Amagi Brilliant Park: Final reflection
January 17, 2015
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“I’m not here for your amusement. You’re here for mine.” —John Lydon
Thus ends Amagi Brilliant Park, the first KyoAni work that I’d watched since the K-On! Movie. Recalling the premise of Seiya’s aim to save a decrepit theme park and bring in five hundred thousand guests before July 31 to save Latifa and Maple Land’s inhabitants, Amagi Brilliant Park manages to weave this adventure seamlessly with Seiya’s own personal growth; as the season wears on, Seiya’s narcisstic mannerisms are gradually displaced by his sense of duty to save the park. By employing cost-cutting measures to encourage attendance and making decisions with the intent of long-term gains, as well as taking advantage of each faeries’ specialisation, Seiya seizes every opportunity to make the park a better place. Amagi Brilliant Park follows Seiya as he goes about doing this, and at one point, he even falls ill as a result of putting the park ahead of himself. In doing so, Seiya manages to earn the trust of the park’s employees (even that of Moffle’s) and in the end, succeeds in saving Amagi Brilliant Park. For its focused story and strong comedy, Amagi Brilliant Park winds up being a brilliant anime in all regards.
- I’m finally back to do the overall discussion on Amagi Brilliant Park, and while I might’ve mentioned last time that the anime caused me to have those fever-induced dreams that last forever and torment the spirits, as soon as I recovered, the dreams stopped and I continued watching the anime without any further dreams that I was taking on Seiya’s role.
- In addition to execution, one of the aspects that I thoroughly enjoyed was the fact that Seiya, through exploring his options, encounters new characters that end up being critical to helping the park out. Despite some of these new characters happening to have more intimidating mien, their story and backgrounds wind up being quite light-hearted as Seiya persuades them to help the park out.
- Apparently, the Elemenario Faeries were introduced in the anime a lot earlier than their appearance in the light novel. Of the faeries, Sylphy is the most capable as a performer and can master something in one try, and Muse sings the best. A lack of audience means that the four of them, though on friendly terms with one another, do not synchronise during performances, and this is something that remains for quite some time during the series.
- Seiya and Isuzu debate whether or not to hire Eiko Adachi, who used to work in animal videos and is hired in order to compensate the lack of staff. She is capable of understanding what the mascots are saying and works to translate what the different park members are saying for the guests to enhance their experience. This episode reveals Isuzu’s feelings for Seiya; she has a nightmare that Seiya will be taken away by the new female employees, but Seiya’s only goal is to secure more employees.
- Moffle was a character that I warmed up to quite quickly. Apparently, the moffle is a japanese desert that combines the mochi and a waffle together. Moffle’s design was inspired by Full Metal Panic‘s Bonta-kun, but I personally prefer Moffle’s design. Also, the Arbalest has nothing on Gundam 00‘s Exia.
- Lacking any understanding of human convention, Isuzu is quick to draw her muskets to keep people in line rather than making use of social skills to settle things, and although she’s not particularly skillful at expressing how she feels, this episode does seem to outline her insecurity wherever Seiya is concerned. Here, Shiina Chuujou experiences the final moments of her interview: she’s assigned to work with Jaw in the machine room, and appears to have a crush on Seiya, too.
- It’s quite rare that Isuzu is seen smiling, and when asked to do so, her smiles typically come out deformed. However, her time with Seiya also leads to small changes in her character, and she slowly becomes a little more expressive; at higher resolutions, viewers will see her blush faintly she is near Kanie or someone mentions his name.
- Irony is Seiya setting up a pirate-themed day, only for real pirates to later show up and hold everyone hostage. Thanks to quick thinking, the staff are able to pass it off as a highly ornate show, which the guests love. Pirates of this style were popularised by fictional works that come from the 19th century, such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and Captain Hook of Peter Pan also served as the origin for fictional mannerisms, such as walking the plank. Modern day pirates use smaller boats and attack large freighters with the aim of capturing its crew for ransom, although these operations are unsuccessful, leading to a small decline in piracy.
- While Isuzu might lack social skills, she is highly skilled as a musketeer and lays waste to Ironbeard’s minons. After the pirates are contained, Seiya decides to hire Ironbeard and his crew to work for the park to pay off the damages, asking Jaw to keep them in line, adding additional resources to the park.
- Seiya and Latifa share a moment together in discussing the park’s future after the former recovers from a bout of tiredness that has him resting throughout the episode. This is about as high-octane as the romance gets in Amagi Brilliant Park, and while it is used to great effect in one episode, the writers also ensure that it’s not at the forefront of everything. Some vewiers figured that this might mean that Seiya and Latifa might be a possible pairing, although I find this to be quite unlikely, given that Seiya’s investment for Latifa’s sake is motivated by his first meeting with her many years ago and the sense of failure it left with him.
It’s difficult to ignore the inclusion of the fantasy elements in Amagi Brilliant Park, as they form the forefront for everything that happens; Amagi Brilliant Park isn’t about an amusement park about to go under, it’s about a world whose inhabitant’s livelihoods are at stake. As such, while conventional employees are present, much of the park’s staff are faeries that take different forms (typically related to their role in the amusement park). This lends itself to an incredibly diverse cast from a visual perspective, and while names might be difficult to memorise, each faerie and their corresponding mannerisms are distinct, unforgettable. While a large cast might be seen as a liability, Amagi Brilliant Park effectively puts them to use and gives them plenty of opportunity to amuse the audience. These elements come together to form a narrative that is both highly amusing and focussed. However, the series also takes a few moments to build a connection to Seiya’s cause and reinforce that even someone as narcisstic as him can be capable of caring for others. His decision to push the park to survival ultimately stems from a desire to save Latifa from a hitherto repeating fate, and is here that Seiya’s progression becomes most apparent. This balance between the serious and the comical is what allows Amagi Brilliant Park to entertain its viewers.
- The ninth episode is about the Elementario faeries being sent on a team-building mission through Latifa’s hand. After leaving them trapped in the castle, the four must work their way back out as a team, using their respective skills to pull through where an individual member is weak. This episode was remarkably fun to watch, especially during the final challenge that saw each of them illustrate the strength of their trust in one another. After bonding, the faeries manage to put on superior performances compared to before.
- As the deadline approaches, the staff begin working at peak efficiency to attract and entertain guests, motivated by that most powerful impulse of the spirit, the fear of death. The prisoner in The Dark Knight Rises winds up being correct, as people tend to give their absolute best and surpass their limits when pushed into corners. However, even with their current numbers, the July 31 deadline looms, and with the park projected to fall short, Seiya decides on a radical bid.
- Through some masterful negotiations aided by a bit of magic, Seiya manages to secure a deal for a local football/soccer game to be hosted in Amagi Brilliant Park after learning that the organiser’s biggest concern is money. He puts his mind-reading powers to good use and decides to foot the bill entirely, again, exemplifying foresight by favouring long term gains attained through short-term sacrifices.
- During the last of Seiya’s group meetings, he reveals that the park’s additional land is to be sold to settle the park’s estates. While some of the staff express disappointment at this move, Moffle agrees, and slowly, the staff realise that Seiya’s decision is sound. He subsequently rallies them to finishing their work and making sure the park and stadium are flawless on game day. The end result is nothing short of impressive, and seeing the staff working with Seiya wholeheartedly was most rewarding, standing in stark contrast to the staff’s impressions of him at the series’ beginning.
- One of the main reasons I enjoy reading/watching anything is because of watching immensely unlikable characters turn around as they grow and develop, as well as when their backgrounds are explored in sufficient detail such that one understands why they bear the mannerisms that they did. One of my favourite examples come from Harry Potter, where during the Deathly Hollows, Snape’s past is finally explored and through it all, unrequited love and regret ultimately drives all of Snape’s actions, suggesting that even unrequited love can be a strong motivating force for individuals to resist evil.
- Returning the discussion back to Amagi Brilliant Park, tension is built in the finale when the visitor count stalls short of five hundred thousand, but three small children with a propensity for assaulting Isuzu show up, driving the count up and allowing the park to exist. It turns out that Latifa’s state was caused by a wizard, and while the park itself might be safe, Latifa’s memories will be reset at the stroke of midnight. This is the main reason why Seiya was so distraught after meeting Latifa for the first time, and he resolved to do his best to save her, going to extreme means to succeed.
- While Isuzu takes down the Wizard (whose final fate is left ambiguous), Seiya, Isuzu and Moffle prepare for the worst. However, it turns out that the accumulated Animus from the number of satisfied customers mean that Latifa is able to overcome the curse the wizard had placed, giving the park the happy ending that everyone deserves. While some might feel that this is an instance of deus ex machina at work, the end resolution is quite similar to CLANNAD ~After Story~ in that both protagonists unknowingly accumulate positive karma, enough for a miracle to happen.
- After twelve episodes, Amagi Brilliant Park formally comes to an end in twelve episodes: the thirteenth episode is constructed with the mood and tone of an OVA, not unlike Oregairu, which dealt with everything in twelve episodes and released an episode in the end to lighten things up. In the end, Seiya decides not to resign as per his original agreement, and while he cites the park as still requiring a lot of work, my gut also tells me that Seiya’s decision to stay is influenced in part by an emotional attachment to Amagi Brilliant Park and his reawakened sense of humility: his dialogue suggests that his narcissism is his means of concealing his true emotions.
- Here’s the full cast of Amagi Brilliant Park, a vast collection of characters that I never bothered learning all of the names to. Instead, their distinct appearance and mannerisms allowed each and every one of them to remain memorable to me, and this is quite an impressive achievement. Thus ends an incredible anime that I thoroughly enjoyed, and while I don’t consider it as the absolute best anime of 2014, it nonetheless remains a hugely entertaining watch. The final episode deals with Triken attempting to gain ideas for building a promotional video, and after an episode of building everyone’s ideas into one video, learns that the original was the best in depicting the park.
- With this in mind, it’s a little saddening to watch this series come to an end; even though this was adapted from a series of light novels, the anime concluded everything on a high note, so whether or not there will be a continuation is open to discussion. This also marks the end of my discussion on the anime…up next is a talk on Sora no Method, and my initial impressions of the iPad Air 2, which is currently being tested as a replacement for the aging iPad 2.
When everything is said and done, Amagi Brilliant Park does a phenomenal job of telling Seiya’s quest to save an amusement park: motivated by self-interest in the beginning (namely, to satisfy his ego), his time with the park’s staff and Latifa in particular eventually leads him to develop a genuine attachment to the staff and park itself. In doing so, the park’s staff and atmosphere also change, reflecting on the sort of dynamics and synergy that Seiya and the Maple Land residents stand to gain when working with one another; Seiya finds that he is unable to leave the park even after their goal is satisfied. While the original premise may have outlined a comedy, the end result is a story that’s quite touching to watch, and even if the anime deviated from the source material to quite an extent, the end result is nonetheless polished and coherent, providing yet another example that adaptations can perform well even if they do not match the source completely. Other aspects about Amagi Brilliant Park worth mentioning are Izusu and the Elementario Faeries’, whose presence make the show doubly worth watching (as attested to by the screenshots above).