I just can't figure out if Studio Gonzo loves its viewers or hates the living shit out of them. I mean, on the one hand they've given us Last Exile, Vandread, Basilisk, Kaleido Star, and the Tower of Druaga series (each a fantastic or really fun show in its own right), but on the other hand they've made us sludge through such utter fetid and rancid excrement like Solty Rei, Final Fantasy: Unlimited, Saikano, Dragonaut, Pumpkin Scissors, and now Shangri-La. Goddammit, Gonzo! Stop alternately sucking our dicks and then turning around and kicking us in the balls with steel-toed boots! It's just so fucking painful... And yet I keep going back for more. I think that says more about me than it does about Gonzo, but whatever, Shangri-La is pure ass. Here's why:
To show you how stupid this show is right from the start of my review, let me explain the plot as as best I can (and this is me actually trying to make things as clear as they can be, and attempting to sort it all out for both my and your little minds): It's the future, global warming has caused poisonous forests to sprout up all over Japan (is there nothing global warming can't do?), forcing everybody into small pockets of tiny safe zones where they live like monkeys in small cages, and making carbon dioxide illegal. Yeah, one of the most naturally prevalent gasses in the world, uniformly created by the respiration of plants, fungi, microorganisms, and ALL FUCKING LIVING ANIMALS, is illegal and the WORST. THREAT. EVER. Well, maybe not totally illegal, but it's heavily regulated to the point that if any tiny band of survivors tries to start a fucking fire for heat or to (God forbid) cook their food, the Carbon Military Police put the lethal smack-down on them. Oh, and another problem that global warming caused is the giant influx of ugly and sassy transsexuals and spunky bipolar girls who throw around magical boomerangs that slice through tanks. There are also telekinetic tykes who kill their cheeky retainers by mind-fucking them into pulpy, crumpled fleshbags on a daily basis, and psycho women (or was she a tranny too) in positions of power who like to whip the shit out of their henchmen on a periodic schedule too. Oh, then there's the fact that the bipolar lead bitch with the giant boomerang-sword, Kuniko, can psychically control the carbon stock market, and.... Fuck. I just got a bit more retarded describing it that much.
This "show" (and I use that word in quotes seeing as shows are typically defined as entertainment, and Shangri-La never entertained me, it just caused excruciating, getting-drunk-called-by-an-ex as she's banging her new boyfriend pain) started off as a huge mess and only got worse from there. In the very first episode we see a high spirited, pink-haired, generic anime girl released from prison (she's no older than 15, but apparently spent the last 2 years behind bars at a maximum security-looking stockade), and the first thing she does is use her magical boomerang weapon to desecrate the prison's country flag... Nobody shoots her (Hell, that prison looked horrible and soul-crushing, but just for her absolute gall I'd have plugged her right between her eyes from the security tower). She's picked up by her transsexual friends (the creepy and deep voiced Momoko, and the whiny, loser Miiko) and taken back to her home town of Duomo, which lies in the middle of the Toxic Jungle (which is only 1/20th as scary and cool as the one from Nausicaa, but a direct rip-off nonetheless), and in the shadow of Atlas. Atlas is a GIANT mega-construction that the Japanese government is building in order to try and get itself back into its old global seat of power after an earthquake destroyed old Tokyo and global warming turned the land into a poisonous cesspool of ridiculousness.
Anyway, we also learn that instead of stocks in companies, the world stock market only deals in stocks of carbon... I... Seriously, it tries to sound smart and like it was written by educated people, but it instead sounds like, well... Like instead of studying the stock market and finding out exactly how it runs, and reading up on global warming and how it's supposed to effect the planetary ecosystem, it's like they just asked a 5 year old his ideas on how stock trading works (and in effect "carbon trading"), and how the tyke thinks global warming will terrorize the planet. Do me a favor and ask a five or six year old his ideas behind how video games work, or where babies come from to see how stupid this is; though the answers you get from any kid you ask those questions of will make more sense than anything this show has going for it. It's like if somebody was going to rewrite the Bible, but instead of studying actual accounts of the time periods, and talking to scholars and people who studied the era and land and the characters behind the stories their whole academic lives, it's like they just read The Davinci Code and used that as their only source and called it a day. It's just soooooo incredibly stupid, but tries so hard and begs you to take it seriously. But I digress.
Okay, so Nuriko makes it home and we're told matter of factly that this retarded-looking girl (honestly, the budget for this show is so miniscule that more than half the facial shots are off their character design, and their eyes are usually too far apart, or one an inch higher than the other, making them look mongoloid most of the time... Also, 5 out of 6 episodes looked like they were farmed out to low-end Korean animation studios too. Not an exaggeration) is going to be the next leader of Metal Age. Metal Age being the anti-government terrorist group that's opposing the Japanese Prime Minister (the green-haired woman named Lady Ryoko who I thought was yet another tranny for most of the show) and all of her decisions — especially her settlement policy of NOT letting the anarchists of Metal Age live in Atlas like snug little bugs in a rug. Yes, that's what everybody's pissed about in this story: the fact that they're not all allowed to live in the ultra new city-structure... So they fight and kill and blow shit up in order to make their wills heard and bring down the powerbase........ but if they're chosen by the nation-wide lottery to move into the totalitarian super-building they of course jump at the chance. Way to stick to your convictions, waterheads.
Okay, besides Nuriko and her army of transsexuals, Shangri-La also features soldiers in the police army, and people (well, I should say the CHILDREN) who use their mad computer skills to broker carbon trades (god, that just sounds retarded) who are called "Neo-Carbonists" (which sounds even more retarded)... At least I think that's what these kids were doing. I swear to Christ that the writers just took the Chewbacca Defense to new heights with this crappy production. "Chewbacca is a 7 foot tall Wookiee... Yet in Return of the Jedi he decides to live on Endor, a planet filled with 2 foot-tall Ewoks... That makes no sense. That. Makes. No. Sense. If that makes no sense then you must believe that all this bullshit economics crap we're selling you is well thought out and brilliant! Little girls with teddy bears on their laps run the world's stock market, and tampering with this carbon market has an IMMEDIATE measurable effect on sea-levels."
I've sat through many atrocious and obnoxious shows as bad as this thing before, but what really got my goat was the characters and their lack of any endearing personalities. They all only know only two moods: silly/stupid/ goofy, and over-acting melodramatic. They mostly switch between these emotions in the blink of an eye and for no real reason. Take for example episode 5: Kuniko bumps into the soldier Kusanagi again (after he tried to capture her just a few episodes before), and they fight a bit, then they get all goofy and share a moment in the rain, and then, before I could even figure out what the shit just happened, Kuniko pulls out her boomerang-sword and goes apeshit trying to cut the poor slob down with a look of pure pissyness and fury on her face. I rewound that scene twice and still couldn't figure out why she snapped other than shitty storytelling.
Speaking of shitty storytelling, what grinds my gears even more is bullshit science and impossible physics. For the most part, despite its absolutely horrendous plot and reasonings for character motivations, Shangri-La tries to take itself seriously. It does try. Really. Yes, it makes way too many transsexual jokes, and it doesn't explain half the techno-babble and bullshit economics it spews out regularly, but it at least TRIES to seem like its universe is austere... That is until it openly and unapologetically laughs at the laws of physics. Take for example the scene when Kuniko starts running around on the back of a giant flying wing while in flight, with nothing holding her to the bucking plane (that's trying to shake off some guided missiles) as she throws her boomerang around blowing up projectiles as if she were skipping around a playground. Then Kuniko and Momoko start jumping from aircraft to aircraft as if the airborne vehicles were simply stones protruding from a creek. No explanation given as to how two humans (well, one little girl and one transsexual who keeps changing his/her/its hairstyle every other episode) manage this goddamn ridiculous feat; I might have bought it were they in powersuits, or had they been espers... but this just completely took me out of the supposed moment.
Shangri-La writers, you can't have it both ways. You can't try and make an uber-serious show about economics, global catastrophes, and human pain and then make it so goddamn ridiculous that whatever drama you tried to build gets flushed down the shitter for a bunch of lame moments that may have sounded cool in your "ideas book," but look like they were created by a mongoloid monkey when put to film. This is shitty fan-fiction storytelling here. This is pure drivel for idiots who like every anime ever produced simply because they think that they HAVE to. No, fucktards, you don't have to like something just because it's animated by Asians... This shit is BAD. Anime can be bad, morons, and this is the king of shitty anime. The KING, baby!
Muthafucka! This shit was pretty goddamn heinous, my brothas. Not that this show was as completely suicide-inducingly bad as Dragonauts, but damn Studio Gonzo, you tried hard to replicate that atrocity.
There are many things that didn't make no goddamn sense in this muthafuckin' anime, but the number one thing I found was it don't even follow its own damn rules in the end. See, in one of the last episodes, pink-haired bitch is about to take down the tranny Prime Minister with her boomerang (the same one that slices through jet fighters and tanks and still always returns to her as if it was just twirling through the fuckin' air) when that douchebag army traitor man shoots the boomerang down with a couple of bullets. Keep in mind this is a HUGE and heavy boomerang. In order to stop its large mass pinky usually has to jump up and kick it to a stand still before grabbin' it. But a bullet or two knocks it completely to the ground just a foot in front of the green-haired bitch for the sole purpose of "tension." Well, I guess that's its goddamn reason, bitches, seeing as they was no goddamn tension that I could feel in this or any goddamn scene.
And my biggest "what the goddamn fuck" realization is probably this: Tranny green hair is the Prime Minister of Japan? The majority of the people of Japan actually ELECTED her/him to power?! Did Al Gore's global warming destroy all the cameras and televisions in the world? How the hell did that she-bitch get elected by the people? Maybe I missed this — I did spend a good portion of the viewing show asleep and drunk on Colt45— but even if they did try and give us an explanation I'm willin' to bet that it was only somethin' like "because global warming turned the forests into poison, and everybody into psychotic morons who have less brain power than a Chihuahua whose mother sniffed coke during its pregnancy, the Japanese people thought that only a transsexual transvestite from Transylvania would be able to use his/her alien technology to turn all the bad CO2 of the world into muthafuckin' gold and save all them Japaneezes from being global warmingly killed."
Oh. My. God. I knew it! I fucking knew it! When my savior Al Gore told us all that Global Warming was going to be the end of the planet (just like it was to the dinosaurs 30,000 years ago), I was the only one around who believed him! And now look at this anime... It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the big GW will KILL US ALL. No, I don't mean George W., I mean Global Warming. It will make the oceans rise, destroy New York City, turn people trannie, bring about 20 different kinds of plagues, and turn the land of tentacle porn into a jungle of despair. Yes, I know that this is only a cartoon of only one possible outcome of GW, but it's also the LEAST devastating I've seen yet! Think about it! This is the BEST way we can all die! I don't want to die a trannie, so please, for the love of GOD, please start driving hybrids people! And eat more soy!