There’s more to Yuji than meets the eye. And more than Yuji realizes.
What They Say:
Shana and Yuji face their greatest foes yet as they battle Denizens who desire the Midnight Lost Child for their own. Amidst a whirlwind battle with the beautiful Pheles, a Flame Haze goes berserk and friends get caught in the chaos. Then, the Bal Masque returns to execute a scheme that could spell the end for Yuji. Will a newly discovered strength give Yuji and Shana the edge to save themselves and the city from total destruction – or will evil engulf both his world and hers?
Contains episodes 13-24.
The audio presentation for this release is pretty solid as we get both the original Japanese language and the new English language dub from FUNimation. Both of these tracks are done in Dolby TrueHD lossless stereo so it’s definitely a big step up in overall quality here but the series is still fairly standard for the most part. It has a good mix of action and dialogue so that the forward soundstage gets a good workout overall when the action itself gets going. Dialogue is fairly standard and generally center channel based but it has a good, rich feeling for both of them. It’s not the kind of mix where it just sounds louder but the kind that has a a bit more warmth and impact to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in late 2007 and into 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This half of the series has twelve episodes to it that are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, which also has the extras that add a bit of time to things. The series definitely has a better sense of color definition this time compared to the first season, but partially because little of it takes place at night or in the darkened sealed zones that cause the purple glow throughout it. It’s more of a traditional school show in a lot of ways, but it has its moments of action as well. For the most part though, it’s brightly lit school scenes, outdoor pieces or just around the house kind of material. The overall look is good, clean and without much in the way of problems outside of some minor noise in the backgrounds.
While the first set had the limited edition aspect with its heavy chipboard box, what we get here is the standard sized Blu-ray case with a slipcover that holds it and replicates the artwork. The front cover is quite bright as we get a white background with some very eye-catching character artwork that goes against type as almost every other Shana release is mired in dark reds and blacks. Here, we get the pairing of Yuji and Shana, but Shana has lots of light colors and her hair stands out well while Yuji has a blue outfit that changes it up from his usual black school uniform. It’s very appealing and stands out well. The back cover continues on with the white and provides for a good piece of character artwork of Shana doing some acting along with a small strip of shots from the show that focuses on the dark yet colorful action. The premise for this half is covered well enough and we get a clean listing of what’s included, both for episodes and extras. The technical grid is mostly easy to read as it has white text on green with a dash of blue and it lays out the specs clearly. The set has artwork on the reverse side where the left breaks down the episodes by number and title as well as the extras while the right side has a full panel piece of artwork with some of the villains of the series. No show related inserts are included.
The menu design for the release is simple and effective but it feels like it’s something from a bit of an earlier Blu-ray design release. The menu has the logo and the mystical/flame kind of approach for its main screen that doesn’t use any character artwork and just a bit of instrumental music. It’s not bad but it doesn’t sell the show too much. Where it feels clunky is in that the menu slides in from the left and has a bit of a judder to it rather than a smooth flow. Submensu load quickly but with that kind of shift to it and they’re easy to navigate and problem free. The discs default to the English language with sign/song subtitle track.
The extras for this release mirror the kinds of things we got on the first half, which means a bunch of new Naze Nani Shana II segments that are hilarious and a good selection of clean opening and closing segments. With the changes to this half of the season, we get two openings and three closings. We also get a new Shana-tan Revenge piece that lasts seven minutes and is far more amusing than it has any right to be. It’s one of the most adorable things about the series in general and I love that they have fun with the characters like this.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a first half of the season that was a bit more mellow overall, the second half picks up in a surprising way at times and actually feels like it’s covering too much ground overall. One of the big things for this season was reinforcing the changes going on with Yuji as we know there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye, but the way it comes together starts to give hint that there are quite a few layers to him. I liked what we got out of the first season with his whole Midnight Lost Child, but here we see him starting to really get intense about being a proactive member of the group and discovering that he’s becoming something far more than expected.
With the previous set having dealt with more of Margery’s past, you know it’s going to have a big impact in the present. And that present shows off another factor of Yuji’s life as an Unrestricted Method placed on him goes out of control, which is bad enough, but it’s connected to a silver flame that brings Margery to bear as it’s involved with her longstanding hunt for Silver. What all of it ends up leading to is the arrival of Pheles, another Denizen who takes a different approach to dealing with everyone, though it does involve some fighting. She’s a curious one, one that we see in a couple of flavors early on here, but her intent is what drives things. Her wanting the Midnight Lost Child is the initial thrust, but it’s revealed that there’s something else within him that’s attached to it, her lover Johann. And to bring him back to life, it involves basically ending Yuji’s life.
It’s not exactly a complicated situation, but it’s drawn out in an awkward way since Pheles has a history with Wilhelmina as well so there’s some minor flashback scenes that deals with that. With the whole event happening in the midst of the school festival, it gets dangerous there because of all that’s involved and even Konoe gets caught up in it. The reveals about how unusual Yuji’s inner works are is the main thrust of it, but it goes elsewhere as well as we see the battle go big within the seal and just how much destruction it causes. We’ve seen destruction in the series before, but with this taking place in the middle of the school there’s a whole lot more collateral damage. And a big part of it, that ripples later into the season is with how Ogata gets injured in the seal and Tanaka freaks out about it, causing him to distance himself from Margery. That draws Keisuke into working with her more though and that has him discovering more about the world at large and how the various support organizations are set up.
The Pheles arc works more as foundation for other things, from Kasumi getting a device that can call Pheles should they need help, at the expense of her own life, but the main thrust is to expose more of what Yuji is like and just how problematic it’ll be between him and Margery for awhile. For Yuji, the whole experience has him coming up with a few different ways of handling things. He’s intent on really building up his skill set, spending a lot of time training with both Shana and Wilhelmina, but we also see that Margery is willing to teach him a bit when it comes to the Silver. Yet in the end, he finds that the only real recourse he has here is to move on from Misaki City so as to not be a threat to everyone. On the positive side, at least he’d be with Shana since she’d go with him.
What helps to show just how much that Yuji has grown over the course of the season, we get a surprisingly big arc just past the middle of this set in which one of the more dangerous Denizen’s ends up in town, upon request by another party, intent on taking out Yuji. Sabrac is a creative type as he’s essentially an assassin, one that has a history with Wilhelmina, and it again presents a large scale threat to the city. What makes it an engaging watch is that it finally brings everyone together to go against him and we see Yuji becoming the rallying point. But even better than him getting hands on with it all, along with the human support side providing key information, he really takes on the role of strategist. It surprises even those like Alistor with what Yuji comes up with. Seeing the changes in the character since his first appearance, when the person that Shana whose life she took over was part of the show and caught up in a Seal, it really drives it all home who he is now and makes you want to see just how far he can go with it.
The Sabrac arc is probably my favorite on the set overall and it really does feel like it’s the one that will cap off the season with how big it goes. But it does provide for a three episode arc at the end that takes a lot of what’s gone on with the season as a whole, which involves the Ball Masque once more. It ties back to the first season nicely with what Bel-Peol has done and hints at larger themes as well since the arc can go only so far. Unfortunately, with it just being three episodes, it feels rushed and condensed with what it wants to do and almost a little too wacky since it involves some of the less appealing people from that group. I do like that it ties back to previous elements and it expands on some other pieces from this season with Konoe/Hecate, but it really feels like it needed a few more episodes to flow better.
While the first half of the season didn’t feel like it was pushing too hard of a pace, it provided for some good material and showed us how Yuji was being expanded to be more than just what we saw in the first season. It may be a bit much in some ways and there’s still more to be explored with it, but I like what the potential is for him and the growth that we do get. Yuji always had the potential to just be a support side for Shana with her being the lead, but with what’s done here it would be just as enjoyable to see him go solo on his own adventures without Shana. Shana has some good stuff going on here as well, but her main arc continues to be the drawn out declaration of love towards Yuji that she just can’t seem to get out. At least she and Kasumi have some good scenes together as they become formal rivals. The series goes in some good directions and avoids being a repeat of the first season, though it’s not without its flaws. But it does leave me wanting more to see just where it’ll go.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 21 Commentary, Shakugan no Shana-tan Revenge, Why? What? Shana! Ask Anything Question Box, Textless Opening and Closing Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 18th, 2012
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.