The Tale of a Dynasty
I mark a lot of moments in my life with what music I was listening to at the time. Creed and Metallica in middle school, Eiffel 65 in high school, and Super Eurobeat for the past nine years. In the fall and winter of 2005, I walked to a bus stop a mile and a half from my first apartment with a Creative Zen MP3 player listening to Yoake Umarekuru Shoujo as I made my way to work a restaurant I had at the time, as I didn’t have a car then. The following year, the same studio, using the same lead actress, rolled out another tale of magic and maximum tsundere. This week, both of these shows came to a close, and I thought it would be best to review them at the same time, and go back a little bit.
The best way to describe my initial reaction to watching the first episode of Shakugan no Shana back in 2005 was that of pure awesome. From the very first scene where she stepped in front of Yuji with that stare and the informal addressing of Yuji’s concerns, this was a show that was going to be worth watching. Every episode kept you wondering what was going to happen, and then the ending theme started to play as the episode was ending, and you would have the worst rage boner as you knew the episode was ending, the music was playing, but it was still goddamn showing you awesome shit happening. That was what the first season of Shana meant in the Fall of 2005 and it didn’t let go until the end in the Spring of 2006.
What puts the first season of Shana out there in the seven years of the franchise isn’t just because it was the beginning, and it started it all, but because everything made sense to you back then. You knew who was right and wrong, you knew what Shana and Yuji had to do, and even though Bal Masque comes in to start shaping where the story would unfold into the next two seasons, they were still a diversion at best. The normal high school life Yuji tried to continue living, with Shana in tow, they always managed to balance it where it made sense and didn’t switch between them for the sake of ratings.
The second season of Shana, while still every bit as awesome as it was before, started to get a little muddy for the average viewer. Being as the show stuck closely to the novels, you started to dive into the world of the Tomogara, their purpose, why they eat humans, and Bal Masque’s true goals, which weren’t as apparent in the beginning of the show. This season focused a lot more on Margery Daw’s back story and her past concerning “The Silver” whom she believed destroyed her family and put her on a path to revenge. The true origins of the Reiji Maigo also come into play and affect Yuji’s future as various sides attempt to control the Mystes. Compared to the first, I think it got a little heavy on details in places, but the action was still tight and the intersperses of fun kept the show where it needed to be, two years after the premiere of the first season.
Between Spring 2008 and Fall 2011 we were treated to a lot of side content and extras in the various Shana releases, including the movie, which was a closer adaptation to the novel and retold the Friagne saga in more detail. The Shana-tan shorts were always good for a laugh, and the other OVA content kept her relevant as they continued to announce the third and final season over and over, delaying it further. Finally, after three years, the last season came upon us, and from the very first episode, we were thrust into what was to become of the series’ most epic battle between two unlikely combatants, Yuji, as The God of Creation, and Shana, for not only the fate of the world, but the fate of the Tomogara.
You might recall I was a bit skeptical in the first third of the show, because it started out slower than the previous two, Novelbros were quick to point out to me that they were setting the story up for the final fight, and thankfully they gave us a generous portion of mid-series action to keep you in the game until that final battle. I’m still a little confused as to how Yuji got into contract with The God of Creation, but by the end, you can see why he did what he did in order to free the Tomogara and the Flame Haze from their eternal struggle, for the purpose of being able to free Shana from her burden so they can be together. It was a very satisfying conclusion to the series, and while I wish they could make a fourth series of some sort, it’s fine where it ended. I have no regrets.
Title: Shakugan no Shana
Sub Group I Watched: Eclipse, SS-Eclipse, Commie
Episodes: 24 x 3
Rating (1-10): 10/10/10 (Yes, if you check MAL, you’ll notice tens go to shows I consider to be my favorite shows of all times. This has been one of them.)
Favorite Character: Shana
Least Favorite Character: Bel Peol
Favorite Flame Haze: Khamsin Nbhw
Least Favorite Flame Haze: Sale Habichtsburg
Will they make more? While the main show itself is over, I don’t think it will be the last we see of Shana overall. There are still things that could be done in specials, OVAs, or even another show even if it doesn’t have to do with the main story. Seeing as she has been a Saimoe fixture for years, something makes me believe she’ll continue to hang around for awhile longer.
The Summer of 2006, one season after the conclusion of the first season of Shana, another JC STAFF show starring a token tsundere voiced by Kugimiya Rie with a opposite wishy-washy male character voiced by Hino Satoshi was born, and it kicked off what would become four half-seasons of Zero no Tsukaima, a show much more fun and light-hearted than Shana, but still involving magic, dragons, love, and tits. Zero was a lot like Harry Potter in many ways, and given the popularity of the franchise back then, it no doubt was made to put a rather Japanese spin on the subject of wizards and warriors. Louise was a noble aristocrat who could not perform magic well, and Saito was a guy from another planet, who winds up in her care, and sets of adventures as he weaves his way around danger, destruction, and a lot of tempting women.
Unlike Shana, which ran for three full seasons, Zero was split into four half-seasons, airing in the Summer of 2006, 2007, 2008, and finally the Winter of 2012. I’m not sure what broke the three years of straight-showing, unless it was for Index and Railgun, but each season put the show into bigger and better standing of itself. For a show that didn’t try to take itself too seriously often, the character development and story seemed to go especially well together, and kept the show entertaining to watch.
The third season introduced Tiffania, the elf with huge tits that while being the butt of all giant tit jokes in the show from here on out, turns out she plays a pivotal role in the last season as well. What was always annoying is how they would push Saito and Louise real close by the end of each season, and then reset her tsundere back to default for the next. It made it rather annoying at times because you wanted to just scream JUST FUCK ALREADY often.The story did get a little confusing at times in the second and third seasons, because you could tell they were steering you towards something, but you weren’t sure what it was, or if Saito would ever make it home.
In the final season, they did manage to wrap up many of the plot lines introduced in the first three seasons. Joesph and his whole thing from the start, Tabitha’s ascension to the throne and curing of her mother’s disease, Tiffania’s Void powers, but before you could end the show proper, motherfucking dragons up in here, and this is where the show took a little bit of a retarded yet obvious turn. The portal Saito went through to get Louise’s world turns out to be a Void power she accidentally invoked during the summoning, and couldn’t duplicate until late in the last season, where she shoves Saito back into Japan to protect him. Unfortunately for her, he steals a jet fighter, flies into the eclipse, and ends up back in their world to save Louise and help kill the dragon. He also doesn’t die. Marries Louise, happily ever after, even takes her to Japan.
Honestly dudes, I actually wanted one season where the cast ends up in Japan. I dunno why, but you know, that might’ve been fun.
Overall though, the show had a few moments where it was just a little over the top, but they found a formula what would become many more shows as the years went on, and depending on your definition of when the “Moe Revolution” started, I’d say it very well started with shows like these two.
Title: Zero no Tsukaima
Sub Group I Watched: SS-Eclipse, SS-Ayu, Kuroneko, Horrible, Hadena
Episodes: 12 X 4
Rating (1-10): 9/9/9/8
Favorite Character: Charlotte Helene “Tabitha” Orléans
Least Favorite Character: Joseph
Favorite Season: Princesses no Rondo
Elf Tits: Is that magic?
Will they make more? Unlike Shana this one may be out, unless they make some specials or side-stories to go with it. I always imagine that this is the kinda show JCS puts in its pocket and brings out when it needs a boost. Or when they run out of Index/Railgun to animate.