This is my first review, not that it matter much.
I address this to fans of the the series,
Firstly, if you enjoyed the first two seasons because of the plot, characters and nice pace, like myself, then you can kiss those things goodbye and prepare yourself for intense confusion.
Now really review this.
To be completely honest, I've watched few anime with as much of an impact as Shakugan no Shana from the start. I enjoyed the first two seasons as well as the specials thoroughly, I enjoyed the concept of existence and I enjoyed the love elements placed thought out them.
In the case of Shakugan no Shana III Final, it seems to have butchered everything great about the first two seasons. This is because they were replaced them with endless fight scenes and a sudden increase in cast with no backstory whatsoever.
That's not to say the anime itself is bad, but because the first two seasons were incredibly similar, I must say that the change in delivering the story was a little strange. Anyway, I should talk about why this sequel wasn't as good as it could have been.
Alright, assuming you've watched the first two seasons, you should have a thorough idea of where the plot is at. However, most characters from the past barely have any screen time and those who do hardly need an explanation about themselves.
The story begins with a nice plot twist which adds an interesting controversy from the beginning. In truth, the first episode was very similar to the first two seasons. Even the episodes following keep a nice plot going, it didn't take long though for the action to kick in.
The first two seasons had an equal pace of both action and progressing with the plot and somewhat decent character development. In this case you are introduced to a short and strong plot, before delving into battles that cover endless amounts of episodes. But these scenes are so long that they ignore the plot, heck they could have been condensed into half, no, a quarter of their length really easily.
Alongside these fights you are also introduced to a cast so large that you sometimes forget about the main characters, which isn't a good thing. Though I’ll address this later alongside those damn Flame Hazes.
The beginning of the season was great to be honest, it delivered the plot with a decent pace and flow. After that you’re bombarded with action packed scenes that actually like to avoid the plot. I’m not saying they’re bad scenes, but you’ll be so adjusted to the fighting that when the story progresses you’ll be a little caught off.
When the plot does develop, there are usually actions that take place that are completely stupid. You will most probably find yourself dumbstruck at how unbelievably crazy the things people do in the season are, however you’ll have to suck it up and remember that whatever happens is never addressed to again.
It’s not a necessarily bad story, but the lack of any progression due to the fights causes you to forget the plot. I must say though that a few episodes at the end make a nod or two towards a certain someone from the first episode of the first season which really meant something.
Overall a 5/10.
Art and Sound:
I decided to combine the two since I actually have little to say on the matter for either.
The art remains similar to it’s prequels, here and there you notice a little more detail than usual but nothing special.
The truly exceptional factor in the art is that no matter how fast paced things get, you’re still supplied with decently fluid animation and detail. Being a twenty-six episode season there are naturally a ton of scenes and a lot that needs to be tended to during those full scale fight scenes with an entire army of people.
Because of this I really admire the people who animated and coloured every scene throughout the season, even the computer generated snow and stuff is awesome.
The sound however... It took a turn for the worst. While the first two seasons gave you soundtracks with emotion, tension and meaning all I heard throughout Final was dramatic music.
The music wasn’t anything bad, not was it anything superior to the first seasons, however I heard so many pieces for action filled scenes that I swear only ever heard a cycle of five songs or so.
I enjoyed all of the OP and EDs and found ‘Light My Fire’ to be a song I really enjoy. No problems there.
To be truthful, I don’t want to go back through the series either just to try and hear those non-dramatic pieces.
The sound effects were the same as ever, satisfying. Not much else to say.
The art gets a 7/10 for a decent job and consistency on demand.
The musical score and sounds only get a 5/10 due to playing their part in adding tension but nothing more than that.
Okay, this is where I actually begin to get annoyed since characters that played a role in the first two seasons are barely addressed to again.
Keisaku, Eita? I think I’ve heard those names before... Nope, must have been my imagination.
Past characters who added to the plot barely got a mention during Final, which was sad since I never once disliked the cast at all. While those who did still didn’t get much attention paid either.
In this case all there is to focus on is Sakai Yuji, Shana and an massive new cast of characters who completely stamped on any understanding you ever had of past members involved with anything at all from the plot before Final.
There are so many new characters which really aggravated me more than anything else. Despite the issues with the plot, despite the endless fighting, the characters are what got me most.
Firstly and fore mostly, don’t bother with remembering their names. Just don’t. Because you’ll not only struggle with comprehending the battles and the plot, but also who you are watching make the plot happen.
Not only is the cast incredibly large and time consuming to remember, but the story flickers between all of them constantly. At a fair few points some die and you’ll either say, “Who was that?” or you’ll forget them in a short time anyway because someone new has probably been introduced by then.
Thankfully, it seems that we didn’t have to bother with remembering their backstory since it is NEVER explained. Okay, maybe one person had their past told in the most unhelpful way, but constantly shifting between people in the story left it incredibly difficult to keep track of anything!
Personality wise... You will still be lost as the new characters reveal barely anything about themselves. Leaving you with bland characters who probably can’t make an apocalypse exciting.
If you love Yuji and Shana however you’ll be drowned in moments including them... Even if Sairei no Hebi makes you wonder whether it’s actually Yuji or not who is speaking.
If you love the past characters then I’d advise you to keep any hopes for their appearances in firmly on the harsh reality that they’re rarely referenced to if at all.
If you love a brand new cast of people who you really don’t want to give a damn about then this will be perfect as you can kiss all those LAME characters from before goodbye and say hello to a great amount of characters with as much personality as bread!
Okay, okay I’ve had enough of a rant on the new guys, it’s time for something serious here.
The Flame Hazes.
I didn’t really understand them from the get-go to be honest. All I knew was that they were a large group of people who killed Guze-no-Tomogara for the sake of balancing the world.
This made me question why they decide to kill so many throughout the season with little to no care for the so called,”Imbalance of Existence”.
I always assumed what they did as a job, and there’s a level of understanding where taking care of these creatures is what they do for a living.
However, in this case the Flame Haze are presented with the perfect opportunity to remove those whom imbalance the amount of existence. So what do they do? Rebel. Why? Because they don’t want to loose purpose.
Seriously, the entire focus of the season is how Yuji wishes to remove the Flame Hazes enemies, yet the fight against the Guze-no-Tomogara based on the fact that they want to continue fighting them until they’re killed.
Maybe I missed something out, maybe I’ve watched to many faced paced scenes to remember the plot, maybe there’d be a big imbalance of existence if they all disappeared.
But when you watch the ending to Final you can only facepalm at the stubbornness and idiocy of the Flame Hazes. I wont ruin the moment for you, if you want to have the living hell confused out of you then go ahead and watch it.
As a result however the only form of character development involves a little bit between Yuji and Shana while the fantastic new cast introduced to the show and the Flame Hazes spoil any other enjoyment you may get out of characters.
I end my rant here with a 2/10 since there was just enough development to gain an extra mark from the lowest possible rating.
Please, if you just read everything before this you should now mostly how feel.
This is mostly a summary of what I’ve previously said.
Despite enjoying the first two seasons and specials a great deal, Final was highly disappointing. The plot was all that kept me going while I suffered through countless scenes filled with action-packed battles between people I didn’t know with character traits that I couldn’t understand. The musical score was repeated enough to make me feel sick, excluding ‘Light My Fire’ and the art was generally alright.
Did I enjoy it?
Only during the first few episodes, episode nineteen and the final episode. (I partially enjoyed the final episode merely because it ended.)
As a result, 4/10.
Overall, it’s a clunky mess of dissatisfaction. If you’re watching it for the story rather than the fighting then you’re going to be let down a lot and there’ll be a long wait before you see the plot develop.
At times you may find yourself crying, either with confusion, anger or disappointment. I almost cried myself during those final few minutes at the end, because of how sad I was that something so awesome could become so bad.
Whereas if you’re a die-hard fan of the series overall then there’s no doubt that you’ll probably enjoy a fair part of it, what you make of the new characters is really personal preference.
As a sequel to the rest of the series, all of which I gave 7/10, it’s ultimately inferior. Everything from beforehand is thrown out while a whole new angle for both plot and characters is taken.
Even the resolve to the story is so stupid that I can’t being to express how much my understanding has dropped.
I’ve never truly felt let down by a sequel before today which really kicked the rest of Shakugan no Shana in the unmentionables. Again, whether you are or not is entirely up to how you feel with drastic changes.
And so I reach my conclusion. I’ve probably left a lot out from before, mostly to avoid spoilers and also due to the fact that I never want to relive this again.
I stand by my decision saying 3/10 is the way to go with this.
If it was a stand alone piece it would get about 6/10 on a good day, but when you take into account how decent the first two seasons and specials were, it’s only worth your time for the plot.
Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to watch the first episode of Shakugan no Shana. Perhaps contradictory to what I’ve said, but after this train wreck of a series, I’ll probably be overcome with happiness and nostalgia at how much I enjoyed the first season.
This was my first review, driven by my disappointment, I hope this has been somewhat helpful.