Shangri-La: Part 2
DVD | Box Set
In 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.
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In Part 1 of Shangri-La practically all of the elements of what could have been a truly creative story are put in place:
Feisty, pink-haired heroine: check
Wise old granny: check
Wacky gender-bending entourage: check
Unorthodox weaponry: check
Superbly BBEG mega-villain: check
Morally bankrupt corporation: check
Equally morally-bankrupt economic side-plot: check
Underlings who serve the BBEG without a qualm: check
Morally-informed landscape: check
So why the low number of stars you ask?
The following review includes some unavoidable spoilers.
Kuniko is a darling of a heroine, courageous in the extreme, high-spirited, flat-chested and using a power boomerang that allows her to avoid killing. In Part 2, she now leads Metal Age, the small rebel force that seeks to force Atlas, Japan's only real remaining authority and sanctuary, to open itself to all people, not just loyal corporate slaves. Top marks for the heroine, for resisting any fan-service (other than subtle references to her underwear colour after she performs some aerial kicks) and a tiny minus for leaving her wearing an increasingly battered sailor-suit, which I think is down to one button by the final episode.
But in Part 2, a few new elements are introduced that take the story off into a skew that is unwelcome and ultimately create too crowded a canvas at the end.
There are one or two too many "reveals" about the people that created Atlas, that run Atlas, and that serve the factions. With another three to six episodes that would not have been a problem. But by the 2nd-last episode the faces ducking in and out of the plot to announce they are helping/still alive/seeking revenge/looking back sadly are getting comical. The last episode is a rushed mess that even Kuniko's spirit can't quite overcome.
I can't forgive the writer for placing a McGuffin at the heart of Atlas and by extension at the heart of everything he wants to say about Carbon Markets as an economic theory. The show had potential for explaining and critiquing this very contemporary issue, but instead opts for "we found a god's body." (I have no problem with a very similar McGuffin in Evangelion, but that show puts it pretty much front and centre.) And I'm no economist but explaining that carbon markets can be bankrupted by buying "carbon zero" tracts of Antarctica to offset them sounds like nonsense and jibber-jabber.
Anime series are often spoiled a little by changes of music and even art direction. No complaints about this in Part 2. The case is attractive, and if you wisely buy the limited edition Part 1 you can choose to throw it out and slide Part 2 into Part 1's case, which is made for both.
Meanwhile the computer hacking prodigy of means,Karin Ishida,learns of the existance of the Digmas and their importance to Atlas although she isn't sure how they are so critical. But,while information is power,her hacking activity draws the attention of the Prime Minister,the evil socialpathic Ryoko Naruse thus causing Karin to effect a quick escape to outside Atlas,a tramatic move for an all-alone shut-in. But,she did buy the Akihabra Shopping District of Old Tokyo and,although she starts out in a bare room in a seedy hotel she asserts to herself and/or teddy bear that as she leads a charmed life she sets out to prove it.The information of the existance of the Digmas and their identities soon proves more valuable than even Karin could have imagined. Karin,however,soon begins to "grow" and,through being pushed and proded by reality, starts to evolve from the greedy parasite that only took the wealth created by others and into a capitalist that adds value to a product/service,entightened self-interest,as it were,and dealing with the risks therein. You shall see how risky her enterprises become but also how important to society she becomes.
For Miiko, the sumo cum transgendered maid and confidant of the "Moon Princess" Lady Mekunie,life takes a breath-taking tumble,once again at the hands of the psychopathic PM all in an attempt to bring the little girl under control.
As the entire Atlas project begins to crumble the two originators reunite to try to bring their "puppet", the prime minister,back under control....good luck with that.
Your hearts will quicken as you see a proper display of the much-maligned teenages "belly up" to help as the tragedy of Atlas begins to unfold. The typical teen's service to others and selflishness during the times of great need is not exaggerated here,having witnessed this first-hand for many years.
These two Atlas project originators,typical of those that think they are smart-by-one-half and that they think thay have all the answers,lament the fact they thought it was in the best interest of all that MILLIONS of little children were scraficed to appease the thirst of a long-forgotten false "god" whose tomb was discovered during the construction of Atlas.It was for the best,don't you know.
To say more would be to reviel too much of this masterpiece,timely presented to a world facing the same or simuliar evils of fraudulant sciences and political forces today and world-wide. A hundred years ago,Progressivism swept the world,then communism,then fascism,all collapsed at the cost of tens of millions of lives,only to resurface with different names,but still as fraudulant as always.
There is no nudity nor fan service but,except for an episode with the teens in juvi lock-up,the majority of the time is spent with men,children,two trannies and a granny.
Or,you can just sit back,ignore all the deep stuff and enjoy one hell of a good series.
This series started of kind of strange, and got even stranger in good way. This series has a very interesting plot. There are lots of twists, turns, huge surprises. The characters are unforgettable. I also loved the animation style. The bright colors and detail are amazing. The voice acting and soundtrack are top notch as well. This series isn't for young viewers. There is a lot of suggestive material, strong language, and violence. There isn't any nudity though, if that bothers you. Everything about this series is awesome. I'll enjoy it for many years to come. I think that any mature anime fan will as well.