Is Shangri-La Frontier worth it?
Another batch of seasonal anime (Winter 2023) has just started, and we’re bidding farewell to the Fall 2023 season of anime. While several ongoing series continue to captivate us, only a handful of exceptional new ones have emerged—Sousou no Frieren being the standout. However, there are some hidden gems worth exploring. One that may not be on everyone’s watchlist is Shangri-la Frontier, and you might find yourself asking, 'Is Shangri-la Frontier worth it?'. This show has me on my toes every week, waiting day by day for when the new episode comes; constantly thinking about where Studio C2C is taking me. With how much I’ve enjoyed this anime, sadly I haven’t seen much general traction to it. I genuinely wish more people would discuss and share their comments. It deserves more traffic and love than it currently is getting. It has a respectable My Anime List (MAL) score of 7.97, but maybe the genre and plot aren't universally appealing.
I understand the initial apprehension, especially considering the poster featuring a bird man in tattered shorts, which might seem unappealing to many. However, appearances can be deceiving. While the poster may give off a crazy parody vibe, delving deeper reveals a show with a surprisingly deep plot.
Shangri-la Frontier is a shounen anime that features the adventure of Sanraku, a trash gamer, trying out a popular MMORPG called Shangri-la Frontier. Here are some of the highlights on why I believe it’s a great show and a good shounen to add to your watchlist.
Sanraku's Skillful Progression
The main character, Sanraku, has only played unbalanced indie games filled with enough bugs to make it barely playable. His lack of experience playing a balanced AAA Game means he’s entering a new MMORPG with a whole new perspective. Sanraku feels the pressure to catch up because he is significantly behind the rest of the players; otherwise, he will never be able to get ahead. As usual with “start from the bottom” style anime, you might anticipate a sudden power boost to propel him forward, rapidly increasing his level or abilities. Ironically, he finds himself on a roller coaster of experiences, encountering both nerfs and buffs along the way. Surprisingly, this wasn’t a problem for him. The level of analysis he possesses, gained from exploiting bugs in unbalanced indie games, provides him with a deeper understanding of video game mechanics. This enables him to adopt a different approach to the game, relying solely on gaming skills. The series sneaks in major events that favor his abilities, reminiscent of Soulslike games similar to Elden Ring, emphasizing the importance of skill to overcome, and beat the game.
Shangri-La's Lore is Amazing
Each episode reveals new information about Shangri-la Frontier. I personally anticipated a linear plot or predictable patterns, but the show does a great job at changing its pace in various styles, encouraging viewers to think about the intricacies of the game world.Similar to many video games, much of the in-game world remains secret. Players look to forums and walkthroughs for help, yet Sanraku manages to uncover some of these secrets unknown to other players. The world’s greatest plot is also a mystery to most players, allowing us to sit back and anticipate the show slowly revealing its secrets to us.The brilliance of the series lies in its ability to balance wild and unexpected events while maintaining a sense of logic and believability. Sanraku’s discovery may be a rare chance but it doesn't fall into the realm of the impossible. Shangri-La strikes a delicate balance, functioning as a double-edged sword. It introduces unique events that gradually deviate from the norm of an MMORPG. However, if the show veers too far, it becomes distasteful and causes the over the top nature to alienate gaming fans. Conversely, if it follows too closely to the stereotypical overpowered storyline, it may become monotonous.
Strong Animation Is a Requirement
Shangri-la Frontier is produced by C2C, the production company lacks widely acclaimed hits which could be one reason for its limited popularity. Regardless, the show’s color scheme uses vibrant hues and contrasting colors that help captivate a viewer’s interest. The shadows and highlights are used correctly giving a good depth to the animation. Another strong contribution is the simplicity of the death animations, similar to Log Horizon, monsters and characters turn into vanishing pixels. This simplifies the animation process, and contributes to the show's consistent quality. Many recent releases have had fluctuations in animation quality. Jujutsu Kaisen is a big example, attempting to push the boundaries of animation but falls short in maintaining consistent quality. It’s a huge risk an anime can take but it’s always safer to give out consistent, great quality. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to attract viewers.
Should You Watch Shangri-La Frontier?
Shangri-la Frontier's true gems lie in its intricacies, those subtle plot details that are best savored through firsthand viewing. Shangri-la Frontier offers a captivating blend of elements—a formidable protagonist, a rich gaming lore, commendable CGI for its monstrous encounters, and a consistently high-quality animation. It boasts a respectable My Anime List (MAL) score, yet whether it deserves higher levels of hype is a judgment I leave in your hands. As you navigate the realms of Shangri-la Frontier, may its virtues unfold and captivate you as they have myself.
Fluffz has always watched anime since childhood, but initially, he would only rely on what was available on TV. He was later introduced to seasonal anime in 2013, which further fuelled his interest, and since then, he has been watching nonstop.
Fun Fact: He will always believe that "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" and "Made in Abyss" are the GOATs and that he is not a lolicon.