You am watch dis for pretty; no watch for brain
The year is some where in the future (stop me if you've heard this before,) and perhaps even an alternative time line where Tokyo has been destroyed by an earth quake and the forest has taken over most of the world--near violently in fact. There are strange new plants mutating to climb their voracious vines over the skeletal remains of sky scrapers and long gone restaurants, humanity struggles to fight off the forest, survive "bomb" like hail storms of rain and dreams of winning a chance to become part of Atlas. An elite company of soldiers, scientists and upper class that live in a self contained high-rise like city in the rubble of destroyed Japan.
A group called Metal Age toils below the city of Atlas, raging against the splendid city and fighting against the corporation which runs it--for Atlas is, ultimately, for the privileged few leaving the rest of mankind to barely scrape two ends together below.
Political unrest is growing. The old Metal Age leader wishes to enlist her granddaughter, Hojo Kuniko. But Hojo Kuniko balks at her grandmother's urgings while those around her urge her to do as she wishes.
Sounds like an epic set up, right? Sounds like they couldn't possibly screw this up!
BZZZZZT, WRONG, thanks for playing!
My god they could not have screwed this up any harder if they tried. Shangri-La shoves so much extra garbage into its plot that the series becomes a bloated, waddling pale and nauseous ghost of what-could-have been. Shangri-La shovels in politics, magic, computer hacking, economics, character relationships, familial issues and genderless equality in a giant bucket of suck and plasters it on a massive wall of flapping plot-holes.
It is simply not able to stand under the weight of its own over ambitious story line and collapses akin to a poorly built card tower. Every episode limps over-stuffed toward a stuttering conclusion that just doesn't make a damn lick of sense because nothing ties in to one other.
This might have worked if any of it was really connected. Unfortunately, Shangri-La was either unable to, or became to lazy to give a flying monkey-cluster-fist to work all of it's strange plots together. Twenty six episodes was not enough to explain anything, and in the end, Shangri-La seemed to throw its hands up in the air at it's own story writing in a classic, "f-it. I'm tired and I wanna go home. Here's what happens, rocks fall--everyone lives happily ever after OKAY BYE :D"
At the very least the Music in Shangri-La was excellent! Really! It was! I enjoyed the opening and closing themes immensely and particularly enjoyed one episode which seemed to stand out like a side-story from everything else which used a great folk-song. The song fit the subject of the episode perfectly and was, in my opinion, the single best episode in the twenty six lot.
On the down side, the actual music within the series--the soundtrack for moving moments, or battle moments was absolutely boring. None of the background music stood out and in fact, Shangri-La simply recycled it so much every episode I found myself doing my best to just ignore the same damn music I heard five minutes ago in every scene.
Abso-frikkin-lutely outstanding, which is probably something that should not surprise anyone. And I feel it is a shame that such excellent animation has fallen on a storyline, plot and series that seems to have been written by an over eager seventeen year old.
There weren't any recycled animation snippets; the character designs were attractive, memorable and unique (at least for this series.) Expressions and motions were rather well done and I enjoyed at least, watching the way characters moved in battle scenes.
In the sense of if they were memorable or not, Shangri-La's characters are indeed different enough, filled enough with their own personalities that one will be able to recall them during the series. They're unique enough not to be confused for one another and a few of them actually garner sympathy.
Unfortunately, Shangri-La's poor writing often takes away what little empathy or sympathy a viewer might garner after a show or two for any particular character because they. never. do. anything. that. makes. sense! It's so terribly frustrating when characters run off and do something ridiculously out-of-character, or say something out of left field that doesn't match up to their personalities or motivation at all
The main character is an attempt at a happy-go-lucky young girl trying to overcome the tragedies that have befallen her, her family and friends without letting it all get her down. I believe she was supposed to appear as a strong figure head that can overcome all odds--yet the portrayal of this just doesn't make it through. Her happy-go-lucky returns at inopportune moments casting her most as a callous I don't care! TEE HEE, I'M SO HAPPY! more than anything else.
Shangri-La is pretty to look at. It's characters are o.k, but it isn't anything that is going to go down in my history books of OMG MUST WATCH animation.
If I had to liken Shangri-La to anything, I'd call it that hot college guy who's father had enough money to get him into the school and put him in a hella nice pair of jeans. He looks good, ladies, he smells good, he even moves well--but as soon as he opens his mouth and attempts any conversation it's all just HERP DERP HURR DURR from there.
If you want something pretty to look at and don't want any brain stimulation (because trying to figure out Shangri-La's meandering, possibly dropped-acid inspired story line will make brain hurt! Raar! Brain hurt, baaad!) then skip on watching this.
If you am like pretty shiny things without brain juice, than you am watch dis. Watch good. If you am smrt people and am are looking for dat, you no watch dis.