*A wonderful sequel to a fabulous series.*
It is highly recommended to complete the first season of Shakugan no Shana before watching this. This is a DIRECT sequel, so prior knowledge of the series is expected from you.
Shakugan no Shana II is sometimes viewed as a "filler" season due to the plot trailing off from the light novels where it originates from. It also received numerous "bashing" from fans of the previous season who complained that the first half of Shakugan no Shana II lacked actions. Personally, I really liked how they began Shakugan no Shana II so I have nothing to complain about. But many who prefer actions over character developments would be rather disappointed in this season, but a real Shakugan no Shana fan should actually be happy that the anime is spending time explaining the mysteries and/or unclear relations between certain people or things.
Continuing from where the first season left off, Shakugan no Shana Second as it is officially called start us off in a very noglistic way. Summing up most of the main events in season one in half an episode (not to mention a battle is going on at the same time) is quite innovative. Shana II, unlike its predecessor, does not have a lot of flashy battles. Instead, it focuses much more on bringing out each character's unique characteristics and their relationship with one another (more about the characters later).
Those who are familiar with the first season should be able to jump right into Shana II as the production crew practically used the same graphical engines to animate the show. This means 2 things:
1. the animation crew got lazy and presented us a 2005 quality anime
2. it is still animated on par (if not above) most of the 2008 animations
The same singers were asked to perform the OP and ED for Shana II so fans shouldn't have much to complain. As stated from my previous review on Shakugan no Shana, it is packed with many bright and talented seiyus. Excluding Shana and Kazumi who were already covered in the past review, we also have
Mamiko Noto (Kotomi Ichinose in Clannad, Yuka in Elfen Lied, Anna Liebert in Monster) performing the role of Hecate and Fumina Konoe
Hitomi Nabatame (Unchou Kan-u in Ikkitousen, Mikoto Suou in School Rumble ) voicing for Margery Daw
Shizuka Itou (Himawari Kunogi in xxxHOLiC, Lenalee Lee in D.Gray-man) performing the role of Wilhelmina Carmel
Last but not least, we have Marina Inoue (Tsukiumi in Sekirei, Yoko in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Tsukasa Kiryu in Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka) voicing for Pheles
This show is flawless when it comes to characters. The production crew did an amazing job at creating the characters in such a way that makes them believable and in many ways demonstrated that they are not much different from us (ie. make them real.. not like some fantasy characters). I was simply dazed by how fabulously constructed the characters (both main and supporting) are in Shana II. Although the first season of Shakugan no Shana was already extremely well made, this successor is no doubt a level above (11/10?).
Shakugan no Shana II expanded on what was lacking in the previous season (namely some explanation on certain issues and character mental growth for some minor supporting roles). However, because the crew had to cover these, they had to take out some attractive actions that the fans wanted to see in the beginning. Overall I would not say this is inferior or superior to the first season, but if I have to choose I will say I like this one slightly more (excluding the flashy actions).