Posted by psgels on 1 September 2009 with categories: Shangri-La



Haha, how awesome! Just when I thought that this show had already passed its best point, it just keeps the surprises coming. Seriously, with this series I was expecting the final episodes to be all over the place, like what it did in the middle part of the story, which had so many different plot twists about so many different characters.

Instead, the past few episodes have been the most solid and focused episodes of the entire series. Because of that, it lost the erratic pacing that I liked so much in the rest of the series. Usually when a series pulls this, it gets rather boring, but this episode really was surprisingly good. In fact, it was awesome, and well for the fact that this series has much more than just that pacing: it still has its great sense of characters, plot twists, visuals, music, et cetera. And the slow pacing leading up to the ending actually improved on them: we now can really focus on the central themes of the series. And hey, this series has completely shifted its style of storytelling before, so for once it doesn’t feel like the creators lack inspiration for the finale.

I really liked the reason why Sayoko was freed by one of Ryoko’s henchmen: he discovered that Sayoko was his older sister he had never known, so he decided to be a good brother for once and let her go. While it seems like a rather flimsy reason at first, the more I think about it the more it fits within this series: it ties in very much with this series’ themes of family bonds: families being torn apart, growing away from each other. You see it everywhere in this series: Sayoko lost her daughter, Takehito having lost his little sister, Kuniko taking her grandmother for granted and getting into a fight with her, Karin and the distance from her parents, and there is of course also my theory of Ryouko, being the mother of Kuniko, Mikuni and Kunihito, which is getting more and more likely, which I’ll get into below.

Most of this episode was spent on Mikuni, trying to decide whether it was worth destroying the world for the sake of revenge. The thing is however, that she’s just a little kid: very easily influenced by the scary Ryouko. Ryouko on the meantime really proved to be an excellent villain here, if you can accept that she’s so screwed in her mind that she’s willing to destroy the world, and it was her who hacked into Medusa earlier.

So in the end she did turn into another villain who’s planning to destroy the world, but in my opinion she stands much higher above the usual villains of this type. In a villain, I’m not looking for someone who necessarily has to be morally ambiguous, like these misunderstood good guys. Those people also have their sets of problems. What I’m looking for in a villain is a personality: a well fleshed out character who isn’t a cheap excuse for a bit of conflicts. Well backed-up reasons are a plus, but not necessarily required: I mean, how many evil overlords in the real world are screwed in the head? The reason why I dislike most villains in anime is because they’re too often just paper bags who are there for the sake of having a villain.

And yeah, I’m getting more and more convinced that Ryouko is the mother of Mikuni, Kuniko and Kunihito. The final twist this episode really was an awesome one: I love it when these character who infiltrate the enemy tell nobody of what they’re doing, not even the viewers themselves. I already found that it was strange that he’d suddenly get so close to Kuniko, I already found it weird for the creators to suddenly start establishing a strange romance between him and Kuniko. Now everything makes sense!

And really, Ryouko looked so much like an angry mother who’s urging her child along when she took Mikuni along with her. She really had that feeling of parental authority when she dealt with her. And besides that, I can’t think of any reason why she would want to obey the successor of Atlas, other than some sort of strange and deranged case of family bonds, in a series which is full of broken up and dysfunctional families.

Out of all the shows that are going to end in the coming month, the ones that are promising some outstanding endings to look out for for me are the new Mazinger, Shangri-La, Tokyo Magnitude and Phantom. These are the shows which were excellently planned across their total airtime, and are promising to close off with a finale in which everything comes together. There are only a few shows of this caliber every season, and I’m glad to see that this season again has a fine selection of them.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

9 Responses

  1. Shounen A says:

    It would be barely plausible that all the angsting by Kunihito was over whether he would become a deep undercover agent and mire his life in deception, but I find it a lot more likely that he was coerced with hostages.

  2. Pafiume says:

    Ya know, I never even considered that Kunihito was actually double crossing them, I just assumed it was some sort of crappy “We have your mother!” type of thing. Which would have made me pretty upset. Either way, though, it’s a pretty cliche cliffhanger.

    I loved the rest of the episode though~ I don’t know who I’m rooting for!

    Also, thank you very much for blogging this, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten into it. And it’s one of my favorite anime in a while. :)

  3. Divaa says:

    -HUGE SUPPOSED SPOILER-

    I read on some random blog or forum Kuniko is actually a clone. Silly idea huh? I think that would just kill the show.

  4. Wow amazing characters, where can i see this series?

  5. Shounen A says:

    The official Shangri-la website links to sanctioned online broadcast sites (in Japanese). One of them shows the most recent episode for free (old episodes have to be paid for), while the other seems to require a paid membership.

    Or you could wait for the DVDs …

  6. reverse says:

    just what the hell happen, awesome episode indeed. it just make me excited to see this show finale. the cliffhanger at the end of this episode is nice too.

    shangri-la has to many up and down, with mostly down but if they could deliver 2 more awesome episode I could overlook some of those down episode

  7. Denizen says:

    This episode was absolutely fantastic, this show has turned out to be amazing.

  8. Alexander Morou says:

    I’ve been watching this show from the start.

    It really makes no damn sense.

    I mean the characters are interesting with their quirks; however, sometimes their motivations don’t make any sense. The story tends to jump around a lot, and they’ll introduce some random strand, that was previously left untouched, to drive the story down another path that was unthinkable before.

    The logic behind aspects of it are non sequitur, it is almost as if they’re trying to do too much at once: worldwide economic distress by a computer that can hack anything without giving reasons as to why it can hack anything (speed alone isn’t sufficient to handle the kinds of computations necessary, it has to have good programs besides raw power, to handle the multitude of security infrastructures that exist around the planet, never mind the throughput that would be necessary to inundate a given target with the commands necessary to overcome its primary control systems. Most country military infrastructures are super computers themselves, and are often nothing to laugh at.); nonsensical techno-babble about carbonic coefficients and adjusting them ‘magically’ alters the economic tide of a given region of the planet; ‘Zeus’ the control hub of the Atlas control center is decades old, yet it was able to easily hack the aforementioned super-computer-terror of the time without difficulty. The main character’s grandmother just happened to be the original CEO of Atlas.

    The drive of the main lead seems to change rapidly, from happy, hyper, to sad and unsure, and right back to normal as if nothing happened even after seeing her friends had been massacred. Strength of character is one thing, but leading a life, mostly running away from responsibility for a majority of the time, and suddenly developing a strong character is confusing. Mi-ko’s possessing seemed random, the vile witch of Zeus’ interface seems to be aware of everything, yet she intentionally kills an integral part of the so called supernatural pillar that makes the Atlas stand.

    How did Digma 2 know how to close the door to the central chamber for Zeus, why do things only get revealed immediately before their relevant in the story (the writers seem to know of foreshadowing, but sometimes fail to use it with enough advance)?

    It just seems like a bunch of interesting ideas slapped together, when summarized, it makes it sound like a bad dream, and you’re calling this good?

  9. Robhiengler says:

    Alexander Morou, absolutely agree with you. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks this is really nonsensical drivel packaged in a shiny wrapper unworthy of viewing.

    The blog author, you say the middle episodes were all over the place, that’s exactly you said about the beginning episodes.
    The only reason why the final episodes might have some sense is because the “end of the world” scenario imposed by the authors means the characters have to do something straight forward and logical i.e. save the cheerleader save the world.

    I was promised a good series, sadly I was very very disappointed.

    For an outstanding series ending try Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Seirei no Moribito, Samurai 7 or Even Full Metal Alchemist – the characters have grown, had a sense of loss, overcome obstacles and developed and where you as the viewer are sad to see the series end. It’s called emotional investment and quite honestly if anyone cared about these paper thin 2D caricatures in Shangri-La then you’ve got some seriously low standards for anime.

    Is Ryouko a well fleshed out villain? Let me see we don’t know her origins or the reasons behind her motivations yet; all we do know is she’s a blase psychopath who couldn’t care less about life, with a penchant for young boys, and a strange need to drink ‘refined’ beverages – in your own words “a paper bag” villain. I mean she isn’t even that manipulative, clever or even very evil, after all I can’t think of one instance where she played the long con to get someone to do what she wanted: she was even outplayed by Kuniko.

    With Ryouko people either typically do something because she’s in power or do something because it moves the plot forward with no explanation. Case in point Titan airfortress from the UN; after all they could have just used a fuel air bomb like the US did in the Maldives, but no Ryouko gets what Ryouko wants. Another point is the whole Japanese government wants her to step down, yet when she says whose going to lead the country if I do; no-one responds – ridiculous – if they got to that point then should already have some idea. The only thing that makes her formidable is this deus ex machina divine luck fate which makes her impossible to kill. Again why or how she has this we don’t know nor does seemingly anyone care either.

    This also brings in the other problem that IF Ryouko is unable to escape her destiny, therefore in effect she has no free will; therefore everything she does is part of her “destiny” and so she is utterly blameless for her actions because it was all fated. Nagiko even had mention “so a mannequin wants to be queen of Atlas” – well Nagiko apparently she never had a choice in this. Therefore she’s just annoying and certainly not the crazed unhinged evil that sends shivers down your spine in mortal dread evil.

    So what happened in this episode: bunch of characters procrastinate about the end of the world and who’s going to become ruler. So Ryouko is now an expert hacker because she ‘interfaced’ with Zeus? In addition apparently that gives her super-fast reflexes and increased strength, agility etc?

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  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 01:14 PM)
    Additionally Hammill’s joker got both sides of the character down perfectly.
    My favourite depiction of the joker though is definately in Grant Morrison’s arkham asylum graphic novel.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:56 PM)
    @bam, Ledger was the best possible live action joker. But Hamell is the real joker to me. When you read jokers lines in the comics, you hear Hammill. Still that fellow in batman arkham origins didn’t do too bad a job.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:19 PM)
    @Bam: I remember loving the hell out of that old animated Batman movie from the 90s, mask of Phantasm, that mystery of Batwoman one was worthwhile also.
    Here is the new Jared Leto joker: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51b3dc8ee4b051b96ceb10de/t/54870f57e4b074be5ade38ad/1418137431644/jared-leto-as-the-joker-in-suicide-squad-fan-art
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:06 PM)
    Also it was neat for FF9 to include summons as a plot element. They always existed outside of the story, as most of that series’ battle mechanics seem to happen in a bubble separate from the actual stories.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:03 PM)
    *@Emma lol
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:03 PM)
    @Joker: he definitely had the quintessential Joker laugh. Ledger was good, but also a lot grirrier due to the film’s tone. That whole animated series is one of main reasons why Batman is still so popular even with the 90s kids who cared very little about comics at that point.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 11:02 AM)
    @Bam: I feel the same way about Mark Hammill voicing the joker.
    As for FF9, I really liked that games take on the Alexander summon.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 09:45 AM)
    @K-off: That’s pretty cool. Conroy is easily the best portrayal of the Dark Knight- as somebody who got the Batman/Bruce Wayne dichotomy down like no other. The trick to get their attention is to be real with them, since they’ve heard every possibly fan praise a million times. I still remember how Maynard’s eyes lit up when my friend screamed “Hey Maynard! You’re a Tool!” at a Napa wine-tasting function he was hosting. You can always bank on weird.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 07:17 AM)
    Very exciting, got to chat with Kevin Conroy in Vegas. I dropped 40$ to get a signature, but I met him afterwards outside the convention hall and talked some generic “fan-to-celebrity” talk, telling him how much I respected his work. I ain’t complaining though.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:43 AM)
    I enjoyed Vivi’s storyline tho. I think even tho he was bland and quiet he still had the most emotional developments as a character, which tied in to identity and what it means to be alive. I also liked the “I want to be your Canary” play within the game, it was like a fleshed-out version of the Opera House scene from FF6.

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