9 – Poolside of Love and Desire
10 – Entangled Feelings
11 – Yuji, Shana and Kisses
12 – Flowers Bloom in the Cradle
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.
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.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
The main menu is a simple affair, typical of MVM's releases, with Shana draped down the right-hand side of the main screen, with her sword beside her. 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.
A little bit more this volume, with a production artwork gallery presented as a 3-minute video slideshow and, bringing back happy memories of Nadesico for me, a Naze Nani Shana segment, where chibi-versions of Friagne and Marianne explain all you ever wanted to know about Rinne.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Swimsuits, kissing, and romance – weren't these two meant to be dealing with the Crimson Denizen threat? The problem is the amount of time that Shana and Yuji are spending together, and Shana's general cluelessness about anything other than her Flame Haze duties – she's never had to worry about how to interact with people, or with how to interpret her feelings. Now, not only does she have her own feelings for Yuji to deal with, she also has to deal with competition, in the form of Kazumi, whose own feelings for Yuji are getting to the point where she's ready to fight for him. In the midst of all this, Denizen twins Sorath and Tiriel arrive in the city, with taking control of Shana's sword their main aim…
First up, there's disappointingly little of Margery in this volume. She's still smarting from having been thoroughly beaten by Shana when they last met, and has descended into what's almost depression as a result – when she does meet Shana now, she essentially ignores her; when she meets the twins, she's quick to dismiss them as someone else's problem, despite being instantly aware of just how powerful they are. She's far from being the loud-mouthed, heavy-drinking woman we originally met, and I can't help but want to see her back to her usual self. It doesn't happen in these episodes, sadly.
Speaking of the twins - Sorath and Tiriel are supremely creepy. Despite being apparently brother and sister, there's barely a scene featuring them where they're not pictured kissing passionately (we're talking full tongue action here), and their attitude towards others shows that they're powerful, and they know it. The kissing is passed off as the way they pass power between each other (Sorath kills to gain the power of souls and passes it on to Tiriel), but that doesn't make the skin crawl any less when you see it. I love creepy characters, though, and these two are up there with the creepiest of them, and great fun to watch because of it. They don't get any significant action until the disc's final episode, when their search for Shana's sword finally brings them face-to-face with the Flame Haze, but their scattered appearances throughout the disc are all enjoyable.
The main focus of the disc, though, is on romantic entaglements. Kazumi loves Yuji; Shana may love Yuji, although she's unfamiliar with the emotion and is having to get help from Yuji's mom in working out what she's feeling; and Yuji stuck in the middle, with both girls beginning to show clear signs of jealousy and looking set on a collision course that could turn out to be messy. With both Shana and Kazumi being adorable in their own way (Shana for her innocent cluelessness, Kazumi for general cuteness and determination), it's a love battle where I don't want to pick a side or see either girl outright lose, but it's an issue that's quickly coming to a head.
Plenty happening, then – although if you're looking for action from the volume, you might be disappointed. It's only during the final episode, when Shana confronts the twins, that there's any real fighting – other that that, it's more down-to-earth stuff dealing with the interactions between the characters. It's no less enjoyable than the fighting, just different.
This is another good volume of Shakugan no Shana – as well as moving forwards with the Crimson Denizens, there's plenty of time devoted to allowing the characters to develop both their personalities and rivalries, and it's a mix that works really well. The disc is enjoyable throughout and ends with a neat little cliffhanger that leaves you wanting to see what happens next – what more could you want..?
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 2.0, English Subtitles, Production Art Gallery, Naze Nani Shana Video
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.