「時間がない!」 (Jikan ga Nai!)
“Not Enough Time!”
And in no time at all, here we are again!
While last week’s (or rather, earlier this week’s) introductory episode mostly set the mood with helpings of comedy, this week Amagi Brilliant Park has dialed back the gags in order to really push the plot along. Sure, there’s still some laughs to be had but more time was given to simple background exposition. Isuzu even felt the need to introduce her gun; fantasy just can’t help but want to explain everything. And perhaps they only have one episode to do it, so they better get all of it out of the way right now. We do get a lot done this episode, and a lot of that flowed naturally as part of the narrative progression. In the first episode we were introduced to the sorry state of Amaburi, and our hero was issued with a Call to Adventure. In this episode they get into detail, laying out the stakes and giving the hero an opportunity to reject the call, and then ultimately answer it.
Introducing: some blonde guy
The biggest thing that happened this episode was definitely the introduction of the villain, one Kurisu Takaya (Suwabe Junichi). He’s basically a corporate goon and doesn’t have much of a personality outside of being really smarmy. His spectacles, though, are certainly the most magical thing to have appeared in this show so far. Seriously, I’ve never seen their like before. Is it magnets? Is it Velcro? Is it Lego Glasses? I found myself completely fascinated. Unfortunately it’s unlikely he’ll be showing up much because he’s not really the source of Amaburi’s problems. He’s right. It should have, by all rights, gone out of business long ago. His main role, rather, is to stir our hero into action. That’s why he’s an antagonist—he antagonises, which creates motivation for the protagonist. Curiously, Seiya seems to have internalised this because he also goes out of his way to play the villain, recognising the need for a bad cop to balance out Latifa’s apologetic good cop. As Machiavelli would say, though, if a prince cannot inspire love he should at least inspire fear, but should never inspire hate. How will Seiya’s gambit play out? At the moment, poorly. But having the cast eventually begrudgingly accept him is part of character development.
Padding out the cast
Seiya’s encounter with Kurisu Takaya isn’t his only bit of development; the cartoonish narcissist also demonstrates that he has the walk to back up his talk. After his routine blowing his own trumpet (to himself) in Episode 01, here he demonstrates that he may well be as brilliant as he claims, performing a surprisingly accurate Fermi estimation with only minimal data. He’s so good that he even surprises Isuzu, who was until that point completely unflappable. So she’s not emotionless, just inexpressive, perhaps having served too long as the stoic retainer. Or maybe she took Mao Zedong too literally about stuff growing out of the barrel of a gun.
The supporting cast also gets a good showing. There’s more of the Elementario (they sing the ED, if that wasn’t apparent) being very present but not very relevant. More significant to the narrative is the introduction of Macaroon (Shiraishi Ryoko) and Tiramie (Nonaka Ai), the faeries of music and flowers respectively. Supposedly, anyway. They represent the blue-collared working class of Amaburi, and a window into the strange ways these fey have integrated into our mundane society. The staff of Amaburi is actually very colourful; I’m sure someone had heaps of fun with all those designs. I actually won’t mind seeing Amagi Brilliant Park play around with more of them.
Oracles of the future
Personally, I don’t care much for exposition. That may be just me; I find less interest in the details of how things work by themselves and more in how they work in relation to the world. If you just show me the effect, and that effect is consistent, then I’m satisfied. But while I didn’t need the technobabble we got this episode, I suppose I didn’t mind it that much either. They’re faeries, they can be born from the laughter of children or whatever. If you really need me to know that to set up for story later then I’ll accept it. However, the more important message of this episode, to me, was that despite the Amaburi staff’s lack of business acumen, entertainment chops, or even proper work ethic, they still have some pride in their work—we can call that ‘heart’. How can children believe in your fairy tale if you do not? It’s fitting that Seiya makes it a point to give the cast something to believe in as well, even if the quota is a practical impossibility.
What, then, does Seiya believe in? He’s intelligent and charismatic, and had a promising career as an actor, but he threw it all away. How did he become such a cynical misanthropist? We’ll undoubtedly get deeper into that in the future. I suspect that if Seiya means to revive the park, he will also need to revive something in himself.