[Review] Shakugan no Shana Second

In large part due to Riyoga’s prodding, I finally up and finished the second season in the Shakugan no Shana anime franchise.  I had attempted it when the show first aired, but quickly lost interest midway after the school festival and Pheles arc.  This second attempt at viewing also took much longer than usual for me when watching completely aired anime; I think I re-started it sometime in the winter of 2012, and only just finished a week ago in mid-July.  There were several factors that contributed to the slow following, but I think the simplest explanation boils down to the fact that I was bored.

Character Building
Compared to the first season, the second took much more time on the various love and identity struggles of both main and side characters, a development pushed forward by the introduction of a “new” character, Fumina Konoe.  I thought I hated the love triangle in the first season, but the sudden love square annoyed me even more.  Konoe’s similarity to Hecate, a character I also don’t find interesting, wasn’t the problem; what bugged me was her complete dependency on Yuuji and his equally tiresome inability to just leave her to her own devices.  Yuuji steps up his game as biggest punching bag alive, playing the hero by always helping those in need and disregarding his own personal agendas.

I actually came to appreciate the truce between Shana and Kazumi, who changed from their overly loud, passionate displays to ones of a quiet constant type of love.  Their patience and loyalty boggles my mind given the utterly dense mind of Yuuji, but instead of passively taking the backseat by waiting for him to come to them, they agree to confront him.  I have to admire the courage such an act as confessing love must demand, having never really done so myself face-to-face before starting a relationship.

Yuuji also changes for the better as well after facing some of his own character weaknesses, mainly that of ignoring his true feelings about leaving his hometown.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he’s gained my affections, but I do acknowledge that his physical and mental training have both paid off to make the battles in this season much less painful to watch.  In the midst of his training and all the chaos that keeps coming to Misaki City, it’s easy to see why he’d start shutting himself off from all the emotions regarding his family and friends.  All the time spent worrying and feeling sad about leaving them behind is time seemingly not spent strengthening and preparing himself for the many battles ahead.  But by not accepting that pain, he deadens himself to the entire reason for fighting in the first place.

It’s important to note here the significance of the title, which chooses “Second” instead of some other name.  We later find out through a discussion with Yuuji’s father that he is actually the second-born in the Sakai family, following an older brother who died at birth.  His given name reflects the fact that not only is he the second child, but a wish for him to live a long life after the first sibling who was unable to.  The discussion comes at the perfect time when Yuuji is struggling to come to terms with his responsibilities and personal attachments.

Baddies Never Die
What is with Shana’s aversion to killing its villains? I don’t think I see a single major villain in the entire second season die, and so never get the satisfaction of a sure win.  This is probably the worst way of keeping my attention since not only am I shackled with disliking the supposedly good guys, but I end up becoming equally annoyed with the staying power of the bad guys.  JUST DIE! DIE ALREADY!

The Middle Ground
Being the middle series in a trilogy, it makes sense that the second season would focus so much time on building up its characters’ backgrounds and developing them in preparation for what will hopefully be an action-packed and conclusive third season.  I just wish it had stood out positively a bit more like some middle movies like The Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight, both of which I prefer to the other movies in their franchises.  I guess the character building worked well enough to keep me invested in the series for Shana Final, where I hope to see the Silver really work on Yuuji’s capabilities.  I also approved of the extreme downscaling in Shana’s infamous line, “Urusai, urusai, ursusai!”

On to the third and final season!

9 thoughts on “[Review] Shakugan no Shana Second

  1. That Yuugi line about really stepping up his game to be the biggest punching bag alive kinda hit home for me. I’m guessing I have a lot of his traits.

    Also I admire your perserverence. Took quite a while to complete this. Hopefully the last part goes quicker.

    As for me I’m now caught up on all of Araki’s work I can find and started on the Trigun mangas.

    • Yay! I’m excited to hear what you’ll think about the Trigun manga. I’ve only ever seen the TV anime, so I’ll be curious to hear how the two differ.

      And there’s another character from this summer season who really exemplifies the sacrificial hero: Taichi from Kokoro Connect. I had originally planned to skip it, but after trying out the first two episodes, I ended up hooked ><

  2. Time for some TL;DR, because I’m me. Feel free to skim.

    Good to see you didn’t hate the season (at least from what I can tell), but hopefully you managed to enjoy it somewhat after getting to the end stuff. After all, it had Sabrac. Sabrac is a BAMF.

    You noticed a lot of the character-centric information that was given in this season, which is awesome. A lot of it will come into play in the final season, with one of the ones you mentioned in this post actually playing a huge factor, though it’s never explicitly stated or mentioned.

    I have absolutely no idea what you’re going to think of the final season. It actually seemed like more fans didn’t like it than did, though it was close to 50/50. The way I see it is, the final season is one where the kind of people who really enjoyed both the first and second season probably wouldn’t like it, but those who couldn’t get past the first or second season would like it. And then there’s me, who loves pretty much everything the series spits out.

    There’s a lot more left open to interpretation and stuff given to think over in Final, which I actually think played a part in a fair amount of people not liking it. No offense to them, but the previous seasons don’t require much thinking to enjoy. Plus, when I looked around for what people were saying, a lot of complaints were stuff that had been answered or implied or whatever in a previous episode.
    Part of the problem may have been translations, though. I watched every translation available for each episode (Commie, SS-Eclipse, Funi subs on NicoNico), which helped me understand a lot of the more complicated parts. I did drop Commie after a while though, because I noticed they made more mistakes in comparison to the others. SS-Eclipse was probably the most accurate, though I liked a lot of the lines Funi used.

    So yeah, I’m immensely curious to see your opinion of the final season since you stopped watching during the second season. You can also check out my episodics if you want to see my thoughts on each episode, too *shameless self-promotion*. Well, except for the one on the first episode, because that one was terrible.

    Anyways, I’ll stop typing now. I should save my thoughts about Final for when you (hopefully) post a review for it, rather than being vague here.

    …All this talk and reading about Shana made me want to watch the final season yet again. I think I’ll go do that now.

    • No skimming here!

      I definitely didn’t hate the anime, but I doubt I’ll ever re-watch it. I found the ending much more enthralling than the whole beginning/middle sections, but that’s probably in large part because of the character development. As for Sabrac, I admit that I was still pretty frustrated that he didn’t die, but I guess I gotta be satisfied with his first sound defeat.

      I’m hopeful now that you’ve stated that Final expects the audience to make more connections on their own; like you point out, the first two seasons really don’t do much upstairs for me. I can’t remember which translator I went with when backlogging Final, but it’s probably either Commie or SS-Eclipse. I’ll definitely read your episodic reviews along with each of the third season’s episodes :)

  3. While I enjoyed SnS 2nd, probably nearly as much as the first (but not quite as much), I found it a bit slow as well, since so much time was spent on the characters. But it was a bit of a double edged sword though, because I enjoyed getting to know them all better at times. The truce was required and well done. I also liked Hecate’s presence even though she did mess things up for a bit. What bugged me was that the ending left things so open and then it took way too long for the third season to come out, even if I didn’t watch SnS when it first aired, I did watch it way before the new season. I probably wouldn’t watch it all the way through any time soon either, but I’m sure I will eventually.

    • I can somewhat forgive the open ending myself since I just now watched it have the option of starting up the third season as soon as I like. I can imagine, however, that if I had seen the second when it originally aired, that I would be annoyed with the long wait. Like you said, the middle series really does have it tough trying to both deepen our relationship with the various characters but still keep the plot interesting. Especially in a fantasy series like this, not having enough plot development can really lose viewers with certain expectations.

  4. Thus far I’d say the anime and manga are very similar. Although I decided read the manga so I’d get more info and I feel like the manga is flying compared to the anime. It is my first time reading a manga of an anime I’ve seen though so maybe knowing what is coming makes it feel faster. For reference I am 29 chapters in to Trigun Maximum and they are taking on the musician guy.

    Well as long as it hooked you it’s a good thing. Plus it makes me feel better about my personality quirk lol.

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