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Light Novel / Shangri-La

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Shangri-La is a series of science-fiction (with supernatural elements) Light Novels written by Eiichi Ikegami in 2004 and 2005, which was adapted into a manga and an anime by Gonzo in 2009. An odd duck if there ever was one, proposing a world driven into poverty by carbon taxes, into chaos by arbitrage in carbon credits, and awaiting a savior — in the form of a Genius Ditz Magical Girl with a Precision-Guided Boomerang.

At some point in the near future, the UN tries to stop Global Warming by imposing extremely heavy carbon taxes. This has the effect of turning the world economy into one based entirely on the trade of carbon. Meanwhile, an earthquake destroys the entire Kanto region of Japan. Because Japan is now in a horrible economic situation, and the carbon tax hasn't been lifted, Tokyo is turned into an incredibly dense jungle. The plants there are supposed to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, reducing the taxes the country has to pay. Tokyo is rebuilt as Atlas, an enormous tower that can hold millions of people.


But of course, it can't quite hold enough people, so the majority of people have to live in villages in the middle of the jungle, where they're typically treated as second-class citizens by the elite living in Atlas. Things worsen when Ryoko Naruse, the President of the Atlas corporation, turns Japan into a virtual dictatorship with her in charge. The Prime Minister and Lord Hiruko, the nominal leaders of Japan, have become nothing more than her figureheads, while the common people must bow down to her every whim. The organization Metal Age opposes the construction of the tower for this reason.

The story focuses mainly on Kuniko Hojo, an 18-year old girl who lives in the city of Duomo, where she was brought to be the leader of Metal Age, even though she doesn't necessarily want to be their leader. Kuniko wants all people to have a higher standard of living, like what she hears Atlas is like, and devotes herself to pursing that goal, by whatever means necessary. And while Kuniko is trying to better the lives of everyone, those in power in Atlas are concerned with a prophecy of sorts, that requires that one of three people eventually inherit Atlas.


Shangri-La provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Anyone Can Die: Miiko, Takehiko, Soichiro, and Ryoko; not to mention all the kids at the detention center.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In the beginning of episode 20, several politicians angrily demand Ryoko Naruse resign from her position as Prime Minister, as her tyrannical leadership has run Japan into the ground. She responds by asking which of them is willing to take up the country’s woes in her place, which shuts them up.
  • BFS: In the final battle, Kuniko uses a boomerang that is several times larger than she is.
  • Big Bad: Ryoko Naruse, President of Atlas Corporation and (eventual) Prime Minister of Japan, is the tyrant responsible for the oppression inflicted by the elite of the Atlas Tower onto the village dwellers, forcing them to live in the harsh jungles outside while she and her men live comfortably in Atlas. While she is technically an advisor of Lord Hiruko, it is not him, but her who is the prime enemy of Kuniko Hojo and Metal Age. It is later revealed that she is also the human interface of Zeus, who plots to Kill All Humans and revive Himiko so she can rule over a new world.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Miiko removes Mikuni's powers (and her illness) in the final episode.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor, poor Shion.
  • Companion Cube: Karin's teddy bear, Pudding.
  • Disney Death: Takehiko, though he pulls a Taking You with Me on Soichiro in the final episode. Sayoko twice in the last few episodes.
  • Empty Quiver: MEDUSA hacks into every country on Earth and attempts to fire every single nuclear missile in the world at the same time, but is stopped by Karin.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Atlas
  • Evolving Credits: The ending images change halfway through.
  • Fast Tunnelling
  • Feminist Fantasy: Shangri-La is a series with a largely female cast that focuses on the journey of Kuniko Hojo, a girl who, though initially reluctant, goes on to lead the resistance organization of Metal Age against the tyrannical Atlas Corporation. Most of the main characters are women; both Kuniko and her grandmother, the original leader of Metal Age, are positive role models. The story also has two transgender women, Momoko and Miiko, who, rather than being one-off jokes, are instead major characters with their own feelings, dreams, friendships, and roles to play. The Big Bad, Ryoko Naruse, is a woman as well, and a cruel despot who’s motivation is not tied to a man or men. She serves two male characters, but instead of being an obedient henchwoman, is instead treated as a credible and terrifying threat in her own right, and she makes it clear that she is the true power controlling Japan. There are several other female characters as well, both major and minor, and each with a diverse role to play.
  • Freak Out: Karin upon learning that her parents have been dead for years.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Takehiko.
  • Fan Disservice: Momoko. Admit it, the idea of a sexy looking female with Joji Nakata's voice is just downright off-putting...
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Miiko — taken over by Hiruko — shields Mikuni and Sayoko from the Neo Akihabara bombing.
  • Hidden Depths: As revealed in the prison arc, Tomoka knows a bit more about the situation than what her status has half of Those Two Guys implies.
  • Hikikomori: Karin.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Hacking attempts are rarely depicted the same way more than once, and every single depiction has remarkably little in common with any computer-related task at all.
  • Human Sacrifice: The continual sacrificing of children is necessary for Atlas to remain standing.
  • Idiot Heroine: "No plan, no idea!"
  • Karma Houdini: Nagiko and Tarsian created a system of child sacrifice. Nobody really seems to mind (though Nagiko is exiled when Kuniko finds out about her status).
  • Larynx Dissonance: Momoko and Miiko are both transgender. They look like women, but have male voices.
  • Living Lie Detector: Mikuni. And in her case, anyone who lies to her is instantly killed, though apparently she doesn't do it on purpose.
  • Magic Skirt: Kuniko (though there are many comments about her underwear, and she gets an almost undetectable Panty Shot in the finale).
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Cutting the cannon of a tank with a frickin' boomerang.
  • Not Drawn to Scale: Apparently the writers either couldn't agree on a uniform size for Kuniko's boomerang, or she has a Hyperspace Arsenal of boomerangs ranging in size from pocketknives to claymores.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Nagiko.
  • Older Than They Look: Kuniko's 18 as the series begins, though her height and lack of assets make her seem maybe half that.
  • Otaku: The 3 Akihabara old guys.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: For Atlas not to be destroyed, Hiruko must be in his room in Atlas. And for this to happen, he needs to take over the body of a maiden, which will end up eventually being destroyed.
  • Precision F-Strike: A few of them in the dub throughout the second half.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Kuniko's weapon of choice is the boomerang. Naturally, this leads to a lot of this trope.
  • La Résistance: Metal Age.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Two examples — Kuniko and Mikuni are technically sisters, and Sayoko and Shogo (half-siblings).
  • Royal "We": Lady Mikuni speaks like this, reflecting her high status within Atlas.
  • Sleep-Mode Size: Until Karin lets him loose, MEDUSA looks like a Super-Deformed snake.
  • Stripperific: Most of Ryoko's outfits are this.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: The first fight of the anime; apparently Kuniko has enough time to put on some makeup while fighting.
  • Those Two Girls: Tomoka and Yuri.
  • The Tokyo Fireball: Before the beginning of the story, Tokyo was completely destroyed by an earthquake. And then Kuniko destroys it again later on to stop the Daedalus.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Momoko isn’t exactly enjoying it, but she refuses to let Sayoko have her fun torturing her, so she refuses to show a reaction beyond contempt.
  • The Unfavorite: This is why Shion always stood by Ryoko — ignored in favor of his brother Reon in the past, she was the only one who paid attention to him (abusive as it was).
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Mikuni orders Ryoko to let Sayoko go as they're going up the elevator near the end. Guess how well that goes.
  • The Voiceless: Furakawa until the final episode.
  • Whip It Good: Momoko uses a whip, though she does a lot more tying things up with it and swinging on it than actual whipping.