*Warning: Moderate Plot Spoilers within*
What’s the show? Amagi Brilliant Park (2014).
What’s it about? It’s about a high school student, Seiya Kanie, running an ailing amusement park whose employees are all actually magical fantasy creatures who rely on the happiness of the park guests to sustain their magical life force.
Wait, how’s a high school student end up running a amusement park, let alone one inhabited by magical fantasy creatures? A beautiful girl called Isuzu Sento threatens him at point blank range with a magical rifle. It’s literally the opening scene of the anime.
Right. So why him? Why not? If that’s your most pressing question then maybe anime isn’t for you!
Fine then. What kind of show is it? Well, it kind of defies categorization. Yes it’s about cute fantasy characters living in an amusement park. But it’s also a semi-detailed look at the behind the scenes running of a park and the minutiae of business and advertising. While also being an irreverent workplace comedy where half the cutesy fantasy characters are jaded alcoholic perverts! While also containing a genuinely touching storyline about friendship, perseverance and commitment.
Okay, didn’t expect that. So what drives the plot? Is there an antagonist? The park will be shut down in three months if the park can’t reach its goal of 250,000 guests. If this happens the Princess will die!
Wait, what Princess? Since when is there a Princess? There’s always a Princess…
Fair enough, so why’s the Princess going to die if the park can’t get 250,000 guests? Because, unlike the other fantasy creatures who can just go and get jobs elsewhere if the park closes. Beautiful Princess Latifah Fleuranza of Maple Land has been cursed by an evil wizard to remain in the grounds of her home, so if the park closes, she will no longer have a home and will die.
‘Evil Wizard’? This is starting to sound kind of silly. Oh, so it’s ‘evil wizard’ where you draw the line, huh? It’s an anime; of course it sounds silly on paper.
So it’s not silly then? Yes. It is, very silly at times. But that’s part of the charm, and the story isn’t what makes the show great, it’s the characters, from the three main ones mentioned previously to all the side characters. They all have flaws, but they try to overcome their hang-ups and the reticence towards change in order to reach their goals!
What about these side characters? Any notable favourites? Too many to mention really, especially as they start hiring outsiders towards the end of the season. Moffle, the park’s mascot, is great. Not just for his temper and violent outbursts but because he acts as a somewhat down to earth, father figure to the mostly young cast of characters. He’s also the Princess’ uncle, go figure! The magical girls of Elementario may seem like they’re just their for eye candy but they have great moments too. They even have an episode that fleshes out their relationship to one another which is really nice.
And who is ‘best girl’? Sento is best girl. Best girl forever, best girl one million years!
So the protagonist is a guy and the two other main characters are ‘beautiful girls’, does the show try to make them love interests for him? Not exactly. With the Princess it’s entirely platonic and genuinely sweet (there’s a twist to her story that’s not worth spoiling) which makes it why he wouldn’t see her as a love interest. But Kanie and Sento eventually warm to each other; they’re very stubborn and resolute characters and so by the end the promise of ‘something more’ between them is not only noteworthy, but also rather affecting.
Can my kids watch the show? Or is there anime tiddies. You have kids?! Also please don’t say ‘anime tiddies’ ever again only I may say ‘anime tiddies’.
I don’t have kids I was just trying to ask if there’s fanservice? Well…
But that’s about as risqué as it gets visually. Tiramie, the cute pink dog creature is a massive pervert though and does some questionable things throughout, always good for a laugh though.
Does the story wrap up nicely or does it end on a cliffhanger? The plot for the first season is satisfyingly resolved; I dare say it even brought a tear to my eye. The romantic subplot however is left on a ‘will they/won’t they’ note which is… well it is what it is. But on the whole there’s no reason not to watch it if what you’re worried about is an incomplete story.
No second season then? Not yet, and it’s unlikely unfortunately though the light novel it’s adapted from is still on-going, but is only published in Japanese at this stage.
Well I’m almost sold; sum up the show in a sentence, like a quote for the back of the box. They still do that right? ‘A light romantic comedy with an emphasis on the comedy. A satisfying story, fun side characters, wacky hijinks and some genuinely touching moments’.
That’s way too long. In fact that’s two sentences! Do you want to try again? Not really, it’s a hard show to just nail down like that. It’s a compliment to the changing nature of the show.
Final score? It’s hard to fault something so entertaining and watchable; I score it a well-deserved 92 out of 100.