Posted by psgels on 7 September 2009 with categories: Shangri-La



Haha, what an awesome episode. With such a huge series with so many different subplots and such a frantic pacing, I was really expecting some sort of trainwreck for the final episodes. And yet the opposite turns out to be true, and instead the finale developed into a thriller to stop Ryouko from trying to destroy the world.

And really: it works. Because the rest of the series fleshed Ryouko out so well compared to most villains out there, she’s far away from those stereotypical evil overlords and really stands out as a huge threat to the lead characters. Her mindset is demented, yes. But at the same time as a villain, she’s very competent: she knew exactly how to place the chess pieces right in order to get her way; so far, she only made one mistake throughout the entire series in terms of her own ideals: she didn’t know that the daggers could be removed from the altar, and she didn’t know that they could cut through any kind of steel. And I admit: you’ve got to think pretty far-fetched in order to have seen that one coming if you didn’t know anything about it.

I also love how she also averts one of the tropes that most villains of her kind strangely get away with. Suppose you were working for an evil overlord, and found out that your master was planning to destroy the world, you included. Would you still support this boss? I sure as hell wouldn’t. Ryouko did well to keep all her plans to herself, right until it wouldn’t matter anymore who would find out. I mean, her plan to hold Kunihito’s parents hostages would never have worked for long, but it did buy her the necessary time to take Mikuni away from Kuniko.

And yeah: this episode finally explains what happened to Karin’s parents: they turn out to have been dead all along. Talk about an awesome plot twist here: all the wealth she attained, everything she gained when she created Medusa: it was all just a case of denial in her case.

Okay, so one episode is left. The set-up for the final episode is fairly straightforward: Ryouko wants Mikuni to destroy the world, Kuniko is here to stop her. What I want to see from this series is an ending which is more than “Kuniko and Ryouko have a fight and Kuniko wins”. I’ve seen too many series who have fallen to this trap, but if there’s any series who is able to evade this, it’s Shangri-La. This series really has exceeded my expectations at this point. These past few episodes took it away from its image of “yet another trainwreck” when it showed that it’s very well capable of writing a solid finale. What more could you want?

And yeah. Who cares that Kuniko descended the tube with her dagger? It’s science fiction. Who knows whether that dagger has magical slowing-down powers?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

10 Responses

  1. Tomtom says:

    I was anticipating this episode so much, that I actually watched it raw.. I kind of regret that now (it feels like a spoiler when I understand only half of what went on).

  2. Denizen says:

    I find it a real shame this show never got…more. Because looking at this finale and the build-up it got, it just screams “potential masterpiece” to me. The amount of detail, characterisation, composition – it’s all very impressive, and something this solid is hard for any anime to achieve, let alone a Gonzo production.

    Strikes me as a shame this series will remain a hidden gem. Naturally, it has its flaws and it is its own fault it didn’t make the most of such a brilliant story, but I hold this show in high esteem.

  3. Meep says:

    I feel like ranting.. ^.^;; Sorry..

    Psgels, your praise for Shangri-La has pretty much been my motivation for watching this show. I nearly dropped it early on, but now I am finally up to episode 23 as well.

    Unfortunately, I don’t feel the same way about Shangri-La as you do. D: I really wanted to though. 99% of the time, your reviews that are written positively for underrated anime (or hidden gems)influence me to feel the same way as you do. You’re my favorite anime blogger because of your excellent and mature taste in anime. I feel great when I agree with you.

    But Shangri-La kinda leaves this bad taste in my mouth, the same kind that Code Geass R2 left.. None of the characters in Shangri-La really appeal to me much. The heroine annoys me for some reason. Sayoko, Momoko, Shion, and Karin are a bit too quirky for me. As for Kunihito, I knew which side he’d end up on, so I didn’t have much interest in him. I suppose Ryoko and Mikuni are the only characters that interested me, but after a while, not so much. Miiko was my main surprise, and I admit I liked her plot twist. But that’s kinda it

    I just fall out of my chair every time the flamboyant transsexual character, Momoko (who looked best with her first hair style), uses her whip to save someone. Over-exaggerated moves like that just don’t sit well with me. Though nearly every move by anyone in this show has been like that, whether it’s attacking or saving another another.

    As far as the events go, there are too many coincidences, characters change their minds too often in the same episode, and the computer hacking and Medusa attacks in cyberspace is not interesting to watch at all. A lot of that happened in this episode… Like as the coincidence, Kuniko happened to hit her “magical knife” against “bomb and rocket-launcher proof metal” and it was “pulled apart by a schoolgirl(Hanner).” And then at the final moment when Mikuni was about to do what Ryoko wanted, Kuniko comes crashing through the ceiling to stop them at the precise moment. I never feel any suspense or excitement cuz I expect stuff like that to happen, and they do. (Miiko’s case and Kuniko’s friends in detention center as the exceptions)

    All I can say is, I can’t wait for episode 24 to be here so I can be done with the series. As you thought “I was really expecting some sort of train wreck for the final episodes. And yet the opposite turns out to be true,” it unfortunately is a train wreck to me. Shangri-La had a lot of potential with this unique plot, but wasn’t executed well in my opinion. Maybe I should have saved my comments for the final episode, but I doubt my mind would change.

    I want to give thanks to you for motivating me to watch an anime I would have neglected, though. That happens a lot, and in most cases, it’s a rewarding experience for me. ^_^

  4. Shounen A says:

    Reasons why the ending will be much more than “Kuniko and Ryouko have a fight and Kuniko wins”:

    – Takehiko and the Daedalus on the eighth layer.

    – The unknown relation between Karin and Kanaria.

    – Medusa acting on its own to destroy the world.

    – The mother of Kuniko and Mikuni. (“Kuniko, I am your mother.” moment?)

  5. windy says:

    I just loved this show so far, just a shame there’s only one episode left. I found the characters in this series just sublime the plot twist turns out to be amazingly good, actually I really love it when a show comes up with big surprises throughout all the series, and that was especially the case with Shangri-la, which stands among the best shows this season for me particularly for that reason. The atmosphere that was built up here was also really fabulous and changes from all the shows I’ve seen so far, and the bunch of characters contribute to it. Actually , it is one of the rare shows where I liked almost every character in their own way, there happened to be a various lot of them, they’re all different: be it Ryouko Sayoko, Miko, Kuniko, Momoko or even Sion , they all display some psychological insight. I also fond of the dramatic tension this show keeps creating. This season offered pure jewels as well as it created some deceptions: I am just amazed by ” Guin saga”, ” Phantom”, ” Shangri-la”, ” Canaan”, ” Umineko no naku koro ni” and ” Valkyria” but was greatly desappointed in ” tears to tiara” and at some degree ” Basquash”, even if the ep 23 was utterly awesome, the 12 previous eps were really hard for me to watch and ” Konnichiwa Ann”.

  6. Pafiume says:

    Man, I called his mom being a hostage. At least it resolved itself… in and interesting way. Although it kind of just dropped itself, I suppose it makes sense.

    The thing I wondered during this episode: Why did Kuniko leave Kunihito behind? Couldn’t he have gone down with her? He’s AAA as well. It would make sense to me. I guess it was probably because her mode of transportation was a knife clawing down the shaft, but I’d think she’d find some other way to make it work. He just kind of got pushed to the side with everyone else.

    Either way, I don’t care. I’m so excited to see the final episode! I sure hope it gets a good BANG ending~

  7. DangerMouse says:

    “I just loved this show so far, just a shame there’s only one episode left. I found the characters in this series just sublime the plot twist turns out to be amazingly good, actually I really love it when a show comes up with big surprises throughout all the series, and that was especially the case with Shangri-la, which stands among the best shows this season for me particularly for that reason. The atmosphere that was built up here was also really fabulous and changes from all the shows I’ve seen so far, and the bunch of characters contribute to it. Actually , it is one of the rare shows where I liked almost every character in their own way, there happened to be a various lot of them, they’re all different: be it Ryouko Sayoko, Miko, Kuniko, Momoko or even Sion , they all display some psychological insight. I also fond of the dramatic tension this show keeps creating.”

    I totally agree, for me like Last Exile before it this show also has that awesome unique “feel” to it in the way it keeps the plot twists and events coming on multiple fronts with a unique sense of mystery and scale and the integration of it’s storyline with world itself.

    “I find it a real shame this show never got…more. Because looking at this finale and the build-up it got, it just screams “potential masterpiece” to me. The amount of detail, characterisation, composition – it’s all very impressive, and something this solid is hard for any anime to achieve.

    Strikes me as a shame this series will remain a hidden gem. Naturally, it has its flaws and it is its own fault it didn’t make the most of such a brilliant story, but I hold this show in high esteem.”

    I agree with you, as I said before it’s so rare to get a series with this much ambition and while their are flaws and naturally at times you can feel their are parts they could have done even more with, however with how much they are accomplishing it’s indeed a shame the show will likely remain a hidden gem like much of the best science fiction.

    I can’t wait for the finale, I’m with you Shonen A, I think we’re going to get quite the nicely packed episode. This show has been spot on with it’s build up throughout and the various payoffs capitalizing on them so I’m looking forwards to this.

  8. DangerMouse says:

    Oh yeah, another gorgeous looking episode.

  9. DangerMouse says:

    Worth mentioning once again for the series is the music.

    I continue to absolutely love the music of this show, I hope the finale uses it as well as most of the series has :)

  10. Robhiengler says:

    What guarantee does Kunihito have that his mother will not be killed anyway? I’m pretty sure the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    His sudden change of allegiance back and forth seems rather contrived to allow Ryoko to escape. Now he’s helping Kuniko, when Ryouko sees this surely his mother is dead considering apparently Zeus controls Atlas and Ryoko Zeus. Kuniko Momoko was kidnapped so you didn’t capitulate in fact wasn’t that the reason you attacked Atlas?

    Not to mention ANOTHER glaring plothole, if Zeus was that powerful to hack into MEDUSA, why didn’t it just take control of the nuclear missiles itself rather than bothering to go via a proxy?

    The most hilarious part is when
    Ryoko: “I was going to let you survive…”
    Mikuni: “Yes, I’ll let you survive.
    Ryoko: “shut it you!” *SMACK*
    Mikuni:
    “whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop.”
    three Stooges joke there

    So now they bring in Himiko 3rd century chinese queen of the Wa? By randomly stumbling on a shrine? What was Atlas already planned by this point or not? What has Himiko got to do with Japanese creation mythology?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himiko

    Why would you also ‘decide’ to make a bio-computer absolutely randomly out of someones DNA!?

    In addition now they knew about the oscillations Atlas was predicted to generate before it was built!? Maybe you could have designed it to withstand the oscillations.

    So Karin’s background is completely contrived, her parents die in a plane crash and she was already developing Medusa – for what purpose? and could Ryoko have known?. You would have thought anyone with a child prodigy at that age they would be in a scientific facility.

    Wouldn’t have been easier for Ryoko to brainwash one of the AAA Digimates kill the others collect the knives she blatantly knew they were for (if we were to beleive this is what she planned all along) and use Zeus to hack the nuclear arsenals? End of really.

    Lastly doesn’t anyone wonder how did a bunch of completely useless morons get employed by Atlas in the first place?

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 02:30 AM)
    @Bam: Meant to ask you, are you a fan of Thomas Pynchon’s work?
    I re-watched Inherent vice today which was based on a book by him, complex noir thing, made more sense on second viewing and was pretty funny. Figured you’d be into it given its stoner fiction origins.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 02:23 AM)
    Some people literally do live off patreon though on drawing hentai art though as their sole income.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 02:18 AM)
    @Bam: I know that film by name but I will be watching it either now or tomorrow.
  • SuperMario
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 02:10 AM)
    Matteo Garrone directed Gomorrah (2008), Reality (2011) which all were screened at Cannes, as well as this one. I liked Tale of Tales well enough, the only thing that I don’t like about the film is the treatment of women. They paid their prices just because of their lust.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 01:30 AM)
    I ran into the weirdest movie last night: an English speaking French-British-Italian movie called Tale of Tales. Loosely based on the Pentamerone series of folklore, it was a pretty dark yet vibrant-looking collection of fairytales, slimly connected by a main plot. I don’t know much about this director Matteo Garrone, but he has a unique style.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 01:25 AM)
    @K-off: I think Patreon recipients mostly fail during the first year. Just as with Kickstarter, you only hear of a very few that result in anything worthwhile; and pointing at 2-3 successes in an ocean of failures doesn’t really imply effectiveness.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 01:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: Kaufman and Hoffman were a match made in heaven; also weird that they rhyme with each other.
    The only Kaufman match-up that might get close would be him and Spike Jonze working on a Nicholas Cage flick. That man is really a mystery to me.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 09:29 PM)
    @Kaiser Someone who actually still likes Nicholas Cage outside of his internet memes? To me he’s one of those actors who at this point, I can’t visualize playing a role outside of himself. Similar to how I can’t see any of Steve Carrell’s movies without seeing Michael Scott.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 09:19 PM)
    @Bam Yup, asking for money online is flawed in almost every way from the donor’s point of view, a lot of my former art history degree friends have taken to Patreon in a last ditch effort to float their poor career choice.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 07:46 PM)
    With synecdoche it has the benefit of Hoffman’s performance and to get it you just have to “Feel it”.

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