Amagi Brilliant Park is a story about the world of business and what it takes to run a successful company, and much like in reality, this world is ruthless, cold, and unforgiving. If you can’t do your job right or can’t do it as well as someone else, than you’re not going to succeed, and you’ll become poorer and less able to live a comfortable and fulfilling life. Everyone has different circumstances behind them which affect their chances of success, and so it’s not always “fair” whether one person succeeds or another fails, but that’s just how it is. That’s not exactly the happiest most encouraging message to hear, but what’s wonderful about this show is it’s ability to convey that underneath a very fun and bright comedy.
The show centers around the titular Amagi Brilliant Park, an amusement park run by fairies who depend on the joy of their guests to stay alive. Amagi Park howeverm is a terribly managed park and business, and they’re on the brink of getting shut down and given away to their contractor, Amagi Development. This will lead to all the fairies and mascots to be out of jobs, which for most of them would also mean their death. Pretty straightforward what that’s supposed to say about real life: losing your job is a pretty frightening thought, as it leads to instability and uncertainty about the future. And depending on how good the economy it can be easy to find another compnay willing to hire you, but especially when you’re old nobodies like those at Amagi Park, it can also be pretty difficult to get back on your feet and start from scratch.
Enter Kanie. After going through seven previous managers who failed to make Amagi Park any better, Kanie Seiya is brought in as their last chance—a highschooler and former star child actor. He’s also quite narcissistic, and not to mention a bit of an asshole. As we see by the end of episode 2, he’s quite the jerk with a heart of gold too, as we see with his decision to accept Amagi Park’s request to be its new manager. But as he accepts it, he also goes out of his way to insult just about everything about Amagi Park and its employees, while really is just speaking the truth.
Often in order to run a successful business, particularly one like Amagi Park where you have to be in charge of a lot of people, you either need to be a super charismatic person who everyone likes, or a huge jerk who can keep them in line. And of course, above all else you need to have results. People like Bill Gates or Andrew Carnegie didn’t build up their massive companies by being nice to people–on the contrary, they had to crush a lot of people along the way, and I’m sure they weren’t too nice to all of their employees either. Amagi Park doesn’t exactly appear to have have much direct competition as there’s no amusement parks near them, but still, Kanie isn’t going to shape up these losers by being nice to them.
And he is an effective leader, too, from what we’ve seen. In his first speech, Kanie threatens to fire anyone who doesn’t like him or disagrees with his policies. No arguing about it, “It’s my way or the highway.” It may seem harsh, but that also is just how businesses work in general. And even if Kanie were just bluffing, it’s still an affective strategy nontheless; it encourages the employees to actually do their jobs better and adhere to Kanie’s new policies, or else they’ll have to risk getting fired. And if they do end up ignoring Kanie anyways, then he’ll just fire them and hire someone better for the job. It’s a win-win for Amagi Park as a business, even if it might not always be fair to the people getting fired.
Fortunately for the denizens of the park, Kanie hasn’t had to enforce this policy, but he did seem to come close to firing Moffle when the latter got into a fight with a customer. It’d be interesting to see how Amagi Brilliant Park would deal with that sort of moral conflict, if Kanie actually were to fire one of these fairies. Especially since the fairies rely on the joy of their guests to stay alive, and thus firing someone would practically be the same as sending them off to their death. Who knows if the show will get quite that serious, but it would raise the question of what’s more important: Ensuring that Amagi Park is as successful as it possibly can to save its residents as a whole, or having it be all or nothing for just who Kanie saves.
In the second episode Kanie is introduced to—as Sento calls him—the enemy: Amagi Development, which is represented by Takaya Kurisu. Since they’re the ones that want Amagi Park to get shut down, they’re obviously the antagonists of the series. He’s not necessarily a villain though, and what he’s doing isn’t exactly a bad thing. Plus he’s not that different from Kanie, really. They’re both just businessmen looking out for their company, and Amagi Development must have lost a lot of money developing Amagi Park, only for it to become the barely-running place it is now. It only makes sense that they’d want to take it back so that they can then try to use it to get back the money they lost; they’re not just doing this out of malevolence.
Kurisu does goes as far as to start insulting Amagi Park and it’s employees, and later advises a “bright kid” like Kanie, “Keep hanging around losers, and you’ll turn into one yourself.” And with each of his insults, you can’t really blame him for simply speaking the truth. Amagi Park is full of a bunch of sorry losers, who need to be shaped up by a good manager like Kanie. Granted though, he could probably express these opinions in a more tactful way than insults. It’s like what Walter Mitty says to Ted Hendricks in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: “I get it, you’ve got your marching orders and you have to do what you have to do, but you don’t have to be such a dick.” And Kurisu could certainly act like less of a dick about it all, but again, what he’s doing isn’t bad.
Now back to Kanie’s acts as manager. With a failing business like Amagi Park that needs to get successful fast, you need radical changes in policy and management to really make a difference. The first thing Kanie does as manager makes perfect enough sense. Close the park down for a whole day, so that the staff can focus on renovating and improving the appearance and function of the park. I figured that’d be the most important thing to deal with first myself, though that’s a bit of a no-brainer. Especially with something like an amusement park, appearance and first impressions are highly important to draw people in and keep them there. Even if the rides aren’t the greatest in the world, you’ll at least get more visitors that way.
What’s interesting is that Moffle and the other park residents are infuriated by Kanie’s decision to close off the park without giving the guests advanced notice, (or maybe it was just Moffle.) It shows that they’re super committed to ensuring that their guests aren’t inconvenienced, and that they’re image of a respectable park isn’t tampered. Yet at the same time, they also don’t hesitate to express disdain at Kanie’s order to extend workdays to Fridays. They highly cherish their guests and reputation as an amusement park, but at the same time they’re also just lazy when it comes to certain, obvious changes and improvements that need to be made.
Most radical change Kanie has done so far would be the decision to lower the price of admission to 30 yen, which is pretty dirt cheap. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the worth of yen, its the equivalent of about 28 cents. And he was originally going to make it free, but was only convinced by the Chief of Financing to charge some money to pay for electricity and water. Now the employees of Amagi Park feel like they’re work is being belittled and cheapened, but Kanie makes a point that getting more visitors is much more important than how much money they make.
They obviously still care about the money, though I suspect the fairies might be a bit more concerned with respect and prestige than they are about money. Moffle says in protest “We’re pros. We can’t put our acts on for free[…] If we do it even once, our guests will never want to pay again.” And hey, they’re magical creatures anyways. They’re probably used to Japanese capitalist culture to some extent by now, sure, but it’s not like they need to worry about food or shelter as long as the park is up and running. If anything they’d just spend their pay on stuff like beer and cellphones, or maybe clothes if they appear human. They’re still entitled to fair pay, but they wouldn’t need as much money as other people would. Regardless, money isn’t going to mean anything if the park doesn’t stay up and running.
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising of Kanie’s stunts so far however, would be the swimsuit video he has the women of Amagi Park star in, hoping it’ll go viral and attract more visitors. Most of them don’t seem all that enthusiastic to take part in it though, and Salama even complains on her twitter about how its sexual harassment. And well…you can’t help but think that that’s precisely what it is. But before I explain why, I’ll just say that I actually did quite like the fanservice it presented here. I even paused the video to more fully appreciate all the “shapes and sizes for T&A enthusiasts.” But, yes, it seems a lot like sexual harassment. A male manager of a business is coercing his underlings to do something clearly sexual, which they may or may not actually want to do. Pretty simple.
You might argue that Kanie isn’t doing anything wrong. He’s just they’re boss, not some evil dictator, so they could refuse something like that anytime! But lets step back a bit and consider just what position Kanie is in as their boss, and the authority he holds over these women. Remember what he said he’d do if anyone refused to do what he said as manager? Fire them. No questions asked, it’s his way or the road. With the exception of Princess Latifa, we’re left to ourselves to wonder just how Kanie convinced them to agree to take part in the video. But given their lack of enthusiasm, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that they’re just doing it because Kanie is their boss, and that they don’t want to get fired.
And Kanie’s motives for this is more than a little suspect, as well. He states that he was fully aware of the possibility that the swimsuit video would only get a few views like it did, but claims that he’s okay with that since even if it only attracts one person “1,001 is better than 1,000,” and Amagi Park absolutely needs to get as many visitors as it can. But if that’s the case, than wouldn’t it have been more productive to just keep focusing on renovating the park and administering other improvements on it? If anything, creating a swimsuit video is just a waste of valuable time that Kanie and the others could have spent elsewhere. The only other explanation for why Kanie would do this is because he wants to see all these hot girls in skimpy clothing, and maybe gets a kick over taking advantage of them.
I don’t actually think that’s the case though. In the episode Kanie is never shown blushing or acting perverted about it in any way, and acts very professional about it. He orders them to do it, they do it, and in the end he shows more interest in whether it gets him views on Youtube than all the T&A he gets to see. The real reason behind it all is, of course, because KyoAni wanted to give us some fanservice (some excellent fanservice, I might add,) and they just used the whole “1,001 is better than 1,000” logic as an excuse to handwave it and make Kanie’s actions seem a bit less sleazy and more justifiable.
Also consider that Princess Latifa takes part in the swimsuit video, and as the owner of Amagi Park and Kanie’s superior, she doesn’t have to worry about getting fired. In fact, she could have Kanie cease to make swimsuit videos, or else she’ll threaten to fire him. Though I imagine Kanie might not care about that much since he’s not exactly taking the job for the money, so it’s also possible Latifa accepted it in fear that Kanie would leave otherwise. Kanie also made it clear to Latifa that she could refuse at any time, but we don’t know if he did the same with the others. Latifa is the only one with the authority to fire Kanie, and thus the only one who Kanie would really need permission from. But really, I don’t actually think it’s anything other than what the show depicted it as, which is that Latifa just genuinely believes in Kanie.
I doubt Amagi Brilliant Park is actually glorifying the sexual harassment of employees. It might be using it for comedy, which isn’t that great either. I’m just pointing out that it seems like sexual harassment, and so like I said, it’s rather eyebrow-raising.
• Like many, Kyoukai no Kanata was the last straw for me after a string of mediocre KyoAni shows, wherein I finally stopped expecting much from KyoAni’s work. I still liked and respected them as a studio, but after Chu2Koi, Tamako Market, Free!, and the aforementioned Kyoukai no Kanata, it was clear to me that they’d really jumped the shark.
That was until I heard about Amagi Brilliant Park, and checked out the staff listing. The big thing to note is that it’s got Yasuhiro Takemoto directing it, who directed the KyoAni adaptions of Full Metal Panic! and Lucky☆Star–the latter of which is my second-favorite anime of all time. And it’s adapted from a Shoji Gatoh light novel series, who’s the guy who did the Full Metal Panic! light novels, as well as wrote the script to Hyouka. And just like that I had high hopes this show would the excellent KyoAni show I’ve been waiting for since the conclusion of Hyouka. Because really, the actual staff behind a project is always more telling than the studio producing it.
• I love the clapping in the OP. The OP in general is pretty great.
• It’s a bit odd that Sento is able to carry her magical gun around town and school, and no one’s calling the police on her; especially since Japan has such strict gun laws. Maybe the gun itself is just so outlandish that no one expects it to be a real gun, and thinks Sento is just some cosplayer. Plus she doesn’t actually have to carry it; thanks to magic she can just hide it in her miniskirt. Gatoh might also just be ignoring these gun laws for the sake of having a hot girl carry around a cool gun. Nothing wrong with that either.
• It’s also a bit odd that Amagi Park would hire a highschooler as their new manager, too. Sento explained in episode 2 that they were just desperate after having seven other managers quit on them beforehand (I wonder if they were shown all the magical properties of Amagi Park?) But that’s still pretty handwavey, in my opinion. And either Kanie is skipping for three months to help out the park, or he’s doing it in between his studies. Either way that’s awfully handwavey too. Though if anything the former would make much more sense. I’m not quite sure how it is with Japanese highschools, but at least with American schools it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to just take three months off of school. You’d probably have to be held back a semester, but hey, I’d say that’s not a bad payoff for getting to become the manager of a magical amusement park for three months.
• I’m curious why it is that some of the denizens of Amagi Park are just walking mascot costumes. We know that Moffle happens to be Latifa’s uncle, which suggests that he was human before coming to Amagi Park. So why is he a walking mascot costume now? Was he put under some curse, a curse that perhaps is related to why all these fairies are trapped on Earth to begin with? And for that matter, were the rest of the mascot characters humans at some point as well? I’m sure Amagi Brilliant Park will give us answers to these questions eventually; I’m just putting them out there. The light novels are still on-going though, so we might not get these answers by the time this first season ends.
…God, I sure hope the whole light novel series get adapted. You know, unlike some of KyoAni’s other adaptions.
• You may have noticed I have Samala as my current twitter avatar right now. I find her social media addiction amusing.
• A fellow aniblogger mentioned to me that, in his opinion as a furry, “Amagi is the Free! for furries.” I stared at a wall for a good while trying to comprehend this concept, but eventually decided I would never be able to grasp it as someone who is, in fact, not a furry. My one guess is that Moffle is to a ripped bara furry what a loli is to a woman character, but that’s just speculation from a non-furry. I’m not trying to make fun of his statement or anything, I just thought it was interesting.
• Oh, and in case you didn’t notice already, all the major characters are named after rap legends.
So as for what I thought about these three episodes overall, they’re pretty great. Some things about it are questionable–a good chunk of this post is dedicated towards discussing the swimsuit video, for instance, but it’s lived up to the expectations I had of it. I’ve only watched a handful of Fall shows so far (I’m pretty behind on the season, as I always am,) but so far it’s easily my second favorite of the season next to Shirobako. It’s well written, and works very nice as a comedy thanks to how dynamic and “relatable” the characters are. Like most good comedies, they feel like actual characters, not just a bunch of walking tropes. And then it’s got excellent directing and visuals. It’s pretty much what I would have hoped for from a Takamoto x Gatoh x KyoAni lineup. I look forward to seeing more of it.