What They Say:
Kanie Seiya, a smart and extremely narcissistic high school student, believes that the beautiful but reserved Sento Isuzu has invited him on a date at an amusement park called Amagi Brilliant Park. Much to his chagrin, not only is the location a run-down facility, the supposed date is merely a recruitment tour where Sento and Princess Latifa Fleuranza, the owner of the theme park, ask him to become the park’s new manager. Their cause for desperation? As stipulated in a land-use contract, Amagi has less than three months to meet a quota of 500,000 guests, or the park will be closed for good and the land redeveloped by a greedy real-estate company.
Seiya is won over by the revelation that Amagi is no ordinary amusement park; many of its employees are Maple Landers mysterious magical beings who live in the human world and are nourished by the energy created by people having fun. Entrusted with the hopes and dreams of this far-off enchanted land, Seiya must now use his many skills to bring Amagi back on its feet, or watch it crumble before his eyes.
This is a dual release so for this review as a change of pace will be reviewing the DVD variation. The sound quality has options of 5.1 English Dolby Surround and the Japanese a 2.0 Stereo option. There were no complications of the audio throughout the release and the 5.1 option definitely comes through well with no need to adjust default settings on the audio system I was using. There were no problems with the video synching in with subtitles so definitely acceptable as a DVD release.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio via NTSC transfer to PAL format – with DVD releases nowadays the effect definitely seems more grainier which is a shame as the colour is vibrant but it does suffer a little due to the slight blurring when pausing the show. That said, the animation was great and with a lot of bright colours and outfits, and the animation being top quality as usual from KyoAni, it still transfers well onto the screen, I suspect the Blu-Ray version to be top notch.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu on the three discs is very standard, with each one having various characters on the left hand side (the first one has Seiya and Isuzu, the second has the fairies, the third has Latifah and the mascots) with the episode selection on the right hand side (no Play All so you select the episode and it then continues thereafter) and then languages/special features as other options. All are easily selectable and transfer quickly to the next menu, and can return easily to the main menu with no delay but is quite basic in presentation.
On disc 1, we get the extra international mix of the opening (basically an alternative opening), trailers from Sentai for Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions – Heart Throb, My Love Story, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO andWhen Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace.
On disc 3, we get the clean opening and ending.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Amagi Brilliant Park is one of those series I knew about but flew under the radar as it was one of those shows available on Crunchyroll(my main way of streaming anime) but not in the UK – had friends from both sides of the ocean rate it highly, especially as a Kyoto Animation anime which tends to be high quality in both production and story. Based on a light novel series, I was definitely hyped for this and hoped for the best.
In the end….it was fine. Both underwhelming and overwhelming at times, the show definitely has its moments but…
Our main two characters get points for immediate introduction – the male lead, Seiya Kanie, gets asked at gunpoint (magical gun point of course) by the female lead, Isuzu Sento, which when watching it with the KyoAni tag in mind, is clearly a female version of Sousuke Sagara from the Full Metal Panic franchise (and considering we get a Bonta-kun rip-off as one of the other characters that can’t be coincidental) to go out with her to Amagi Brilliant Park. Only it’s not so brilliant…
Seiya goes round the attractions, and they are all kinda rubbish, through lack of enthusiasm of the staff, to older attractions and damages. Seiya is quite a proud, would say narcissistic young man with good luck, smarts and skills and basically says to her that the park needs to believe in itself before any customers can. These words make her see him as someone who could help and after giving him some croquettes which turn out to be very good, Seiya sees the person who made them, the manager of the Park, Latifah.
Here’s where it gets a little strange…
It turns out the Park actors and herself are actually magic and from a magical kingdom called Maple Land and if they don’t get half a million customers before a cutoff date (July 31st) the park will be shut down, and everyone will simply cease to exist – so she asks Seiya to become the new manager. To prove her seemingly ridiculous story, she kisses him and this gives him the power to read people’s minds…
So after meeting people who want to take over the park as well as the staff, Seiya accepts the job, though has conflicts. Considering his staff consist of a Bonta-kun rip-off named Moffle who is a tad violent even with customers (though this does allow Seiya to take advantage of something), an angry sheep, a perverted dog, a group of four beautiful fairies who all have some strange quirk, this isn’t going to be the easiest of jobs…
Seiya begins plans to get to their goal – he makes changes which people aren’t happy with but are necessary to get to the goal, gets videos which go viral on social media when Moffle and Isuzu go badass on a rude customer (as someone who works in customer service, the amount of times I’ve wanted to do that…), get the fairies to advertise in rather risqué outfits (leading to rage, concern and…well Sylphie the wind fairy doing whatever she wants, easily the most fun character in the series) and also then realizing their plans cost money and need budget…
It is an episode of the day anime with a counter at the end saying how many days are left before closure combined with how many customers have visited up till that point. There is some good development between Seiya and Isuzu, as her demeanor isn’t exactly friendly for the park, whilst Seiya shows he has some weaknesses (heights) and also may have met her and Latifah before – we learn of Isuzu’s past and yet her way can still work – by the end she may have developed a crush on Seiya but it is never fully explored so….
So we get troubles and adventures in this magical land – finding a mascot who went missing searching for treasure (whilst also hoping to get the treasure to raise funds for the park), getting more staff for the park which is either through normal means (though Isuzu eating a magical fruit to always speak her mind makes this fun) or from capturing dragons and pirates who try to create havoc and instead are forced to work for them. Yes, these are sentences that have to be written – real dragons and pirates because it is a combination of fantasy and reality – the reality being the actual park management, the fantasy is that it is truly magical…and Seiya seems to accept it surprisingly quickly….
It even brings his real life back into play as one episode has him being overworked so he gets ill – however due to earlier absences he can’t take any more time off school so the mascots all wear a ‘Seiya suit’ to disguise themselves as him – needless to say with all their different personalities this leads to some strange and comical misunderstandings…whilst back at the park one of my favourite episodes is the one focusing on the 4 fairies – this one showcases each of their own personalities and weaknesses in some entertainment tasks as their teamwork is quite lacking on stage – Muse the water fairy, for example is not a good typer, Kobory the earth fairy isn’t a good dancer, Salama the fire fairy is not a good singer and Sylphy….well, she’s good at everything but is a complete airhead so…it leads to a surprisingly tense moment where it looks like they could actually die if they don’t make the right decision, and it works out actually quite sweetly so it is definitely the most memorable episode for me.
The finale reminds us of Latifah and her curse if the count isn’t made, and it turns out the Park is literally her life force and brings back Seiya’s past and meeting her before, which actually brings it as an actual plot/story. They put planning into overdrive, including getting a soccer team to play on their grounds, and they get so close to the goal before the end, a bit of a deus ex machina comes as one of the guys at the start who was going to buy the grounds of the park if they failed turned out to be the wizard who cursed Latifah – granted you wouldn’t have seen it coming but was so out of nowhere wasn’t sure what to think – and this combined with the cop out that when it looks like Latifah’s memories will be reset (which happens every year) the amount of people brought a ton of her energy force to break it – actually feels like the ending was a bit rushed. It does end nicely with Seiya seemingly leaving, but he knows he enjoyed doing it and does continue working there.
There are two more episodes after it but the story ends there (the others are about a promotional video for the park with disastrous results, and a birthday for Seiya which does at least forward the Seiya/Isuzu ship) and it’s definitely a series that feels very hit or miss.
I will say that at no point was I not entertained by it – the show is actually a lot of fun and the characters are very eye-catching. The mascots for example are basically middle-aged guys but transformed into these characters and all have female voices so the meta humour is already there (especially in English as they got veteran Tiffany Grant who did the FUMO voices in Bonta-kun to voice Moffle, the Bonta-kun rip off), the fairies quirks are also fun – Salama is pretty much not-interested and always on her phone whilst also having a bit of snark to her, whilst Sylphy steals every scene she is in even in the background because she is just so out there…yet when it comes to performance she is the only one who is able to nail it dead on, so the hidden depths are there (there are some definite hints that there are relations in the mascots to Latifah…).
Seiya also is a great lead – it is strange because not usually a fan of the cocky type who are seemingly perfect – yet to this show’s defense, he is well aware he is and exploits it leads to some fun lines, and his development is very subtle when you discover he knew the princess Latifah when he was young, yet she hasn’t aged…which in turns leads to Latifah’s story and you become surprised how in-depth it gets.
Which is why the ends felt very tagged on and almost like it had to get to that happy ending. Granted it is a one cour series so they need to try and get in a ton of stuff in 13 episodes (and one OVA – technically with the story it’s 12 episodes) but considering a lot of episodes could be considered filler (like the pirate story, granted it gets them a new exhibit but…) it is a bit eye-catching…
Isuzu definitely is one of those characters that is unintentionally fun – her problems with kids (the same kids seem to tackle her every time and her military training hasn’t trained her in dealing with them), her memory erasing gun and just her solution of ‘if the workers are unhappy, shoot them’ makes her a comic stoic character. She does develop potential feelings for Seiya though, and you can see she is a big part of the park, her love for it is obvious for the 1st episode – it just is a strange way to start a story…
I know some fans were disappointed that when KyoAni announced this that it wasn’t a continuation of the FMP light novels, and if you take it as a base story, it is fairly weak – however, the plot with Latifah and the development of Seiya makes it quite a fun series, there is a good deal of comedy, the animation unsurprisingly is top notch, and I can’t really say anything bad about it, it just isn’t that amazing story or show that you can put on the high pedestal. However, it definitely is one of those who can put on for those just getting into anime, or for a drinking game or night in with your friends to turn your brain off and just say ‘ah, this is the life…’
Amagi Brilliant Park is a good series, but not an amazing one. It’s not bad at all, has a lot of fun moments, the mascots are memorable, the leads are interesting, the story once it kicks in is surprisingly deep, and the animation is top notch. It’s just one of those series I doubt I’ll go back to unless friends want to watch it – definitely one for the newcomers though as it doesn’t rely on other references (bar Fumoffu), is easy to follow and the three leads of Seiya/Isuzu/Latifiah are all interesting and developing enough to follow through.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 19th, 2017
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.