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Shangri-La
Shangril-La
Shangri-La
Anime Review

Shangri-la is definitely "hard" Sci-Fi. And by hard, I mean, hard to follow! Seriously, there were times I felt like I needed a Ph.D. in economics to follow some of what was going on. This anime may be proof that we are behind on the educational curve for industrialized nations, since Japanese kids clearly have a better understanding of carbon credits than I do.

Global warming has taken over the Earth and humanity fights to survive, in its wake, a global carbon credits market has sprung up, allowing countries to pay for potentially damaging emissions, sort of like the stock market, except that in this case, burning a lot of fuel can bankrupt a nation.

To this end, Japan (or at least Tokyo) has turned itself into a giant dense forest, where a few scattered villagers live and struggle to survive, and also live in the shadow of a massive construction project, Atlas -- a single building large enough to hold the population of Japan - or so they say...

Shangri-LaWithin this setting, the story breaks into three arcs that eventually merge, each arc lead by a young girl -- Karin, a reclusive computer hacker who virtually teams up with other 'neocarbonists' and their pet AI 'Medusa' to make massive amounts of money raiding the world carbon market; Mikuni, a girl with a deadly aversion to sunlight who is treated as a classical Japanese princess and has the power to turn anyone who lies to her into a human pretzel; and Kuniko, a petite, boomerang-wielding teen who is a natural-born leader and the reluctant heir to the leadership of Metal Age (a land-based organization that is equal parts terrorist network and service group).

The series has an ecological bent, and at times, reminds us of Nausicaa, with its poisonous forests and destructive plants, and then a 14-yr old girl with pink hair in a school uniform destroys a row of tanks with nothing more than a boomerang, and I'm reminded I'm watching anime again.

The story hopelessly careens towards an improbable ending that makes me wonder if the Japanese were watching LOST; it is great fun to watch, but after a while you stop trying to even understand what's going on, and although Gonzo is great at keeping the action level high enough to get through all 24 episodes, the overly ambitious storyline just goes too many places (and somewhere near the end just sorta goes crazy). But before you think I've completely trashed this series, I should say that it actually has a lot going for it and is definitely worth the time investment, if, for nothing else, the superb cast of characters.

Shangri-LaI also need to give fantastic credit to Funimation, who, I think, actually IMPROVED the series with their English dub. Momoko's character (a transgendered slut that is the closest thing Kuniko has to a mother figure) really shines, and Karin's "split personality" comes through much more sharply (via her 'bear') in the English dub.

Ultimately, Shangri-La wants to be a great big epic ala Gundam, but the problem is that it's really 3 big epics, and that doesn't fit easily into just 24 half-hours. Director Makoto Bessho tries to do it, but he's still too inexperienced. But I do give him credit for trying.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, December 2012

Below: Scenes from Shangri-La.

a screen capture from Shangri-La

a screen capture from Shangri-La

a screen capture from Shangri-La

a screen capture from Shangri-La

a screen capture from Shangri-La

a screen capture from Shangri-La

a screen capture from Shangri-La

a screen capture from Shangri-La

a screen capture from Shangri-La



Shangri-La

Shangri-La Website Links:


Shangri-La at Tokyo MX (Japanese)

Shangri-La on Animax Asia

Shangri-La (TV) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia

Shangri-La (novel) at Wikipedia

Shangri-La episode list at Wikipedia


Below: Promotional illustrations for Shangri-La.

Shangri-La

Shangri-La

Shangri-La

Shangri-La

Shangri-La




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