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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Amagi Brilliant Park – 08

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Amagi Brilliant Park’s eighth episode is a hilarious tale of body swapping, unintended consequences, and everyone making a royal mess of Seiya Kanie-kun’s life. It was a joyous romp, the best ABP so far, and so very very close to scoring a fully perfect 10.

So how did ABP turn a classic body swap/impostor identity trope into something brilliant? For starters, no one is really stuck…

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It is easy to forget how difficult these past weeks have been for Kanie-kun. Between his confident smile and the park’s growing success, only the low attendance numbers at the end of each episode are there to remind us how dire the situation is — and even though success means life or death for many cast members, Seiya takes it the most seriously.

That stress finally gets the better of him and he passes out right at the beginning.

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Stressing out and succumbing to a summer cold is hardly unique, though. Nor is Seiya’s conflicting need to attend (and do well in) high school while simultaneously working at the park.

If you had to guess how the episode would play out from Princess Latifah’s ‘get some sleep and go to school’ scene, I couldn’t fault your assumption that we were in for seeing the park take a dangerous backseat in Seiya’s life for half an episode before coming up with a brilliant (or hand wavy) solution by the end.

This even seems likely when Sento comes to visit the infirmary…

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Except Sento opens up with her true romantic feelings and makes aggressive sexual advances on Kanie-kun. Then he notices Sento has a zipper sticking out of her head and Tiramie pops out laughing.

Practical jokes aside, Tiramie and Macaron have a solution for Kanie’s attendance problem: make a Kanie-suit using the mole peoples’ technology and let some of the cast members go to school for him.

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I thought these students were holding hands and that a progressive yuri couple was hiding in plain sight. On closer inspection, It’s drawn a little weirdly but probably not…

I’m not actually sure why Kanie-kun agrees to this but he does, and Sento takes the first shift. Maybe he agrees because Sento is taking the first shift or maybe he agrees with Macaron that he has so few friends that no one will notice at school.

Regardless, Sento stumbles right out of the gate when she gives a friendly greeting to Chuujou Shiina, the red-twin-tail who also works at the park. Chuujou is immediately suspicious, as Kanie always ignores her and is not a particularly warm person…

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While troubled by Kanie’s apparent indifference to Chuujou, Sento is even less prepared for the confession letter waiting in Kanie’s locker. In short, while Sento is touched that Tsuchida Kanae admits to putting it here accidentally (she’d intended the letter for Kimura of class 5) her supportive and pleasant nature is very out of Kanie-kun-character.

Worse, Sento’s kind words confuse Tsuchida’s own feelings, something that Sento completely fails to pick up on and does not report to Macaron when they trade off the following morning.

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Like the zipper on his head, people quickly get over Kanie-kun’s head falling off when it’s hit by a baseball…

In the best case scenario, Macaron was going to make a complete mess of things anyway. He’s a grown man (sheep) who has fond memories of his wild time in high school (especially getting into fights) and he’s also a dad and a divorcee.

So, when he hears a hurt Kimura and Tsuchida fighting over her no longer wanting to confess to him, he steps in and gives Kimura some advanced level girl winning advice.

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Macaron’s advice is actually pretty reasonable, if obviously out of character for Seiya. He tells Kimura to back off and give the girl space — ignore her even — to make her want to get his attention and he tells Tsuchida to stop apologizing for everything and raise her sense of self worth.

Like Sento, Macaron doesn’t realize how much impact he’s had on Tsuchida’s feelings for Seiya, nor does he give Tiramie any heads up the following day.

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At this point, everyone knows something is off about Kanie-kun. Zipper and personality differences aside, he’s made references to being divorced and suddenly develops Tiramie and Moffle’s vocal tics.

Tiramie takes Kanie’s life even further off the rails by skipping class, being mean to a teacher and, because he hasn’t been given any background on Tsuchida, making advances on her.

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Unfortunately (or not), Tiramie is a horrible person and his creepy, aggressive nature quickly implodes any chances he has with Tsuchida. In fact, he’s specific enough that Chuujou guesses what’s going on and storms off to tell Kanie herself.

Tsuchida’s rejection scene is fantastic in itself. As she’s starting to suspect Kanie is a womanizer (she misunderstands his familiarity with Chuujou and has heard he’s close to Sento) she won’t let him touch her and the animation of her tight dodges is playful and impressive.

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So Moffle puts on Kanie for the fourth day and before he can screw anything up in his own unique way, he’s confronted by Tsuchida’s friends over treating her badly and there’s nothing even Sento can do to keep things peaceful.

Thankfully, before Moffle can destroy everyone for being called a ‘fake,’ Kimura shows up and explains that Kanie (as Moffle) has acted crazy all week to help him get back together with Tsuchida and that all should be forgiven.

And, with a bow, all is forgiven.

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Later, Chuujou and Kanie (who’s partially stripped out of a Kimura skin suit) have a nice chat and, this time, it’s Kanie’s own fault for turning a girl’s heart towards him. She’s never seen beneath his cold and calculating exterior and never known that his pragmatism is guided by kindness.

He’s not angry with anyone for what they did because he knew they all did it to help him and, even though he’ll have to explain this crazy story to Kimura in the morning, no lasting harm was done.

Well, except Sento has a new competitor for his affections…

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The whole story was funny as hell but it was also touching. The pacing for the gags was on even footing with the pacing and delivery of the romantic developments. Heck, even relative newcomer Chuujou got developed, along with the non-park world the park exists in.

Not a single things was out of place or unnecessary or out of balance. Well…except the women-hungry kindergartners but we’ve at least seen them before.

The most touching message of the whole episode is that Kanie-kun is surrounded by many people who would like him and make him very happy, if he himself was more obviously happy.

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Rating Amagi Brilliant Park is tremendously frustrating this week. On one hand, episode 8 was the funniest, most tightly woven plot the show has produced to date. On the other, I’m not sure I can justify giving it a perfect 10.

How about I leave you with “This is the best a show can do without actually hitting a perfect 10?” If you haven’t followed this show from the beginning, I strongly urge you to o back and watch from the beginning. (Especially if you followed InoBato’s but have lost interest each time that show falls off message).

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