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Shangri-la Episode 1: A Whiff of a Fresh Breeze

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About Shangi-la, derived from Crunchy Roll (who simulcasts and legally streams this series):

SHANGRI-LA is the story of a young woman fighting for her survival in a real “urban jungle.” Only 18 years old, Kuniko Hojo finds herself at the heart of the battle for humanity’s future when she discovers that the government which rules Atlas intends to continue marginalising the less-privileged masses outside the tower – by force, if necessary.

With character designs by internationally acclaimed artist Range Murata (Last Exile, Blue Submarine No. 6), series structure by Hiroshi Ohnogi (Kekkaishi, Birdy the Mighty) and directed by Makoto Bessho (animation director of Ah! My Goddess Movie, Brave Story), SHANGRI-LA is set to be another major international hit from legendary anime studio GONZO (Last Exile, Blue Submarine No. 6, Yukikaze, Samurai 7, Witchblade, Afro Samurai).

Follow Kuniko and her rag-tag group of guerrillas, Metal-age, as they fight for survival in the amazing surroundings of a bustling metropolis reclaimed by nature. Even in this superheated future, both bravery and the human spirit can persevere and—hopefully—win.

(c) 2008 Eiichi Ikegami/KADOKAWA SHOTEN/SHANGRI-LA Partners

Episode 1 Synopsis:

The story is set in a neo-futuristic age, in which aggressive “carbon trading” practices have been introduced in countries around the world to combat accelerating global warming. The Japanese Government promoted a project run by Atlas Corporation to reduce carbon emissions by turning Tokyo into the world’s largest “jungle-polis.” Atlas Corp started constructing an unprecedentedly high tower city called Atlas to relocate only the rich and privileged.
Kuniko Hojo, 18-year-old leader-designate of an anti-government guerrilla group Metal-age, returns to her town after 2 years of imprisonment. In concert with the Metal-age comrades, Kuniko rises in a rebellion against the government for those people left on the once-flourished ground of Tokyo.

Filtaku Episode Review
The opening scene was interesting, it had flashing scenes of a girl undressing (of course no nudity) from a prison uniform and changing in to a sailor uniform type get up. Way to make first time viewers peek interest. The seemingly main character walked out of her prison cell and proceeded to leave the complex, dubbed the “Women’s Detention Center”. Just as she came out a the other prisoners started yelling out her name as if she was such an important and influential person. Before leaving she declares to everyone that “today’s the day that Kuniko Hojo is released” and then later destroys the Atlas flag with an interesting looking boomerang. At this point some new characters are introduced. One of which is a woman/man person that Kuniko calls Momoko-san. Now.. this character apparently from looks has features like a woman such as boobies and wearing a Chinese dress, but the deep voice and manly face makes me question the character’s gender and wonder if the voice actor is a guy. Anyways, Kuniko and Momoko-san seem pretty close. The next character is this fat pony tailed very pale in the face (maybe too much make up?) guy-girl of which Kuniko calls Mi-ko. Seems from dialogue that Mi-ko gains weight from being stressed and serves as a character to be poked at with a stick by the other characters. The last character that picks kuniko up is this burly guy names Takehiko, he’s pretty normal. They all return to a town place called Duomo. Once there Kuniko takes off into town to meet this old lady in a library of some sort talking about the metal-age group, stuff about knowledge in books that you can’t find over the Internet (that’s right kiddos, go to your local library and learn something new!), and how Kuniko should succeed leadership of the group. Mid lecture she slips out the window and begins to prance around the town. A lot of the towns folk know her obviously and greet her return. She jumps over little boys playing some sort of battle tops game similar to beyblades ( remember those things?) but cheaper. Anyways, the scene cracked me up some. The perspective and angle had her jumping on the right of the screen where the kids were on the left of the screen. The flow of her skirt made it seem like the lucky little boys had an awesome view of a certain person’s panties. But they just keenly went “Oh Kuniko!” instead of “Oh my gosh panties!” well, that was only my opinion of that lol. Anyways, she frolicked some more.

The episode switched scenes to this adult blond chick taking a shower. She walks out nude while this young boy servant was following behind her drying her off with a towel. She plops on a chair half dressed with said boy still drying her off. The scene has her sitting on a raised platform with a plethora of young boy servants around. I think this chick has a thing for little boys maybe. They begin talking about  plot important stuff, reporting on status’ of codenamed Digma 2 leaving a detention facility (wonder who that is hmm?). She mentions afterwards that the sun has finally ventured out and asks about the status of the moon. Of which another guy says that she, the moon, is taking a stroll in the underworld. Ok, this person is a rich chick obviously who is into little boys and seems to have some authority. More so that she drop kicks (well not really, but kicks in the face) the boy drying her off because he scratched her, the guy immediately drops down and apologizes to this Lady Ryoko.  Great, we can add Dominatrix to that list. I get the feeling that she’s the evil one.

The episode switches scenes again. This time is on a bridge with this dude driving a car with a female passenger. The female passenger questions if they should be driving on said bridge. The guy calms her down showing off some fancy badge on his suit jacket basically saying its alright cause he’s an important person. Then some religiously dressed up people show up on the bridge in front of the approaching car. Some up tight woman in glasses yells out to assemble a gun in front of her. The said gun turns out to be something looking similar to an M82 (that’s like a huge gun that shoots a huge bullet for those who don’t know guns). She blows up the car, and turns towards what seems to be like a huge temple on wheels. Uptight girl with glasses says she apologizes for the disturbance then a little girl pops out of it. She seems pretty cute the most notable features would be two different eye colors her left being sky blue and her right being amber or golden and some oriental type head ornament. When it comes to a moe character, one can never forget some sort of hair ornament, oh and also a cute voice of which she has. She says that the underworld is an interesting place. Yeah, going around on highway bridges and blowing up cars people are driving with anti-material rifles sure is interesting. Makes good story too when stuff blows up.  Anyways, they mention in dialogue that the little girl’s name is Lady Mikuni and the uptight chick with glasses is Sayako.

The episode briefly switches to Kuniko yelling to the top of her lungs on some sort of very tall structure, a clock tower maybe, that “I’m back! Tokyo!” Makes great relief from the seriousness. But only briefly.

Scene switch yet again. To what seems to be a meeting between a politician and some one claiming to be from Ishida Finance via some sort of high techy online holographics screens. They start emphasising and giving the audience some back ground info on carbon taxes and jazz. The person the politician is talking to proposes doing a series of “carbon credit” trades of which would lower his country’s carbon tax. Fraudulent loop holes obviously.  Politician guy makes a deal after some hesitation with the person. The scene then switches to the actual person behind the display. Turns out to be yet another little girl named Karin. She talks to a teddy bear she names Pudding about the deal and answers back herself. Dialogue suggest that she always alone, poor kid. The scene has emphasis on technology, gives the impression that she’s a genius hacker. Given the scifi neo modern nature of the anime, im not surprised there would be such a hacker type character. Scene briefly switches back to the blonde chick who kicks little boys in the faces talking about the change in the carbon market. It seems like she’s the head of Atlas or something. At least some one important in Atlas. One of her lackey’s suggests that it might be the work of Metal-Age.

It switches back to Kuniko sitting on a ledge on the clock tower with momoko-san. They talk about how Kuniko doesn’t want to inherit leadership of Metal-age. Kuniko complains about how the old lady tries to force it upon her. They have a nice conversation ending with momoko-san saying that kuniko should be whoever she wants to be. They both cease the conversation and are surprised by emissions by some huge chimney pipes. They investigate to find out that it was Takehiko burning coal in celebration of Kuniko’s release. Kuniko complains that it’ll attract the attention to the Carbon police and spike the market. Word then goes out that the military arrives. Kuniko goes into a watch tower and spots a huge military convoy and some helicopters closing in on the town. Some tanks open fire at the town. Takehiko tries to and Kuniko a dagger that he says has been handed down to the leaders of metal-age. Kuniko refuses it.

Scene switches to a boy named major kusanagi in one of the lead cars complaining on how the military shouldn’t shoot on armed civilians without talking first. The kid, with a higher rank, is shunned down by what i guess is the leader of the convoy saying that they don’t handle stuff the way the military does it. Turns out the convoy is Atlas Security Corps. The scene ends with kusanagi submitting and holding some sort of knife in a sheath on his hip.

The two sides meet, Atlas security corp. (being sent mostly on the suspicion of metal-age messing with the carbon market) and metal-age/town peoples defending themselves. Kuniko shows up like a hero of justice with such a flashy dramatic entrance. Major kusanagi and Kuniko engage in conversation. A soldier opens fire on Kuniko. Now get this, Kuniko is able to see the bullets come at her in slow motion and she deflects with her awesome boomerang. Im going to make a wild guess and just say that slow motion jazz was empasis on her high reflexes maybe. Momoko-san then retaliates by whipping out a whip and slicing the guns of the soldiers while also chasing after and kissing them yelling out that she/he/it likes guys. Kuniko also retaliates by slicing tank barrels with her boomerang. Makes me wonder what kind of material those weapons are made of.  Kusanagai tells kuniko to surrender, she sends her boomerang at him and he deflects it with his dagger. His dagger begins to resonate from the impact, so does the dagger that takehiko tries to give kuniko, and apparently a similar dagger that is in possession of that little moe girl with different eye colors. Following that, stuff begins to fall from the sky and bombard the town like an air strike. The episode ends there.

The background history is interesting. Taxes on carbon emissions, a carbon market with credits, and an authority to manage emissions from all over the world to prevent global warming. A Corperation no less. Seems pretty plausible in some sort of alternate reality. But highly unlikely in our world. Makes good setting though. Hey that’s what scifi and fiction is about anyways! Make stuff up with a hint of realism to make good entertainment.

So, there is 4 obvious sides in this series. Metal-age, the group involving Kuniko and co. The Atlas Corperation, the group involving the Dominatrix LadyRyoko and Major Kusanagi with the Atlas Security Corp. Some sort of religious group involving the moe little girl Lady Mikuni and her uptight servant with glasses maybe Sayako. The hacker maybe messing with the Carbon market little girl who’s always maybe alone. Metal-age and Atlas Corporation are classic good vs evil. The religious group and the hacker seems to be right now third party and could influence the sides greatly. Too early to tell the actual roles said third parties could provide to the main story.

Well, so far the series seems interesting and enjoyable. The main character turns out to be an eccentric outgoing character like Manabi from Manabi straight. Kuniko also seems to be highly looked upon and seems to be that kind of natural leader. She also wields a boomerang that can change shape from big to small and  slice through thick metal like it was butter. Her relationship with Momoko-san seems to be that momoko-san raised her, possibly trained kuniko. momoko-san also seems to be a very manly woman. Not the burly type of manly woman, but the tranny type of manly woman. She/He/It does have boobs and cleavage, but how do you know those are really real?  Well My guess is that momoko-san is actually in fact a woman, just a very scary woman that men would run away screaming while she chases them with the intention of sexual harassment. The other characters of kuniko and co. right now seem to be pretty minimal support characters. Who knows what will change as the story goes on. Who knows if she’ll take up leadership of metal-age, given that this is anime, she most likely will just to take down Atlas maybe.

The Atlas Corporation seems to be the authority managing the carbon market. Observing Kuniko and other important subjects. But other than managing said market, it seems that they also have a hidden motive. I say that given of their use of code names to people and the use of a radical security corperation that operates quite differently than a military. With major kusanagi being part of the Atlas security corps. he seems to be just  a person along with the ride. Not really anyone of influence even though he is of higher rank. kusanagi reminds me of that Lt. Dominic Sorel from Eureka Seven. The one who always took care of anemone who was on the antagonist side from the beginning of the series and then switched to the protagonist side towards the end. It seems like kusanagi would do something similar in this series.

Now, the religious group seems to be very interesting. Mainly because not that much background info was placed on them in this episode. But im sure that it will show who they really are later on. In this episode it was emphasised that Lady Mikuni, the little girl, was a very important person. She seems like one of those characters that doesn’t go out much so to speak. I’m going to guess that she is going to act later on in the series like a princess that sneaked out of her castle to run about with the common folk, going “Oooo” and “Ahhh” in amazement. Her servant maybe caretaker, Sayako, seems to be protective of Mikumi. Sayako’s personality and glasses make her seems like a character similar to a class president with an uptight strict attitude who is all about rules and stuff. I hope she warms up later. Maybe she’ll get all embarrassing like when she see’s something cute like a kitty or something. Who knows.

The little girl hacker maybe named karin is an interesting character. Seems pretty lonely when she talks to herself and to her bear named pudding. But maybe that’s a little girl thing. In this episode she made a deal with a politician of a country with a high carbon tax and manipulated the market to make it turn out almost no tax after the politician accepted the deal. Now, im pretty sure that this character is of great importance due to her manipulating the market with i guess a computer system named medusa. A similar computer system names Zues was said to be used by Atlas Corporation in tracking the carbon market. I guess that she’ll be that third party push of influence between the sides of this series. From the dialogue of Karin, she foreshadows a metaphorical storm that will make her more money. In the following scene of the blond chick of atlas, she grins when she hears about the credits and the incident in the carbon market. Maybe the corporation is actually manipulating the market to suit their needs, like gain more money to hire more young boy servants to kick in the face. Who knows, right now its all speculation.

At the end, a series of daggers started to resonate. The dagger in possession of Kusanagi, Lady Mikumi, and the dagger that is said to be the dagger passed down from leaders of Metal-age. Following the resonating, something started bombarding the town like an air strike of some sort. What was  it that was hitting the town? whats up with those daggers? Given that there’s a religious group maybe theres going to be magical jazz? Or maybe the daggers are actually a key to an old military defence satellite that can do orbital bombardments.

In any case, I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. So that answers to questions like if momoko-san is actually a dude or woman can be answered. Cause when it all comes down to it, the only question that we really want answered is gender confirmation. But in all seriousness im expecting an awesome anime simply because of the awesome staff that is involved in this series.


Author: PJ

I am a filipino college student that enjoys watching anime, gaming, and is an airsoft enthusiast.

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