While quite a large proportion of the last volume of Shana on DVD was focused on back story, as we're now some way past the half-way point of this series it was only ever going to be a matter of time before things started ramping up and "getting serious". So what do you know, that's exactly what we get within the four episodes featured on volume five.
Indeed, while previous episodes have built up the "love triangle" between Yuji, Shana and Kazumi Yoshida, the episodes on this volume really bring things to a head, dishing out a fair dose of emotional anguish to all three parties. Much of this occurs as the result of a new Flame Haze in town named Khamsin, who is apparently visiting the city to "tune" it, rectifying the disturbances caused by all of the action we've seen so far in this series. However, to do this he needs someone who has lived and grown up in the city, thus giving him a "map" of sorts to put things right. This is where Kazumi comes into the equation, although her new role as helper to Khamsin leads her down the path of shocking discovery after shocking discovery.
These discoveries aren't just limited to Kazumi however, as a number of previously disparate threads come together and entwine in a common cause as this particular story arc progresses. All of this happens against the backdrop of a new attack on the city, masterminded by a stereotypically mad professor and causing both confusion and consternation amongst even the Flame Hazes present - Just what is The Professor trying to do, and is there some deeper purpose to his meddling? Although the immediate danger is thwarted (courtesy of some faintly ridiculous action scenes), the feeling is that there is only greater peril ahead, all surrounding Yuji's unique (and valuable) properties as a Mystes.
The final episode on this particular volume heralds the return of Shana's former "nanny" and generally fearsome Flame Haze, Wilhelmina - The sort of company that Shana would normally welcome, particularly given her current strife with Yuji, but that warm welcome is soon dispersed when Shana finds out exactly what brings her to the city...
After the last volume of Shana on DVD disappointed a little due to the sheer length of time it took to trawl through its occasionally plodding back story, volume five brings the series back to its best - In fact, I'd probably go as far as to say that it puts it onto a higher plain than we've seen thus far from the show. The mixing of the usual Denizen-fighting action with the emotional battles going on within the characters, and Shana in particular, add an extra aspect to the series that moves it away from its generic action tag and manages to give it a little more depth and pathos than it would otherwise have managed. The whole issue of Shana's relationship with Yuji even manages to paper over the fact that some of the major characters aren't all that "exciting" in personality terms (a charge I'd level at Kazumi specifically, as she makes for a rather dull love interest if you ask me), as it also tends to bring out the best in these supporting players.
In essence then, if you've been enjoying Shana so far, then you'll probably be even more impressed with this particular volume, which takes what has largely been a winning formula so far and added a little extra magic to it to make for an even more watchable concoction.
English and Japanese audio with English subtitles, production art gallery, "Naze nani Shana" ("Why? What? Shana") feature, textless second opening credits.