Side stories are the order of the day here as we expand the Shakugan no Shana universe.
What They Say:
Find out what happens when Yuji accidentally triggers a found Treasure Tool while it’s pointed at Shana! Then, Yuji teams up with Wilhelmina to stalk their fiery friend – whose secrecy has become unsettling. Finally, in a two-part special, Shana tracks a Denizen’s trail by sorting through a Torch’s memories for clues. Her sleuth skills reveal a teenage girl’s heartwarming last days and a predator with a serious identity crisis!
Contans OVA episodes 1-4:
Overture, Part 1
Overture, Part 2
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 released from 2009 to 2010, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The four OVAs are on one disc alongside the extras making for some good space to work with. The series definitely has a better sense of color definition this time compared to the first season of the series and feels more like what we got out of the second season, slightly bumped up. The episodes basically look similar though with some good looking animation that doesn’t have any real issues such as cross coloration, line noise or macroblocking going on. There’s some mild noise in a few scenes but that doesn’t stand out all that much overall. Colors are well balanced with only a few areas that are really stand out in terms of vibrancy so it fits into the franchise overall..
Similar to the individual parts of the TV series releases 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 has Shana standing to the side with a serious look to her face. While past covers in the frnachise show her hair going in all directions, this one gives us a view of it just flowing all together wonderfully. The back cover continues on with the white and provides for a good piece of character artwork of Shana from the movie along with a small strip of shots from the show that focuses on the dark yet colorful action. The premise for the feature is covered well enough and we get a clean listing of what’s included, both for formats 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 we get a full two panel illustration showing off the main characters here that looks really good. 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 are pretty cute as it continues on with what we saw in previous seasons and the movie. We get four new installments of the Shana-tan series and they’re just as adorable as before. The runtimes vary a little but they do continue to average around five minutes. This release also gives us the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences for this run.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A year and a half after the end of the second season of the series, Shakugan no Shana opted to slide out a few OVA releases along with the aforementioned mini specials. Sometimes it feels like new OVAs and series are made just to give us more Shana-tan episodes, not that I’m complaining about that. Having watched the first two seasons of the series and the movie prior to getting into the OVAs, it’s easy to feel just a little bit burned out by the whole experience. Thankfully, the side stories we get here are a whole lot of fun and it finally does one of the things I’ve wanted for awhile, giving us a story from before she met Yuji.
The OVA series gives us two standalone episodes and then a two part story. The first episode is done with a good bit of humor as it has some of the follow-up from early on in the franchise as Yuji and Shana are checking out the remains of Friagne’s place. While rifling through the rubble, they end up coming across a device that causes all the real trouble. Real trouble in that it causes them to switch bodies. That alone makes for a lot of fun as they scramble to try and fix it, but obviously they end up in other situations first, including causing some confusion when it comes to Wilhelmina. Body swap episodes are pretty common over the whole spectrum of anime and it doesn’t do anything really out of the ordinary here, but it does have fun and just makes for plenty of silliness.
The second OVA is similar of nature as it deals with a familiar storyline that many, many, many filler episodes work with. While the gang is going about their normal lives within the context of the universe, the story involves having Shana spending several days away from Yuji and Wilhemina for awhile after school. She’s being mysterious and secretive and that sets off all sorts of alarms for Wilhelmina. Yuji’s pretty blasé about it considering what he knows about her, but she must know what’s going on and how dangerous it is. There’s also the potential that Shana may be avoiding her duties and that gets her to follow her for awhile while drawing Yuji into it to help figure out the quirks of normal people. There’s no real surprise about what’s really going on, but I like that it forced these two spend time together and to allow Wilhelmina to understand him a bit. There’s some fun bits that happen through her personality, but nothing here really stands out.
The two parter that follows this is a more subdued piece but deals with Shana at a time that we haven’t seen much of. Predating her meeting Yuji, we see the serious and focused Shana as she come across a high school girl named Junko who is actually a Torch. She eliminates her quickly and easily, without real thought to help show how different she is from the Shana we know with Yuji, in order to use her existence. But it gives her enough to go on to realize that there’s something going on with who Junko was and could potentially tie with her reason for being in this city to hunt down a potential Denizen that’s causing some strange problems. While we saw Shana take over Hirai’s life in the main series, this shows us her doing it in order to get more information.
Shana as Junko goes through living her life for awhile and it becomes an interesting story to follow. There were some serious issues coming up through her life at home in regards to her mother and that problem is one that does eventually tie into the Denizen issue. The Denizen is interesting and I like the more leisurely pace that’s used to get to it. But what I really enjoyed, in a very sad kind of way, was how it finally took the time outside of Yuji to show what happens to those who knew someone that was turned into a Torch. I always found the Torches to be the saddest aspect of the series and one that really should factor into things more considering how many are introduced across the run of the franchise with the things the Denizens do. With Shana less connected to people in a big way here, we see some of those first slivers of udnerstandign as she lives Junko’s life, tries to figure out that problem that cause a divide between her and her mother and then the eventual disappearance. The impact on those left behind is nonexistent because of how it works, but for the viewer the sadness can be profound. Seeing that unfold here is one of the best parts and something that I wish was explored more overall.
Providing a look at different parts of the Shana universe, the OVAs here are pretty fun overall though there are some familiar concepts used. The first two OVAs use story ideas that are common enough both in execution and the way the narrative is told but it is fun to see this cast go through it, especially the Reshuffle episode. The two part OVA is what really made me enjoy the release more since it deals with the time before Yuji and allowed us to see a different kind of Shana than we’re used to. The investigation she’s on is well handled, the Denizen is certainly interesting and different from what we’ve seen before and the exploration of the Torches life is just what I wanted to see. Though they’re all side stories, there’s some good material here that’s worth adding to the collection.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Shakugan no Shana-tan G, Shakugan no Shana-tan Dos, Shakugan no Shana-tan Tri-, Shakugan no Shana-tan Frontier, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 22nd, 2013
Running Time: 90 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.