Genre: Fantasy, Romantic Comedy
Production studio: Kyoto Animation
We all love amusement parks (think Disneyland, Universal Studios and even Sanrio Puroland a.k.a. Hello Kitty World). Even though Japan is full of them, we haven’t actually seen any prominent anime with a theme that has to do with amusement parks before 2014… and cue Amagi Brilliant Park. I would think this anime borders along the not-so-hyped, but not-so-underrated midpoint with a decent fanbase, but not quite with the booming following that it deserves. Not convinced if you should give this a shot? Read on to find out what makes this anime as Brilliant as it sounds.
We are introduced right away to our main hero, the narcissistic high school student Kanie Seiya. Cornered by the mysterious Sento Isuzu with a muzzleloader in his face, he was forced to go on a “date” to the titular Amagi Brilliant Park. With only 13 episodes, this anime spares no time for pointless introductions and takes us right into the main plot. Kanie discovers that the employees at the park are all magical beings from the fantasy realm “Maple Land”, who harvest energy from park visitors to ensure their existence in the human world. However, the park is in a drastically pitiful condition and in serious financial trouble. Here is where our main hero comes in. Kanie is hired by the park’s princess Latifah to save the park from closing; he has three months to attract 250,000 visitors, and judging by the state of the park, it seems like the princess is asking a lot from Kanie.
With each new episode, we get to see Kanie’s unfolding attempts to spike up the visitor count. From there, we also get the chance to explore other supporting characters and see what other magical creatures from Maple Land are like. I love the Elementario Fairies and how they each stand out with their individual personalities, but above all, who could forget the main mascot of the park (and big shocker: Latifah’s uncle) Moffle? He plays a big role in improving the state of the park, and is arguably the leader of the employees. It was interesting to watch how his relationship with Kanie progressed over the series, and how he was willing to put down his own pride for the sake of the park.
If I have one complaint about the progress of the characters’ relationships, it is definitely of Kanie and Sento’s unresolved (lack of) romance. If you’re familiar with the frustrating “almost-confession” scene between Oreki and Chitanda in Hyouka, another famous KyoAni series, you would recognize the same unsatisfying scene here in the second-last episode of Amagi. Classic KyoAni antics, I suppose. However, since it leaves a lot of room for guessing, I’m secretly hoping for a second season even though it seems unlikely.
I truly enjoyed the plot and the pacing of the story. It seemed just right for the timeframe of 3 months (the time Kanie has to reach the visitor count), and enough to hype up the suspense of Latifah’s curse and the fate of the park. At the same time, it was for the most part light-hearted and comedic for a stress-free anime binge.
Art and Animation
If you’ve had the chance to read some of my other anime reviews, you might notice how I’ve only ever had praises for the art of Kyoto Animation. The visuals of the show is absolutely gorgeous, and with Amagi, the animation is so lively and colourful that it makes us wish we could actually visit the park someday. The character designs are unique in their own way, and they complement each other’s personalities well; I love Sento’s design, and how her stoic personality is shown so clearly next to the bright and kira kira princess Latifah. Even the side characters are animated nicely till the smallest detail.
Sound and Music
The opening theme song, “Extra Magic Hour” by Akino with bless4, is cheerful and energetic, true to the spirit of the park with all its fun and magic. The ending song, “Elementalio de Aimashō!” was sung by the four voice actresses of the Elementario Fairies (collectively called Brilliant4). I love both songs, even though they have different vibes. They gave me more of a reason to like this series long after its run.
I would definitely recommend Amagi Brilliant Park, with its great animation, interesting plot, unique characters and lovely music. If this is not enough to convince you to watch it, here’s a fun fact: Kanie’s name (Kanie Seiya) is a spinoff of Kanye West, and Sento’s name (Sento Isuzu) is a spinoff of 50 Cent! Although there’s no real reason or relation for the origins of their names in the series, it’s still a pretty cool and interesting fact to know, isn’t it?