When anime turns bad

I liked “Shakugan no Shana” and looked forward to the second season. But now I think I was too optimistic.

After watching six episodes of “Shakugan no Shana II” I want to claw my eyes out.

Shana the red-eyed Flame Haze with the flaming sword and fiery master, Alastor, is back with Yuji the Mystes and the rest of the gang. The opening and ending songs are passable cute Jpop tunes. One could even say the opening song is Jrockish.

To recap, the world is a hunting ground for the denizens of the Crimson Realm who steal a person’s flame of existence. These denizens are the bad guys and the good guys are lords like Alastor and their Flame Hazes who try to maintain the balance of this world. (Cue pompous-sounding music.) A torch is a replica of a person whose flame of existence has been snuffed out. Torches are temporary and fade away when the flame inside their chest goes out.

Yuji Sakai is a Torch but a special one called a Mystes since he carries a treasure inside him. In his case it is called the “Midnight Lost Child” which reignites his flame at midnight. Technically, Yuji can live for a long, long time thanks to this. So everyone wants this treasure especially those baddies which include the Bel Masque group.

This season has disappointed me a lot. I wanted to see action but all I got so far was stale fare.

“Shakugan no Shana II” has degenerated into a high school love drama. Yeah yeah, the love triangle and pairings were visible in the first season but at least there was a more action-oriented bent to the show then. Now the viewer is subjected to episode upon episode of Shana or that boring girl who can cook (I think her name is Yoshida) getting jealous of Yuji and the latest transfer student.

The fact the transfer student looks remarkably like Hecate, one of the villains last season hints there might still be a plot that will compensate me for the hours I wasted watching this wanna be-Jdorama. Someone puhleez irk Shana so she can slash them with her sword. Anyone? Anyone?

Humming to Jpop/Jrock. When you really don’t know the words to that song.

Jpop and Jrock have taken over the CD player in my car, booting out Maroon 5 and Green Day. Funny. I didn’t use to listen to songs with lyrics I can’t read nor understand.

But I found myself humming certain tunes after watching anime. From humming I went to buying anime soundtracks then checking out other songs by this singer or that band. And while I’ve picked up some Japanese words and phrases along the way, that hardly qualifies as knowing the language.

It’s actually common to hear an English word or phrase pop up in many a Jpop or Jrock ditty. Don’t ask me why they do this. Let it remain one of the world’s unsolved mysteries.

Then there are bands that actually sing in bad English which fans call “Engrish”. The songs are catchy but the lyrics are bound to give your fourth grade English teacher fits. And the singer usually puts the wrong accent on the wrong syllable. (That borrowed joke is better heard than read.)

Don’t get me wrong. There are Jpop songs in decent English like “Life is Like a Boat” by Rie Fu which was used as the first ending song for “Bleach” and “Wind” by Akeboshi which was the first closing song for “Naruto.”

Spitz is my current favorite Japanese band. I like many of their songs and their lead singer has a nice clear voice. Too bad I have no idea what he’s actually singing about.

Here’s a list of songs from the Land of the Rising Sun you might want to try:

“* (asterisk)” by Orange Range, the first opening song for “Bleach”

“Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” by Beat Crusaders, used as an opening song for “Bleach”

“Hit in the USA” by Beat Crusaders, opening song for “Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad”

“Salva nos” and “Canta Per me” from “Noir”

“Ichirin no Hana” by High and Mighty Color, used as an opening song for “Bleach”

“Days” by High and Mighty Color

“Shell” by Bana, opening song for “Witch Hunter Robin”

“Movin” by Takacha, used as a closing song for “Bleach”

“Fukisabu Kaze no naka de” by WAG from “Saiyuki Reload”

“Don’t Look Back Again” by WAG, opening song from “Saiyuki Reload Gunlock”

“19sai” by Suga Shikao from “xxxholic”

“Like a Foojin” from “Beck”

“Cherry” by Spitz

“Sugar Guitar” by Skye Sweetnam for Trapnest (fictional band in “Nana”)