Shangri-La Frontier - Reviews

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

Shangri-La Frontier
nathandouglasdavis's avatar
Jul 7, 2021

This isn't gonna make a huge amount of sense out of context, but you have no idea how hyped I was when Sunraku was forced to become half-naked again in chapter 3! It's 100% the right call to disallow fem from having defensive equipment and instead force fem to rely on feir Agility, Luck, and ability to parry based on feir reaction speed and gaming experience. The fights are all pretty awesome and well-choreographed, but the one against Wezaemon was especially intense. In fact, it was so intense (and so recent) that I haven't yet reset myself for more grinding and skill-testing types of happenings. And just so it's completely clear: this is primarily a fighting manga, which means that we're basically just navigating from one cool fight to the next. So far they've done a good job of setting up long-term goals and sub-goals that will be reached on the path to those longer goals in ways that keep me engaged and constantly wanting to read the next chapter. Obviously, the main overarching goal currently involves defeating the seven Unique Monsters, including the large wolf Lycaon who gave Sunraku a cursed marking. The obvious sub-goals will be exploring the world map and arriving at the various towns that we know about, but other sub-goals (like item quests or training or whatever) are sure to be thrown in along the way. I also thought it was sorta interesting how they included some other games these people played together, and I don't think I'd mind seeing even more glimpses at these types of "kusoge" games. I also am slightly invested in Rei's romantic situation and am curious as to how that'll develop.

I very much like this artwork. Great use of thick lines mixed with thin. Everything looks fluid and smooth, with none of the bodies or faces coming across as stiff. There's a proper sense of depth and movement. Angles are well-chosen in the panels. The game elements--like the screens and items loading in--look cool. And the backgrounds and effects mesh very well with the foregrounds. With the backgrounds, the artist knows when to use minimal clutter in order to emphasize the action going on and when to include more details. And most importantly, everything from plants to animals to people look very good. There is also a cuteness factor. And I appreciate how Sunraku's beak can look extra fwumpy and derpy at times, for comedic effect.

[Reviewed at chapter 47]

9/10 story
10/10 art
9/10 characters
10/10 overall
dingdong69's avatar
Sep 12, 2021

The story follows Sunraku, real name Hidzutome Rakuro, who is (or was) exclusively a Kusoge (Shit game) player, meaning he ONLY plays shitty games and tries to beat them. After finally beating one of the most notorious shitty game, he finally gives in and plays one of the GOD tier games, Shangri-La Frontier. From here on we see how our hero grinds his way up in this vast open-world VR game.

Overall a great story, the main character is witty and likeable, not to mention the great steady world-building the story offers even with the overdone MMORPG trope. Art is solid as well, it depicts the VR world in a fantasy landscape with Sci-Fi elements mixed in.

(mild spoilers perhaps?) 

Great supporting cast in the mix, unlike other series of similar components, they actually expand into what the players do in Real Life, not just in the virtual world. What makes it better is that their interactions with each other are genuinely realistic. Just a buncha homies gaming together, teaming up to defeat a boss, grinding levels, etc. 

9/10 story
9/10 art
10/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
reorange's avatar
Aug 7, 2021

This is amazing, its not some story with super captivating lore or an engrossing plot but what it does do it does well. For starter the art is top tier it makes you feel like you're really in the world, secondly the battle choreography is top tier too thats one of the thing that really stood out when reading the manga. Reading these intense fights really put me on the edge of my seat and made me appreciate how good a fight can be in a manga.

As someone who plays videogames its really nice to see a good mmorpg manga especially one like this, the whole concept of a guy whos really good at trash nieche videogames coming in to destroy on a big game is really cool and how they manage to give the everything high stake tension in a videogame manga is beyond me. overall its a good read for someone who likes fights that arent too flashy but still engaging and well written,  the story's not so bad it makes the rest of the manga trash in fact I think the story is pretty good and the charachters are interesting and fun especially the main and they can even create so pretty emotional or hype moments.

TL:DR This manga has amazing fights, fantastic art, a good story, fun charachters, high stakes, emotinal moments, comedy and lots of hype moments so you should definitely read it!

8/10 story
10/10 art
8/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
kjune's avatar
Sep 25, 2023

yeah, i have no bad things to say about it. The story is enjoyable, and the mc is what you wanted to see out of guy who has skill and does basically only high risk high reward plays with style. The world building is good too, and there is a ton of action and beautiful panels. I binged it all when I found it. Go read it and find out how a vr manga should be done. There is a reason why this got an anime (idk if the anime did well tho)

10/10 story
10/10 art
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
apoc9's avatar
Aug 8, 2022

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 comparison 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).

7/10 story
9/10 art
7/10 characters
7/10 overall