Anime that debuts strongly is sometimes in danger of a drop-off point where viewers could lose interest rapidly. Shangri-La Frontier had me impressed last week as it was a fantastic premise, and while not unique, it was clever and well-written enough with great animation to make up for it. This formula can result in a strong foundation for a series to keep the interest of its viewers. With Episode 2, I’m happy to say my review for Shangri-La Frontier is still extremely strong this season. Courtesy of a screener for the episode provided by Crunchyroll, I’m happy to once again give my thoughts.
A Fun Mixture of ARPG Homage and Parody
Shangri-La Frontier shows more love to various ARPG hits, namely Soulslike games in Episode 2. There are clear moments that carry over from Episode 1 such as Rakuro/Sunraku’s bird mask and naked build along with high AGI that screams “Let Me Solo Her” and I certainly approve. But more on that, there are moments such as Sunraku finding himself poisoned and having to rush to town while his HP drains, adding Agility and Stamina points from his level-ups to be fast enough to survive. They play well into his build, but he’s seeking an inn to get a respawn point.
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As a result, it’s still a fun mixture of ARPG homage and parody, with Sunraku finding some incredible gear and developing respect for SLF’s challenge and variety. It might be the first time I enjoy watching a power gamer min-max his way to victory, even though it results in a few close calls. But other homages appear in this episode, namely grinding for resources and unique monsters, none of which have previously ever been killed in SLF, giving room for Sunraku to leave his mark.
Enough Exciting Details to Tease Viewers Waiting for the Next Episode
Shangri-La Frontier has maintained its concept and storytelling footing into the second episode, but now is the tricky part: keeping enough juicy details to keep fans wanting more. While the series is sustained partially by readers of the fantastic manga, the anime can truly soar if it adapts those plotlines well enough, and without making viewers wait between the juicy bits.
The little moments of SLF Episode 2 provide enough exciting details to tease viewers waiting for the next episode. Rei is in the game and looking for Rakuro in-game as her Psyger-0 character, but we’ve still yet to see her in action. Sunraku goes grinding at nighttime for challenging monsters, only to encounter a powerful Unique Monster, Lycaon the Nightslayer. Rakuro’s craving for adventure and excitement has landed him at the feet of a massive wolf whose presence proves that the world of SLF is still virtually undiscovered.
A Visual Treat That Promises to Become More Varied
If Sunraku can defeat Lycaon, he’ll open up new parts of the world, which is enticing in that the story is already gorgeous, and new biomes to explore could be a wonderful bonus. It reminds me of reaching neat areas like Anor Londo, in that there’s an undiscovered fountain of rich worlds yet to be found. This makes Shangri-La continue to be a visual treat that promises to become more varied.
SLF has done it again, maintaining my interest and being the most exciting new anime series of the Fall 2023 season. It’s funny, chock-full of RPG mechanics and references I can enjoy, and promises an amazing and expansive world for the fans to experience together.
The prospect alone of Unique Monsters entices me to watch and see if Sunraku can keep up his winning streak, and there are still plenty of characters we’ve yet to see in action. While it doesn’t have quite the same massive energy that the first episode had, and the series has some lazier appeals to tropes (“Firstia?”) I hope for a long and successful run with this gem.
This review of Shangri-La Frontier Episode 2 was made using a screener provided by Crunchyroll. SLF premiered on Sunday, October 8, 2023, at 2:00 AM PT, and is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
- This article was updated on October 8th, 2023