Shangri-la


Shangri-la is set in a future where global warming is such a big problem that carbon trading has become the entire basis for the global economy. The setting is in Tokyo, where the gigantic structure ATLAS hangs over the ruins of the city. Residents of ATLAS live in relative comfort, but those who are forced to remain outside must face lethal weather and an encroaching deadly forest. The story is focused on Houjou Kuniko, a young woman troubled by the disparity.

The summary above probably does not do much justice to the show. It includes tons of genre elements such as high-tech weapons and gadgets, cyber battles, otaku culture, and the mythological. There are also a lot of plot threads and characters to follow. Remarkably, they all fit together nicely without descending into an incoherent mess, even if it might not seem so at first considering the vehement rejection of the show exhibited by a lot of people. And if you squint hard enough, you might notice homage being paid to a lot of stuff out there, from specific anime to generic story conventions.

One thing that stands out is the dizzying array of colorful people. Most of the major characters have quite distinct personalities that make it fun to see them live their life and interact with each other. An energetic young woman, a transsexual mother figure, a sassy girl, a twisted but epic villain, hardcore otaku, etc.: they all make it very enjoyable watching the show. I found energetic young woman Kuniko and sassy girl Karin especially fun to watch.

Shangri-la is not without its problems, however. It suffers from the “lack of budget” problem, and in particular, the “uneven budget” problem, so some of the episodes have terrible animation. This is especially so with some of the earlier episodes, although fortunately it does not reach difficult-to-tolerate levels again. Another problem is that a lot is left to be inferred by the viewers, although this might actually be a great thing: upon figuring out what was not shown, an epic story element can feel even more epic.

Despite the problems, I would say that Shangri-la is a pretty good anime with a campy feel which makes it even better. Your mileage may vary, of course, with how different people seem to rate it so differently. Some do not think much of the show, but I’m one of those who think highly of Shangri-la.

Houjou Kuniko

Episodes

  1. Return of a Girl
  2. Cursed Sea of Ikebukuro
  3. Layers of Heaven and Earth
  4. Super Akihabara
  5. Disturbed Heart, Stormy Dance
  6. Imaginary Battle Lines
  7. Sadness, Gratitude, and Vengeance
  8. Lipstick Cruelty
  9. Sky Opening, Sun and Moon
  10. Sword with the Soul of Words
  11. Dreams of a Foreign Bird
  12. Changes in the Forces of Life
  13. Flying Girl
  14. Transfigured City
  15. Straying Defeat
  16. Insane Hell
  17. Dark Night, Defiant Road
  18. Double-headed Fable
  19. The Aerial Bombing of Tokyo
  20. Joint Articulation
  21. Loss of a Holy Land
  22. Eternal Bonds
  23. Prelude to Destruction
  24. Ideal Homeland

  1. #1 by donight on September 24, 2009 - 7:07 am

    The ending is boring= =||
    Any way Shangri-la as a whole is excellent….

  2. #2 by Nina Chow on November 28, 2009 - 7:26 pm

    i am a big fan Shangri-la too. By the way, where could i watch the series? There are some website out there showing the video but most of them are broken. Please help me.

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