Spring 2009 Anime Impressions – Shangri-La

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I like to be upfront with the readers of The null set when some issue might intrude when reviewing anime. In this case, I don’t believe in human directed global warming and because this is part of the scenario behind Shangri-La, it might be impossible to like this show even when I really want to keep personal biases that are unrelated to the act of watching anime separate. If global warming is just used as the backdrop then I’ll be okay but if this show starts to get preachy about how evil humans are then I won’t be able to help myself.

So with that said, what did I think of Shangri-La?

Rating: episode 1 – 6/12B-
Anticipation Level: low

Shangri-La is set in a future Tokyo where global warming has warmed the planet by 6 degrees and sea levels have risen and flooded large chunks of Tokyo – basically, the type of world that Al Gore fantasizes about. The response by the government is to install a cap-and-trade system and to create the carbon police – basically the same road that Obama is already starting the country down. The protagonist appears to be Kuniko, a young girl living in an enclave of Tokyo filled with the misfits, rejects, and anti-government protesters of society.

Shangri-La definitely has potential but I’m worried that Gonzo will sabotage itself because it appears they don’t have the guts to do a show without trying to also cater to those fans just looking for fan service. Though I shouldn’t complain, at least Kuniko is smart enough to wear a bra though I still question the wisdom of buying clothes that turn invisible when they get wet. I am heartened to see, at least in the first episode, that the good guys are not the overzealous ecofreaks but those people that want to fight the government.

The animation was definitely above average but it still can’t compete with the best. I was reminded of Michiko to Hatchin when I saw the city where Kuniko lives; doing so made the difference in quality apparent. The voice work was good, I recognized several voices though without looking, I don’t who was who. The action scenes where fluid and the bulletproof boomerang is definitely a unique weapon to use. For a first episode, several interesting bits of the overall plot where introduced. I thought the knives that collectively rang when the one was hit was very interesting and would like to find out more about them and why do so many people carry them. Also intriguing was the very young girl that’s apparently the head of company that deals in carbon credits. I’d like to know what her angle is in the overall picture, the government doesn’t seem to be aware of their business so I’m thinking it’s shady or maybe she just wants to upset the establishment.

This first episode was good enough that I’ll watch 3 – 4 more. It certainly has the potential to be good and Gonzo used to be able to make good series as a quick scan of my DVD collection will attest to but I’m not really sure if they can rise above trying to make a quick buck to make a quality show.

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5 thoughts on “Spring 2009 Anime Impressions – Shangri-La”

  1. ya know, I really dont think that when reading a review about an anime, ANYONE wants to hear about all of ur BIASES and VIEWS!!! I wanted to read a review of this anime, I dont FREAKIN CARE whether or not u believe that humans are a part of the cause of global warming (which they are) or not, and i dont FREAKIN care about what u gotta say about what obama is doing in his presidency! GOSH!

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  2. There’s no way for a human to accurately judge a review without knowing the underlying biases of the reviewer. We’re going into Kool Aid drinking time when all people care about is being told what is good and bad, and they have no idea where that call came from.

    Even for “trusted sources”, the professional intel analyst must review and analyze all biases, express or implicit, in order to account for the final result.

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  3. @purplebunny: Basically what ymarsakar says. I wanted to be up-front with my potential biases against the show instead of hiding them from the people reading this. In the end I dropped this anime because Gonzo failed at basic story-telling and plot development so my personal biases never actually played into the decision to drop it.

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