Shangri-la 5


angry-kuniko

Episode 5 of Shangri-la, “Disturbed Heart, Stormy Dance”, starts with Kuniko and Momoko encountering Kunihito in Akiba. While Momoko takes a bit longer to recognize the soldier, Kuniko sends a flying kick to Kunihito, not for being the enemy but rather because the first thing Kunihito remembered about her were her polkadot panties. Karin, who is watching over a camera feed, notices that it’s strawberry this time … Being suspicious of what a soldier like Kunihito might be doing in Akiba, Momoko suggests that they discretely check out what he’s doing.

This means enlisting the help of the three old men of Akiba. It would be much easier to just tap into a video feed and watch what Kunihito is doing over a monitor: Karin is doing it this way. But the old men are hardcore otaku: they just have to use an overly complex contraption that will let Kuniko immerse herself in the network. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the special effects such as dimming lights because of a presumed power drain were just that: special effects. Kuniko is even given a toy gun which is used to break through firewalls.

leon-and-kunihito-investigating

Kunihito is soon joined by Leon, and they inquire the local merchant about who may have purchased a certain type of computer processor. Interestingly, this is the same type of processor used in Medusa and which Karin is trying to find the purchaser of who may have duplicated Medusa. Why is ATLAS investigating the matter? Do they know how the carbon market could be manipulated with a system like Medusa, and do they know that Ishida Finance already has such a system? With the merchant not being interested in moving to ATLAS, Kunihito and Leon offer a sample of mimetic ore for the information.

Mimetic ore is something that apparently has been only recently developed by ATLAS, and it is a material that can be programmed to look like anything or even become invisible. A sample of something so valuable is enough for the merchant to reveal that the processor was purchased by an American lease company called Orochi, although Leon takes back the sample, saying that it will be delivered only after the information has been verified. Seeing the mimetic ore change shape the way it does really bothers Kuniko, and like the merchant, she only seems to digest its military value. However, I’m not sure how much use mimetic ore would be in a frontal assault, even though it would be incredibly useful for covert missions.

panicking-pudding

This is when Kuniko notices someone else watching Kunihito and Leon through the computer network. It’s a teddy bear wondering out loud why a company like Orochi would want the computer processor, thinking that they wouldn’t have the ability to duplicate Medusa. Kuniko has no instinct for being covert, so she just tries to talk to the teddy bear. The teddy bear represents Karin, of course, who panics severely when Kuniko tries to talk to her, with the image even breaking up to show Karin herself when she disconnects. Looks like there might be an actual reason for Karin not to face her clients in person: she may be extremely sociophobic, and Kuniko’s virtual presence may have been too close to being like a real human presence for her.

While Kusanagi is told to head back first with Leon having another mission to accomplish, withiin ATLAS Mikuni is complaining about Sayoko not being around. Mikuni tells Miko that Sayoko is not around because she is supposedly investigating ways that would allow Mikuni to go outside. So Mikuni gets Miko to talk about stories about the outside instead, where we learn how the Tropical Fish was severely damaged because of rain and hail. Elsewhere, Sayoko is disposing an experimental subject that had just died, and she seems to have a real fetish for human experimentation as she gets another human subject to experiment upon.

Before the break, Kunihito yet again runs into Kuniko and Momoko, while Karin seems to have figured out how Orochi may be involved given the way she’s smiling.

Karin gets an idea

Karin gets an idea

kuniko-and-kunihito-arguing

Kuniko and Kunihito get roped into having a faux date together by Momoko. While Kuniko is quite hostile at first, she seems to have plans for Kunihito’s backpack and gets into a conversational mood. They’re both idealistic, but they’re also quite sensible, not about their own beliefs and actions but rather about what’s wrong about the other’s. Kunihito can’t respond to Kuniko’s criticism of why the government is taking more than 50 years to move a significant portion of the population into ATLAS, while Kuniko is confused about Kunihito pointing out why Kuniko keeps on working with Metal Age despite her insistence that she is not part of the group. This gets them into a heated argument, although it’s cut short when it coincidentally starts raining right when Kuniko gets confused. Or maybe it’s not so much of a coincidence …

Taking shelter from the rain and hail, Kuniko jokingly blames Kunihito for making it rain, although I’m not sure if there’s not something to it: the other time we saw it start raining was right after Kuniko getting confused about her association with Metal Age in episode 3 during the argument between Metal Age sympathizers and protesters. I hadn’t thought much of the rain and hail back then, but this is the second time the weather changed for the worse right after Kuniko gets confused …

an-enraged-kuniko

Taking shelter in an abandoned building, Kuniko and Kunihito manage to hold a pleasant conversation like normal people. They even finally exchange their names. Kunihito talks a little about life in ATLAS, where he seems to have lived all his life, and life in ATLAS isn’t just moonlight and roses. Kuniko does manage to impress upon Kunihito that life outside may be much harder than he had thought it was. However, when Kunihito mentions that one day everyone could live happily in ATLAS if the people could just bear the hardships, this sends Kuniko into a rage about the how ridiculous the idea that people living in ATLAS has to bear anything when compared to those living outside. I’m not so sure about this: we haven’t seen anything about what ordinary life in ATLAS might look like, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s very oppressive with people mysteriously disappearing all the time.

Kuniko swings her boomerang this way and that against Kunihito, although she’s probably missing on purpose. I would have really liked to see what happens if the boomerang were to actually hit human flesh: I’m still wondering if it would cut through people like butter the way it cuts through metal, or if it’s an intelligent piece of hardware that would blunt itself when it hits flesh like I suspect. Kuniko’s rage was really just a ruse to steal the backpack containing the sample of mimetic ore, but Kuniko leaves behind her boomerang in the process.

Back in ATLAS, Kunihito has only Kuniko’s boomerang to show for his loss of the sample of mimetic ore, and he’s really pissed off at her and maybe himself for what happened. Meanwhile, Kuniko shows the mimetic ore to Takehiko and Nagiko, which works by a surface layer of carbon controlled by a nano-sized computer. This seems to greatly surprise Takehiko, but Nagiko doesn’t look particularly surprised. However, Nagiko is extremely surprised when Kuniko brings out a gift from the old men of Akiba to Nagiko: a figurine of Magical Gina. Nagiko is totally repelled by the figurine, and the resident geek Furukawa seems to know why, although it’s continued to be kept a secret from Kuniko. I suspect that it’s a relic from Nagiko’s past that she wants to keep totally buried; she may even had been the voice actor for Magical Gina. The episode ends with Ishida Finance contacting a government minister about Orochi.

Nagiko's reaction to Magical Gina

Nagiko's reaction to Magical Gina

This episode yet again shows the odd juxtaposition of widespread use of technology not significantly different from today with snippets of extremely advanced technology unattainable by today’s standard. One would think that with the availability of such advanced technology, those outside of ATLAS would not have to live in such squalor. And the construction of ATLAS began much earlier than I thought. Perhaps it was precisely widespread use of advanced technology that caused the disaster of fifty years ago: it would explain its lack in everyday life. Although climate control may not be one of those technologies despite my suspicions from episode 1, where it now seems that the weather might actually be influenced by Kuniko’s mood instead. Of course, I might be seeing a pattern where there is none …

Kuniko and Magical Gina

  1. #1 by dm00 on May 5, 2009 - 8:24 pm

    I saw this mentioned elsewhere, but your side-by-side screenshots make it obvious: look at Nagiko’s and Gina’s hair — same color, twin braids, pink ribbons. And think how their names would be spelled in kana: na-gi-(ko) and gi-na.

    I do like your assessment of the old otaku grabbing a chance to play with one of their toys. The portrayal of those old otaku — annoying as they are — is quite nice (I especially liked their delight at the appearance of

  2. #2 by dm00 on May 6, 2009 - 1:01 am

    Hmm, my message got cut off, it seems.

    Let’s see, I think it continued:

  3. #3 by dm00 on May 6, 2009 - 1:06 am

    It seems your system really dislikes double-quotes.

    …appearance of ‘a real girl’ wearing ‘a real school uniform’). While this series’ main plot looks moderately pedestrian and well-worn, I like the games that the creators are playing with their audience’s attitudes and their audience’s expectations. The legendary otaku, Momoko as the reductio-ad-absurdum ‘trap’, ‘polka-dots’ and ‘it’s strawberries this time’. The creators of Strike Witches give us a cart-wheeling heroine in a mini-skirt, but all we know of her panties is hearsay. Bravo!

    I’m expecting an audience fake-out in the environmental politics, too. Everyone seems to expect Metal-Age to be impoverished Ecotarians (ignoring the smoke-stacks that are the most prominent part of their stronghold). I\’m expecting the environmental ‘good guys’ to be the nasties up in Atlas. That’s an interesting point about rain and Kuniko’s confusion (wasn\’t it raining as she left prison, as well — but maybe clearing up as soon as Momoko and Mii-ko appeared?).

    Finally, we have three characters tied together by inherited daggers and matched syllables in their names: Kuniko, Kunihito, and Mikuni. I wonder if their names use the kanji character for ‘country’, kuni: 国

    • #4 by Shounen A on May 6, 2009 - 1:30 am

      It was raining right inside the detention center while the rain stopped right outside when Kuniko was leaving: I had thought it was a sign of advanced climate control that would have made the carbon control regime obsolete, but possibly unused on purpose to maintain power. Now I think otherwise …

      Kuniko, Kunihito, and Mikuni indeed all use the kanjis for “country”, although they’re all different: 國, 国, 邦. I had thought there was something to how the names of Kuniko and Kunihito started with “country”, but it didn’t occur to me that the pattern also applied to Mikuni until it was mentioned at Hyper Parfait.

    • #5 by Shounen A on May 6, 2009 - 1:34 am

      Sorry about the spam moderation stripping out the double quotes. I’ve contacted support about the problem and hopefully it will get fixed soon, although I may have to consider using another system if it stays broke.

      (I do like the current system in use, Mollom, in that I have to worry much less than Akismet about false positives being filtered out, but if it stays broken …)

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