Anime Review: Amagi Brilliant Park (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 24.06.2017

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Amagi Brilliant Park (UK Rating: 12)

Based on a still running light novel series, Amagi Brilliant Park introduces an old run down amusement park in its potential final year of opening. The city of Amagi has warned if it is unable to keep attendance figures high - at least 500,000 people a year - for five years in a row, it will be shut down. After four years of failing to meet that figure, it decides to try something different, sending a headhunter out to recruit a local star student to help run the park. There's much more than meets the eye here, though, as a fairytale story unfolds with magic, fairies, princesses, dragons, and whole other worlds. Welcome to Amagi Brilliant Park! This series comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment and came out on 19th June.

Protagonist, Seiya Kanie, is a genius with perfect grades, highly athletic, handsome, and able to pick up anything with ease, with zero friends and no chance at getting a girlfriend. He's awesome and he knows it; he's a colossal narcissist. That's why when a mysterious girl asks him to join her on a trip to an amusement park, he goes along with it. Oh, and the huge rifle she puts to his head probably helps, too. A tour of Amagi Brilliant Park shows a dilapidated and failing park - certainly not the happiest place on Earth. The jet coaster trundles along painfully slowly, and mascots are completely missing from rides. The free fall ride drops at around 0.1mph and there are also hardly any guests to be seen. After seeing the dire need of the park and being begged by its manager, a girl dressed as a princess named Latifah Fleuranza, Kanie says "No thanks!" and plans to leave the park to rot. That is until a little bit of magic changes his world…

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Most of the cast working in Amagi Brilliant Park is actually of the magical variety from another world (Maple Land) and the risk of the park shutting down is worse than just the loss of jobs, as they feed off the energy their guests emit while experiencing the joy of the park, an energy known as Animus. The story explains that most parks here on Earth are all such refuges for beings from other magical worlds. The manager, Latifah, is a real princess of that world and bestows a magic to Kanie - in a very Disney way - with a kiss. Kanie is bestowed with the ability to read someone's thoughts, yet despite this, Kanie is still unconvinced about helping, until he sees all the people about to lose their lives… then Kanie steps up.

The task, then, is to get the remaining visitors in. There are three months remaining and just over 250,000 to gather. It seems like the story will be dedicated to Kanie using his mind reading power to listen to the requests of his guests and improving each attraction within the park. That, sadly, is not what the series focuses on. Certainly, there are a few episodes that address just that, but mostly it becomes a bit of a run-around of a story, seeing many episodes flounder on the silly side stories that aren't particularly enjoyable.

The story comes from Shoji Gatoh, who previously wrote Full Metal Panic! and fans of that series will find a lot to like here; the comedy is very much in the same vein and regularly delivers genuine laugh out loud moments. Take, for example, the trio of mascots: Tiramie, Macaron, and Moffle. Tiramie is a flower fairy, a sweet pink cat that is completely twisted and outside of park hours harasses every woman in sight. Macaron is a cute little lamb that plays the accordion for small children, and also screams death metal while painted like a Kiss rocker. Finally, Moffle is the main mascot of the park and will look very familiar for Fumoffu fans, as he has quite a likeness to Bonta-Kun. Moffle looks like a permanently annoyed mouse in a little hat and has a heck of a bad attitude, more than happy to resort to beating up problem visitors to the park.

The characters are what the make the show as good as it is. When the episodes actually focus on the overarching plot, they deliver great stories filled with plenty of nice little touches. Each episode ends with a little scoreboard that shows the total amount of guests, the amount remaining to reach the goal, and amount of days until the deadline. There are plenty of little details hidden in plain sight, too, like the names of the characters, Queen Latifah, Aisu Kyubu, and, best of all, protagonist Kanie Seiya (Seiya in written as West).

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The series looks gorgeous, too, but that's to be expected since it is done by Kyoto Animation. It has made a fine art of putting out exactly these types of gorgeous comedy shows and it put out some of its best work here. The setting and theme are a perfect fit, with the rich and varied colours a natural complement to the amusement park and its inhabitants. It varies up the styles, too; the human characters are all top tier, but it's the fantastical characters that stand out. The cutesy shark mascot turns into Jaws meets Street Sharks when he gets wet. A group of kids turn quite demonic when they get the chance to assault cast members, the art changing to ragged lines, evil expressions and dynamic movement. This release comes with both English and Japanese dubs, along with the usual extras of trailers and clean opening/closing videos.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
The first few episodes of Amagi Brilliant Park are fantastic, setting up an original and smart premise that is weirdly whimsical and magically made. The good episodes are very good, the comedy is consistently funny, the ending fantastic, and the Kyoani style looks absolutely beautiful, plus the cast is stuffed full of great, quirky characters. That's why it's such a shame to see it all fall into the trap of losing focus on its own plot at the midway point, resulting in too much time wasted on boring and pointless episodes.

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