As the Ball Masque set their plans into motion, Shana has some decisions to make: let Yuji live or die? Ignore her feelings, or flow with them? What level of sacrifice is worth making to save Misaki city? Clearly, being a Flame Haze is no easy task.
What They Say
The end of Misaki City?!
The Ball Masque's horrific plans come to fruition, spelling the end for everyone in Misaki City. As Kazumi, Eita, and Sato helplessly watch the world crumble, Shana risks her life to save them and the person whom she has come to truly care for. Will Yuji live long enough to finally understand what it means to be a Mystes and what it means to the world? More importantly, will he learn what matters the most to him personally before it's too late?
21 - Diverging Feelings
22 - The Flickering Flame
23 - Battle at the Palace of the Stars
24 - Crimson Thoughts
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 the three Ball Masque members together on the right-hand side of the main screen. The opening theme plays 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.
There's another decent batch of extras provided for this final volume. First up are the first two Shakugan no Shana-tan shorts, which use footage recylced from the show to create the adventures of Yuji and a somewhat smaller-that-usual Shana-tan �"each short has a number of smaller skits within it, and they're all great fun. There's also another installment of Naze Nani Shana, where Marianne and Friagne take a look at the Ball Masque being the topic this time out, and a creditless version of the final episode's epilogue scenes. No complaints from me.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Shana may have agreed with Wirhelmina's plan to destroy Yuji, but that was her head & logic speaking, not her heart, and just when her mentor is readying her killing blow, Shana intervenes to protect Yuji - and she's quite prepared to use her full powers to do so. Given that the fate of the world is in the balance - leaving the Midnight Lost Child in Yuji risks a confrontation that will without doubt costs many lives - it's not a decision she takes lightly. Elsewhere, the Ball Masque - a group of powerful Denizens - are making plans of their own, plans that threaten existence itself, while Kazumi learns that Yuji's planning on leaving town...
The reason Yuji is planning on leaving isn't to do with his feelings for Shana �" yes, they're there, but aren't something he and Shana get around to dealing with until much closer to the end of the series �" but because he recognises the danger that being the Midnight Lost Child brings to wherever he may be, and going away will at least mean that his friends are safe. Poor Kazumi actually doesn't get much screen-time this volume, mostly being stuck watching events from a distance and hoping that Yuji and Shana will be able to undo the chaos that she's seeing unfold around her. That's a bit of a shame �" she's a strong, determined character and I would have liked to see her get the chance to contribute to the show's final scenes, but sadly that wasn't to be.
The issue of Yuji's fate is solved by Alastor, who can see a use for him yet and orders Wirhelmina to stand down, but given the nature of the Ball Masque's plans it seems likely early on that his reprieve may only be temporary. The detail of the Denizen's plans was a little lost on me, to be honest �" I think I need to go back and re-watch Naze Nani Shana to get my head around it, but let's just say we're talking about reality-altering stuff here �" which of course would mean the end of the existing reality, and those who inhabit it. Key to the plan is Yuji himself, the Midnight Lost Child with the power to recreate existence �" and so he's soon captured and placed at the centre of the Fountain of Existence, through which the Denizens' plans will come to fruition.
All of which is a good excuse for a no-holds-barred, save-the-world battle, with Shana fighting to save both the world and, perhaps more importantly, Yuji. She's joined by Whirhelmina and Margery, back in the fight and as cocky as ever, and together they provide a suitably impressive climax to the series. Alongside the fighting, there's an almost psychological side to the story, as Yuji (or at least, his consciousness) spars with with spirit of Hecate, the Denizen who controls the Fountain and is Yuji's new keeper. At the start of the process, she's sure of what she's doing, but constant questioning from Yuji soon begins to break her resolve a little. She also sees Yuji as her property now, and resents Shana's efforts to release him, responding almost with jealousy and in a way that even has the other members of the Ball Masque worried. All good fun.
As a single disc, then, this volume provides pretty much everything you'd expect from an end-of-season finale, while leaving things open for the sequel series to pick up from. As a series, Shana has been impressive almost from start to finish, with only a few lapses along the way. It doesn't do much that hasn't been done before, but it does get the execution right to make the series something that's well worth watching �" and this release end the trip on just the right note. Go get.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 2.0, English Subtitles, Shana-tan #1 & #2, Naze Nani Shana Video, Textless Closing (version 3)
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.