starts to find herself jealous when other girls are near him and she has this need for wanting to be with him no matter what.

Is Shana, the Flame Haze falling for Yuji?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to other characters such as Kazumi Yoshida, a teenager who has a crush on Yuji and is jealous of Shana, that she declares Shana her love-rival. Also, another Flame Haze is in the city. Her name is Margery Daw, a well-endowed, blonde alcoholic. She uses her book Grimoire, a divine vessel to which she is bound to and her main goal is seeking revenge against a Denizen that uses a silver colored flame. She chooses Yuji’s classmates Keisaku Satou and Eita Tanaka to be her guides, but more than often, she uses them to crash at their place, so she can drink as much alcohol as she wants.

As Shana, Alastor and Wilhelmina train Yuji for upcoming battles, in the first season of “Shakugan no Shana”. As Yuji does all he can to train to become more powerful in the second season, Shana’s emotions are being tested when her jealousy of other girls trying to get closer to Yuji starts to bother her.

But will Yuji realizes how Shana truly feels about him. But by bringing love into their currently relationship, will that cause more harm to Yuji’s development?

In season three, Yuji disappears from Misaki City. Inside the Mystes which has kept Yuji alive, thanks to two entities that have essentially merged with Yuji. Johan, the lover of Pheles who created the Mystes and “The Snake of the Festival”, the Crimson Lord with his black flame and silver shadow and one of the true gods of the Crmson World and the founder of the Bal Masque.

While Shana is unaware of what has happened to Yuji (who has been forgotten by his closest friends and family), she believes that Yuji is still alive. Meanwhile, Yuji makes a contract with a Crimson Denizen and takes the throne of the Palace of the Stars as the new leader of Bal Masque.

But what happens when Yuji returns to Misaki City and reveals that he is now the Crimson God, the Snake of the Festival. And he has returned to save Shana from her inevitable fate as a Flame Haze of fighting Denizens until she burns out.

Refusing to believe the Yuji is now working with the Crimson Denizens, can these two people who had feelings for each other, now become enemies?

In the second half of season three of “Shakugan no Shana”, the war between Flame Hazes and the Crimson Denizen continues to heat up as the battle leads to many lives lost.  With only several of Flame Hazes alive to fight, while it looks as if the Crimson Denizens are the victors and a new world known as Xanadu will be created for Denizen and Torches, Shana has a plan that will only work if Yuji helps her, but will he?

VIDEO:

“Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition. It’s important to remember that the series is a TV series not an OVA or film. So, while a colorful series, it is a bit soft. A bit better when it comes to animation and shading, especially art background that the previous seasons. But for the most part, the anime TV series looks good as expected for a TV series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO:

“Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part Two” gets a bump up in audio quality, with the English lossless track receiving a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack and the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. As one will expect from the English soundtrack having a lossless 5.1 track, you get better dynamic range. Better use of the surround channels during the more action-driven scenes and dialogue and music are crystal clear coming through the front and center channels.

Voice acting is well-done on both soundtracks but its important to let people know that the original series was dubbed by a Canadian cast from the Geneon release, while the second season features an all new cast courtesy of FUNimation. But for the most part, FUNimation did a very good job at casting because the new voice actors are not so far off from the original Geneon voice talent.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season 3, Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 14 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Jerry Jewell and Scott Freeman (Haborym).
  • Episode 24 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Jerry Jewell with Cherami Lei (Shana).
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan Final Destruction 2 – (9:41) Featuring short clips featuring the very small Shana-Tan and friends.
  • Promotional Video – (2:31) The Japanese promotional video for “Shakuga no Shana Final”.
  • Textless Opening Song and Closing Song – Featuring “Serment” and five closing songs: “I’ll Believe”, “ONE – Extended Version”, “U/N”, ONE”, “Koubou (Beam of Light)
  • U.S. Trailer
  • FUNimation Trailers

The final episodes of “Shakugan no Shana” continues with the war between the Flame Hazes and the Crimson Denizens.

Many lives have been lost due to this war and now with the Flame Haze Army nearly depleted, it appears that this war for Xanadu to be created will in fact happen.  But Shana has one more plan up her sleeve and it requires Yuji to believe in her and support her, but will he?

Who survives this war and who will die?  Both sides put everything on the line but what of Shana and Yuji, will these two individuals who care for each other, fight to the death or will they find a way to be together? Or can they ever be together?

All will be answered in these final episodes of “Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part Two”!

While I can’t speak about the specifics of the war, as most of it revolves around strategy and Yuji doing what he thinks is right, in order to protect the person he most cares about.  It’s an interesting twist to see Yuji of all people, become the antagonist of season 3.  Is he good?  Is he bad?  There must be a reason to why he wants to help the Crimson Denizen create Xanadu but also a reason why he would hurt Shana.

Suffice to say, the cover of the Blu-ray pretty much gives viewers an idea of how things will be between Yuji and Shana.  It’s just about these two hard headed individuals needing to talk things out and communicate as both have been operating head strong on their own fruition.

It’s possibly a little maddening to know that so much lives would be saved if these two have communicated but that is how these two characters have been, individuals who kept everything to themselves and thus we get this story of romantic and emotional misunderstanding on top of a crazy war with so much on the line.

Still, because of the action and how the story ramps up to be a bit darker, action-packed and a bit more complex, “Shakugan no Shana Season 3” is no doubt the best season of the entire series.  And writers did a wonderful job of providing closure to these characters.

As for the Blu-ray release, there is definitely an improvement with animation with the third season of “Shakugan no Shana”. We see more shading and better art backgrounds and as expected from a TV series, you get the softness as well. So, while there is an improvement with overall animation, softness is still seen as I was expecting a much more vibrant and sharper picture compared to the previous two seasons. As for audio, the English dub has better dynamic range thanks to its 5.1 lossless soundtrack but both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-acted. As for special features, you get two audio commentary plus another “Shaku-Tan” special feature.

Overall, “Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part Two” concludes the series with plenty of action and a storyline that gives closure.  An exciting series that got better with each season… If you have watched this series since season one, season three is recommended!

Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part One” definitely turned things around with the “Shakugan no Shana” series by making it more darker, more emotional and more action-packed now that the war has begun.  I can’t wait to see how the series ends in part two but for now, if you have dedicated so much time watching the previous two seasons, the movie and the OVA’s, “Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part One” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Shakugan no Shana: Season Three, Part One

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2011-2012

DURATION: 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 14+

Release Date: March 26, 2013

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi

Music by Ko Otani

Originally Created by Yashichiro Takahashi

Original Character Design by Noizi Ito

Character Design by Mai Otsuka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Director of Photography: Tomokazu Nakanishi

Producer: Isao Hidaka, Kazuma Miki, Kentaro Hattori, Nobuhiro Nakayama

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Cherami Leigh as Shana (“Enpatsu Shakugan no Uchite”)

Satoshi Hino/Josh Grelle as Yuuji Sakai

Ayako Kawasumi/Brina Palencia as Kazumi Yoshida

Hitomi Nabatame/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Margery Daw

Kenji Nojima/Greg Ayres as Keisaku Satō

Masashi Ebara/Kent Williams as Alastor (“Tenjou no Gouka”)

Mitsuo Iwata/Justin Cook as Marcosias

Shizuka Itou/Carli Mosier as Wilhelmina Carmel (“Honjō no Shite”)

Mamiko Noto/Lindsay Seidel as Fumina Konoe

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Aaron Dismuke as Orobas

Nobuo TobitaBarry Yandell as Dantalion

Takaya Kuroda/Brad Jackson as Sabrac

Yuji disappeared the fateful night he was supposed to choose between a life combatting evil by Shana’s side or as a normal teenager. He returns from near-death to lead the Crimson Denizens in a dubious plot to bring peace to the universe – but Shana isn’t fooled. In an explosive reunion, the fiery warrior faces her unlikeliest of foes while Flame Hazes from across the world join forces to ignite a war that will determine the fate of all supernatural kind.

This limited edition includes a chipboard art box sized to hold both parts 1 and 2 of Shakugan no Shana season 3.

For over a decade, “Shakugan no Shana” has entertained readers of the original light novels by Yashichiro Takahashi featuring artwork by Noizi Ito.  For seven years, “Shakugan no Shana” has entertained manga readers and anime fans.

And for the longest time, we have seen the characters of Yuji Sakai and Flame Haze, Shana, form this unbreakable bond and seeing this bond lead to possible romantic interests between these two characters.

But we also know that Yuji is a teenager who had died but has been given a new chance to live thanks to the Mystes, which contains a treasure known as the “Midnight Lost Child”, a special power that allows normal torches to restore their “Power of Existence” at midnight.

But one night, Yuji Sekai disappeared from Misaki City.  What has happened is that inside the Mystes, two entities have essentially merged with Yuji.  Johan, the lover of Pheles who created the Mystes and  “The Snake of the Festival”, the Crimson Lord with his black flame and silver shadow and one of the true gods of the Crmson World and the founder of the Bal Masque.

While Shana is unaware of what has happened to Yuji (who has been forgotten by his closest friends and family), she believes that Yuji is still alive.  Meanwhile, Yuji makes a contract with a Crimson Denizen and takes the throne of the Palace of the Stars as the new leader of Bal Masque.

But what happens when Yuji returns to Misaki City and reveals that he is now the Crimson God, the Snake of the Festival.  And he has returned to save Shana from her inevitable fate as a Flame Haze of fighting Denizens until she burns out.

Refusing to believe the Yuji is now working with the Crimson Denizens, can these two people who had feelings for each other, now become enemies?

What is “Shakugan no Shana”?

In 2002, Yashichiro Takahashi and illustrator Noizi Ito created the Japanese light novel series “Shana”.

Published by ASCII Media Works from 2002 through 2011, the light novel series would receive two manga adaptations serialized in “Dengeki Daioh” and “Dengeki Maioh” and in 2005-2006, a PS2 and Nintendo DS video game and would also receive an anime series adaptation by J.C. Staff. A second season titled “Shakugan no Shana Second” was aired in 2007-2008, followed by a four-episode OVA in 2009-2010 and most recently, a third season titled “Shakugan no Shana Final” airing in 2011-2012.

In August 2012, FUNimation released the first season on Blu-ray and DVD. In December 2012, FUNimation released the second season and the OVA and “Shakugan no Shana” movie are set for release on Blu-ray and DVD in January 2013.

“Shakugan no Shana” is a series in which there are two worlds…the Crimson Realm and the human world. For the Crimson Realm, the main people living in that world are Crimson Denizens and these individuals can manipulate the “Power of Existence”. Those who excel and are powerful are known as “Lords of the Crimson Realm” and those who are even powerful are known as Gods.

But there are those who are Crimson Denizens who do not care about the balance between both worlds and have their own goals, some that are bad, some that are good. Some of the Lords have contacted humans, these Denizens are known as “Flame Haze” and their primary duty is to maintain balance between both worlds and to stop and destroy any Denizen using their powers to disrupt the balance between both worlds.

In Misaki City is a teenager named Yuji Sakai. A normal guy who lives with his mother and goes to school and hangs out with friends, his world is changed when he gets involved in a conflict involving a young female Flame Haze and Yuji is impaled by a Denizen/monster. As Shana defeats the monster, she informs Yuji that he is actually dead and he has been dead for quite some time.

She then tells him that he is a Torch, a temporary replacement entity for a human who’s “Power of Existence” is depleting. She introduces him to a world where he can see blue flames attached to certain people, these people are already dead but will soon disappear from this world.

He tries to befriend the Flame Haze who has a cold demeanor and names her Shana after her sword. He also learns that Shana works together with a Lord of the Crimson Realm named Alastor, to which she is bound. Alastor tries to help Shana by mentoring her but also watching out for her. He is also quite fascinated with Yuji because unlike most humans who try to live their final days in sadness, Yuji just wants to hang out with Shan and learn about this new world and use his last days of life to protect his friends.

But when Yuji’s blue torch was about to be depleted, he is still alive and it is revealed that Yuji is a special torch known as Mystes and these Mystes contain a Treasure Tool, a magical object created by the Denizens that can provide special abilities or Powers of Unrestraint to a Flame Haze. They learn than with Yuji, he has the power to restore his Power of Existence, his torch every night at exactly midnight.

And because his nature is unlike any human that Shana has come in contact with, not only does she get more powerful when she is with him, she starts to become fascinated with him to the point that she trains Yuji to be strong, as they will be in battle often with other evil Denizens.

But as the two spend a lot of time training, Yuji treats her like a good friend. Let’s her stay over his house and she eventually gets close to her mother and for the first time, Shana experiences emotions that she has never had. And that includes “love”, as she starts to find herself jealous when other girls are near him and she has this need for wanting to be with him no matter what.

Is Shana, the Flame Haze falling for Yuji?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to other characters such as Kazumi Yoshida, a teenager who has a crush on Yuji and is jealous of Shana, that she declares Shana her love-rival. Also, another Flame Haze is in the city. Her name is Margery Daw, a well-endowed, blonde alcoholic. She uses her book Grimoire, a divine vessel to which she is bound to and her main goal is seeking revenge against a Denizen that uses a silver colored flame. She chooses Yuji’s classmates Keisaku Satou and Eita Tanaka to be her guides, but more than often, she uses them to crash at their place, so she can drink as much alcohol as she wants.

As Shana, Alastor and Wilhelmina train Yuji for upcoming battles, in the first season of “Shakugan no Shana”. As Yuji does all he can to train to become more powerful in the second season, Shana’s emotions are being tested when her jealousy of other girls trying to get closer to Yuji starts to bother her.

But will Yuji realizes how Shana truly feels about him. But by bringing love into their currently relationship, will that cause more harm to Yuji’s development?

In season three, Yuji disappears from Misaki City.  Inside the Mystes which has kept Yuji alive, thanks to two entities that have essentially merged with Yuji.  Johan, the lover of Pheles who created the Mystes and  “The Snake of the Festival”, the Crimson Lord with his black flame and silver shadow and one of the true gods of the Crmson World and the founder of the Bal Masque.

While Shana is unaware of what has happened to Yuji (who has been forgotten by his closest friends and family), she believes that Yuji is still alive.  Meanwhile, Yuji makes a contract with a Crimson Denizen and takes the throne of the Palace of the Stars as the new leader of Bal Masque.

But what happens when Yuji returns to Misaki City and reveals that he is now the Crimson God, the Snake of the Festival.  And he has returned to save Shana from her inevitable fate as a Flame Haze of fighting Denizens until she burns out.

Refusing to believe the Yuji is now working with the Crimson Denizens, can these two people who had feelings for each other, now become enemies?

VIDEO:

“Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part One” is presented in 1080p High Definition. It’s important to remember that the series is a TV series not an OVA or film.   So, while a colorful series, it is a bit soft.  A bit better when it comes to animation and shading, especially art background that the previous seasons.  But for the most part, the anime TV series looks good as expected for a TV series  on Blu-ray.

AUDIO:

“Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part One” gets a bump up in audio quality, with the English lossless track receiving a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack and the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. As one will expect from the English soundtrack having a lossless 5.1 track, you get better dynamic range. Better use of the surround channels during the more action-driven scenes and dialogue and music are crystal clear coming through the front and center channels.

Voice acting is well-done on both soundtracks but its important to let people know that the original series was dubbed by a Canadian cast from the Geneon release, while the second season features an all new cast courtesy of FUNimation. But for the most part, FUNimation did a very good job at casting because the new voice actors are not so far off from the original Geneon voice talent.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season 3, Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 4 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Jerry Jewell and ADR Engineer Alyssa Galindo.
  • Episode 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Jerry Jewell with Josh Grelle (voice of Yuji).
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan Final Destruction – (8:51) Featuring short clips featuring the very small Shana-Tan and friends.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • FUNimation Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season 3, Part One” includes a chipboard art box sized to hold both parts 1 and 2 of “Shakugan no Shana” season 3.

The most intense season of “Shakugan no Shana” yet!

I must say that I’m quite surprised by how things have changed in season three compared to the previous two seasons.

In season one, it was about the developing chemistry between Yuji and Shana and the love triangle while fighting Crimson Denizens.  In season two, it was about relationships and the growing relationship between Yuji and Shana.

And just when you think these two have become close, Yuji disappears and because of his love for Shana, he joins with the Crimson Denizens… the enemy!

And because there are two spirits that are tied to Yuji because of the Mystes, you wonder of how much of this motivation to alter reality is so much Yuji vs. the Cromson God, The Snake of the Festival.

The story also gets a bit complex as more and more characters are introduced.  We are introduced to the Outlaw – Widened Eye of Incineration, Ernest Flieder, who wants Wilhelmina to join them in battle.  We are also introduced to the Scatterer of Sparkling Light, Rebecca Reed.

We see Keisaku now realizing his true feelings towards Margery Daw and the war between the Flame Hazes and Crimson Denizens begins!  Wilhelmina, Rebecca and Khamsin take on Sabrac and Shana vows to use the Heaven and Earth Sundering spell to kill the God of Creation and the Bal Masque.

As for the Blu-ray release, there is definitely an improvement with animation  with the third season of “Shakugan no Shana”.  We see more shading and better art backgrounds and as expected from a TV series, you get the softness as well.  So, while there is an improvement with overall animation, softness is still seen as I was expecting a much more vibrant and sharper picture compared to the previous two seasons.  As for audio, the English dub has better dynamic range thanks to its 5.1 lossless soundtrack but both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-acted.  As for special features, you get two audio commentary plus another “Shaku-Tan” special feature.

Overall, “Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part One” definitely turned things around with the “Shakugan no Shana” series by making it more darker, more emotional and more action-packed now that the war has begun.  I can’t wait to see how the series ends in part two but for now, if you have dedicated so much time watching the previous two seasons, the movie and the OVA’s, “Shakugan no Shana Season 3: Part One” is recommended!

Shakugan no Shana: The Movie (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” is a Blu-ray release for those who have no intention of watching the first season on DVD!  Exciting and full of action!

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Shakugan no Shana: The Movie

YEAR OF MOVIE RELEASE: 2007

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 14+

Release Date: January 22, 2013

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi

Music by Ko Otani

Original Work by Yashichiro Takahashi

Original Character Design by Noizi Ito

Character Design by Mai Otsuka

Art Director: Shin Okui

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Director of Photography: Shingo Fukuyo

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Cherami Leigh as Shana (“Enpatsu Shakugan no Uchite”)

Satoshi Hino/Josh Grelle as Yuuji Sakai

Ayako Kawasumi/Brina Palencia as Kazumi Yoshida

Hitomi Nabatame/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Margery Daw

Masashi Ebara/Kent Williams as Alastor (“Tenjou no Gouka”)

Mitsuo Iwata/Justin Cook as Marcosias

Wielding a blazing sword, Shana’s sole purpose is to fight demon-like beings that consume human lives. During a volatile war to stop a foe from devouring every life in Misaki City, Shana cuts Yuji in her crossfire. When the villain discovers this teenage boy is gifted with an immense power, he holds Yuji hostage to lure Shana into a trap that could to destroy the huntress and the entire city!

In 2002, Yashichiro Takahashi and illustrator Noizi Ito created the Japanese light novel series “Shana”.

Published by ASCII Media Works from 2002 through 2011, the light novel series would receive two manga adaptations serialized in “Dengeki Daioh” and “Dengeki Maioh” and in 2005-2006, a PS2 and Nintendo DS video game and would also receive an anime series adaptation by J.C. Staff in 2007-2008.

A second season titled “Shakugan no Shana Second” was aired in 2007-2008, followed by a four-episode OVA in 2009-2010 and most recently, a third season titled “Shakugan no Shana Final” airing in 2011-2012.

But not long after the first series ended in Japan in March 2007, the animated film was released in theaters in April 2007.  Later that year, the DVD for “Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” was released in two different editions, the director’s cut and original version and a director’s cut only release.  In January 2013, FUNimation who has released the first two seasons on DVD and Blu-ray will be releasing the Director’s Cut version of the film in a Blu-ray+DVD combo.

“Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” is set in Misaki City.  Where there is a human world, there is also the Crimson Realm.

For the Crimson Realm, the main people living in that world are Crimson Denizens and these individuals can manipulate the “Power of Existence”. Those who excel and are powerful are known as “Lords of the Crimson Realm” and those who are even powerful are known as Gods.

But there are those who are Crimson Denizens who do not care about the balance between both worlds and have their own goals, some that are bad, some that are good. Some of the Lords have contacted humans, these Denizens are known as “Flame Haze” and their primary duty is to maintain balance between both worlds and to stop and destroy any Denizen using their powers to disrupt the balance between both worlds.

In Misaki City,  a teenager named Yuji Sakai is a normal guy who lives with his mother and goes to school and hangs out with friends, his world is changed when he gets involved in a conflict involving a young female Flame Haze and Yuji is impaled by a a Rinne, a denizen that feeds off remnants of ones existence. As Shana defeats the monster, she informs Yuji that he is actually dead and he has been dead for quite some time.

She then tells him that he is a Torch/Mystes, a temporary replacement entity for a human who’s “Power of Existence” is depleting. She introduces him to a world where he can see blue flames attached to certain people, these people are already dead but will soon disappear from this world.

He tries to befriend the Flame Haze who has a cold demeanor and names her Shana after her sword. He also learns that Shana works together with a Lord of the Crimson Realm named Alastor, to which she is bound. Alastor tries to help Shana by mentoring her but also watching out for her. He is also quite fascinated with Yuji because unlike most humans who try to live their final days in sadness, Yuji just wants to hang out with Shan and learn about this new world and use his last days of life to protect his friends.

But when Yuji’s blue torch was about to be depleted, he is still alive and it is revealed that Yuji is a special torch known as Mystes and these Mystes contain a Treasure Tool, a magical object created by the Denizens that can provide special abilities or Powers of Unrestraint to a Flame Haze. They learn than with Yuji, he has the power to restore his Power of Existence, his torch every night at exactly midnight.

Meanwhile, Yuji sees his friend Yukari, who happens to have a flame that is so small.  Shana tells Yuji that her flame is small because she will be disappearing by the end of the day.  And as the two go to school, he notices that slowly, everyone is starting to forget about Yukari and when Shana starts attending the class, Yukari is replaced by Shana.

But as the two spend a lot of time training, Yuji treats her like a good friend. Let’s her stay over his house and she eventually gets close to her mother and for the first time, Shana experiences emotions that she has never had. And that includes “love”, as she starts to find herself jealous when other girls are near him and she has this need for wanting to be with him no matter what.

Meanwhile, a mysterious man in a white tuxedo has his attention on Shana and Yuji and is preparing for the right moment to reveal himself to them.

She then tells him that he is a Torch, a temporary replacement entity for a human who’s “Power of Existence” is depleting. She introduces him to a world where he can see blue flames attached to certain people, these people are already dead but will soon disappear from this world.  And because Yuji is a torch, he will be dying soon.

He tries to befriend the Flame Haze who has a cold demeanor and names her Shana after her sword. He also learns that Shana works together with a Lord of the Crimson Realm named Alastor, to which she is bound. Alastor tries to help Shana by mentoring her but also watching out for her. He is also quite fascinated with Yuji because unlike most humans who try to live their final days in sadness, Yuji just wants to hang out with Shan and learn about this new world and use his last days of life to protect his friends.

But when Yuji’s blue torch was about to be depleted, she notices that his flame is growing bigger instead of depleting.  Shana believes that its because there is a Treasure Tool inside of him.  A magical object created by the Denizens that can provide special abilities or Powers of Unrestraint to a Flame Haze.

As far as the pulsing torches, Alastor suspects there is another Flame Haze in the city and is trying to draw out Friagne, a twisted Flame Haze murderer who has this close relationship with a doll he calls Marianne and he is bent on performing the Power of Unrestraint in order to make Marianne an independent being.

And Friagne ends up capturing Yuji to make his twisted dream come true.  But will Shana be able to rescue him?

VIDEO:

“Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It’s important to remember that while the film is pretty much a 98-minute version of the first season, it’s an animated film not a TV series and thus there is an improvement on the overall picture quality.  Characters have much more shading, art backgrounds are much more detailed and the film looks more vibrant and colorful than its TV series counterpart.  Some scenes tend to be re-used, especially classroom scenes but for the most part, the animated film looks good with the newer footage or backgrounds featuring more detail.

AUDIO:

“Shakugan no Shana” is presented in Japanese and English DolbyTrue HD 5.1.   The animated film tend to have more dynamic range and better use of the surround channels compared to the TV series.  So there is an improvement thanks to the lossless soundtrack.  Voice acting is well-done on both soundtracks but its important to let people know that the original “Shakugan no Shana” series was dubbed by a Canadian cast from the Geneon release, while the film (and the second season) features an all new cast courtesy of FUNimation.  But for the most part, FUNimation did a very good job at casting because the new voice actors are not so far off from the original Geneon voice talent.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box: Review Lesson  – (5:44) Featuring super-deformed versions of the characters undergoing knowledge training.
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan, the Theatrical Version – (5:46) Shakugan no Shana-Tan shorts (which are usually about a very short version of Shana or Marianne).
  • Shakugan no Shana Movie Promo Videos(4:55) The Japanese movie promos for “Shakugan no Shana: The Movie”.
  • Shakugan no Shana Movie DVD Commercials (:49) Commercial for the DVD set of “Shakugan no Shana”.
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:02) FUNimation trailer for “Shakugan no Shana: The Movie”.
  • Trailers – Featuring FUNimation trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season Two” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.

“Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” is a film that manages to capture the action of the original first season of the TV series in 98-minutes. I have to admit that what made me enjoy the original series was its use of characters, there was more focus on relationships with Shana, Yuji, Kazumi, Keisaku, Eita and Hayato, “Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” eliminates that.

But because there is no way to fit 24-episodes into a 98-minute film, they had to cut certain elements out and that is primarily anything to do with Yuji’s friends, Margery Daw’s friendship with Eita and Hayato and also the love triangle between Kazumi, Shana and Yuji.

So, the animated film primarily focuses on Shana and Yuji, how Yuji has the Power of Existence and although the film does bringing in Flame Haze, Margery Daw, the film pretty much focuses on Yuji trying to learn about torches, Shana’s responsibilities and eventually leading up to a battle between Shana and Friagne.

While I do recommend the first season of “Shana no Shakugan”, unfortunately, because it is an older anime series, the first season was an upconvert that didn’t look the greatest on Blu-ray.   So, fortunately with “Shakugan no Shana: the Movie”, it’s definitely a major improvement on Blu-ray compared to the original TV series in terms of detail of the art backgrounds.  I did notice some scenes that may have been re-used from the TV series (because they have less detail and are plain looking) but for a 2008 animated film, there is an improvement of overall picture quality and it helps that the film is presented in lossless 5.1 in both English and Japanese.

And as for special features, there are no audio commentaries but you do get the Shaku-Tan special features and Japanese promo and DVD-set commercials.

Overall, “Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” was an enjoyable animated film but of course, with the TV series having so much more story and more characters featured, I do prefer the TV series than a shortened animated film version.  But for those who are interested in “Shakugano no Shana” and have no interest in purchasing or watching the first season but are curious to find out if the series is worth pursuing, especially the Blu-ray releases for the second season and the upcoming OVA will definitely want to pickup the animated film version (note: I still do emphasize that the TV series is much better in terms of storyline, so I do recommend checking out Season One on Blu-ray).

But pretty much, the “Shakugan no Shana: The Movie” is a Blu-ray release for those who have no intention of watching the first season on DVD!  While not having the more dramatic elements incorporated to the film version, it still is quite exciting and is action-packed!

Shakugan no Shana: Season Two (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A fun, action-packed anime series with a teenage love story! “Shakugan no Shana” continues where the first season left off with teenage emotions now at their all-time high.  But while love and jealousy is in the air, a war is brewing between the Flame Hazes and Denizens.  Find out who is victorious in “Shakugan no Shana: Season Two”!

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Shakugan no Shana: Season Two

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2007-2008

DURATION: 1-24 (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 14+

Release Date: December 18, 2012

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi

Music by Ko Otani

Original Work by Yashichiro Takahashi

Character Design by Noizi Ito

Character Design by Mai Otsuka

Art Director: Shin Okui

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Director of Photography: Shingo Fukuyo

Producer: Kohei Kawase

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Cherami Leigh as Shana (“Enpatsu Shakugan no Uchite”)

Satoshi Hino/Josh Grelle as Yuuji Sakai

Ayako Kawasumi/Brina Palencia as Kazumi Yoshida

Hitomi Nabatame/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Margery Daw

Kenji Nojima/Greg Ayres as Keisaku Satō

Masashi Ebara/Kent Williams as Alastor (“Tenjou no Gouka”)

Mitsuo Iwata/Justin Cook as Marcosias

Shizuka Itou/Carli Mosier as Wilhelmina Carmel (“Honjō no Shite”)

Mamiko Noto/Lindsay Seidel as Fumina Konoe

This bundle contains Shakugan no Shana Season 2 part 1 (limited edition) and part 2 plus an art booklet!

The heated bond between Shana and Yuji is tested as their paranormal adventures continue. The Flame Haze fends off supernatural foes by night, but by day, she contends with a classmate who’s also after Yuji’s heart. Emotions flare as a suspicious transfer student who resembles a recently defeated Denizen clings to Yuji. His training rises in intensity when they catch wind of a revered warrior in search of her lost lover, who will stop at nothing to extract the power keeping Yuji alive!

It’s another season of “Shakugan no Shana” but as Shana and Yuji take on Denizens, there is another thing that Shana must deal with and that’s jealousy when she realizes there are other girls who are vying for Yuji’s attention.

With Shana and Yoshida both competing to get close to Yuji, both must get used to Konoe who also starts to get close around Yuji.  Meanwhile, Yuji continues to get stronger as he trains with Shana and Wilhelmina, but making his return is their biggest enemy yet, the Destructive Blade known as Sabrac.

Will the group find a way to beat the powerful Sabrac?  Find out in “Shakugan no Shana: Season Two”!

What is “Shakugan no Shana”?

In 2002, Yashichiro Takahashi and illustrator Noizi Ito created the Japanese light novel series “Shana”.

Published by ASCII Media Works from 2002 through 2011, the light novel series would receive two manga adaptations serialized in “Dengeki Daioh” and “Dengeki Maioh” and in 2005-2006, a PS2 and Nintendo DS video game and would also receive an anime series adaptation by J.C. Staff. A second season titled “Shakugan no Shana Second” was aired in 2007-2008, followed by a four-episode OVA in 2009-2010 and most recently, a third season titled “Shakugan no Shana Final” airing in 2011-2012.

In August 2012, FUNimation released the first season on Blu-ray and DVD.  In December 2012, FUNimation released the second season and the OVA and “Shakugan no Shana” movie are set for release on Blu-ray and DVD in January 2013.

“Shakugan no Shana” is a series in which there are two worlds…the Crimson Realm and the human world. For the Crimson Realm, the main people living in that world are Crimson Denizens and these individuals can manipulate the “Power of Existence”. Those who excel and are powerful are known as “Lords of the Crimson Realm” and those who are even powerful are known as Gods.

But there are those who are Crimson Denizens who do not care about the balance between both worlds and have their own goals, some that are bad, some that are good. Some of the Lords have contacted humans, these Denizens are known as “Flame Haze” and their primary duty is to maintain balance between both worlds and to stop and destroy any Denizen using their powers to disrupt the balance between both worlds.

In Misaki City is a teenager named Yuji Sakai. A normal guy who lives with his mother and goes to school and hangs out with friends, his world is changed when he gets involved in a conflict involving a young female Flame Haze and Yuji is impaled by a Denizen/monster. As Shana defeats the monster, she informs Yuji that he is actually dead and he has been dead for quite some time.

She then tells him that he is a Torch, a temporary replacement entity for a human who’s “Power of Existence” is depleting. She introduces him to a world where he can see blue flames attached to certain people, these people are already dead but will soon disappear from this world.

He tries to befriend the Flame Haze who has a cold demeanor and names her Shana after her sword. He also learns that Shana works together with a Lord of the Crimson Realm named Alastor, to which she is bound. Alastor tries to help Shana by mentoring her but also watching out for her. He is also quite fascinated with Yuji because unlike most humans who try to live their final days in sadness, Yuji just wants to hang out with Shan and learn about this new world and use his last days of life to protect his friends.

But when Yuji’s blue torch was about to be depleted, he is still alive and it is revealed that Yuji is a special torch known as Mystes and these Mystes contain a Treasure Tool, a magical object created by the Denizens that can provide special abilities or Powers of Unrestraint to a Flame Haze. They learn than with Yuji, he has the power to restore his Power of Existence, his torch every night at exactly midnight.

And because his nature is unlike any human that Shana has come in contact with, not only does she get more powerful when she is with him, she starts to become fascinated with him to the point that she trains Yuji to be strong, as they will be in battle often with other evil Denizens.

But as the two spend a lot of time training, Yuji treats her like a good friend. Let’s her stay over his house and she eventually gets close to her mother and for the first time, Shana experiences emotions that she has never had. And that includes “love”, as she starts to find herself jealous when other girls are near him and she has this need for wanting to be with him no matter what.

Is Shana, the Flame Haze falling for Yuji?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to other characters such as Kazumi Yoshida, a teenager who has a crush on Yuji and is jealous of Shana, that she declares Shana her love-rival. Also, another Flame Haze is in the city. Her name is Margery Daw, a well-endowed, blonde alcoholic. She uses her book Grimoire, a divine vessel to which she is bound to and her main goal is seeking revenge against a Denizen that uses a silver colored flame. She chooses Yuji’s classmates Keisaku Satou and Eita Tanaka to be her guides, but more than often, she uses them to crash at their place, so she can drink as much alcohol as she wants.

As Shana, Alastor and Wilhelmina train Yuji for upcoming battles, in the first season of “Shakugan no Shana”.  As Yuji does all he can to train to become more powerful in the second season, Shana’s emotions are being tested when her jealousy of other girls trying to get closer to Yuji starts to bother her.

But will Yuji realizes how Shana truly feels about him.  But by bringing love into their currently relationship, will that cause more harm to Yuji’s development?

But just when Yuji and friends are trying to realize their teenage emotions, a war begins!  And a new enemy known as Sabrac emerges.

VIDEO:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition. While the last series was originally created back in 2005-2006, the second season is from 2007-2008.  It is essentially an upconverted anime series. While watching on DVD, for most people, picture quality would look good but on Blu-ray, while the anime series is colorful and vibrant at times, it’s also a bit soft and has banding issues. It’s not the best looking upconverted anime series on Blu-ray but I am glad that “Shakugan no Shana” was released on Blu-ray because it is eventually leading up to the more recent episodes, “Shakugan no Shana Final” which aired in Japan in 2011-2012.

AUDIO:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season Two” gets a bump up in audio quality, with the English lossless track receiving a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack and the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack.  As one will expect from the English soundtrack having a lossless 5.1 track, you get better dynamic range.  Better use of the surround channels during the more action-driven scenes and dialogue and music are crystal clear coming through the front and center channels.

Voice acting is well-done on both soundtracks but its important to let people know that the original series was dubbed by a Canadian cast from the Geneon release, while the second season features an all new cast courtesy of FUNimation.  But for the most part, FUNimation did a very good job at casting because the new voice actors are not so far off from the original Geneon voice talent.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Engineer Chris George, Cherami Leigh (voice of Shana) and Josh Griele (voice of Yuji).
  • Episode 21 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Christopher Bevans, Justin Cook (Marcosias) and Kent Williams (Alastor).
  • Naze Nani Shana II (Disc 1) – (17:06) Featuring four “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box!” episodes. Note: These are the typical omake shown at an end of an episode.
  • Naze Nani Shana II (Disc 4) – (20:24) Featuring four “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box!” episodes. Note: These are the typical omake shown at an end of an episode.
  • Shakugan no Shanna II DVD Commercials – (:48) Commercial for the Japanese DVD Box Set
  • Shakugan no Shana II Promo Videos – (4:27) Japanese PV’s for “Shakugan no Shana: Season Two”.
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan Begins – (4:00) Featuring a short animated episode with Yuji and Shana-Tan (a small tiny version of Shana that rides on top of Yuji’s head).
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan & Yoshida – Fumina Konoe Strikes Back~-(9:05) A tiny Shana rides on top of Yoshida’s head and are jealous of seeing girls with Yuji.  And other short animated stories.
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan REVENGE – (7:10) This time the series features a few short animated stories involving Shana-Tan, Yuji and friends.
  • Textless Opening Song “JOINT”
  • Textless Opening Song “BLAZE”
  • Textless Closing Song “TRIANGLE”
  • Textless Closing Song “SOCIOMETRY”
  • Textless Closing Song “SENSE”
  • U.S. Trailer – (:30) FUNimation trailer for “Shakuan no Shana: Season II”.
  • Trailers – Featuring FUNimation trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season Two” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the animated series.

An anime series with a lot of action but also a lot of heart, “Shakugan no Shana” is an anime series I enjoyed for its characters.

For season two of “Shakugan no Shana”, there are no secrets between friends, this time around everyone is part of a group and hang out with each other.  Shana, Yuji, Kazumi, Keisaku, Eita, Hayato and new friend…Fumina.

And this time around, unlike the first season which was full of action throughout the series, the first half of “Shakugan no Shana: Season Two” is not so much action-based but relationship-based.  The first season featured Kazumi Yoshida in love with Yuji, but then Shana falling for Yuuji and both girls professing their love for Yuji and are ready to compete for his affections.  Then we have the intelligent Hayato who loves Kazumi.  Then throw in a new classmate Fumina Konoe, who loves to be close with Yuji but she throws off red flags to Shana because of her resemblance to Hecate.  And then you have Eita Tanaka and Hayato Ike who help Flame Haze Margery Daw  Then there is Matake Ogata who has feelings for Eita and Keisaku falling for Margery.

Suffice to say, it’s a complicated web of love triangles but nevertheless, teenagers who are discovering their emotions of love.

That is until you get to episode 8 and chaos breaks out as the Flame Hazes and Denizens prepare for war and the new nemesis of the Flame Hazes, Sabrac emerges.

With very few surviving Flame Hazes to fight against the Denizens, will Shana and Yuji survive the onslaught of the Denizens?  And what will happen to Yuji’s home, Misaki City?

Suffice to say, “Shakugan no Shana” delivers in action and a solid storyline!  If you enjoyed the first season, you’ll more than likely enjoy the second but things get a bit crazy and chaotic with the war and this creation of”Xanadu”.

There is a typical banality when it comes to human and a being from either another planet, dimension or world but those tend to be comedies (and sometimes those released in the U.S. seem to be perverted comedies), but “Shakugan no Shana” is quite intriguing because its protagonist seem so opposite, but yet overtime, these opposites start to become attracted towards each other.

So, in some way, the series is a love story about girl loves boy but is not sure how to understand her emotions because she has never had this feeling before. But aside from that banal storyline, instead of being overplayed and overdone because other anime series have done that, “Shakugan no Shana” brings in this sci-fi and fantasy element as Shana is a fighter, a darn good fighter from another world. the

At first, you wonder why she is so smug, blunt and mean. But overtime, you start to warm up to her because you learn that she has been taught to think a certain way and act a certain way because of her job and what is expected of her. But on Earth and staying with humans, she starts to learn about kindness, love and other human emotions that lead to kissing. And for this warrior, she is not exactly sure what kissing means or what love is but she knows that she gets flustered when Yuji is not near her, especially when she sees another girl who is in love with Yuji and wants to declare her love for him.

And while this series does have a lot of action and Shana engaged in major battles, for those who want fan service, get a little of that through the character of Margery Daw, your typical well-endowed woman. But suffice to say, this is is one wild character that otaku’s will enjoy watching.

As for the Blu-ray, it’s an older anime series, so I knew the upconvert was not going to showcase great video quality.  But the second series looks much better than the first season and as for lossless audio, with FUNimation now having the chance to redub the series from here on out, that means they were able to give a 5.1 lossless soundtrack to season two.  While it’s not a fantastic upconvert, the animated series still looks good despite the slight aliasing and banding.  But I do expect things to get much better with the upcoming OVA and film release as they were made and released not long ago.

And as for special features, you do get two audio commentaries and the Japanese special features such as promotional videos, omake videos, Shaku-Tan episodes and more.

Overall, “Shakugan no Shana” was a fun anime series. And I enjoyed how a love story and action anime series was combined and balanced for those who enjoy either genres. If you are looking for a not-so-serious sci-fi , action anime series but also a series that has a teenage love story, then definitely give “Shakugan no Shana: Season Two” a try.

Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A fun, action-packed anime series with a teenage love story!  “Shakugan no Shana” is an older anime series being released on Blu-ray, but with two newer seasons set for release in HD, one should not have too high of hopes when it comes to video or audio quality.  But grateful that FUNimation  released this first season on Blu-ray, because I’m looking forward to the next two seasons, which should look even better on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2005-2006

DURATION: 1-24 (625 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 14+

Release Date: August 21, 2012

Directed by Takashi Watanabe

Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi

Music by Ko Otani

Original Work by Yashichiro Takahashi

Character Design by Noizi Ito

Character Design by Mai Otsuka

Art Director: Shin Okui

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Director of Photography: Shingo Fukuyo

Producer: Kohei Kawase

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the voices of:

Rie Kugimiya/Tabitha St. Germain as Shana (“Enpatsu Shakugan no Uchite”)

Satoshi Hino/Kristian Ayre as Yuuji Sakai

Ayako Kawasumi/Chantal Strand as Kazumi Yoshida

Hitomi Nabatame/Janyse Jaud as Margery Daw

Kenji Nojima/Brad Swaile as Keisaku Satō

Masashi Ebara/Paul Dobson as Alastor (“Tenjou no Gouka”)

Mitsuo Iwata/Trevor Devall as Marchosias

Shizuka Itou/Anna Cummer as Wirhelmina Carmel (“Honjō no Shite”)

Takayuki Kondou/Alistair Abell as Eita Tanaka

Wielding a blazing sword, Shana is a fiery huntress whose sole purpose is to fight demon-like beings that consume human lives. To reduce the impact on the human realm, Shana turns the slain into shadows of their former selves. Once a flame that represents their remaining life goes out, they fade from existence. This should have been Yuji’s fate, but when he discovers he holds a special power that ignites a newfound strength in Shana, they join forces in her ongoing mission to maintain the balance between the ordinary world and the supernatural.

In 2002, Yashichiro Takahashi and illustrator Noizi Ito created the Japanese light novel series “Shana”.

Published by ASCII Media Works from 2002 through 2011, the light novel series would receive two manga adaptations serialized in “Dengeki Daioh” and “Dengeki Maioh” and in 2005-2006, a PS2 and Nintendo DS video game and would also  receive an anime series adaptation by J.C. Staff.  A second season titled “Shakugan no Shana Second” was aired in 2007-2008, followed by a four-episode OVA in 2009-2010 and most recently, a third season titled “Shakugan no Shana Final” airing in 2011-2012.

In August 2012, FUNimation will be releasing the first season on Blu-ray and DVD.

“Shakugan no Shana” is a series in which there are two worlds…the Crimson Realm and the human world.  For the Crimson Realm, the main people living in that world are Crimson Denizens and these individuals can manipulate the “Power of Existence”.  Those who excel and are powerful are known as “Lords of the Crimson Realm” and those who are even powerful are known as Gods.

But there are those who are Crimson Denizens who do not care about the balance between both worlds and have their own goals, some that are bad, some that are good.  Some of the Lords have contacted humans, these Denizens are known as “Flame Haze” and their primary duty is to maintain balance between both worlds and to stop and destroy any Denizen using their powers to disrupt the balance between both worlds.

In Misaki City is a teenager named Yuji Sakai.  A normal guy who lives with his mother and goes to school and hangs out with friends, his world is changed when he gets involved in a conflict involving a young female Flame Haze  and Yuji is impaled by a Denizen/monster.   As Shana defeats the monster, she informs Yuji that he is actually dead and he has been dead for quite some time.

She then tells him that he is a Torch, a temporary replacement entity for a human who’s “Power of Existence” is depleting.  She introduces him to a world where he can see blue flames attached to certain people, these people are already dead but will soon disappear from this world.

He tries to befriend the Flame Haze who has a cold demeanor and names her Shana after her sword.  He also learns that Shana works together with a Lord of the Crimson Realm named Alastor, to which she is bound.  Alastor tries to help Shana by mentoring her but also watching out for her.  He is also quite fascinated with Yuji because unlike most humans who try to live their final days in sadness, Yuji just wants to hang out with Shan and learn about this new world and use his last days of life to protect his friends.

But when Yuji’s blue torch was about to be depleted, he is still alive and it is revealed that Yuji is a special torch known as Mystes and these Mystes contain a Treasure Tool, a magical object created by the Denizens that can provide special abilities or Powers of Unrestraint to a Flame Haze.  They learn than with Yuji, he has the power to restore his Power of Existence, his torch every night at exactly midnight.

And because his nature is unlike any human that Shana has come in contact with, not only does she get more powerful when she is with him, she starts to become fascinated with him to the point that she trains Yuji to be strong, as they will be in battle often with other evil Denizens.

But as the two spend a lot of time training, Yuji treats her like a good friend.  Let’s her stay over his house and she eventually gets close to her mother and for the first time, Shana experiences emotions that she has never had.  And that includes “love”, as she starts to find herself jealous when other girls are near him and she has this need for wanting to be with him no matter what.

Is Shana, the Flame Haze falling for Yuji?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to other characters such as Kazumi Yoshida, a teenager who has a crush on Yuji and is jealous of Shana, that she declares Shana her love-rival.  Also, another Flame Haze is in the city.  Her name is Margery Daw, a well-endowed, blonde alcoholic.  She uses her book Grimoire, a divine vessel to which she is bound to and her main goal is seeking revenge against a Denizen that uses a silver colored flame.  She chooses Yuji’s classmates Keisaku Satou and Eita Tanaka to be her guides, but more than often, she uses them to crash at their place, so she can drink as much alcohol as she wants.

As Shana and Alastor train Yuji for upcoming battles, in the first season of “Shakugan no Shana”, the two will confront powerful Denizens along the way, but what they aren’t expecting is a Denizen who intends to destroy the city and also unknown to Shana is that her trainer, Wilhelmina has given her an order to destroy Yuji in order to protect the balance of the world.  But can Shana kill Yuji, a boy that not only does she see as a friend, a but a boy she has fallen in love with?

VIDEO:

It’s important to note that “Shakugan no Shana” season one is an anime series made back in 2005-2006.  So, this is essentially an upconverted anime series.  While watching on DVD, for most people, picture quality would look good but on Blu-ray, while the anime series is colorful and vibrant at times, it’s also a bit soft and has banding issues.   It’s not the best looking upconverted anime series on Blu-ray but I am glad that “Shakugan no Shana” was released on Blu-ray because I want the other newer series to be released on Blu-ray as well.

But animation was good, but not as fully-detailed.  Art backgrounds are good but not great.  If anything, what I did enjoy about the series is the many locations incorporated in this TV series.  A good balance of animation and CG, it’s just that for people with high expectations of anime series on Blu-ray, this is not a series to have high hopes for.  It’s more or less an upconvert of an entertaining anime series that gets better overtime and will lead to two more seasons which do look better, especially “Shakugan no Shana Final” which aired in Japan in 2011-2012.

AUDIO:

Similar to what I mentioned about the series being older, it’s a series that is presented in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (English and Japanese).  There is no difference in the lossless soundtrack and for those wondering why there isn’t an English 5.1 lossless track, it’s because this is from the original Universal Geneon recording and not a new soundtrack from FUNimation.  Still, voice acting is well-done on both soundtracks and dialogue and effects are clear from the front channels.  But for this older anime TV series, one should not expect a lot out of this soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set” comes with the following special features:

  • Naza Nani Shana – (31:10) Featuring eight “Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box!” omake segments (shown at the ending of each episode).  Presented in Japanese or English with English subtitles.
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan – (3:22) A short anime titled “Shakugan no Shana-Tan” featuring an anything goes kind of style (even a bit perverted at times).
  • Shakugan no Shana-Tan Returns – (6:08) A short anime for “Shakugan no Shana-Tan Returns”.
  • Textless Opening Song “Scarlet Color Sky”
  • Textless Opening Song “Being”
  • Textless Closing Song “A Girl Will Be Born at Dawn”
  • Textless Closing Song “Crimson Calmness”
  • Textless Closing Song “Scarlet Color Sky”
  • Trailers – Featuring FUNimation trailers.

An anime series with a lot of action but also a lot of heart, “Shakugan no Shana” is an anime series I enjoyed for its characters.

There is a typical banality when it comes to human and a being from either another planet, dimension or world but those tend to be comedies (and sometimes those released in the U.S. seem to be perverted comedies), but “Shakugan no Shana” is quite intriguing because its protagonist seem so opposite, but yet overtime, these opposites start to become attracted towards each other.

So, in some way, the series is a love story about girl loves boy but is not sure how to understand her emotions because she has never had this feeling before.  But aside from that banal storyline, instead of being overplayed and overdone because other anime series have done that, “Shakugan no Shana” brings in this sci-fi and fantasy element as Shana is a fighter, a darn good fighter from another world. the

At first, you wonder why she is so smug, blunt and mean.  But overtime, you start to warm up to her because you learn that she has been taught to think a certain way and act a certain way because of her job and what is expected of her.  But on Earth and staying with humans, she starts to learn about kindness, love and other human emotions that lead to kissing.  And for this warrior, she is not exactly sure what kissing means or what love is but she knows that she gets flustered when Yuji is not near her, especially when she sees another girl who is in love with Yuji and wants to declare her love for him.

And while this series does have a lot of action and Shana engaged in major battles, for those who want fan service, get a little of that through the character of Margery Daw, your typical well-endowed woman.  But suffice to say, this is is one wild character that otaku’s will enjoy watching.

As for the Blu-ray, it’s an older anime series, so I knew the upconvert was not going to showcase great video quality and the fact that it was original created by Universal Geneon, that FUNimation would not be redubbing it, thus not giving it a 5.1 lossless soundtrack.  So, for those who have high hopes for this series to look or sound incredible on Blu-ray, don’t have too high of hopes because it’s not all that great when it comes to PQ or AQ. But it does look much better on Blu-ray compared to its DVD counterpart but it does have its fair share of softness and banding.

But once again, I don’t mind that this anime series was released in the U.S. because there are two more seasons that will look much better on Blu-ray and glad that FUNimation went back in giving this first season an HD release, in preparation of the release of the next two seasons on Blu-ray and DVD.   There are several special features included as well.

Overall, “Shakugan no Shana” was a fun anime series.  And I enjoyed how a love story and action anime series was combined and balanced for those who enjoy either genres.  If you are looking for a not-so-serious sci-fi , action anime series but also a series that has a teenage love story, then definitely give “Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set” a try.  I’m looking forward to season two and three!

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