Episode 17 of Shangri-la, “Dark Night, Defiant Road”, continues from the previous episode with Takehiko pointing a gun at Kuniko’s head. A demand for an explanation has Takehiko revealing that Kuniko has rank AAA in the ATLAS hierarchy, and that he was assigned by ATLAS corporate headquarters to be a bodyguard for Kuniko. He reveals that countless children were sacrificed to suppress the inherent vibrations of ATLAS, which would otherwise destroy the structure. Takehiko used to believe the sacrifices were worth it.
But now that he knows the fate of his sister, he wants to derail the plan that includes one of the rank AAA members inheriting ATLAS. This means killing Kuniko, who is the only rank AAA member he knows. Upon hearing Takehiko’s explanation, Kuniko tells him to go ahead and shoot. Takehiko wavers in his resolve to shoot Kuniko, although we don’t get to see if he would have stood down or not, as Kunihito comes to the rescue and kicks away Takehiko’s gun. Takehiko is tougher than Kunihito in hand-to-hand combat, though: it’s possible that Takehiko was in the special forces himself, considering he was assigned as Kuniko’s bodyguard.
The fight between Kunihito and Takehiko is cut short by Kuniko aiming a gun at Takehiko. While Kuniko implores Takehiko to return to Duomo, he disappears by jumping into a nearby stream and we don’t get to learn anything about the ATLAS plan that we don’t already know. Of course, Kunihito still has no idea he is one of the Digmas, and I’m sure Takehiko would be very surprised to learn that he had two Digmas right in front of him. Kunihito tells Kuniko that he has resigned from the military and is searching in something to believe in.
In ATLAS, Hata asks Ryouko what to do about retrieving Hiruko and recovering from the damage inflicted by the barrage from the Daedalus plants. Ryouko tells him to leave things alone, citing that unexpected events should be expected to delay plans. Oddly enough, Hata seems to be pleased by Ryouko’s apathetic response. The way that Tarsian, who is under house arrest, is shown during this scene makes me wonder if Hata is really working with Tarsian, that Ryouko might actually be the one that is being played like a fiddle.
In her new base of operations, Karin is reviewing what she had learned from Zeus just before escaping from ATLAS. Karin is now in Akihabara, where she has implemented the idea she had in episode 12: she has bought all the buildings in Akihabara and is now the new management. She leans toward “Neo-Guild” as the name for her new organization. Karin doesn’t think much of how corporate ATLAS deceived everyone, where no one but the rank AAA members matters to their plan.
Things seem to be going Karin’s way again, and it seems to be getting even better when Karin receives contact from Sayoko representing Mikuni. It is apparent that Karin wants to ride the coattails of one of the Digmas to make a lot of money, and she becomes a sponsor for Mikuni. Unfortunately, Sayoko neglects to reveal details about the lethal living arrangements: Karin loses some hired help setting a pool for Hiruko and assigning maids for Mikuni. And upon learning what happens to liars in front of Mikuni, Karin gets in a bind when Mikuni asks why she is doing this. Not wanting to lose their sponsor so soon, Sayoko bails Karin out by giving an ambiguous but truthful answer.
The scenes with Karin trying to provide accommodations for Mikuni are just hilarious. And no doubt her thoughts reflects those that some of us are thinking: “What is wrong with these people?” At least Karin seems to have made incredible progress in overcoming her social phobia: she is now wearing sunglasses (at night), which is even more progress from wearing a full-body teddy bear costume. Karin is trying too hard to be a polite host: she should just unleash her full annoyance on Mikuni and Sayoko on how ungracious guests they are being.
In Duomo, Kuniko receives a report that contact has been lost with the Nerima branch of Metal Age. When she leads a small group to investigate, it turns out that Nerima has been completely overridden by Daedalus plants. Nerima had also been engulfed in toxic gas so suddenly that members of the Nerima branch of Metal Age did not even have time to put on their gas masks. Kuniko has no choice but to abandon Nerima. After returning to Duomo and learning the projected spread of Daedalus, Kuniko decides that something must be done about the plants.
Back in ATLAS, Ryouko again punishes Shion by throwing a bottle at him, this time for daring to suggest that he knows her moods. Shion’s head even bleeds, but he is oddly aroused by how he is bleeding. When Hata calls Ryouko about how devastating Daedalus has become on the ground, Ryouko only seems to be happy that the ground is no longer a place fit for living. Later, Leon is worried about how Ryouko is treating his younger brother, but Shion only gets angry, telling him that he has no idea what’s really going on. No surprise there, as Leon seems to be completely unaware of Shion’s proclivities (i.e. masochism), but it sounds like there might also be much more going on.
Meanwhile, the three old men of Akiba have already prepared goods based on their new landlord. Their big point of contention is which one is best: a rare picture of Karin without her sunglasses, a Karin figurine, or a model of a tank with Karin. This is when Kuniko and Momoko arrive to ask them for help in getting another aircraft for their plans. Unfortunately, new management has supplanted the existing syndicates that they had been in contact with. The best that the old men of Akiba can do for Kuniko is to arrange a direct meeting between her and their new landlord.
Of course, Karin is completely flabbergasted when one of the people she meets is the “monkey” that had so troubled her previously. Karin soon regains her bearing, even wondering if things are turning back her way as another rank AAA member has just contacted her. When she asks Kuniko what Metal Age wants with a bomber, Kuniko replies that she intends to burn Tokyo. It took hundreds of bombers to firebomb Tokyo in World War II: I wonder how Kuniko intends to burn all the Daedalus plants with only a single bomber?
There was not much revealed in this episode, but I’d say that Karin’s appearance more than makes up for any other lack. Her thoughts and reactions in this episode are so adorable. I just wish that she talked with her pet teddy bear about what the ATLAS plan is: at the rate everyone learns the plan or is revealed to having known it, only the three Digmas Kuniko, Kunihito, and Mikuni will end up having no idea what it really is (along with us poor viewers).