Amagi Brilliant Park – 13 (Fin)

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Zane here, first-time ABP writer, long-time watcher (I’m actually watching it a second time around, it’s so good), just sticking my head in to offer some thoughts on the final episode. Oigakkosan will be along with his assessment.

I can sum up this episode with the phrase “Tricen makes a PV (promotional video) for the park.” No evil wizard redux; no new park crisis. It’s essentially a means for the excellent sprawling cast to take a curtain call.

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As both Kanie and Moffle note verbatim (proving that like minds often spar), Tricen can’t help but project his own bland personality onto the initial video. Kanie puts Sento in charge of helping Tri spice the video up, which they attempt to do by asking for everyone’s suggestions about what to put in the video.

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Moffle wants more explosions and action, Macaron wants better music, Tiramie wants more female skin (from his collection of covert skinpics), Koboli wants more male skin, Muse wants water, and Salama offers footage of Salama sleeping.

Tricen throws all this stuff into the video without any effort to mesh the wildly varying themes. Even as an art film, it’s a bit awkward. Then Latifah suggests he add video of the lower-tier cast members’ hobbies…and things get a bit weird:

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Whoa. (For the record, I couldn’t stop laughing at this scene. Who would’ve thought the mute dogu would be the most visionary of the bunch?)

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From Ashe’s skydive ironing, to Dornell’s dam enthusiast club video (and there are pictures of dams on the wall of his hideout way back in episode 5; nice continuity!), to Adachi’s footage of a horse giving birth, everything Tricen is given is put in, with no regard whatsoever for coherence.

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Predictably, Kanie is appalled by the resulting ‘masterpiece’ even as Sento weeps from the emotional impact. Frankly, Kanie should have remembered that while he’s softened her edges somewhat, Sento is still an imperial guard, and the wrong choice to assist Tricen. Not that there was a better alternative!

Kanie goes with Tricen’s original milquetoast cut, which underwhelms the cast, who is miffed their suggestions weren’t included. But Tricen gets the last laugh when he tells Kanie he uploaded the ‘unofficial remix’ to the web, where it went viral.

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There was thankfully no more Evil Wizard this week, but the possible negative fallout from the PV can’t be considered real conflict in this, the final episode. ABP seems to be running smoothly with Kanie at the helm and Sento by his side.

No, this was more a final check-in with the characters, who brought us to the table in the first place and kept us there with rapt attention as they worked their way through various dilemmas. I personally enjoyed this inconsequential but still entertaining epilogue.

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Amagi Brilliant Park – 12

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ABP comes to a satisfying, if not a fairly typical storybook ending this week. Except I don’t believe this is the final episode, which means next week is going to be an interesting experiment in how to end a show, after you’ve ended a show…

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The Summary: with time running out, everyone at the park whips out their phones and calls everyone they can think of. Muse gets her grandmother, Tiramie gets a ton of angry husbands and wives, Sylphy gets her weird internet fans and Kanie-kun gets the girls who are still angry at him from the previous high school fiasco. Even a pizza guy is called, just to get him through the turnstile. With the three little boys who hunger fiercely for Sento, the park crosses the 500,000 mark and the day is won!

Then love wins out (or something) and Latifah doesn’t forget who she is and Kanie-kun decides to stay. We even learn the evil Developer was actually the evil wizard in disguise all this time!

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The GoodABP knows we wanted a happy ending and it gave it to us. And it gave it to us clean, without any magic tricks our nonsense pulled out of the hat. Everyone has friends and, in a pinch, those friends came through. It was a good feeling.

Moreover, the reveal that the parcel of land that the park must sell to the south is going to a major grocery chain (‘Moll Mart’) that will provide great synergy to the park for years to come was a lovely, un-silly cherry on top.

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The episode doesn’t forget any of the small details either. The three pervert boys are an obvious addition, but I love that the boy who always asks his mom about adult content and gets told to ignore it was in the background too.

And that’s nothing compared to the delightfully silly mute-statue that some how moves around the park. When the going got tough, even he called someone on the phone…except he doesn’t talk so they keep asking who’s called them!

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The not as goods – Well… that evil wizard plot came out of nowhere a few weeks back and the sudden reveal that the blonde developer was the wizard all along felt even more out of left field. Underdeveloped, abrupt, and poorly integrated with the story.

I guess ABP avoids a major problem with it only because the story is so tangential and on the sidelines. So, at least his evil laugh (and plot) was mere seconds long and then we were done with it.

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The Verdict – This was a lovely feel-good resolution that felt earned by a big cast of characters I’ve fallen in love with. Yes, I don’t care about the princess nor the wizard and yes, her love triangle with Sento hasn’t gone anywhere, but none of those elements were really the point of the show.

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My only concern is for next week. Next week will either focus on the evil wizard, who’s plot was never part of the story in a meaningful way OR it will just be happy after the facts and no conflict.

In either case, it risks feeling tacked on and irrelevant. Who knows though, ABP is a fantastic show and I look forward to being proved wrong.

9_ogk

Amagi Brilliant Park – 11

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ABP is a little gem of a show that doesn’t quite make it into my book of best-ever anime. However, it remains the most consistent and (consistently excellent) show of the season.

This week is no exception and gave us a text-book perfect final push before next week’s conclusion. No time was wasted, the characters we love and know double their efforts, and a final kink blocks their path to victory.

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The Summary: Kanie-kun’s final play is to invite a real-world soccer team to use the abandoned stadium on the final day of the season. It’s a near guaranteed 50,000 bump to the park’s guests counter and, with the help of some magic and mole people, it’s well within their grasp to get it done.

The lines are long, the guests are constant and, exhausted or not, the cast pounds through show after show. But, as the last bus of soccer fans walks through the gates, the park is short a few hundred of their goal. With three hours to go, it’s panic time!

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The Good – while Kanie-kun’s psychic power has gone a bit under utilized this season, I appreciate that it didn’t get over used either and this week uses it just enough to bend the rules in the park’s favor.

I also appreciated that 500,000 guests may not be practical for the park even at the best of times. Sweat by the bucket and fatigue aside, the high volume of guests bring with them long and slow moving lines. Amagi just doesn’t have enough content for that many people all at the same time.

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However, the single best element of the episode was the closing, where the cast is so close yet we have no idea (and they have no idea) how the gap will get closed. This is exactly what the lead up to a finally needs.

No new threats from left field, no distractions, just hard work from your cast and the thrill of seeing how they defeat the long challenge they’ve faced all season.

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The not as goods – I have no real gripes this week. Rather, season-long issues. I remain …tepid?… about Latifah. She’s not a very interesting character and I think the show runners know this. (since they haven’t given her all that much screen time, relatively speaking)

Likewise, it’s been weeks since we’ve seen the dream-girl-trio. They were so well integrated for the two episodes immediately after their mid-season introduction but now? If they turn into a fix-all at the end, it will feel too hand-wavy and if they don’t appear at all? Well… then why were they introduced in the first place?

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The Verdict – Another 9. Honestly, if you liked what this show has done leading up to now, you will like what it did here. It’s ramped up the tension, without losing its focus.

It remains to be seen if it can pull it all off in the finale. I’m confident it can — even confident that it may finally land a perfect 10 but, there’s always a potential for surprise… in the other direction!

9_ogk

Amagi Brilliant Park – 10

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Late season episodes always run the risk of dragging out the pre-finale tension too much and, while no major revelations came to ABP this week, its tenth episode was way more successful than most other shows’.

This shouldn’t be that surprising, really. ABP’s brightly colored, wacky characters of many shapes and sizes, its lush environment, and it’s finely crafted sense of humor are naturally a pleasure to watch. That said, I was a little nervous after the faerie quartet’s rather silly, plot unproductive outing last week…

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The Summary: The park’s cast and attractions have hit their stride. Some cast members are even trying new things to make themselves more interactive: Macaron has a head-banging rock show, Tirame’s flowers try to eat people, and Moffle’s old light gun challenge has been replaced by airsoft and mech fighting. The park is even open at night now.

Attendance is not only up but everyone is happy and excited about what is going on. Everyone except Seiya Kanie-kun, who’s losing his pleasant edge over the stress of doing so well, but falling short of their goal.

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Unfortunately, the princess is still barely holding herself together and Kanie-kun is finally told why: she was cursed when her father betrayed a mage and she requires a large quantity of human joy to survive. Worse, even if she survives, Latifah loses her memory (and physical growth) of the previous 12 months at the beginning of August each year.

Kanie also remembers that he met her before and tried to cheer her up, but failed. It’s safe to assume he hasn’t remembered everything yet, either, since the show has implied his fear of heights and falling also stem from that same encounter…

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The GoodABP knows how to keep it’s characters developing. Kanie and Moffle have grown closer (maybe even to a point where they respect each other now) over their mutual support of the princess. The side cast too continues to shine and the double-whammy of the princess dying if the park closes AND not remembering anyone even if she survives sets the stakes quite nicely.

As for smaller details, the whole opening segment with Macaron’s rock show and the schoolgirls being super-happy to play-fight the Orcs in the dungeon attraction were super cute. It does what all the best fantasy shows do: it makes you wish you could go there and join in on the fun.

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The not as goods – my only notable criticism is that Latifah’s story isn’t that interesting. Rather, she’s been a side character for most of the show, with no episode-to-episode presence. It certainly works as a second binder to hold the ‘save the park’ plot together, but, as cute and lovely a little girl as Latifah is, and as much as we’ve seen Kanie come to care for her, all the other relationships are more interesting.

The only other item of note is the lack of Kanie’s fake-harem trio. I appreciated that they were integrated in the Pirate and Body Swap episodes, and not really forced into the foreground but… they need to be in the show at least a little or risk becoming extraneous.

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The Verdict – I really enjoy this show and I’ve even broken the will of my fellow reviewers to the point where they not only excitedly watch the show too but aggressively hunt me down when I’ve been slow to review it each week. It’s surprisingly good, each and every week and even more so when you compare it to the rest of the top 5.

Sure, with one exception, I don’t see ABP as a perfect score kinda show but it’s so very reliable, I may well consider it my favorite show of the fall season regardless. Episode 10 just continues that… so you should probably be watching this show?

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We’re entering the final run. Next week will pick up with the Triceratops telling Kanie that he found The Thing, and finally let us know what that thing is and how it will save the park from being closed.

I have my guesses but this isn’t the kind of show where narrative surprises do the heavy lifting. That’s done by the characters themselves, their drama, and a witty (and very Western) sense of comedic timing. Kudos!

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24 Blondes of Fall ’14

Note: This isn’t every blonde in Fall, but it is most of them. If someone you like was cruelly left off this list, let us have it in the comments.

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1. Fuka Yuki

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – Leader of the Junai High Science Club and a ‘mad-scientist/inventor’ type who is constantly battling the ‘oppressive’ Student Council for resources. The ‘eyes’ in her large glasses mimic her moods.

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2. Leone

Akame ga Kill! – Sure, those boobs don’t seem possible for that waist, but google ‘human barbie’ and you’ll see there are living humans who look kinda like this! In any case, they can’t transform into half-beasts with ridiculous healing powers.

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3. Run

Akame ga Kill! – Baby-faced sandy-blonde Run hasn’t done much in AGK! other than observe from on high with his angel wings, but I imagine that will change soon in the last three episodes.

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4. Latifa Fleuranza

Amagi Brilliant Park – Latifa (or Latifah) is the park’s manager, and also the princess of Maple Land, whose subjects depend on the happy energy of people to survive. She also possesses magical powers that she can bestow upon people by kissing them, which is what she does to Seiya, who is prophesied to be the park’s next manager. She’s named after Queen Latifah.

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5. Sylphy

Amagi Brilliant Park – Sylphy is an employee of the park working at the Elementario. She’s rather ditzy and a bit of an airhead. She’s also a wind fairy.

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6-7. Aino Minako & Tsukino Usagi

Sailor Moon Crystal – If you’re a newcomer like me to the franchise, you might wonder why they’d have two blonde Sailor guardians. After ten episodes, it makes perfect sense now. And it’s not like they’re impossible to tell apart. One has buns!

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8. Ange

Cross Ange – The first of the several blonde leading ladies on this list, Ange has also probably had the roughest character route thus far, having been exposed as a Norma, stripped of her royal and human status, and shipped to Arzenal to die fighting fearsome DRAGONs in skimpy flight suits with other girls of her ilk. But I don’t see her dying anytime soon; despite her delicate upbringing she knows how to fight and survive.

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9. Suzuki Kana

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – Positive, cheerful, fun-loving, and funny, Kana would make a great match for the protagonist Kyouraku…if there weren’t two or three other girls ahead of her in the harem order of precedence. She’s also classically been the clown of whatever group of friends she’s been in, but more by default than by choice.

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10. Tsunashi Kaoru

DannaNani – The wife who can’t understand what her husband is saying.

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11. Saber

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – A powerful legendary swordmaiden summoned to be Emiya Shirou’s ‘Servant’ in the newest iteration of the Holy Grail War, Saber is utterly devoted to, and patient with, her non-mage master.

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12. Alfonso Saint-Variante

GARO: Honoo no Kokuin – Heir both to the throne of his father’s kingdom and the armor of a Makai Knight, Alfonso was forced to flee the palace when the king’s advisor Mendoza started consolidating his power.

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13. Fredrica

Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle – One of the heroes who slew Emperor Gaz and brought peace to the land, Fredrica is a dragoon that comes in many forms, including metal dragon, chibi girl, and fully grown lady knight, and the form above, that of an elementary or middle school-aged girl in a frilly dress.

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14. Himeki Chifuyu

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – The only member of the literature club still in grade school, Chifuyu possesses the terrifying power to create anything out of nothing, from matter to portals and dimensions. Like the other girls of the Lit Club, she’s in love with Jurai, but the others won’t consider her a real threat for a few years.

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15. Sata Kyoya

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – The titular ‘black prince’, Kyoya is a bit of a sadist who agrees to pretend to be Erika’s boyfriend if he can treat her like his dog. Has intimacy and commitment issues probably stemming from his upbringing. Eventually he develops feelings for Erika to match hers for him, and they become a real couple. But both can still be jerks on occasion.

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16. Tachibana Marin

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – A shallow, self-involved older/richer guy-crazy Ganguro without the tan on the surface, Marin and her friend Aki start out as the friends Erika chooses by default, and the entire reason she has to pretend Kyoya is her boyfriend. But Marin and Aki actually grow into legitimate friends who care about each other’s fortunes in life, albeit perhaps not as close as Erika’s childhood friend Ayumi.

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17. Wakasa

Orenchi no Furo Jijou – Wakasa is a handsome merman who takes up residence in the bathtub of Tatsumi, leaving his old home, a polluted river, behind.

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18. Karanomori Shion

PSYCHO-PASS 2 – An Enforcer in MWPSB’s Division 1 who spends virtually all of her time supporting the rest of the group from her own computer-filled office. She’s quietly maintained a physical and possibly romantic relationship with fellow enforcer Yayoi for some time.

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19. Aiza Takeshi

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – This Goku-haired bastard is a fellow gifted pianist and self-appointed rival of Arima Kousei, someone who didn’t even notice him when they competed in the past, but who was so inspired by Kousei’s greatness – and pissed-off by his aloofness — that he strove and grew into a great pianist in his own right.

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20. Miyazono Kaori

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – Kao-chan is a gorgeous and brilliant violinist with an avant-garde style that traditionalists despise but really lights crowd up. She also ends up lighting up the life of Arima Kousei, becoming the muse who pulls him out of a dark sea where he can’t hear the notes he plays. Kaori can also be prone to violence…as well as the occasional sudden and worrisome bout of health trouble.

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21. Jeanne d’Arc

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – Unlike many anime characters who share their name with the legendary warrior maiden, This Jeanne lives up to the name, a young woman from humble beginnings possessing awesome powers bestowed upon her from the heavens. Her trusty holy sword Maltet comes when she calls it! She may be humanity’s only hope against Bahamut. You’d think she’d act aloof, especially toward a rogue like Favaro, but she’s surprisingly genial and down-to-earth.

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22. Leafa (ALO)

Sword Art Online II – AKA Kirigaya Suguha or “Sugu”, Leafa is the name of her avatar in ALO, which is blonde instead of her real-life black hair, and slightly bustier (or perhaps it’s just a push-up outfit). She had cultivated feelings for her brother Kazuto, and though they’re not related by blood, he couldn’t return those feelings. But that was SAO I! In SAO II, she plays a far smaller role. But she is blonde, so here she is.

23-24. Inubouzaki Fuu & Inubouzaki Itsuki

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru – Fuu is a third-year in middle school and the president of the Hero Club. She is the older sister of first-year Itsuki, who she has been looking after following the death of their parents. She is knowledgeable about the Divine Tree and Vertex and was the one who gave her fellow members the app needed to fight against the Vertex.

Fuu uses a large sword in her hero form and her familiar is Inugami. As a result of using her Mankai form, she loses vision in her left eye. Itsuki uses vines to attack her enemies in her hero form and her familiar is Kodama. As a result of using her Mankai form, she loses her voice. (Wikipedia)