Monday, 4 May 2009

Shangri-la - Episode 5

With Kuniko and Momoko's visit to New Akihabara ending in an unexpected chance meeting with Kunihito Kusanagi, it was clear that something was afoot, but what exactly? This episode reveals all... Well, apart from what Momoko's "silver" is, but to be honest I think I'd rather it stay that way.

Away from the main thread of this episode, we see Mikuni continuing to get on really rather well with her new "lady" in waiting Miiko, and Karin is still having a few problems (not least the sudden appearance of Kuniko in "her world", but more on that later).

Meanwhile, Kuniko and Momoko work to find out just what the military are up to in New Akihabara, which unfortunately means a visit to the world's three most annoying otaku again, who are on-hand to provide some kind of "hacking booth" which again makes Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex's hacking sequences seem like the work of a 25th century genius animator. Anyhow, this hacking allows Kuniko to see that Kusanagi is after information on who purchased a particularly powerful CPU, while offering some rather impressive camouflaging nanotechnology in return for said information.

Perhaps the biggest set piece of the episode is, however, yet another meeting between Kusanagi and Kuniko, which leads to some long conversations between these two idealists on both sides of the fence, before the latter finally gets fed up, attacks Kusanagi and steals the aforementioned sample of the camouflaging nanotechnology.

I'm really trying hard to reasses this series after being very harsh on it for the past few episodes now, and to be fair it is improving in small and subtle ways, while at least making an effort to develop the show's storyline. The trouble is, the whole thing just has a rather childish sheen to it, from the way the debate between Kuniko and Kusanagi is framed onwards. "Childish" is perhaps a harsh word to use, as it certainly doesn't appear to be the aim of Shangri-la, but rather the series lacks and real maturity in the way it's handling its subject matter, leaving us with what is looking like a rather simple and shallow series - A real surprise considering the potentially complex subject matter. Shangri-la should be thought-provoking, yet conversely the only real thought it tends to promote in me is "how long until this episode is over?". Further steps in the right direction may put paid to this negative mindset of mine, and I haven't given up hope entirely, but something needs to change sooner rather than later if this show has any hope of impressing me.


zaeris said...

^^, sometimes re-evaluating helps to better judge a series but in honesty it correlates to your expectation of the series. I do find the 3 otaku to be humorous at times. Somehow I acknowledge that everything is intentional but rather the show is trying to provoke the audience by creating out of norm characters which are the opposite of love in today’s otaku market. Momoko to me represents the beloved otaku traps but reinforcing the ideas that traps are males ^^, ideally in 2d drawing there's not much to distinguish between the 2 since the exterior is what’s fooling people but what if momoko has a female seiyuu voice what it have a better effect on the viewers? lol, even with saiyako (mikuni loyal servants) being female I initial thought she was male with the boyish look.
Kuniko grandmother may have been magical Gina but that’s rather interesting. As loli’s do eventually grew up ^^
Hahaha calling this conspiracy A.

dm00 said...

"Childish" isn't such a bad way to put the way this series is written --- perhaps "juvenile" might be a bit better.

However, I'm enjoying this series perhaps more than it deserves. The annoying otaku are perfect in the way they're annoying. I love the way Strike Witches Gonzo assiduously avoids showing cartwheeling-Kuniko's panties (yet keeps us informed: "polka dots", "today they're strawberries"). Aspects of the trip into Neo-Akihabara struck me as toying with the fourth wall in other ways --- I thought the animation style adopted in that segment was more "anime-like" in some respects --- particularly with the three annoying otaku. And I think you're right about Momoko being another poke at otaku sensibity --- she's a trap, after all.

I think episode five improved things a bit. Kuniko is young --- so the fact that her dialogue is a bit juvenile doesn't bother me much. Some of the writing flaws from the earlier episodes have been repaired, I think. I'm looking forward to more.