Shangri-La Frontier

Alt title: Shangri-La Frontier: Kusoge Hunter, Kamige ni Idoman to su

Vol: 10+; Ch: 112+
2020 - ?
4.405 out of 5 from 165 votes
Rank #1,839
Shangri-La Frontier

Second-year high school student Rakuro Hizutome loves nothing more than finding so-called "trash games" and beating the crap out of them. When he decides to change things up by playing a new, "god-tier" VR game known as Shangri-La Frontier (a.k.a. SLF), he does what he does best: min-maxes, skips the prologue, and jumps straight into action! Rakuro may be a seasoned gamer, but a meeting with an old rival will change the fate of every SLF player forever. Clad in nothing but shorts and a bird mask, Rakuro (player name: Sunraku) launches into the world of SLF. Things are going well at first as he takes down a goblin, a bunny, and even a python. But then Sunraku comes up against a huge, hard-hitting wolf known as Lycagon the Nightslayer. Will Sunraku's years of "trash game" experience be enough, or is he about to suffer a rude awakening just a few hours into his SLF adventure?

Source: Kodansha

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This was very casual read of series focused on hardcore gamers. Visually the series look pretty nice and it’s packed with action. The story is set in stereotypical virtual reality MMORPG, which for some reason is still distributed on optical disc. Main character is passionate gamer, who likes challenging games. He likes to conquer bad and buggy games in particular. The initial hook was twofold. Idea of following a veteran gamer, who is used to unfair games or using underhanded tactics to win is always appealing. He even goes as far as going in with no gear on his character except a bird mask and weapons. Don’t worry he wears some shorts. There is no nudity in the series nor any fanservice. The second thing was subplot of getting unknowingly baited into the game in order to give girl, who likes the main protagonist chance to get close to him, because it’s the game she and her sister has been playing for some time. This predictably doesn’t work as well. Especially if the girl plays as this intimidating knight in heavy armour. The story has several things very typical for the genre. The MC gains through luck hidden or hard to obtain unique quests, items. What did surprise me is the fact the MC is not overpowered at least not that much. He even dies several times, but it doesn’t matter, because there is no permanent death in this game. He does solo some boss monsters, but to defeat the strongest monsters he has to team up with other players. Those are mostly skilled players and sort of friends from other games. One of them is very scheming woman archetype, kind of fun with going my way principles and backstabbing if necessary. The last one is pro-gamer, which doesn’t make sense for him to play the game if it isn’t competitive in principle unless it’s sort of fun to do more games after your work. There are other important characters including NPCs. The story occasionally shows what other characters are doing, but overall, it’s told from the viewpoint of the MC. The mystery element relates to game’s main story line and intent of developers behind it. It shows bit of the game company’s side, but it feels very unrealistic and convoluted for game company to care if somebody progresses in the game sooner than expected. One other thing I should mention, the MC occasionally plays other games as well. There were chapters dedicated to what initially seemed as pointless side story, but it ties in some regard to the main story line in the end. Visually the series look quite good. I didn’t notice any issues with panel flow. Characters tend to have realistic design. Sceneries look really well. Weapon design is quite nice. On the other hand, the enemies are bit too usual kind, except the unique monsters, which do have some interesting twists to them. Overall, it’s quite straightforward virtual reality game series. A compression offers itself quite readily. It shows what could Sword Art Online would be if it didn’t suck – in terms of time skips, too obvious plot armour and lack of direction. I do recommend the series if you want solid video game action-adventure series. Release frequency: ~3 months between each volume release. Japanese difficulty 6/10 (see my profile for details about various difficulty scores) This series is deceptively harder, than you would infer from the fact it does have furigana. However, it doesn’t have it on everything. For example, when character sheet pops-up in the game it has none. It expects you are gamer and know all the terminology in Japanese. The series inclines to be on the wordy side. It’s toned-down during action, but still there is quite lot of text to read per page. This review is written after reading 9 volumes (all existing at the time).

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