Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Dropped: Shangri-La

May 26, 2009 Dropped

Took me long enough, right? Seriously, who else is still actually watching this crap?

I really hope this doesn’t become some kind of annoying trend. Aside from this season’s two big remakes (FMA and DBK), Shangri-La was the only series I picked up. And like last season’s Kurokami, it’s now getting its lame ass dropped for pretty much all the same reasons.

When I read over all the summaries of the series set to debut for spring, Shangri-La was the only thing that really caught my eye. It’s premise sounded really interesting, and you can’t say the idea of using a country’s carbon emissions as a currency isn’t awesome. Unfortunately, that’s this series one and only merit. The premise doesn’t even translate into a plot because I watched seven, long and arduous episodes, and I still don’t know what the plot is. That’s the only reason I stuck with it so long — I really, really wanted to know what the plot was, but I guess if I can’t find it in seven episodes, then the whole thing’s just a waste of time.

Since there’s no actual plot, each episode is just a string of events about uninteresting characters that the audience is unfortunate enough to be following. This was especially painful for me since I much, much prefer character-driven stories over plot-driven stories, but I didn’t give a damn about a vast majority of the ensemble cast, and the few that do seem kindasorta interesting don’t have very many scenes. I could not sympathize with Kuniko, especially since she seemed so purposeless while also being popular for no reason. It didn’t make sense to me, and all her subsequent struggles were just incredibly boring.

Her supporting cast was similarly unsympathetic, especially since we’re given no background on how the current government system has been mistreating the populous. Nobody’s motivation was clear. The grandmother’s secrecy and decision not to tell Kuniko anything was a frustrating and probably pointless excuse to delay the plot. Ryoko was more of a poorly done evil caricature than an actual character. It really annoyed me that they created another character named Major Kusanagi. Momoko’s antics seemed too forceful to be humorous.

The only character that interested me was the lolipop girl; unsurprisingly, that was because she was the only one that seemed to be involved with the plot, whatever it is. Naturally, she only ever shows up briefly and is cryptic with a lot of things she says. Like Kurokami, the main problem with Shangri-La is that it’s difficult to relate to or sympathize with any of the characters. What makes Shangri-La worse than Kurokami is the fact that we don’t even know most of the characters’ motivations. Why are they doing what they’re doing? What are they trying to accomplish? Why should we care?

You can maybe infer that Metal-Age is trying to expose whatever government conspiracy took place however long ago, and you can also maybe say that Kuniko wants to find a way for everyone to “live happily,” but the former is too much of a given, and the latter is too general to be interesting.

I guess GONZO really is ready to kick the bucket then. Maybe I should have known it would be bad when we get really bad fanservice in the very first scene of the first episode? What a disappointment. Crunchyroll’s subs were good, too, and even though the character designs were kind of shoddy (Japan, please stop trying to pass twelve year-olds off as legal), the animation was pretty nice, and the music was decent too. But we all know that those things don’t hold up a show.


  1. TJ on May 26, 2009 8:47 pm

    lol well you lasted longer than I did. I dropped it after three episodes. On the other hand, I think psgels over at Star Crossed is still merrily blogging along.

    As for Kurokami, yeah it’s going all over the place too, but I think it’s actually getting better since ep 13. the plot has been tossed out the window, but the action level is picking up. can’t really explain it seeing how I hated Linebarrels of Iron which pulled something similar lol.

  2. usagijen on May 26, 2009 9:23 pm

    To think that I just read Kabitzin’s fairly positive review of the series before this, hmm. Guess I’ll wait till the series is over to roughly see how everything turns out, before finally diving into this.

  3. Kairu Ishimaru on May 26, 2009 11:02 pm

    You had watched 7 episodes until you dropped it? Haha. Oh wow.

  4. Kiriska on May 26, 2009 11:13 pm

    @TJ, I seem to have lasted much longer than most people, though I’m kinda surprised there are still people trucking along with Kurokami — I lasted longer than a lot of people on that too haha.

    @usagijen, Oh really? I’ve only seen a small handful of neutral reviews, but none outright positive. :O That’s one downside of watching something as it airs though — no final verdict to reassure you that it eventually gets better.

    @Kairu, Yeah, I’m a stubborn idiot. I really wanted to see the plot develop, but I guess we can’t all have what we want. :(

  5. Omisyth on May 27, 2009 3:16 pm


    And I wouldn’t consider showing a portion of the upper back very good “fanservice” :P.

  6. Kiriska on May 27, 2009 5:07 pm

    Well, that’s why I called it really bad fanservice. :P

    I’m notoriously bad at getting out early. I mean, Jesus, I watched ten episode of the 4Kids One Piece dub before I quit. =_=

  7. dm00 on May 28, 2009 3:40 pm

    I’m continuing with this series — while I don’t have a lot of emotional involvement with the characters, I think it’s a lot of fun at a meta-level.

    The “bad fanservice” is an example — they’re very obviously playing a game with the audience. They’ve got a cartwheeling heroine in a miniskirt, but the audience only hears about her panchira second hand — this from the makers of Strike Witches!

    Then there’s the okama bodyguard — the reductio-ad-absurdum of otaku trap-fetishization. Those scenes in “Neo-Akihabara” were the giveaway, especially the three aging otaku’s ecstasy at “a real girl in a school uniform”!

    But if you’re not into it for its subtle digs at anime cliche, then I can see it not being a very compelling series.

  8. Kiriska on May 28, 2009 4:13 pm

    I suppose that’s true enough, though if I were looking for meta-shenanigans, I’d be watching Lucky Star, which I’ve admittedly never gotten into. I just wanna know what the damn plot is. ;\

  9. dm00 on May 28, 2009 4:56 pm

    Figuring out the real plot is part of the mystery/puzzle. Some series are like that, but that sort of thing isn’t for everyone.

  10. Hynavian on June 5, 2009 4:57 am

    The picture you posted looks good though but as we know, nice looking anime doesn't last long without a good plot.

    Cheer up, at least you dropped it after 7 episodes. I hung on to Ikkitousen Great Guardians because I believed that the plot (if any) would become better. I followed it till the end and it was total rubbish. That's 13 episodes of wasted time for me. :-(

  11. Kiriska on June 5, 2009 5:17 am

    Haha, I suppose you're right. There are more than a few series that I seriously don't know why I bothered sticking with them to the end. (The Loveless anime and Romeo x Juliet come to mind immediately.)