The opening episode of Shangri-la was a strange old beast really - Sporting some potentially intriguing plot concepts and a girl capable of beating tanks with a boomerang (always a useful skill) on the one hand, but delivering some ridiculously contrived baddies on the other. Oh, and transsexuals.
For some reason this series really seems to be fixated on gender reassignment, not only making some of the major characters transsexual but also mentioning it at every opportunity, and when there isn't an opportunity then it'll somehow get brought up anyway. Now, I have nothing against any form of personal lifestyle choice, but talking about breaking the flow of the episode...
Then again, trying to detract from the "serious business" of the episode is probably about the best thing that Shangri-la can hope to do, because quite frankly it's pretty dire. I've already mentioned the contrived baddies, but Lady Ryoko is the most hilarious example of a generic evil woman, like some kind of out of control Darth Vader with lipstick. The Medusa side of the story seems far more interesting, but even this section brings shame upon itself. Imagine those wonderfully illustrated hacking scenes from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Now imagine them recreated by a five year old with poor motor skills. And a Puff the Magic Dragon fixation. Congratulations, you've just imagined the "hacking section" of Shangri-la.
Amidst all this, Metal-Age and Kuniko are up to something following a vicious attack by some unknown entity, but by this point I was rather beyond caring, and the lazy and badly animated action scenes from this section of the episode didn't exactly help. Indeed, the animation as a whole has taken a real nosedive from its already just about average quality in the first episode - Range Murata must be wishing he was in his grave already so that he can go for a spin in it.
For all its faults on show in its opener, I really thought that Shangri-la might have some potential, but all of that seems to have been stripped away and replaced by cliche, farce and nonsense come episode two. I have a feeling it's only going to get worse too, which might potentially leave this series as my comic fall guy for this anime season. After all, it's been quite a while since I've made myself sit and watching anything truly terrible.