The premiere episode of “Shangri-La Frontier” commences with a scene that is both intriguing and unpredictable. Sunraku, adorned in red tights and a mask, stands defiantly in front of a formidable monster. Beside him is Faeria, a delicate blonde elf. Initially giving off the aura of an epic showdown.
The scene takes a comedic turn when Sunraku sends Faeria flying with a kick to the face. But, the twist comes when the screen reveals that this was merely the endgame of “Faeria Chronicle Online.”
Fast forward to the real world where VR gaming isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. With the rise of VR, the entertainment sector has been flooded with games, ranging from awe-inspiring masterpieces to the downright disappointing, aptly named “trash games.”
While most gamers might steer clear of these, there are those like Rakuro Hizutome, dubbed the “Trashy Games Hunter,” who revel in them.
As viewers get a glimpse of Hizutome’s daily life, it’s clear that gaming isn’t his only forte. Navigating through school, he’s a well-liked figure. Yet, a brief and rather adorable moment with Rei Saiga, a brown-haired girl harboring feelings for him, hints at potential subplots beyond the virtual battles.
The episode then smoothly transitions to Rock Roll, a gaming hub. Here, the dynamics between the store owner, Mana Iwamaki, and Hizutome unfold. As they discuss the eccentricities of “Faeria Chronicle Online,” the conversation is laden with humor, especially when reminiscing about the chaotic elf, Faeria. Despite its quirky gameplay, Hizutome confesses to having thoroughly enjoyed the experience, particularly beating up Faeria.
Eager to introduce Hizutome to a gaming experience beyond trashy titles, Iwamaki suggests “Shangri-La Frontier.” Tempted by its vast player base and intricate storyline, Hizutome delves in. In the ensuing scenes, he crafts his character which looks to be a character wearing only shorts and a bird mask due to the system where he can trade his equipment for better weapons.
Embarking as Sunraku in a sprawling forest, the episode beautifully showcases the game’s prowess. The attention to detail, fluid movements, and dynamic game controls come to the forefront as Sunraku battles a series of adversaries, from the mundane goblin to the peculiar Vorpal Bunny.
Yet, it’s not just about action. As Sunraku ventures forth, subtle indications of forthcoming challenges emerge, such as the ominous area python boss guarding a vital bridge.
And just when viewers thought they’d seen it all, the episode concludes with a new mystery: a heavily armored character in an unknown town, signaling more adventures to come.
I really like this first episode. I’ve read the manga of this series before so I know what to expect. The manga was quite possibly one of the best action manga out there right now so I had high hopes for this series and all of the expectations were met. The designs and the art style are faithful, the action scenes are fluid and impactful, and the pacing is great. If this series keeps up this level of quality, I would consider this one of the best anime that will come out this year for sure!