Amagi Brilliant Park – 09

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Amagi Brilliant Park 9 is kind of a let down, honestly. Where last week was an original feeling, tightly packed narrative that developed Kanie-kun through the characters around him and was also exploding with funny, this week was… even more tightly packed, but cliche and focused on the Faerie quartette: Windy Sylphy, Earthy Koboli, the leader girl who’s name I never remember and Fiery Salama.

Episode 8 was knowingly cliche, in that the main cast spent most of the episode watching and giving critical commentary on the Faeries’ ordeal but… it just wasn’t that funny. Just commenting on cliches isn’t interesting unless there’s a twist and, by the closing credits, the twist seems to be that it really was a cliche all along.

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To sum up: the Faeries are having a hard time bringing their dance act together and Princess Latifah plots to solve their differences with a fake sukiyaki dinner party that almost immediately turns into a team-building exercise to save the park and become true friends.

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Latifah literally tells them that the big red button in the corner must not be pushed or something really bad will happen. Then she walks out of the room to get more sauce for dinner and the girls accidentally end up pushing it.

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So Latifah’s castle turns into an awesome steam-punk fortress, bristling with cannons and the only way it can be turned off without shutting down the park all Saturday is for the Faeries to accomplish 4 challenges together and push another red button.

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The first challenge is karaoke, the second is a DDR game, the third is a typing game and the last is a game of death…

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Aside from the game of death, each game is tailored to one faerie being really good at it and another being really bad, and that it must be resolved by the really good one working extra hard to make up the bad player’s slack. I’m not actually sure this would be a positive experience, really, since one player is always really really terrible at it and doesn’t get better…

As for the death game, all I can say is what? I know that’s the point, but it’s weird that the green faerie doesn’t get her own challenge and the finale is just about self sacrifice. It somehow misses it’s own conventions and isn’t even parody anymore.

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The good: As always, ABP looks as good as you can look without having Fate/Stay Night’s budget. The castle was especially good looking too.

And don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of humorous parts and plenty for all the side characters we’ve built up during the season to do.

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The bad: putting the funniest characters in a room together and having them MST3K/Rifftrax an episode sounds like a good idea but doesn’t work here. The simple problem is ABP is funny because it’s smart and plays with conventions… it’s never been funny because it’s so dumb.

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Likewise, choosing to develop characters who aren’t plot central — who actually worked very well as second or third tier characters — felt like wasted effort. Unnecessary.

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I greatly respect what this episode was doing. I mean, Mystery Science Theatre is a great idea and something I don’t think I’ve seen trickle into anime humor before. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work with ABP’s style.

In hindsight, it probably would have worked marvelously if Chuujou Shiina and the other new hires from Sento’s nightmare had been chosen instead of the faeries. There’s more emotional attachment to them and more mystery. Oh well…

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In closing, ABP8 is the flip side of last week’s coin: where last week I probably could have rated it a 10, this week I could probably have rated it an 8. I won’t retcon last week’s rating so we’ll leave this as a 9, the absolute minimum of a 9, and call it even ;0

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Special ‘variation enabled’ precision rating for Preston (aka SVEPRfP) 9.01 (down .98 from last week)

 

 

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Amnesia – 12 (Fin)

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Ukyou chases the heroine around the burning church with a knife, but keeps changing back to his gentle, caring self, who tells her her death in this church started everything. He wished she could live, and Orion’s creator, Neil, granted his wish by sending him to worlds where she was still alive, but only one of them could live in whatever world they ended up in. He stabs himself to stop the evil him from killing her. She ends up in limbo, where Orion explains what happened. Neil thanks her for restoring his powers. Neil in turn will restore her memories and let her return to her original world.

We’ll be honest, we were dreading both the possibility that this would go on for another slow, deliberate season, or worse, the ending wouldn’t be told until who-knows-when in some future film of OVA. Fortunately, neither happened, and we got a definite end that competently explained the mystery of the heroine’s predicament, Ukyou’s full role, and the real reason Orion was by her side for most of her journey. Most of these answers are delivered rather matter-of-factly through exposition, much of it either happening while Nice Ukyou peeks his persona in or by Orion in the checkered limbo when the cycle finally breaks. We’re somewhat conflicted with regards to whether all the explanation at the end works (the pop-up monitor Orion uses to show recaps flashbacks is pretty silly).

On the one hand, we liked the idea of a wish gone wrong, Ukyou causing far more trouble for himself and his lover just because he wanted to see her again, and worlds that don’t like people who aren’t supposed to be there. On the other hand, neither Orion or Ukyou really earned the emotional resonance this episode was trying to peddle, the four other dudes are completely abandoned  and while we really wanted to see just a smidgen of the heroine’s world, the end did not provide. Finally, the big NEIL reveal…just didn’t do anything for us. When weighing the pros and cons, this is a fittingly good but not great finale to a good but not great series.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • For the record, when he’s in control, Evil Ukyou is not that good at carrying out what he says needs to be done in a prompt and efficient manner. It’s not as if the heroine is particularly fast.
  • That is one massive, slow-burning church, and the flames are remarkably smoke free. No asphyxiation for our heroine! 
  • The end credits didn’t feature a heartwarming shot of the heroine locked in Toma’s Cage of Happiness.