Shangri-La is the story of a small band of people who are trying to make a living in a earthquake and global-warming fractured world where the economy is based on carbon usage. There is a central city complex called Atlas, which in itself has many secrets, and the outlaying towns filled with people waiting to move into Atlas. Kuniko is a teenager who would like to remain nothing but, except she is destined to be the next leader of a faction called Metal Age. Kuniko must come to terms with how she feels about this role in her life and what it means for all the people she cares about. Along with these decisions she has to figure out how to make Atlas available to all people.
You have to be willing to push through the first couple episodes. The episodes are not bad, they are just a little slow and give you a lot of information which is not immediately pertinent. But keep watching because it will be worth it. Once the episodes start cooking, boy do they cook. The pacing becomes quite great. You will become just as enthralled in the expository scenes as you do with the action ones. Shangri-La encompasses so many genres, although it is predominately an adventure fighter, there are elements of sci-fi, supernatural, drama, comedy, mystery, and even a little romance thrown in for good measure.
Shangri-La is filled with characters that pull you into the narrative at every turn. Whether you are rooting for them, wondering what they have to do with the overall storyline, or just thinking they are interesting looking; there is something to hold your attention in all the different scenes. This is important because there are a lot of players in the main storyline. With many episodes adding more and more characters in the mix. In the beginning few episodes you may find yourself asking who is who, but this quickly dissipates. The show’s writing and visual character designs help you to sort everyone out. In the end all of the characters are intertwined and will most likely come head to head at later points in the storyline.
The look of Shangri-La is breathtaking. The mixture of classic two-dimensional art and computer animated three-dimensional is done is a way that makes sense. The three-dimensional art is not overused, which can cause it’s affect to be lost. When it is in use, the way they piece together the two and three-dimensional art is almost flawless. There are times when you don’t even notice they have switched to a different art style due to great transitions from one art style to the next.
Part one of Shangri-La is available in a limited edition from FUNimation, which comes with an outer box which can accommodate both part one and two. The artwork on the limited edition box is so nice, it can easily be placed out for viewing instead of just hiding on a shelf. The special features on part one are textless songs, FUNimation trailers, episode commentaries, and a promotional video for “Magical Gina the Ahiba Fairy.” Extra features on part two includes episode commentaries, US trailer, textless songs and FUNimation trailers.