I’ve never personally been a big fan of theme parks. Maybe I’m just an eternal cynic, but the second you realise Goofy is actually just poor sweaty Theresa in a big costume, the magic fades a little.
What we really need is a theme park with REAL mascots. Too bad that’ll never happen.
…Except in anime that is.
(And yes, I know that’s a memed-up version of the opening, but it’s the best I could find and pretty funny anyway)
Seiya Kanie has it all. He’s handsome, intelligent and basically great at anything he does. Too bad he knows that, and it makes him kind of a jerk.
One day Captain Narcissist gets invited out to a theme park by mysterious, seemingly emotionless transfer student Isuzu Sento. Problem is, the park is a dump. The mascots are lazy, the buildings are run down and there’s no customers. Pretty much the only thing worth coming for is the croquettes…
As a first introduction to Amagi “Brilliant” Park, it’s not the best. So when Sento reveals she actually works for the park and wants Kanie to take over as manager, he’s less than enthusiastic.
Luckily, Kanie’s competitive spirit and tiny piece of morality are sparked when he finds out the employees of AmaBri are actually mostly refugees from a magical realm named Maple Land. – and not only that, if they can’t rustle up 250,000 visitors in three months, the park will close.
Now, the residents need guests to generate the magical energy which allows them to exist in the human world. Otherwise, they disappear. Or something. It’s not fully explained.
Point is, stakes are high!
Now, let me start by stating the obvious – this series is visually gorgeous. This is Kyoto Animation at work, and they do a great job of maintaining their pedigree. But what about the story?
Long story short, it works. It’s not anything that will set the world on fire, but it’s funny and sweet with a mildly cynical edge courtesy of Kanie. The story proceeds about how you’d expect – crisis, montage, resolution, bish bash bosh. It works!
Of course, with the series set in anime Disneyland, there’s a lot of opportunity for some great gag material. All the mascot characters are (of course) real, and they all have their own motivations and personalities.
Moffle is sarcastic and grumpy, but loyal to the park. His interactions with Kanie make up a large amount of the show’s humour.
I also really enjoyed the Elementario fairies, and they even get their own episode! It’s one of my least favourite of the series, but still!
Macaron and Tiramy, a sheep and Pomeranian dog respectively, play second banana to Moffle and fulfil something of a Larry and Curly role to Moffle’s Moe.
Oh, and they’re intensely perverse. So there’s that.
Come to think of it, considering KyoAni’s tendency to produce sweet, beautiful animation, it’s a little surprising to see so much fanservice in play, even if it’s relatively restrained compared to some series. Then again, their more recent output does tend to feature it more and more prominently…
Regardless of the cheesecake elements, the relatively unknown English cast used to bring this series to life do an excellent job. Kanie (Adam Gibbs) is satisfactorily standoffish, Sento (Molly Searcy) is just the right amount of deadpan, while still having moments of emotion for gags, and Moffle (Tiffany Grant) steals the show with what I can only assume was a throat-shredding voice.
All in all, Amagi Brilliant Park is a solid series – easy to digest, colourful, and leaves you with a nice warm feeling inside. It’s the perfect summer afternoon anime, best enjoyed with a cool drink and an open window.
While nothing about Amagi Brilliant Park is revolutionary or genre-defining, it’s a fun, light-hearted little series that knows exactly what it is and is presented to the high standard audiences expect from the venerable Kyoto Animation.