「涯てより開く」 (Hateyori Hiraku)
“The End Over the Horizon”
After watching the finale a few times, I must say that I’m satisfied with what J.C. Staff has given us. While it may not have been exactly what I wanted, there was just enough nostalgia to tip this final episode from good to great. And sure, light novel readers may not have enjoyed how fast things wrapped up or how short the one and only kiss scene we’ve seen this entire season was but I believe that a sense of closure was reached.
I don’t know about you, but the beginning of this episode felt awfully depressing. With the war over Xanadu finally over and both sides licking their wounds, it didn’t help that all the character’s we’ve grown to love over the past three seasons all started to slowly make their way down their own separate paths toward Xanadu. The worst of it being how emotional Wilhelmina got as she took on the role of Justus’ caretaker — there’s just something about a stone-cold faced fighter getting all puppy-eyed that struck home with something inside of me.
At the same time, I was surprised with how quickly the mood of the episode shifted as Shana and Yuuji finally got all the problems out in the open. While I may have stated that I couldn’t think of a reason why Shana and Yuuji would have to continue their fight, I missed one of the most obvious reasons possible — because Yuuji is and will always be an idiot when it comes to emotions and girls. Besides trying shoulder all the grief he created by trying to free the Flame Haze and the Tomogara from their eternal battle, I couldn’t believe that he thought big words and ideals would be enough to stop
Shana a girl who’s spent forever searching for her man — which is why things starting to feel so good the moment Shana screamed her favorite catchphrase and finally let her feelings for Yuuji come roaring out.
After beating some sense into Yuuji and finally sharing that kiss we’ve been waiting for since the end of season one, I don’t think I could have asked for more. While a glimpse of the future would have been nice since I personally would love to see what the outcome of the creation of Xandu will bring (and because I want to see a lovey-doevy Shana and Yuuji). But I suppose a short scene of our two protagonists holding hands will have to do :p
Before this third and final season of Shakugan no Shana even started, I remember blasting through the first two seasons to refresh my memory. As I did so, I remembered that there was this long running show that had such a good story with lots of cute elements thrown inside. A show that had cool things like interesting monsters, crazy protagonists, and battles whose scales continued to grow at an exponential rate. All the while throwing hints that our two protagonists who had feelings for each other would eventually do something about them even though one of them (normally Yuuji) would usually do something stupid that would push their relationship three steps back for every step forward. But even so, there was this hope that they’d eventually become an official couple.
And then we started the third season with a foreshadowing of just how crazy things were going to be. Since that introductory episode, I honestly believe that this third season of Shana has been a big success. Even with the pacing issues during certain arcs or the shallow depiction of certain new characters, I think the large scale battles and crazy battle scenes were more than enough to make up for it. My personal favorite other than any fight that involved Shana, would be Samuel’s last stance against hordes of Tomogara. Not necessarily for its scale but just how epic Samuel was and his sacrifice to save hundreds if not thousands of fellow Flame Hazes.
In terms of the story, I’m still impressed with how many different things the final season managed to do in one go. From bringing certain characters back from the brink of non-existence to large scale wars that had the battle scenes worthy of a season finale, there’s still one thing that comes to mind when someone asks me about something I loved about Shana’s final season — watching Shana grow into a mature adult.
Since the end of season two, it’s been clear that Shana has real feelings for Yuuji but has constantly let them trip her up in one way or another. During her captivity within the Seireiden, I was amazed with just how honest she became with herself and how accepting her feelings helped her achieve a level of strength she wasn’t able to find before. All of which came to a spectacular fruition when she finally beat the crap out of Yuuji and gave him their first kiss!
All in all, I think that the phrase “the original is always better” doesn’t hold for Shakugan no Shana. By following a different formula than the previous two seasons with the lure that a real ending was waiting for the viewers, I believe that this final season gave us the closure we were looking for. While the pacing could have been improved in certain places, everything that was shown had some importance toward the end product. While I’m a little down that one of the better shows of the season is ending, I’m happily awaiting the next time we get to have a Kugimiya Rie and Hino Satoshi pairing.