Amagi Brilliant Park episode 5 wants us to know the park is totally broke! ‘Good job with that 30 yen special, Seiya-kun!’ ‘Now we can’t even pay our cast members!’ (and, according to the episode’s ending head count, attendance hasn’t edged up much either)
It’s desperation time and everything is on the table though, and Seiya hears the senior staff out. From turning the park into a Red Light District, to starting a Fight Club, to betting everything they’ve got left on horse races, their ideas are, predictably, stupid or illegal or both!
Perhaps the stupidest idea comes from Moffle, who recalls gossip about a magic cave filled with treasure in the southern part of the park. They are desperate though and Seiya hasn’t seen that part of the park yet…
The Southern part of the park is huge, and almost entirely empty save for the unfinished stadium that was built during the economic boom. A whole sports theme sub-park would have been here and you can see the gears spinning in Seiya’s head, but for now the magic cave is what he has to deal with.
In brief, 10 years ago a cast member named Dornell got drunk and was dared to explore the cave. He entered and was never seen again. The cast members who followed him returned, barely alive, rambling crazy stories of endless tunnels, traps, and an unreachable treasure.
Even though Seiya assumes this will be crap, the cave does turn out to be the mouth of a vast dungeon…which Tiramie (the pink cat) immediately traps them in.
Tiramie is a bright spot on the cast. Selfish, utterly absurd, probably a pervert, knowledgeable about weapons and endowed with the best facial expression range you can imagine on a pink cat-mascot, he’s (is he a he?) a joy to watch on any occasion.
Episode 5’s Indiana Jones-style antics dials his opportunities to the max. He’s the best, most totally insignificant side character ever!
From the get-go I knew the cave was an attraction. Between the silly switch that opened the stone wall and the Gate Keeper that looked like an animatronic toy and the silly ‘weapons’ hidden in each player’s coffin, it was all too staged. Too hand-built feeling.
Sento even gets cell service deep in the cave — and regularly texts the Fairy quartet back at base with their progress. Though she’s terribly cryptic about it and the fairies have no agency to help, even if they understood what she wanted.
Still, the Orcs were pretty convincing and, it probably wasn’t in their best interest to give Molotov Cocktails (or a shovel, a chain and a bent aluminum bat) to their ‘guests…’
Dornell didn’t disapear because he’s a popular ‘girl’ who plays MMOs. Nice!
Regardless, the mystery wasn’t really the point of this episode. Nor was it surprising that Dornell had lived in the attraction for 10 years, secretly adventuring in MMOs, reading Manga, watching Anime, and building model kits.
Episode 5 was all about fun, building on the core casts interactions, and making fun of how little Seiya cares about his plush companions. When Sento falls into a pit trap, he screams Sento! with longing. When the sheep falls in after her, he looks over, then back and screams Sento! again, with longing.
It’s deliciously funny and spectacular, and the parodies were a huge treat.
There’s even an emergency exit in the dragon boss fight room. it has a sign guys!
The fun and silliness of it never came off as jarring or out of tone because none of the ‘sane’ people entering the cave ever showed signs of worry. Even face to face with a dragon seemed more like a funny challenge to Seiya. At least it was a chance for him to use his psychic powers again — for laughs!
Finally, after defeating the dragon, we learn the whole southern section was built as a cover story to hide the Digerries (mole people) from the Polytia Empire. They’ve been there, waiting for guests this whole time, without official purpose or oversight.
Sadly, they’ve spent all their treasure so the cast will have to survive another way.
Obviously the mole people and the dragon join the cast and Dornell’s collection of manga and video games gets sold to buy them a little time. But what to do about the long-term financial problem? What to do about the attendance problem that’s even more important than that?
For now, we end with Seiya looking away and a pan to the unfinished stadium…
Ep 5 was the funniest episode of Amagi Brilliant Park to date. The timing and the facial expressions (and the situation itself) were outrageous and I loved every second.
Some of the humor even transcended the predictable: where shows like DGnHs simply parody or drop homages to tropes and convention, ABP seemed to parody the parody of those tropes.
Over all, ABP continues to showcase why it deserves to be the second highest rated show of the wacky, slightly tragic, magical teen rom-com genre this season.
Not only is it the second best looking, with remarkably well designed and rendered characters of every shape and size, it’s physically large and broadly colored environment gives those characters a greater amount of space to breath than the hallways, class rooms and bed rooms so standard to the genre.
Only Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso competes with it visually, and only that surpasses its energy and character sincerity.
But I can’t and won’t give it a 10. For all it’s majesty, it lacks that flawless charm so intrinsic to the genre’s best of the best. (Tamako Market, Chu2Koi’s first season, and Uchouten Kazoku)
Is it just missing a strong and frontal love story? Is it just not Rom enough to be a Rom-Com?? Maybe. It’s still a top of the 9’s in my book.
SENTO! SENTO SENTO!