DVD Review: Shangri-La – Part 2

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The Conclusion to the confusing, but highly intriguing story of Shangri-La, has arrived in the form of this latest DVD Release by MVM Entertainment, but what exactly do you we think of it and its DVD Contents? Find out in our DVD Review of Shangri-La – Part 2:

Synopsis

In the distant future, earthquakes and the effects of global warming have splintered Japanese society. Some struggle hand-to-mouth in the jungle-tangled ruins of civilization. Some live comfortably within the closed-off city of Atlas. Others lurk online, anonymously hacking the global economy. As nature grows more violent and the divide between classes expands, one spirited girl, Kuniko, must face her destiny and lead her people into the utopia of Atlas.

The city’s ruthless government isn’t going to welcome them with open arms, but Kuniko won’t give up until the gates of Atlas are kicked open for good – even if it means discovering that the promised land she dreamed of is built upon a foundation of twisted secrets and lies.

Our View:

Shangri-La’s second instalment continues where the first half left off, with it throwing viewers back into the carnage of its complicated multi-progressive storyline, however give it a chance and the story starts to unravel and delivers a rather entertaining storyline that’s filled with plot twists and unexpected outcomes.

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For those unable to recall the previous half of the series then don’t worry as the first episode includes a three minute re-cap of what has happened previously in the series, which just shows how complicated the story can be. Basically Metal Age were continuously attempting to overthrow the government in order to gain control of Atlas, with Kuniko Hojo finally accepting responsibilities as the Metal Age leader. Meanwhile in the background the mysterious young priestess Mikuni is left partially clueless on the outside events while hacker Karin was manipulating carbon statics and earning money by using the Medusa system. The second half continues this multi-story approach to the storyline, however in doing so the story escalates to where all of the characters (Kuniko, Karin and Mikuni) end up interacting with each other in some circumstances working with each other order to save the world from ultimate destruction.

Destruction, Chaos and Loyalty are the main themes for this second half and for good measure some mature violence and random F-Drops are included. It is a completely different tone from the first half of the series and one that provides a more mature viewing experience to its audience, though hearing some of the younger cast members suddenly start swearing does feel out of touch, even if it is the brash kuniko saying them.

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With Kuniko now running Metal Age she and the rebellion group attempt raids on Atlas, however when they discover a new enemy in the form of an evolved plant (which caused the massive destruction in the opening episodes of the series) both Metal Age and the Atlas Government decide to team-up in order to stop the infestation. Elsewhere Karin has lost control over her own Medusa program which results in Medusa sending the Carbon Market into chaos, with it driving the entire Japanese nation (if not the world) into despair – the counter act this impending threat Kuniko teams up Karin in order to shut Medusa down for good, hwoever with both Atlas and the UN on their tail and a super-programme stop their every move it isn’t easy.

Life doesn’t get any easier for Kuniko either, as she (along with Mikuni and Kunihito Kusanagi) are finally informed of their importance to atlas and its future with the daggers (remember those?) also playing a vital role in the future of mankind. Shangri-La is really a unique series, it takes too much on and never fully explains what is happening but this is one of the series charms as it makes you want to watch more of the show, even if you are not entirely sure why, however compared to the first half a lot more entertainment is provided and the story seems progress a lot smoother, if not too fast, in places.

Extras:

Just like the previous instalment Shangri-La Part 2 continues to throw out the usual list of extra content, namely the English cast commentaries, text less songs and some trailers.

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As with all Anime releases majority of the extra content is located on the second DVD Discs, however the first disc does contain an Audio Commentary (as it ties in with an Episode located on that particular disc).

Disc 1:

  • Episode 15 English Cast Commentary with Tyler Walker (ADR Director) J.Michael Tatum (Script Writer) and Patrick Sikes

Disc 2:

  • Episode 23 English Cast Commentary with Tyler Walker (ADR Director), Jan Saxton (Karin) and Jennifer Seman (Ryoko)
  • Text less opening song
  • Text less closing song
  • US Trailer for Shangri-La
  • Trailers (Pumpkin Scissors & Shakugan No Shana Season 2)

In terms of extra features there isn’t really anything new here, however to decision to include a US Trailer for Shakugan No Shana Season 2 (which promotes a Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack which isn’t available in the UK) is rather baffling – but that being said the DVD release is available in the UK so at least it shows what the series has to offer to people who have yet to watch it.

As always it’s the English Cast Commentaries that take the spotlight, as while the series maybe confusing the Cast Commentaries go direct to the point and explore the subject of Script Writing and Adapting the Script to English audience (Episode 15 Commentary) while the Episode 23 commentary gives is an insight into the role of a voice actor. For those interested in the “behind-the-scenes” dubbing work for an anime these two cast commentary’s provide a useful and informative insight, even if the anime series itself is confusing as hell.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time:  2:22:04 (Disc 1 & 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 192Kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Shangri-La  – Part 2 continues to the confusing overlapping story of Kuniko, Mikuni, Karin and the Atlas tower, however while the first instalment provide long-winded unhelpful explanations with a mix of  action this second half provides the explosive drama that many were expecting from the series and successful explains what exactly has happened and why. These explanations not only provide some relief to the viewer but it also uncovers some dark and disturbing facts, most of which were unknown by majority of the main cast. Part 2 of Shangri-La is where everything changes, and luckily it is for the better.

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While the second half of the series is better (and more mature) than the first half it does have its own problems and that’s mainly due to the fact that it feels rushed. Basically the story quickly progress into the next segment in between episodes and it sometimes feels like you have missed something, even when you haven’t – it’s this continuity that (in the later episodes at least) becomes rather annoying as you are always looking back to see if you have missed something, when in fact you haven’t the story has just progressed without you.

Story aside this DVD release by MVM Entertainment UK is a “top-quality” release and continues the stunning audio and picture quality that was witnessed by the first instalment.  The picture quality may only be a standard DVD resolution, but played via a Blu-ray Player (or PS3) via HDMI and you’ll receive a picture quality that could mimic most blu-ray products – this trend continues with the audio as while it is only a standard 5.1 Audio the explosions and “surround” effects are easily noticeable and provide a more cinematic feel.

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It seems like a lot of care was taken into the production of this Shangri-La release, and it is noticeable, it is just a shame that the overall series is a bit of “love/hate” relationship as there are bits that viewers will like (action, characters) but there are bits that people will hate (story progression, complicated story), however one thing is for sure Shangri-La is a series that needs to be watched from start to finish in order to fully understand its plot twisting filled story.

Score: review-stars-3

Shangri-La – Part 2 will be available on DVD from the 2nd December 2013.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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