Shangri-La Frontier wasn’t a series on my radar, but it’s quickly become one of the standouts of the Fall anime season. Animated by studio C2C and based on the novel and manga of the same name by Katarina and illustrated by Ryosuke Fuji, Shangri-La Frontier is directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka with the series script and composition by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu. Last episode, trash gamer Rakuro Hizutome has embraced an s-tier game instead of his usual pile of garbage VR games. While Episode 1 showed Rakuro making his character and beginning his journey, Shangri-La Episode 2, “A Peculiar One,” is about him falling in love with the game.
At the end of the last episode, we saw an imposing large man in a suit of armor. In Shangri-La Frontier Episode 2, we learn that the player’s name is Psyger-0, and the person behind the character is none other than Rei Saiga, the classmate who has a crush on Rakuro. Rei may be a quiet girl in real life, but in the game, her confidence in battle is unmatched, as shown by her epic equipment. While I first thought that Rei would be the typical “picked up games for a boy she liked” trope we see too often, she isn’t.
In fact, she’s been playing the eponymous game for quite some time, which means that her excitement for her crush picking up the game was because of how much they could bond. While Sunraka (Rakuro’s in-game name) clears the game’s first boss and winds up in town trying to heal the damage-over-time poison, Rei is attempting to find him, looking in the early game area so that she can help him through it.
With Shangri-La Frontiers Episode 2, the series continues to be one of the best representations of gaming and game mechanics in an anime. We see breakdowns of resource farming, how to use the inn, armor stats, and more. But more importantly, by getting to see Sunraka move through the game, we also begin to see him fall in love with it.
There is something special when you realize that a game is totally and completely for you. Capturing this moment is what Shangri-La Frontier Episode 2 does spectacularly. We know that Rakuro loves gaming. I mean, you don’t make it through hundreds of hours of terrible games if you don’t. But in this episode, the audience hears from him why he’s falling in love with this game. Its weapons, the respawn system, and most importantly, its monsters.
Shangri-La Frontiers Episode 2 is essentially more set up for the rest of the season but what makes it stand out is how relatable Sunraka is as a character learning a new game and ultimately learning how to love it. Additionally, the time the episode takes to show glimpses into the exchanges of other players helps ground the MMO as a connection-building element of life and not something that you sink time into and isolate yourself in. This positive spin on gaming and the connection that an MMO can bring also help make Shangri-La Frtonier stand out.
Shangri-La Frontier Episode 2 — "The Peculiar One"
Shangri-La Frontiers Episode 2 is essentially more set up for the rest of the season but what makes it stand out is how relatable Sunraka is as a character learning a new game and ultimately learning how to love it.