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Shangri-La Frontier Episode #25 Anime Review (Season Finale)

5 min read
© 硬梨菜 / 不二涼介 / 講談社 / 「シャングリラ・フロンティア」 製作委員会

Who is your favorite fearless hero?

What They Say:
“Those Who Illuminate The World’s Darkness”

Bilac finds jewelry among Sunraku’s loot. In order to show them to a jeweler, she introduces Sunraku to Aramiys, the swordsman of Cazzeria, and vice captain of the Musketeers in Boots. Later they head to Eighthold where they encounter the Professor.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Despite being my final finale of the season, wrapping up just in time for the end of the month before the onslaught of new series kicks off as soon as the next month starts, it’s hard to think of this episode of Shangri-La Frontier as a finale in any sense. Even more than most very obvious “this is as far as we’re covering in this cour or two” season finales, it does nothing to present itself as anything but another uneventful episode in the middle of a story, save for its final moments teasing that big things will happen to Sunraku in the future! It gets away with this by immediately announcing that, in fact, the series will be off for a mere six months before returning for another six months straight, complete with the confirmation that Crunchyroll is already in place to simulcast it again. It’s not terribly surprising that the series would get more content, but for such instant confirmation with such a short break and another two cours right off the bat, it must’ve done very well from the start or had this in the cards before this season began, possibly both. Of course, it is April Fool’s Day in Japan, but the announcement is clearly legitimate, and would’ve been a very bizarre thing to fake.

Going into the episode with that knowledge does change one’s perspective; now it just has to function as a satisfying enough note to leave off on for a few months. It still doesn’t manage that much, but will probably prove perfectly serviceable to an audience binging through multiple seasons in the future. I don’t know exactly how prominent the “2nd Season” branding will end up being when it comes around in October, but I could easily see future viewers not realizing they had technically made it to a new season at all. So this is really a problem only for those of us watching weekly, which can be said of most of the show’s pacing issues in general. As the offering from this series for a week, many episodes haven’t stood up as especially strong, but as 20 minutes of content in hours of binging a long-running story, they serve their purpose just fine.

Having said all that, this episode really only gives us a few new things to pay attention to. One is the introduction of a cat nation to mirror the rabbit nation, complete with swordsmen to mirror the latter’s swordsmiths. The one we meet is Aramiys, a simpleminded, lovestruck first member of a group combining Puss in Boots, the Three Musketeers, and the Cait Sith of Celtic mythology that has made its way into Japanese culture, especially via fantasy RPGs. It’s a fun blend of concepts and he’s a good foil to Bilac, but he doesn’t make enough of an impact in these few minutes to make me sure I’ll remember him in six months. The other new piece is introduced at the very end, the unsettling image of a cutesy magical girl with the booming voice of Jouji Nakata, who turns out to be the Professor we had heard about before. We only get the briefest look at this character, but they’re teased as extremely important, between their connection to the lore of the game, the mentions of their famous guild in the past, and the narrator literally ending the season by saying “Hey guys, this character will be extremely important to Sunraku’s story!” It’s not always the most subtle series, but I suppose a “finale” this non-final needs a tease this blatant to justify its otherwise anticlimactic ending. To that end, we’re also informed that Sunraku will get a rematch with Lycagon before too long, though in the time scale of this series, that could mean another 25 episodes. If we’re going by “show, don’t tell,” this fails the test. But we’ve likely grown used to that level of exposition by now, for better or worse.

In Summary:
Shangri-La Frontier is over for such a short time that even the series itself didn’t feel the need to give us any sort of finale. It would be entirely underwhelming if it wasn’t successful enough to get another season right away, though perhaps in that situation it would’ve tidied up the ending a bit more instead of just spending its last few minutes promising that there will be more exciting things in the future. As it stands, Shangri-La Frontier is a series that will almost certainly function infinitely better as a binge than in weekly viewing. So many of its episodes have been middling setup pieces that don’t stand on their own whatsoever – not least of which this first “finale” – but in service to the greater story that people will eventually be able to power through, they do their job and build on a solid foundation.

At its worst, Shangri-La Frontier is always beautifully drawn, colored, and animated, complete with strong effects and compositing. It’s always well-directed, with solid music that’s utilized effectively, and most important of all the writing truly understands the joy of becoming fully immersed in the richly detailed world of a great video game. It’s a good series that can be somewhat excruciating to watch at this pace.

Grade: D+
Series Grade: B

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

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