What They Say:
When new transfer student Isuzu asks Seiya Kanie out on a date at gunpoint, he knows something odd is going on. Especially since she wants to go to Amagi Brilliant Park, where the rides are either dangerous or mind-numbingly dull and the only costumed performers who aren’t rude or apathetic are the ones who didn’t show up for work.
So when Isuzu asks Seiya to take over as the park’s new manager, he knows she’s crazy. (Well, crazy-er, given the gunpoint thing.) But when Seiya learns that Amagi Brilliant Park is a REAL Magic Kingdom, that the costumed performers aren’t wearing costumes, that they live off the energy created by attendees, and that unless they can attract 250,000 attendees in three months, they’ll lose their jobs and homes… he goes a little crazy himself.
Amagi Brilliant Park is brought to us with both an English and a Japanese dub, both of which are presented in DTS-HD 2.0. With audio quality a step above standard releases, you can expect crisp, clear voices and equalized sound all throughout its 13 episodes and OVA. There are no cut-outs or drops whatsoever. Also, make sure you turn your volume to max every time the opening song comes on. It isn’t quiet or anything, it’s just frickin’ awesome.
The video section is where Amagi Brilliant Park shines. I mean, it is a blu-ray of a Kyoto Animation series, so expectations are already incredibly high, but there is a certain creative charm to Amaburi’s visuals that can instil a sense of nostalgia almost instantaneously. Out of all of the KyoAni shows in recent years, this one may just be the prettiest (From a sheer visual perspective). Being a high definition release, video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 16×9.
Unlike the remarkable premium edition of this Sentai Filmworks series, the standard one comes off as a little boring overall. The front cover is detailed and polished, but the back is cluttered and distracting. The discs are fine, I suppose, but there really isn’t much to them considering each one has just a single mascot on it. Though, I guess you can’t really blame Sentai for not pouring themselves into designing a better cover when their resources are better spent elsewhere (Like on that beautiful premium edition).
To piggyback off of the whole “allocated resources” thing I just mentioned, Sentai brings us another release with mediocre menus. Considering I may very well be the last person in the world that cares about blu-ray and DVD selection menus, I remain unimpressed by the normal ‘Character next to a list of episodes’ layout. Even accompanied by the allure of AKINO’s “Extra Magic Hour,” this menu scheme is not one to write home about.
Rejoice, special features fans, for this release comes with something more than just your typical textless opening and ending songs! This complete collection blu-ray release comes with- that’s right, the English version of the textless opening song! (Heavy sigh.) There are also trailers that you will most likely not go out of your way to watch…But they’re there if you want them.
Several times a year, Kyoto Animation shows up and grabs the immediate attention of the entire otaku populous and announces whatever random light novel adaptation they’ve been working on the past few months. Being one of the biggest and most successful animation studios in Japan, it isn’t surprising that the vast majority of the anime fandom tend to automatically chalk down whatever series they license and eagerly await expected greatness. I mean, we watched a show about a frickin’ marching band because KyoAni had their name on it. But can a series about a failing theme park truly satisfy the majority of the people that watch it? Hell, you can count the amount of shows tackling this subject matter on one hand. Actually, you can count it on one finger…You get the point.
Amagi Brilliant Park (Or Amaburi for short) follows Kanie Seiya, an arrogant and narcissistic former child star who is in no way, shape, or form named after the arrogant and narcissistic Kanye West. One day, Kanie is approached by the beautiful, yet trigger-happy Isuzu Sento (50 Cent), who pretty much forces him to start working at the world’s worst theme park. However, this theme park is apparently owned and operated by a group of fairies that come from the magical world of “Maple Land.” The women are beautiful and the males all look like college football team mascots, which is anyone’s ideal picture of a magic kingdom.
Even though the story comes across as a little odd, it quickly becomes enchanting (Not a magic pun) when you find out that the princess of Maple Land and former manager of the park has a sickness that prevents her from aging and resets her memory once every year. And so Kanye Seiya West must bring in a total of 500,000 visitors in a six month period in order for the Maple Landers to keep the park open. If he does not succeed, Princess Frailty will lose all of her magic powers and ultimately die a tragic death. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. In fact, getting the staff of Amagi Brilliant Park to work at maximum potential is about as easy as training a whale to sing — a terrible analogy I just made up that I promise to never use again.
What’s disappointing about the story of Amaburi is that they throw in all of this information that seems like it’s going to be important at some point in time, but then never mention it again. There’s this whole thing about Kanie’s past and his falling out as a child star that’s made out to be such a huge deal, but everyone just forgets about it one day. We never find out exactly what happened to cause that. Sento’s affections never come to fruition (Or even get let out for that matter) and ultimately become meaningless in the long run. And then Kanie goes off on this tangent about how he is terrified of heights and feels like he has to hide it from everyone but then it never even comes up again. Why?! And as if that wasn’t enough, they kept trying to connect Kanie’s past to Queen Latifah’s as if trying to remind us that there was more to this series than just cool rides and funny mascots when, in all actuality, there wasn’t. No one watched Amagi Brilliant Park because of its story — the premise itself was enough to entrap us. Constant forced attempts at making the show deeper than it had to be were nothing more than unnecessary distractions from something that was already working.
One thing to note, though (For you dub-watchers out there), is that the series was well adapted by the English staff and the comedy hits just as hard as it does in the original script — which is quite the feat if I do say so myself.
Amagi Brilliant Park is a solid, well-animated series — but it could have been much better. You’ll find that the driving force pushing you toward the next episode isn’t the story, but the characters and the artwork. It’s enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but it’s one of the weaker shows KyoAni has given us in recent years. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out. At the end of the day, Amagi Brilliant Park is fun and unique take on the theme park industry packed with a memorable cast, well-timed comedy, and the best-drawn Ferris wheel in anime history.
English DTS-HD Master 2.0 Audio, Japanese DTS-HD Master 2.0 Audio, English subtitles, clean opening/ending songs, “Extra Magic Hour” Internation version, Sentai Filmworks trailers.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen