Series Review: Shangri-La (7/10)

I'm have mixed feelings about Shangri-la. I've picked it back up and completed it after putting it on-hold for more than a couple of years, because somewhere in my mind I knew that I wanted to complete this someday. Now I've finally found a word to use as to why Shangri-la was such a commercial failure, and also to the reason I've put it on-hold for so long: It lacks mass appeal.

I guess Shangri-la is best known as the last ambitious project GONZO tried before they went bankrupt a few years back. They must have invested quite an amount because of the rather decent production values, but unfortunately it sold like shit. It seemed like the bad investment that killed the company. But, well, GONZO has been making bad investments since the first Last Exile anyway.

I've used Shangri-la as an example many times to how GONZO's abusing their Last Exile story style. After LE's commercial success, it feels like they've recycled the storytelling methodology over and over again, and this is one of them. Turns out that LE is special; it won't always work for all kinds of stories. To a certain extent, it has made series like this flat, boring and monotonous.

Another reason for failure is, like I mentioned above, the lack of mass appeal. Transsexuals doesn't exactly have a large fanbase, especially not when they're more man than woman. The subject of the carbon markets is an incredibly boring and complicated subject, and the anthropomorphized hacking programs is hardly appealing. And lastly, except for Kuniko, we have really boring/unlikable characters. The two lolis might score some points with people, but they barely received any character development until the end. Antagonists Sayoko and Ryouko might actually be the most interesting characters, but their personality are so disgusting that it makes them really hard to like.

So why does this deserves a 7? Well, arguably, Shangri-la is still pretty enjoyable. Besides the many unappealing elements, Shangri-la still has a fairly decent story with several good twists and developments that keeps you wanting to learn more. Most importantly, it has a very satisfying ending that seems to be a rarity nowadays. Some might say it's a bit weak, but it's better than trying something risky and made the whole project worse than it already is. It's a hard thing to recommend for being so hard to like, but I can't discredit the overall enjoyment I got from this. Shangri-la stays as a "good" in my books.

Plot/Concept: Decent
Story Style: Good
Audio/Visual: Fairly Good (ED was awesome)
Value: 7