Short Synopsis: Kuniko and Momoko head to Akihabara. Or what’s left of it.
Episode Rating: 7,5/10 (Good)
At first I thought that it would be best for me to simply follow the subs from this series, but after last week’s disaster with Tranquil Fansubs I’m just going to continue with the raws like I’m doing for most of the other shows I’m blogging. I’d rather miss a few details here and there than to sit through their “It’s so huge! It’s so huge!” It’s of course one thing to make slight translation errors, but it becomes a problem when a subtitle creates an extra flaw for a series. Shangri-la has its own problems, and it doesn’t need any more.
In any case, the animation of this series is a strange beast: during the first half of this episode, it actually looked quite capable… only to descend into the previous inconsistent quality in the second half. It’s the clear sign of a badly managed animation budget and outsourcing. I can’t seem to find anywhere who is supposed to be the chief animation director, but I think that this is the guy we need to blame for this.
Still, I’m not ready to give up on this show yet by far. While the show indeed isn’t anything amazing yet, it’s doing exactly what it should be doing right now: flesh out the setting and characters. This episode was a great way to show a bit more of the setting by showing how Akihabara has turned into some sort of black market paradise, and how these vastly different cities emerged when Tokyo got turned into a jungle. This series is in no way like Dragonaut, which even in its first episodes was one big heap of dullness, stock characters and predictability. I mean, who cares if it’s not amazing right now: there’s enough chance left for that. It’s clear that this isn’t a show that can be awesome right from the first minute, but there have been plenty of series with an average first half and an amazing second half. That’s what I’m hoping Shangri-la will turn into.
On a more negative side, there have been quite a few coincidences in this episode. The most unlikely ones:
– Kuniko’s mother is most likely confirmed to be Sayoko
– Miiko becomes instantly liked by Mikuni
– Momoko is Mikuni’s mother (?!?)
– Someone Kuniko knows lives in Akihabara. My guess would be either her father or brother.
– For some reason Karin can’t find any data about Kuniko.
Standalone those coincidences are obviously too much, but when you think about the causality between them, things start to get interesting. If Momoko indeed is Mikuni’s mother or father (depending on when exactly she got her sex change), it would make sense of Mikuni to like transvestites like Miiko. We now see that Kinuko is someone special, and perhaps the reason why Momoko left her ‘daughter’ had something to do with Kinuko, and somewhere along the way Miiko got involved. Now the question remains who that guy at the end of the episode was. There are still a few too coincidences, but provided that they’re well handled they shouldn’t prove to be that much of an annoyance. And besides, it’s good that these revelations come this early in the series. It’s much better than the alternative: a “LUKE I AM YOUR FATHER”-moment near the end.