Hey there (scant few people who look forward to my writing), it’s been awhile since I put hands-to-keyboard to type out one of these. If you haven’t already guessed the Year of Sentai thing is pretty much doomed at this point, but I figured I should still put in the writing practice with these reviews. I’m still going to watch all that anime (as I have not much better to do), but instead of alphabetical I’m going to watch what I feel like and review it. To be perfectly honest it’s difficult to motivate yourself to watch shows you’re not interested in, while taking a full course load of classes, and trying to stay current with the latest anime season / video game news. My sincerest apologies to those of you who were hoping to read my reviews (read: Phil and maybe others). By way of apology please enjoy my review of an anime that wasn’t at all on the Sentai list…
Amagi Brilliant Park
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Director: Takemoto, Yasuhiro
Aired: Oct 7, 2014 – Dec 26, 2014
Episode Count: 12
Languages: Japanese with English subtitles / English (soon)
Genre(s): Comedy with Drama elements
Price: $48.99 (Standard Edition) / $ 125.99 (Collector’s Edition)
In two ways Amagi Brilliant Park was a lesson for me on the importance of not being preemptively judgemental. I had heard from people at conventions that it wasn’t very good, and I took their word for it. Similarly I had seen the characters in promotional art, and I judged it by the thought that I would be annoyed by the mascot looking characters. In hindsight the adage, “Don’t judge a book (or anime as it were) by it’s cover”, should have spurred me to try it for myself. When I recently did decide to delve into this Kyoto Animation work my preconceived notions were blown away, and I was left kicking myself for ignoring this title for over 2 years! In my current state of anime viewership, whereby I attempt to keep up with at least 5 shows that come out a season, it has become rare for me to binge anime like I used to. However, Amagi Brilliant Park’s humor practically demanded to be watched, and I soon found myself in my old binging ways. Given my proclivities towards crude and or risque humor this show fit my tastes like a glove (albeit a perverted glove).
This show’s narrative drops you right into a conflict from the opening seconds of the show, as we meet the protagonist (Seiya Kanie) staring down the barrel of the lead female’s (Isuzu Sento) gun. From this point Sento coerces Kanie into a date at a local amusement park, and quite possibly the most hilariously terrible first date in anime history ensues. Their date location (Amagi Brilliant Park) is, to say the least, god awful. Trash cans overflow, venues and rides are poorly maintained, and the employees are not customer friendly. Given all this Kanie rages at Sento about the poor quality of the park, and it’s at this time that she entices him to learn the park’s hidden truth. Amagi Brilliant Park’s secret is that it is host to immigrants from a magical realm called Maple Land. The mascots are bizarre creatures, the fairies are real, and the princess is actual royalty. However, due to the incredibly lackluster condition of the area, Amagi Brilliant Park is set to close down unless they can attract 250,000 customers in 3 months. Given these stipulations the park princess (Latifa Fleuranza) beseeches Kanie to save the park as its interim manager, and after some consideration he accepts.
From this point onwards the story moves from one aspect of park to another that need to be improved, fixed, or completely altered. Given the comedic nature of Amagi Brilliant Park, I was pleasantly surprised to find an abundance of character development, and dramatic elements built into the plot. The cheerful scenes are nicely offset by the gravity of the staff’s desperate situation, as the death of the park has grave implications for Latifa. The gravity of their task, combined with the prodding and planning of Kanie, forces the characters to cooperate for the good of their home and their monarch. Amagi’s director does a fantastic job in focusing in on a small group of the park’s core cast, and building them well through hilarious trials. Every episode felt relevant to the overall storyline, and the show even gives the audience an attendance counter to see how many people the park needs after each episode. The wrap up of the plot is satisfying, but leaves you hungry for a potential sequel.
[Some Spoilers] That being said there were some plot holes in the storyline of Amagi Brilliant Park. For starters Kanie is gifted with the ability to read minds at the onset of the show, but this ability gets very little air time in the middle of the show. It’s a small annoyance, but it felt like it could have been put to better use in Kanie as he attempted to discern the wants and needs of the park’s customers. There are key points when his minor telepathy was put to good use, but I think there could have been a bit more of it to explain the fast pace of the parks success. Speaking of the fast pace, Amagi should have been a two cour show. While its 12 episodes neatly wrap up the overall plot of the story there are definitely areas that would have benefitted from further explanation. For instance the backstories of various characters (especially Moffle) are barely explained, and some of them (especially Moffle) bear exploring. Furthermore a second cour to the show could have alleviated some of the rushed explanations towards the end of the anime. Despite these minor annoyances though, the story of Amagi Brilliant Park ranks far above most comedies I’ve seen.
Amagi’s cast runs the gamut of some of the craziest character types in comedic anime. Our main characters (Kanie and Sento) are two of the most outwardly calm-and-collected characters in the show, but on the inside they are fairly flawed characters. Kanie is extremely knowledgeable and organized, but beneath this venire he conceded to the point of absurdity. Sento is well disciplined, but she’s so headstrong that she attempts to use force to accomplish every task at the park. Combined these two compliment each other well, and it’s a joy to watch them work out their foibles in (nearly) every episode. The budding romance the two share is equally enjoyable to behold, but the 12 episode limit hinders any progress the two characters could make.
As for the rest of the cast, they are sadly limited to character episodes and cameos. Latifa (the park princess) gets most of the spotlight outside of the two leads, and the 4 fairy idols (Muse, Kobori, Salama, and Sylphy) get a character progression episode. However, outside of that the rest of the crew is mostly used for minor purposes. This is probably for the best due to the limited time frame of the show, but it would have been more interesting to delve into some of the minor character’s backstories. The three main mascots (Tiramie, Macaron, and Moffle) are still interesting despite their lack of real character episodes, but this is mostly due to their hilariously off kilter behavior. Tiramie is my personal favorite with his ridiculous levels of perversity.
Visuals and Music
At this point in anime fandom the words “Kyoto Animation” are pretty much synonymous with quality in animation, and Amagi Brilliant Park is no exception. This isn’t to say that it’s perfectly animated, but the quality of animation here is far beyond that of your standard comedy show. Key scenes are made that much more impactful by the incredible amount of detail added into them, and even the moments of comic relief are relatively well crafted and delivered. It probably won’t (or didn’t) win many awards for animation due to the goofy nature of the storyline, but I believe it’s one of the most beautiful bits of absurdity I’ve had the pleasure to view.
That being said the music in the show didn’t really leave a lasting impression on me. The soundtrack is adequate for keeping your attention on the scene, but it didn’t grab my attention as much as the visuals did. Similarly the opening theme, though pretty, was a fairly standard anime opening theme. It didn’t try to push the bounds with a super interesting / catchy song, and the visuals were somewhat par for the course in terms of openings. However, the fact that the soundtrack and opening theme are slightly mediocre are not in any way a detraction from the amazing story and visuals. I did enjoy the ending theme, but that might be personal bias (I really enjoy character songs).
Amagi Brilliant Park is a gorgeous romp through the raunchy, the hilarious, and (at times) the dramatic. The world built by the writers is interesting, and the characters that inhabit that world keep you enthralled with their humor. I very much wish that there was more of this show to delve into more of the character’s backstories, but even at its 12 episode length it still leaves you feeling mostly content with the outcome. Few anime could manage to pull off raunchy humor and serious drama with much effect, but Amagi manages to do so smoothly. I can’t recommend this show enough, especially if you enjoy a good laugh, a good story, or both! Find it today on Crunchyroll or Sentai Filmworks, and enjoy the binge! I know I did!
TL;DR: Amagi Brilliant Park is a fun comedic anime with drama elements to keep you on your toes. As a KyoAni production you can be assured that it is gorgeous to look at, and that the production quality holds up through the whole series. The 12 episodes feel just a tad constraining against the amount of backstory that is available to the many side characters in the show, but the writers and directors did a fantastic job given the limited number of episodes. I honestly cannot recommend this enough, assuming of course…
Recommended Audience: … that you’re of age to watch the show. The often crude humor in this anime is suitable to more mature audiences. I’d say upper teens and above, but since no one hired me on the censorship advisory board (their loss really) I suppose I’ll conclude by saying, “Get your parents permission before watching things of hilariously lewd nature.”
Amagi Brilliant Park is attacked by rabid children, but maintains composure for 4.5 / 5 HP!