Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Amagi Brilliant Park Review

"If you want to make people dream, you have to start by believing in that dream yourself"
Once every season, Kyoto Animation shows up and grabs the immediate attention of the entire otaku populous after announcing whatever they've been up to the past few months. Being one of the biggest and most successful animation companies in Japan, people tend to automatically just chalk down whatever they license and eagerly await it, expecting something great. But does KyoAni succeed with their latest addition, Amagi Brilliant Park? Can they truly amount to more than just their wonderfully crafted artwork?

Amagi Brilliant Park (Or Amaburi for short) follows Kanie Seiya, a narcissistic and self-centered (Wait. Kanie...Kanye...I see what you did there, KyoAni) high school student and former child-star, as he is recruited as the new manager for a failing theme park. However, this theme park is currently owned and operated by a group of people that come from the magical world of "Maple Land". The women are beautiful and the males all look like mascots for college football teams, which is personally my ideal picture of a magic kingdom.

Even though the story seems a little odd, it does quickly become alluring when you find out 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 West Seiya must bring in a total of 500,000 visitors in a six month period in order for the Maple Landers to keep the park. If he does not succeed, Princess Frailty will lose her magic powers contained within the park and ultimately die a tragic death.

Amagi Brilliant Park has its ups and downs (LIKE A ROLLER COASTER. HA) but it isn't by any means bad. I found myself looking forward to it every week, just as I normally do with Kyoto Animation's stuff. But this time I didn't have to fully invest myself in the story like I had to do with sthows like Hyouka, which worked on solving mysteries and building up relationships. So, lets delve deeper as I once again break this show apart, piece by piece, to better illustrate how I feel about it.

Music: 7/10
Just like every other normal person in the world, I love clapping. The opening song to Amagi Brilliant Park utilizes clapping. Twice. That's cool, I like that. And since Kyoto Animation created the opening, the clapping looks sweet. But I digress. The anime sounds just like you'd expect a show about a theme park to sound. The music is lively and cheerful, and at the same time it delivers hope. And with Amaburi's story, that is absolutely vital. Background music isn't repetitious at all and plays an essential part in making each scene seem full. But because the music wasn't outstanding and didn't play a part in changing the way people viewed the show, it wasn't perfect and definitely could have been improved upon.

Characters: 9/10
As far as characters go, Amaburi has a solid line-up. Kanie is quite different from the dense male leads you'll often find in anime today, and the rest of the cast is pretty solid as well. Sento Isuzu (Whose name I just found out comes from 50 Cent) does a great job in supporting Kanie's character throughout the duration of the show. And all of the mascot-men are there with extremely strong personalities to provide sufficient comic relief for the theme park. The thing is, even though the characters were very original and unique all across the board, the majority of them were ONLY there to serve as that comic relief I mentioned. It's great to be funny, but if that's your only personality trait in real life, you're probably going to have a hard time and you aren't a perfect character. I would have liked to see some more development in anyone apart from the leads, but it just didn't happen.

Art: 10/10
This was probably a given as soon as Kyoto Animation's name was put under the title, but Amagi Brilliant Park delivers some of the best artwork this year. Character designs were outrageous and easily memorable, and the theme park as a whole, even when it was decaying, was a sight for sore eyes. It's refreshing to see KyoAni constantly improving and not just taking advantage of their position in the industry and settling down in a "safe spot". They are constantly pushing themselves to create something better, and it has been succeeding. As a reference point, please direct your attention to the Ferris wheel above. Isn't that the best damn Ferris wheel you've ever seen in an anime? You're damn right it is. Amaburi has zero issues when it comes to appearance, and that is vital in keeping the audience's interest locked in.

Story: 6/10 
What's disappointing about the story line of this show is that they throw in a lot of information that seems like it's important, but is never mentioned again. The viewers never find out what exactly happened to cause Kanie's fallout of the entertainment industry. Sento's affections never get let out and ultimately become meaningless when you look at the bigger picture. And then Kanie goes off on this rant about how he is terrified of heights and wants to hide it from everyone but it plays no part in determining how you look at the story. And then there was the whole thing with how Kanie somehow ran into the princess when he was a child and now felt like he was destined to save her life. It just started to seem forced, like the writers wanted there to be a story when in all actuality the show was just there to be fun. The idea was good, but countless attempts to make it deeper than it should have been really ruined its legitimacy.

Amagi Brilliant Park is a solid show, but it could have been much better. You'll find that the driving force in bringing you back to the next episode falls completely on the characters and artwork. It's definitely enjoyable, but one of the weaker shows KyoAni has brought forth in recent years, which may be a direct result of them setting the bar too high for themselves. Watch this if you are either an avid fan of the studio or just looking to have a few laughs and wind down. There are better options out there, but Amaburi will suffice if you don't want to look for them.

Overall score: 7.5/10

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