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Shangri-La Review [Anime]

Posted on August 15, 2012 AT 07:53pm

A touch of science fiction blended with a little of the supernatural, Shangri-LA will take you on a wonderful, yet complex ride through futuristic Tokyo.

Shangri-La was surprising. What started off looking like a typical Japanese anime, with a fairly simple plot, pulled the rug out from under me and drew me in. One of the biggest surprises was how layered the story was. There were many main characters and all were connected to one main story through their own subplots. You could never predict where the story was headed or where it was going to take you. I found the complexity refreshing.

Shangri-La takes place in Tokyo after a series of devastating natural events have leveled cities and global warming has raised the Earth’s temperature significantly. Countries around the global have come together to create a “carbon market”, a way to control pollution through taxes (fines) placed on countries whose carbon output is too high in comparison with the others. Putting too much carbon into the air could send a country into bankruptcy. Think of it like a stock market, for the ozone.

Things in Japan are tough. Japanese society has splintered into two main groups, those that struggle to survive in the “outlands” and the others that are living comfortably in Atlas. Atlas, the new environmentally friendly city, is still under construction by the Atlas Corporation but a lottery is held periodically and winners are allowed to move into Atlas. However, it’s behind schedule and moving the people in is taking too long. In the bowels of the Atlas tower is a pool with a psychic (psychotic) being, spirit if you will, that needs to possess little girls that are pure of heart to remain alive. Hiruko is the driving force behind the creation of Atlas..or is he?

There is a third hidden group, a group of hackers. They spend their time finding ways to make their fortunes messing with the “carbon market” and don’t give much thought to anything that is going on around out in the real world. Ultimately, these three worlds collide and everyone is forced to take sides.

Much of the story revolves around Kuniko Hojo. Fresh out of junvenile hall, she is the granddaughter of the Metal Age President. Metal Age is a group of rebels that are fighting against Atlas Corp and just trying to help the struggling people around them. Kuniko wants to take down Atlas and find a future for herself and the people who have been left to struggle outside in the dangerous and unfriendly outlands.

As you expect, Atlas is more than it appears to be and Shangri-La will take you on a journey to discover its secrets and the destinies of those around it. I could tell you what happens but that would take all the fun out of watching and it would be the longest review you’d ever see.

The voice acting was done incredibly well. It was dubbed in English and I was impressed with the English cast. One of the best things, in my opinion, was the casting of the two transsexual characters. They cast two men but rather than giving these characters manly voices, the acting was done in falsetto, in the best sense of the word. These male voice actors impressed me with their ability to not make the characters ridiculous. It would be easy to mess up since voicing post-op transsexuals is a delicate balance.

The artistry was done beautifully and the environments were  rich and colorful. It is a classic animation style but done with such care that you actually paid attention to it. Sometimes animes just start looking the same and you just stop paying attention to the details. You won’t have that issue here.

SUMMARY: There are so many twists and turns in the plot that it almost feels like riding a roller coaster. You will find yourself wondering what is going on and what is going to happen next. The story will grab you and draw you in, never letting you go. There is a wonderful blend of drama and humor. They even managed to use humor to help assist the feeling of tension. That is extremely hard to do. It will be hard turn it off and not watch all four discs in one sitting. I cannot say enough good things about Shangri-La. This is a series that should have a place in every anime lovers library.


  • THE GOOD: Complex but well though out story, amazing voice acting
  • THE BAD: Some adult humor so definitely not for family watching

 Score: 10/10

Carly "PoisonPinkFluff" Frith is a little sugar, a little salt, and a whole lot of personality. Gamer, general geek and beer aficionado. Just call her a tomboy in high heels. She is on Twitter: @DN_PinkFluff.

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