Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 6, 2009 to Sep 14, 2009
23 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.211 (scored by 9601 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisIn the distant future, earthquakes and the effects of global warming have splintered Japanese society. Some struggle hand-to-mouth in the jungle-tangled ruins of civilization. Some live comfortably within the closed-off city of Atlas. Others lurk online, anonymously hacking the global economy. As nature grows more violent and the divide between classes expands, one spirited girl—Kuniko—must face her destiny and lead her people into the utopia of Atlas. The city's ruthless government isn't going to welcome them with open arms, but Kuniko won't give up until the gates of Atlas are kicked open for good—even if it means discovering that the promised land she dreamed of is built upon a foundation of twisted secrets and lies.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Shangri-La, Shangri-La
Characters & Voice Actors
Everybody knows of at least one anime that, while being rather decent for the most part, is sorely let down by certain rudimentary failings which a little more planning could have easily resolved, and it's unfortunate that as anime has gradually become more commercially viable, this phenomenon steadily been increasing. It's a sad fact though that one of the main avoidable flaws is also one that a little common sense could fix.
A case in point is Shangri-La.
Adapted from the manga of the same name, which in turn is an adaptation of a series of science fiction light novels by Ikegami Eiichi, the anime version is a reasonably good envisioning of the story. In what is effectively his first time directing a full series (movies notwithstanding), director Bessho Makoto has done a pretty decent job of bringing the series to life.
Set in the mid 21st century, the world has become a very strange place indeed as an international committee forcefully imposed a "carbon tax" on all the CO2 producing nations of the world in order to mitigate the effects of Global Warming. The financial and economic markets of the world altered greatly because of this change as more nations poured their money into the carbon markets in an effort to offset their current tax levies. Unfortunately, Japan suffered a major earthquake which destroyed most of it's infrastructure during this time, and to further compound matters, Japan's carbon tax rate was not lifted out of fear it would set a precedent, making Japan one of the poorest nations on earth.
However, a lifeline has been thrown to the ailing nation in the form of ATLAS, a project to rebuild Tokyo far above the ground, while the land itself is given over to the jungle.
The story begins with a young girl being released from a Japanese detention center, where she has been for two years. She is Hojo Kuniko, the "leader" of the anti-government group known as Metal Age, and her newfound freedom sparks a chain of events which will shake the world.
As far as the story goes, it can honestly be said that Shangri-La has almost everything anyone could possibly want, however this is also it's Achilles' Heel. The plot, which is generally paced quite well, has a tendency to go off the beaten track in an effort to justify events in the anime, and this is where the whole thing begins to unravel.
Quite simply, Shangri-La tries to cram far too much into 24 episodes. The rather lengthy introduction to the story earlier is an example of just how much content is in this anime, and while one can appreciate the effort that has gone into producing a viable screenplay, an experienced screenwriter like Onogi Hiroshi should really have known better than to try and put the whole story on screen. Likewise the director, having had some experience with the Ah! Megami-sama and Armitage: Dual Matrix movies, should have made the effort to keep things a little more simple.
As it is right now, Shangri-La isn't a bad series, however the numerous twists, turns, plots, counterplots, double crosses, extortions, blackmails, vendettas, factions, and characters who have a stake in the future of Japan, all serve to cloud the story proper, and confuse the viewer who may be left scratching at some new direction to which the show has suddenly veered. While the series does try to tie up the various loose ends and explain what has actually happened, there is simply too much to absorb in one go, and many people may find themselves stretching the series out just so they can absorb what has already happened (and maybe make sense of it).
For the most part the series is fairly well animated and the characters move nicely. However, whenever the show takes a turn towards action or combat, then the cracks begin to appear. The action sequences are decent enough in their own way, but there are numerous occasions when the characters somehow defy the laws of physics (Kuniko's spinning boomerang attack outside of ATLAS being a great example of this at work). One can only attribute this to a marked lack of attention to detail, or an attempt to make the show look "cooler" than it is. Whatever the case may be, Gonzo have let themselves down with Shangri-La as it is a long way from being their best work.
On the plus side though, the backgrounds and settings are failry well realised. Likewise, the characters are also reasonably well designed, although there is degree of naivety inherent in this, especially in the case of Kuniko, as while the characters appear as individuals facially, their clothes never really seem to change at all (except for Momoko).
To be honest, I was expecting somthing a little more in keeping with the theme and setting of the series given that the characters were designed by Range Murata (who also designed the characters for Last Exile and Blue Submarine No.6), but like everything in this show, this department is a bit of a mixed bag.
Musically the show is a bit hit and miss. The OP, a boppy little J-Pop track called "Kimi Shinitamo Koto Nakare" by May'n, has some extremely well choreographed visuals to go along with it. The ED is another J-Pop track, this time by Midori, called "Hajimari no Asa ni Hikari Are", and while it's a nice enough little ditty, it's not really memorable in any way. Both the OP and ED are decent enough tracks, but the series is let down by some poor and cliched thematic music. That's not to say that all of the mood music in the anime is bad, no, it's simply that the usage of certain tracks is a bit on the silly side. One example in the very first episode occurs when the viewer is shown ATLAS for the very first time - cue the dark and foreboding "Castle of Ultimate Despair" style music. It's this cliched music usage that really spoils certain parts of the series as the viewer is left in no doubt who the bad guys are.
Even if the show had tried to be a bit more ambiguous with their definitions of right and wrong (and oh how I wish they'd gone down that route), the music would have simply given the game away.
As far as the voice acting goes, it's pretty good on the whole. The cast are fairly talented, and are able to express a good degree of emotions, however there are several occasions where the drama is really "hammed up", which somewhat ruins the mood of the scene.
One of the biggest problems with Shangri-La is it's wealth of characters. The show has several leads and numerous supporting characters, which on paper would make for some great development if handled correctly. Unfortunately,the development of most of the characters is often haphazard, or stunted completely, and the reason for this is because the series attempts to justify everything. In simpler terms, the show tries to give every regular character a reason for their actions, thoughts, idealogies, feelings, etc, and because of this there is no real focus on the lead roles because the show simply runs out of time - which is why many people find the ending to be extremely rushed.
Shangri-La isn'ta bad series, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy it. The show has many interesting concepts to recommend it, but none of them are ever fully explored due to the attempt by the screenwriter to cram the entire novel series into 24 episodes. The sci-fi twist is coupled with a supernatural angle later in the story, and while this is not a bad thing, the show uses this as a justification for certain actions and events without ever fully explaining the link. The trade shenanigans in virtual carbon could have made for an OVA at the very least, as could life in the show's version of Akihabara.
Somewhere along the way the environmental message also went missing. Being ambitiousis all well and good, but it shouldn't be taken so far as to be a detriment to the series.
On the whole this series has much to criticise about, however don't be fooled into thinking it's godawful because of it's flaws. It's said that the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts, and Shangri-La is an example of this at work. Even with the numerous flaws I was extremely surprised to find that the story was pretty engaging, the characters were amiable and relatable, the settings were nice to look at, and the majority of the music was fairly easy on the ears. It's these positives that are the reason why the series is raised above the level of medicority, and while the plot may be a little garbled and far too convoluted and involved for it's own good, that doesn't mean that the premise or story are bad. It simply means that one has to work that little bit harder to figure out what's actually going on.
It's just unfortunate that, with so much potential inherent in the story, we didn't get to see the show as it should have been. Still, better luck next time, and hopefully Gonzo et al will learn from their mistakes. read more
I didn't think I'd be hopping back to Shangri-La again. When I think of this series, I think wasted potential. A post-apocalyptic anime focused around themes such as reduction of a country's carbon footprint for economic stability and dealing with the corrupt creator of a utopian city would seem like interesting ideas on paper for an anime series. However, Shangri-La chooses to mix said ideas around while sticking to conventional territory in its focus on our lead heroine Kuniko and her comrades of the radical group called Metal Age. This results in some pretty mixed and often sloppy results as the anime attempts to spin mature storytelling with exploring the dark side of Atlas, yet also tries to pander to otaku and has some immature comical elements it usually incorporates into its episodes. The anime does explore some interesting aspects and developments to its world with pollution affecting the grounded populace and corporate corruption running amuck with some exploiting the strict carbon laws enforced in the world of Shangri-La for their personal financial gain or abusing their power at the cost of the impoverished who are trying to gain citizenship into Atlas. Yet at the same time, the series has ridiculous characters like Kuniko's transvestite bodyguard known to creep out male soldiers with his flirting in battle and a trio of otaku living in the remains of Akihabara who are black market dealers that Kuniko and Metal Age buy supplies or information off of. Comical moments such as the mentioned flirting of the transvestite bodyguard and jokes cracked about Kuniko's chest add to the show feeling a bit juvenile despite the seemingly mature themes it pushes with its setting and story. Many other characters in the series were either cliched (Kuniko and Ryoko, the former being the always optimistic and lively youth who is always right in her convictions and the latter feeling like a clone of Last Exile's Maestro Delphine), are lacking in depth or their characters are too over-the-top for me to take seriously (Shion and Sayoko are masochist and sadomasochist respectively).
The storyline for Shangri-La also has its fair share of ups and downs. The series mixes focus around between several characters at differing points between Kuniko, Kunihito, Karin Ishida and Mikuni. While the four arcs may seem irrelevant at first glance, they slowly come together as more about the darker side of Atlas and Ryoko are revealed as all have their connections to Atlas that are hinted upon. Kuniko's story is fairly typical, yet engaging, as she tries being outsider to the activities of Metal Age before prolonged exposure to the corruption of Atlas drives her to make decisions that lead her to become more involved with Metal Age and Atlas' dark side. Kunihito serves as an opposing side to Kuniko for the first half of Shangri-La, but he doesn't get as much focus as the other characters and is fairly dull character as a result. Karin has the better developments in this series as her seemingly corrupt actions have purer motives that are revealed throughout the course of the series and she learns to accept experiencing the world. Mikuni's developments are also weak here as she is one of several catalysts that introduce mystical elements to Shangri-La that are poorly incorporated into the series and her character doesn't get much in the way of development. The later episodes to the series build up to the mentioned mystical elements that Shangri-La attempts to mix in with the anime's futuristic setting, yet feel very out of place and do not feel smoothly integrated into the show.
The one element that the series managed to pull nicely is its visual presentation. Scenery shots such as the inside of Atlas, toxic jungles and Kuniko's hometown of Duomo sport vivid color and high levels of detail. Character designs are drawn in a typical style, yet sport just as vivid color and detail as the scenery. Action scenes sport solid choreography with some unique approaches like Kuniko's use of her boomerang and Sayoko's use of medical equipment as weapons, though there are occasional animation shortcuts and the CG-animation employed at points still sticks out from the regular animation.
Overall, it felt like Shangri-La was trying to juggle too much throughout its run. The series tried to implement mature themes and storytelling with its setting, yet features elements of pandering to its audience and implements humor and content that make it seem juvenile. It sets up a solid futuristic setting, yet sloppily tries to incorporate mystical elements. It lays out focus on several character storylines with some occasional solid developments, yet two of said characters are bland or lacking in development. This is yet another subpar effort from Gonzo in its continued hit-or-miss efforts with dishing out anime titles. read more
Both series are based on different novels that use a similar post-apocalyptic setting where a community of people forgotten by society lives outside a fortified utopia.
Both story take place in a tower city that houses the elite rich and privileged in comfortable living.
Not all is allow to enter the tower while life outside tower are the less-privileged masses struggling to make a living.
The story contains not so bright secrets about the tower governor, sudden turn of events.
Shangri-la and No.6 are similar to each other as:
1: they both depict an large incident occurred
- which lead to a large construction work to create utopia
- not many people are able to enter
2: one of the generation's people are the creators.
3: the opposing force makes friends with each other and joined up to destroy the utopia.
Shangri-la talks about a young girl that would rise up to be the leader of the anti-government group. She over comes many large difficulties that helped her to rise in power to bring the utopia down. From an innocent young girl that loved boomerangs, to a young leader who wishes for everybody to live in harmony.
No.6 talks about a young boy learning the dark secrets of the utopia and decides to open people's eyes for them. Due to helping a wanted criminal, he was stripped off his titles and brought to the normal living conditions, where after that, he learned about the dark secrets of the utopia and manages to escape from hell. where after that, he tries to help others to escape from that hell to learn about the real world.
Futuristic theme involving the utopia culture is involved in both of these unique series. Both series present an usual feeling as the episodes progresses though dealing with apocalyptic themes.
Both anime series also contain sci-fi themes and unique characters.
I can't really put my finger on it but there's something that reminds me of Shangri-La. It has been lingering in my mind since I started the series. If I tried to narrow it down to something, I would say it's the overall feel to both series. Also the content of the stories are quite similar. Young protagonist/s trying to find the truth about their twisted society. Both are entertaining and take suprising twists. I recommend to watch Shangri-La if you liked Shinsekai yori and vice versa :)
Both are sprawling series centering around a young girl in a distant future era. Both have an Eden-esque setting and gorgeous scenery.
In both series, the setting takes place in a distant future years from modern times. In that future, there is are mysterious and backgrounds that are waiting to unfold.
Both series has a serene like feeling and majestic backgrounds presented in a more natural way.
Both series has drama and supernatural themes surrounding the many strange events going on.
Both series also has surprising plot twists.
Opening Theme"Kimi Shinitamou Koto Nakare (キミシニタモウコトナカレ)" by May'n
Ending Theme#1: "Hajimari no Asa ni Hikari Are. (はじまりの朝に光あれ。)" by midori (eps 1-2, 4-6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17-19, 21, 23)
#2: "Tsuki ni Kakuse shi Chō no Yume (月に隠せし蝶の夢)" by midori (eps 3, 7, 9, 11-12, 14, 16, 20, 22)
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