甘城ブリリアントパーク 第1話 「お客が来ない!」
Amagi Brilliant Park #01. 「Not Enough Visitors!」
Source Material: Light novel series by Gatou Shouji (賀東 招二)
Studio(s): Kyoto Animation
Director(s): Takemoto Yasuhiro (武本 康弘)
Music: Mitsumune Shinkichi (光宗 信吉)
Amagi Brilliant Park is a Japanese light novel series written by Gatou Shouji and illustrated by Nakajima Yuka, published in Fujimi Shobo‘s Fujimi Fantasia Bunko imprint. Since its release, it has been adapated into three manga series published by both Fujimi Shobo and Kadokawa.
After being held at gun-point by transfer student Sento Isuzu, Kanie Seiya is forced to accompany her on a date to Amagi Brilliant Park, an old amusement attraction that has long since outlived its popularity. Throughout the day Sento takes Kanie around the park, to its various locales, such as Sorcerers’ Hill, Tiramie’s Flower Adventure, Macaron’s Music Theater, Moffle’s Candy House, Elementario, Doki Doki Coaster, Brilliant Market, and more, all of which bear enticing and fun names but are for the most part run-down and unattended operations. As Sento acts as an unofficial tour guide, providing various facts about the theme park, Kanie protestingly plays along and meets the small amount of Amagi Brilliant Park employees who still show up to perform their roles. Just when Kanie is finally fed up with the Sento’s shenanigans, she reveals her extensive knowledge of him, particularly his retired status as a talented child actor. Upon realizing her true intentions, Kanie is even more adamant about leaving, but Sento insists that he first try a plate of croquettes that were made by the manager of the park. Kanie is enticed by the exquisite flavor of the croquettes and agrees to make one more pit-stop before leaving: the manager, Latifa Fullanza’s abode. Similarly to Sento, Latifah tells Kanie that the cast members of Amagi Brilliant Park are in fact native creatures from the magical realm of Maple Land and confides in Kanie to become the new manager of Amagi Brilliant Park, restore the theme park to its former glory, and save the magical inhabitants of the area. Kanie is unsurprisingly reluctant to believe Latifah words, so she resolves to prove to him the truth of magic by bestowing upon him a magical ability, by means of a kiss. Kanie faints from the kiss and from having visions of a vague memory and awakes in his own apartment the next morning to find a naked Sento in the bathroom. He dashes to the door of his aunt and guardian, Aisu Kyuubu, to question Sento’s presence in their home but more importantly finds out that he now has the power to read people’s minds.
I more than welcome the long-awaited Kyoto Animation production that deviates away from the studio’s usual moe-dominating character designs and art style, but I guess it has to come as a trade-off for Amagi Brilliant Park; because while the art quality is nothing to complain about relative to most anime series, it does immediately fail to be on par with the rest of the studio’s roster. Wherein Hyouka, (worth citing as my favorite Kyoto Animation production) was the divergent KyoAni series in writing, Amagi is perhaps aiming to be the divergent KyoAni series in illustration, (lest we reminisce back to the early 2000s with the Full Metal Panic! series). And I guess you could add in the extra catch of a rather unusual premise for Amagi too, because before the opening sequence to the premiere starts, you don’t know quite what to expect from this show that has only really disclosed the theme of theme park (ad)ventures. And then, once the opening sequence actually does begin to play, you start to get even less of an idea of just what the hell to expect. But rest assured, things unravel quite nicely and soon enough for Amagi Brilliant Park. I mentioned earlier it being the newcomer to the trifecta (along with Hyouka and Full Metal Panic!) of Kyoto Animation series quite unlike the rest, and I’m pretty proud to say that my feeling was right, as original light novel series author Gatou Shouji was also the author of the Full Metal Panic! light novel series and the screenplay-writer for KyoAni‘s anime adaptation of Hyouka. As it stands, those are the only three KyoAni productions that he has been involved in, and he does seem to successfully imbue a certain stylistic touch to every one. In terms of general appeal, I think the premise of Amagi Brilliant Park is fantastical enough; it is a story-line that borders the world of actuality and the world of fantasy, and what better place to have such illusions of grandeur than in an amusement park? Kanie and Sento’s relationship is a nice contrast to the conventional cuteness overload and the deadpan humor at times even somewhat reminds me of a manzai comedy routine of sorts. And hey, considering the brand newness of their friendship, I’m sure there’s a long way to go. Take note that any female who sticks a barrel to your face upon first encounter is a keeper (and you know you’ve seen enough anime when you know this is probably not the first series to suggest that thought). With a female lead donning a deadpan demeanor such as Sento, it’s almost hard to not view this show to be a full-on fantasy-genre series beyond its alleged fantasy fairies and woodland creatures, because past seasons have certainly shown us just how ripe a character archetype that is for the genre. While I came out of the premiere fairly entertained, I do wish to reserve my complete acknowledgement. There are elements that branch the show away from the typical KyoAni elements, i.e. fairly mature characters, mentions of love hotels, full-on fan-service, etc. Reading those all back in my mind force me to admit that they are definitely generics in anime in general, but I think they have the capacity to at least spice up the standard formula for this studio’s productions. How far they go from there on is something I’m attributing to the original series writer, who hasn’t failed me just yet.