This is a gem. But it’s also a case of, you might want to check out the TV Tropes page first, because the first ep does get off to a slow start. The show needs some visual space to introduce the stunning magnitude of the problems in Amagi Brilliant Park, and that takes several minutes out of the first ep. If you don’t know what’s coming, you might not take the chance to catch all the details in Isuzu’s introduction to AmaBri in its opening state of decrepitude and quiet despair.
It’s worth it. This is one of the most effective anime at drawing you in on a personal level I’ve seen in a while – up there with NagiAsu and Kabaneri for getting invested in the characters.
The problems are all real and legitimately hard to solve: a theme park beset by falling attendance, lack of maintenance, and cast morale so low it could slink under an earthworm. But the consequences are far more drastic than simple unemployment. Much of the cast is not human; they’re fay folk from the kingdom of Mapleland, and without access to human joy, they’ll cease to exist.
It turns out it’s even worse than that. But Kanie Seiya doesn’t find that out until he’s already caught up in the life-or-death struggle to get AmaBri’s visitor count past 500,000 before the deadline – less than three months away.
The visitor count is the ultimate goal, but this is a very character-driven show. I find Kanie in particular intriguing, because he personifies what another writer said: “Your weaknesses are your strengths.” And Kanie is an egotistical, narcissistic, detail-oriented perfectionist.
…He’s exactly what the park needs.
AmaBri needs someone to point out all the little details to fix, from stray trash to misaligned rails to sullen employees. They need that love of self to revitalize their battered pride, and push them to give their best efforts again. And they need that overwhelming ego to sweep them up and get them moving, against all the logic that tells them to give up in despair.
I use despair deliberately. The whole park is depressed; the grinding, paralyzing depression that comes from years of trying your best to meet a critical goal, and never quite succeeding. And like many people mired in that bleak abyss, they can’t get out of it on their own. They need help.
Arrogant, narcissistic help, mayhap. But as they say, if you can do it, it’s not bragging.
So watch it for the humor. For the magic, the quick decisions, the amazingly good business sense. Most of all, watch for the whole crazy bunch pulling together to try for a miracle.
(Who knows. Maybe if enough of us go for it, they’ll let someone translate the LNs!)