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Shana Vol. 6
Date 27 Feb 2009
The penultimate volume of Shana on DVD left Yuji at what almost certainly seemed to be his end, with the reappearance of Wilhelmina turning what felt more like a visit from your mother-in-law into a matter or life or death - A state of affairs which leaves Shana increasingly torn between her role and expectations as a Flame Haze and her feelings for Yuji.
Eventually of course Shana (with a little assistance from Alastor) manages to at least delay Yuji's impromptu execution, but the whole incident presses upon him both the danger he faces and the peril he leaves the city in by remaining there. Before he can make any kind of decision as to whether he should stay or go, his time runs out as Ball Masque make their grand entrance, snatching Yuji away as the all-important factor in an experiment which seems to involve employing him as the world's most potent Duracell battery.
From here we're taken full speed ahead into the final story arc of the series, with Shana fighting to save Yuji while also fulfilling the duties of her official role. With plenty to squeeze into these last four episodes, there's barely any let up in the pace, with the action coming thick and fast for much of these instalments while the effects and fallout from the goings on become ever more spectacular as they build up to a suitably fiery climax.
While this is all handled pretty well by the series, this intense focus on the action does tend to forget the more emotional core of the show, particularly that surrounding Shana and Yuji, that has frequently brought forth its best moments. While these emotions and relationships aren't ignored completely by the final few episodes, it often feels a little like they are simply granted lip service to keep the fighting coming - All the signs are there but they're not explored in any real depth, leaving scenes that could have been potentially more moving or touching feeling rather empty.
I don't want to make it sound as though I haven't enjoyed Shana, for it has been a suitably entertaining series to watch and if you're in it more for the action, swords and things on fire then you really won't be disappointed at all. However, I just can't quite shake the feeling that this series could have been something greater than the sum of its parts - After its auspicious start I found myself really warming to the main characters as the series progressed, but this seemed to be frittered away during these final episodes to leave a climax which was devoid of feeling where it had the potential to offer so much more.
Technically, this final volume on DVD has been up to the standard set by previous volumes, with near flawless subtitling and decent sound quality, and good video quality despite the entire series having a slightly "washed out" feel in my subjective opinion.
When it comes to the crunch then, what you take out of Shana as a whole depends on what you were expecting from it. Despite its potential it never really manages to hit any emotional or character-driven depths, but it tells its tale and tells it well with a sufficiently good balance of action and story building to keep your interest from beginning to end. If you're a fan, now the wait begins to see if the second series of Shana makes it to our shores...
English and Japanese 2.0 audio with English subtitles, textless third end credits, "Naze Nani Shana" extra, two "Shana-tan" bonus mini-episodes.
An action-packed finale, let down by becoming overly "stiff" emotionally.