A Buncha Washed-Up Idiots: An Amagi Brilliant Park Post

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Let’s complain about Amagi some more this week, shall we?

Before people ask me why I’m not writing about the shows I really enjoy this season like Psycho-Pass 2 and Bahamut, keep in mind that I didn’t create this blog for the sole purpose of writing about shows I like. I mostly made it because I wanted to provide my own unique view on things. And unfortunately, I have nothing unique to say about Psycho-Pass and Parasyte because the majority of my colleagues jumped on the “why these anime are intellectually great” bandwagon when the very existence of these shows were announced, leaving me without much room to squeeze in how Shinichi’s situation is a metaphor for puberty. As for the Mappa stuff, I really don’t have much to say about those. I guess I can say that the Garo protagonist needs to develop into his own soon, but that’s about it. Most of their charm comes from their spectacle rather than the actual events.

– And if you think I’m going to write about the shorts…hahahaha!

Basically, I have mixed feelings on KyoAni’s new show. But at the same time, I find its flaws interesting to look at, which is more than I can say for not only most KyoAni stuff – Clannad being the last thing they’ve made whose flaws were at least fun to analyze – but most anime this season in general. I think Your Lie In April and Shirobako are the only other two shows that come close in terms of how fascinatingly fail they are. Cross Ange maybe, but my anti-Sunrise mecha bias prevents me from jumping onto that bandwagon. As such, regardless of whether I like the show – and this applies to things outside of anime series as well – as long as it gives me food for thought, I’ll write about it.

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So yeah, if you’re still watching Amagi, you may notice that the show at this point in time is taking the whole episodic storytelling approach to its “save the theme park” plot. Last week focused on Moffle and his temper problems whilst this week focused on Female 50 Cent and her tendency to shoot people because she has no tact. It’s a standard formula: the “comedically light-hearted” antics of a character goes a bit too far to the point that it causes problems. Someone confronts the person about this problem and conflict arises. However, another outside conflict occurs that forces both sides to compromise their problems in order to solve it. Lessons are learned. There’s a hook for next week thrown in at the last few seconds. End episode.

The formula can work and it is a legit method to fill up time when you have too many episodes to convey your premise more naturally, But a large part of what makes it work depends on how it’s used. And what’s frustrating about Amagi, and this week’s episode in particular, is that I get what they’re doing and they are accomplishing their goal. However, it’s done in the most middle-of-the-road compromising manner ever: not bad enough to be intolerable, but not good enough to the point that it doesn’t cause the humor/fun to suffer when the conflict occurs. And even when I like the actual episode, I still come out with the feeling that it should have been more fun than it actually was.

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Kanye’s personality is a big reason why the drama never gets too heavy, and I think the stuff that revolved around him this week showcases this well. Even when he’s spilling his guts out, he always does it in a fun narcissistic manner whilst still being serious enough to the point that we can believe his antics. He has his flaws, but he doesn’t let them overwhelm him to the point that he becomes a sourpuss, instead always thinking about what he did wrong before fighting for a solution. And since he’s the main character, he’ll always be involved with the employees’ personal problems in some form or another, so we don’t have to worry about another Chuunibyou situation happening whilst he’s around.

It’s a pity the other characters aren’t helping him though, and it doesn’t help that the episodic format itself is a mixed bag. I may need conflict in order to progress through a show, but I don’t necessarily need drama. And that’s the main problem the episodic stories in general, especially in regards to basing an entire episode’s worth of conflict around Fiddy Cent and how disastrous her trigger-happy clueless nature is: I don’t see why it needed to be dramatic in the first place.

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Again, I know these mascots literally have their lives riding on this park. But the character stories/drama so far aren’t really related to that part of the plot, instead focusing on dramatizing their own park behavior in general, which isn’t really the same thing. And it doesn’t help when it feels like they’re there solely for the purpose of character exploration. Moffle’s episode I got, because his temper problems have been building for a while (plus it was nice to see him being calm this week after said events). But Fiddy’s problems felt like they were written just for this episode, and when you give that sort of thing the personal dramatic touch, not even Kill la Kill can make that convincing (looking at you Banchou Mako episode, even if her wearing that uniform was f*cking cool). As a result, this episode feels like it wants to be an important part of the story, despite the fact that it’s too filler-ish to qualify for that position.

Ironically, the episodic format helps and hurts the show. It always guarantees that the personal drama won’t get dragged out and I honestly thought the execution was better here than last week because of how quick it was, even if it turned to blurry cam in order to symbolize Fiddy tearing up. But at the same time, it prevents proper build up to justify its existence in the first place. I’ll need to see next week’s episode – which apparently focuses on the park’s money problems, so there’s a good chance that Ashe will be playing an important part there – in order to get a firmer grasp of things, but if this is the formula the show is going to take in order to reach its conclusion, it’s going to need to improve quickly. Again, the idea isn’t bad. It just needs better execution.

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Also, dragons exist in this universe. Yeah.

PS: I don’t think the stuff related to the rain was that bad. At least it was used for a semi-important plot point and not just “because we want to symbolize sadness with heavy weather”.

6 responses to “A Buncha Washed-Up Idiots: An Amagi Brilliant Park Post

    • Compared to the most acclaimed of thought-provoking films or Yoshitori ABe stuff, sure. But there’s still plenty of food-for-thought regarding them.

  1. I feel like we need to see more of Kanie’s narcissistic personality. His end speech with Isuzu showed a lot of his character dynamic and that he’s not the usual cookie cutter MC. Because so far everything else is very by the book. And your point about its episodic format really prevents the show from moving forward with its plot points shown in the earlier episodes (Kanie’s mind reading and flashback). If anything, it makes me forget the fact these guys are supposed to be from another world. Definitely agree. The show needs to step up soon.

    • The show is stepping it up. It’s not doing a great job of it right now, but at least there’s conflicts every episode and we learn something new regarding the overall situation each week.

  2. And unfortunately, I have nothing unique to say about Psycho-Pass and Parasyte because the majority of my colleagues jumped on the “why these anime are intellectually great” bandwagon when the very existence of these shows were announced

    A post on either of these shows doesn’t have to be intellectual. Mine isn’t. It just has to be your own take. Don’t be like Kousei of Your Lie In April, man. Don’t make excuses! Just blog! JUST BLOG!

    • I was going to write about how Your Lie In April is basically my HanTsuki nightmares revived, along with the “they’re just innocent kids” justification being kinda weak, but it wasn’t coming out right. Maybe I’ll try again later.

      Parasyte, I actually have an idea regarding what to write for it. Just want to wait a few more episodes before I start delving into that. Not sure about PP2.

      On an aside, I also forced myself to see Shirobako’s third episode because I heard it was more problematic/hard-hitting than usual depending on who you ask and I thought I could get good material for it, but it was so goddamn conflict-less and shallow regarding its recap episode premise that I forgot everything that happened.