New VR MMO RPG Anime: Shangri-La Frontier

With the recent buzz surrounding spectacular anime such as Jujutsu Kaisen S2 and the last season of Attack on Titan, it’s easy to overlook the new releases this month. However, amidst the excitement, one anime has caught my attention, and I feel compelled to share a bit about it. That anime is Shangri-La Frontier, often abbreviated as SLF, currently airing with 8 out of its 12 episodes already released.

In essence, SLF could be described as a modern version of a famous Sword Art Online or Ready Player One.

Introduction to the anime

In a near-future setting where virtual reality gaming has become the norm, our tale centres around a high school gamer with a surprising addiction: trash games. These are titles characterized by a plethora of bugs, unpredictability, and abysmal graphics—essentially, games deemed unplayable due to their overall poor quality.

Hizutome Rakurou is the individual in question—a devoted gamer whose entire world revolves around gaming. His unwavering dedication to playing and conquering even the most challenging games is nothing short of remarkable, as most would consider it an impossible feat. One fateful day, while on the hunt for a new gaming experience, a local game store owner persuades him to venture into the realm of a genuinely popular, God-tier game that boasts millions of copies sold. Imagine going from Gollum to Elden Ring.

Shangri-La Frontier Trailer

Shangri-La Frontier : Episode 1 Recap

Entering the realm of the new SLF game, Hizutome, accustomed to the glitch-ridden trash games, finds himself in what feels like gaming paradise. Every aspect, no matter how minor, astounds him. The character builder alone, with its options to choose race, class, and numerous other features, leaves him utterly impressed, a stark contrast to the limited functionalities of the games he’s accustomed to.

Character design

So, here’s Hizutome’s rather unconventional character choice—a nearly naked man with a bird’s head. I know, it’s quite unique! His strategy revolves around the glass cannon build, allocating all his points to speed, endurance, and a fair bit to luck, leaving vitality—the measure of his health points—largely neglected. His focus lies predominantly on offense rather than defense, leading him to sell off most of his gear in favor of shiny weapons that enhance his damage-dealing capabilities.

Opting for a dual-wielding style, his chosen weapons are two daggers, and for a mask? I guess he doesn’t want to be seen or recognized (It will sure be hard to recognize a naked man with a bird’s mask in the crowd).

Ah, the final decision—Hizutome settled on the class of a wanderer. Little did he know that this class doesn’t initiate the adventure in the first city but rather somewhere within the starter area. Consequently, his choice led to an unexpected spawn right in the heart of the forest, far removed from the bustling starting city most players typically begin their journey in.

Early game

Moments after entering the game, he finds himself under attack by a goblin. Despite being unfamiliar with the mechanics and skills of this new game, his reflexes and knowledge honed through trash games afford him a considerable advantage, allowing him to triumph without breaking a sweat. But before he can even catch his breath, a sudden ambush follows, this time from a Vorpal Bunny.

After the victory he dedicates time to levelling up, allocating skill points, and actively farming monsters for their loot. His efforts yield success as he acquires a new set of weapons known as the Vorpal Chopper, significantly boosting his capabilities. Now equipped with better gear and a higher level, he ventures out of the forest towards a nearby city—not the initial starting one, but a second city. As he approaches a bridge that serves as the pathway to the city, he encounters a formidable obstacle—a giant snake guarding the passage. And just at this crucial juncture, our episode comes to an end.

Thoughts on Shangri-La Frontier

As someone deeply passionate about gaming and firmly situated in the “liking” camp for series like SAO and Ready Player One, my perspective might lean a bit towards being a fan, but I’ll strive to offer an objective view.

Regarding the anime, the animation falls within the okay range without introducing anything groundbreaking. While the main character and storyline might not break new ground in terms of originality, I must say, the bird mask is a standout feature. Its striking presence adds a unique quality to the character, making identification easier and infusing a distinctive charm into the visuals.

If you’re a fan of SAO, there’s a good chance this anime will resonate with you. However, even if that series isn’t your cup of tea, I’d still encourage giving this one a chance. Personally, I’ve watched all eight episodes released thus far, and I can confidently say I haven’t regretted the time spent exploring this series.

If you’re interested in a comprehensive rundown and my overall thoughts on the entire season of Shangri-La Frontier, let me know in the comments. I’ll be happy to provide a detailed summary in that case in a new article.

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