Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: C
- Age Rating: 12+
- Region: 2 - Europe
- Released By: MVM Entertainment
- MSRP: Â£15.99
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Shana
Shakugan no Shana Vol. #2
By Bryan Morton
July 24, 2008
Release Date: July 07, 2008
Shakugan no Shana Vol. 2
© MVM Entertainment
Here's a turn-up for the books – this volume of Shakugan no Shana sees our heroine face off with another Flame Haze to protect a Denizen. Suddenly the boundaries between "good" and "evil" in this series don't seem so clear-cut. At least Yuji doesn't have to be so worried about burning out, though… What They Say
When Flame Hazes collide it isn't a very pretty sight. The first battle between Shana and Margery ended poorly for Shana and now she has to face Friagne and Margery in order to uphold her mission in life.
Meanwhile, Yuji begins to learn more and more of the world he has been thrown into as another Crimson Denizen explains more about Existences and the powers they hold. Unfortunately, Yuji doesn't seem to yet notice that a certain girl has taken an interest in him...
5 – Respective Thoughts
6 – Mingle, Activate, Confront
7 – The Two Flame Hazes
8 – The Beautiful Goblet The Review!Audio
Audio is presented in both English and Japanese 2.0 version - I listened to the Japanese track for this review. If anything the soundtrack for Shana is quite understated - it doesn't go out its way to impress other that during action scenes - but it's clear, effects and dialogue are easy to pick out, and when it does make an effort there's full use made of the available channels. There were no obvious problems. Video
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the video here is a visual treat, with plenty of use of vibrant colours and some good use of background detail & nice touches such as the shower of sparks that surrounds Shana when she's in her 'battle mode'. Animation quality is also good, and the transfer here does full justice to the materials. There were no encoding problems that I could spot on my setup. Packaging
No packaging was provided with our review copy. Menu
The main menu is a simple affair, typical of MVM's releases, with Margery Shana standing against a suitably fiery background, with Shana's hair and eyes in their flame-red battle style. The opening themes play over the top. Options are provided for Play All, Episode Select, Setup and Extras, and with no transition animations to sit through it's quick and painless to use. Extras
Disappointingly, all there is here is a creditless version of the closing sequence. Content
: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The morning after her confrontation with Margery, Yuji finds Shana lying at the bottom of the garden, and she's not in the best of form - she's taken a beating, and the last thing she wants is comfort from a mere Torch. Friagne, meanwhile, has noticed that someone has begun interfering with his plans - but not a Flame Haze. It's the Corpse Collector that Margery has been chasing, and she's decided to use some of Yuji's schoolmates to help track him down. When her search leads her straight to Friagne, though, it's like a lucky day for the combat-obsessed Flame Haze. Elsewhere in town, Yuji himself is about to have a meeting with the Corpse Collector...
There are two main tracks to this volume – the intense rivalry between Shana and Margery is the first, and with the two Flame Hazes being at opposite ends of the sanity scale it makes for a good show, especially given the over-the-top natures of Margery and her companion Marcosias. Sure, her personality is a common anime stereotype, but done right the hard-drinking, loud woman can be great fun – and that's what we get from Margery. She also has issues that make her what she is, and they're explored at several points throughout the disc, with some good possibilities set up for how the character could develop if she hangs around past this story arc.
The other side of the story is the developing connection between Yuji and Shana – not quite a "relationship" yet, as Shana still hasn't quite reached the point where she sees him as more than a tool, but they're getting there. One of the main points of interest with volume one was the way Yuji had been left in a sort of existential limbo, thanks to him being a Torch – knowing his existence was slowly draining away, but unable to do anything to stop it and not knowing how long he had left. This volume addresses that issue some more, although in a way that's more of a cop-out than I was hoping to see: we knew Yuji was a special sort of Torch – a Mystes, with a special "treasure" that a normal Torch wouldn't have. Conveniently, Yuji's treasure is of the sort that he can now be sure he's not going to burn out any time soon, which removes a lot of difficult problems I would have liked to see the series deal with. They're replaced with vague hints that his treasure comes with new issues for him to deal with, but at the moment they're left unrevealed. Without the threat of 'death' hanging over him, Yuji's gone from being a character full of potential to another anime stereotype, this time of the shounen fighting "I must be stronger" type, continually looking to improve his skills in order to be of more use to Shana. I can't say that's an improvement.
There are other little storylines tucked away, too – Margery hooking up with schoolkids Keisaku and Eita, who soon become quite enamoured with her and help in her efforts to track down the Corpse Collector and Friagne; the efforts of shy girl Yoshida to make an impression on Yuji and his complete inability to see it (his treatment of her in places really makes me want to thump him); and the conclusion of the arc dealing with Friagne's devious plan for the city. There's plenty going on over the course of the volume, with plenty of both action and character pieces to cover all the bases and keep the series as interesting as possible. I may not appreciate how everything turns out, but at least I appreciate the effort that's being made to make the story as appealing as possible, and for the most part those efforts pay off. The end result isn't perfect, but Shakugan no Shana is definitely above-average. In summary
Detailed and high-energy action, plenty of development for the main characters, the resolution of some plot threads and the beginnings of more – what's not to like? Add in the high production values, and this is another volume that's a treat on several levels. Some of the story developments aren't ideal, especially if like me you appreciate stories with a slightly darker tone to them, but overall there really isn't much to complain about with this volume. One of my current favourite shows, and well worth picking up.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Creditless Ending
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.