Daydream Sanctuary Features

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Finished Anime: Shangri-La


Shangri-La

The story of a young woman fighting for her survival in a real "urban jungle." Only 18 years old, Kuniko Hojo finds herself at the heart of the battle for humanity's future when she discovers that the government which rules Atlas intends to continue marginalising the less-privileged masses outside the tower - by force, if necessary.

Type: TV | Episodes: 24 | Aired: Apr 5, 2009 to Sep 13, 2009 | Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Producer: Gonzo | Main Cast: Mikako Takahashi (Kuniko), Yui Ariga (Mikuni), and Yuka Iguchi (Karin)
Director: Makoto Bessho | Original Creator: Eiichi Ikegami | Series Composition: Hiroshi Ohnogi | Music: Hitomi Kuroishi | Character Design: Range Murata

[ OVERALL IMPRESSIONS ]

(It's more of a 4 1/4 stars instead of 4 1/2 stars . . . but ah well . . .)

It's by Gonzo. And that alone had made a lot of people see this show negatively without even watching the first episode. And even if they did, the fact that it's by Gonzo is still in their mindset so that every little thing that will remind them of what they've hated of Gonzo would already make them consider this series being epic fail.

I have to agree to people who have disliked this series that this series certainly had flaws. My main complains I guess are the plotholes, some WTF "plot twists", some of the weird animation, Kuniko sort of being almost unbelievably perfect, and so on. And I have also disliked a lot of shows made by that production company.

But has there been a series without flaws?

And hey, even if this is Gonzo, I don't see it as the typical horrible Gonzo series. For one, it doesn't have the senseless perverted fanservice! We have sexy women, but their boobs aren't gigantic and their clothes aren't too revealing that they're almost naked! The CG is in tolerable levels, and some had been very amazing!

I love it that in series Gonzo had dared to be creative and unique. Sci-fi here has a fantasy twist. Hacking isn't just presented with a person infront of his/her computer; a virtual self could also sort of explore that other dimension! In other words, I think it has a magical and creative presentation of futuristic technology~

This series isn't just about the high-tech stuff, but it even explores economical and environmental issues. Those ideas and concepts may not be exactly new, but they're not really used in anime series that often. In a way it had also been post-apocalyptic, it's in a setting of Japan after a great disaster after all. Surprisingly, it also showed some otaku culture, and it added fun and humor to the series! The otaku part may not make sense in this kind of series, but it didn't feel out of place.

It's true that some parts here are just too unbelievable and doesn't follow the laws of physics. But, this is a fantasy series after all. If a series is under that genre, I believe all other unrealistic elements can be forgiveable, since it doesn't aim to be 100% realistic in the first place! Though I admit it does bother me at times . . .

Another thing about the story: indeed, there are a lot of things to complain about it (like that forced and rushed happy ending . . . it seems that way to me), but as a whole it had been intriguing and interesting! It had many surprising twists and revelations, and those got me very impressed! I hope it had been like that all the time though.

It's strongest point I believe, are the characters! They're so diversed and none of them had been a freakin' stereotype (yeah, even Kuniko, though she has this oh-so-perfect leading character role . . . )! They had been interesting in their own way, their personalities and point of views are so different, and almost all had development and a chance to shine! If this was your typical series that sucks so much in character development, we won't even get to know much of Kuniko's girl friends!

What else . . . ah, about the action scenes, not all have been fantastic, in my opinion. I only liked the scenes when Kuniko does incredible stunts, but with the actual battles, not really that great. The "final battles" was the most MEH for me.

As for the music, I love the background track and the OP and ED themes. I find it weird that not many people had appreciated the OP, because I find it really good! Or maybe my tastes are just weird . . .

Overall, this series is very underestimated, because it's honestly better than what it seems! If you can forgive some plot holes and some not-so-nice animation, then you're in for a great story and a terrific set of characters!
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