「もう打つ手がない!」 (Mō Utsu Te ga Nai!)
“Nothing Can Be Done!”
This week’s Amagi Brilliant Park will remind you of previous episodes in a very deliberate way, because with the plot firing up the main thrusters for the final stretch we need to be reminded of how far the park has come since Seiya took over. It’s unusual to see the cast of Amaburi as something other than incompetent misfits, but it’s refreshing to see everyone’s park being run shipshape (and comforting to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same). Sure, Amagi Brilliant Park may have metamorphosed into a strange beast, but it has never ever looked this good. I do wonder still, though, where Seiya gets the money to upkeep all that glitz. That’s the real magic.
All these positive scenes serve to highlight that while Seiya’s done great, it’s still not good enough. The montage of the Park running so tight yet still falling so short does a good job of exposing us to Seiya’s frustrated mental state. It doesn’t excuse him being so singularly obstructive in the staff’s brainstorming session (though, admittedly, Muse is made to be bullied) but Seiya was under a lot of stress, and as we’ve seen he doesn’t exactly operate well under stress. Latifa was right; letting Seiya know about her magical soap opera disease was not helpful.
Latifa’s illness is our main source of fantasy this episode, and it carries with it fairy tale elements that crop up in Amaburi from time to time. Can’t really approve of the king of Mapleland here; if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from these kinds of stories, it’s that one should never upset a magician. At the same time, the wizard wasn’t very genre-savvy either; he should have known better than to do anything in return for anyone’s hand in marriage. That’s a wash, but it’s still poor Latifa who ends up with the bearing the curse. And I must say, this magical illness is awfully virulent. It drains anima, it regresses aging, it erases memories. Latifa’s carrying a few too many bombshells to be dropping all at once; I think just one symptom would have served the plot well enough. I’m not sure what purpose Latifa’s strange biology is going to serve at this point, especially since the only explanation for it is literally, ‘a wizard did it’. I know they’ve been dropping hints here and there along the way, and it would be nice to connect everything to Seiya’s past, but it does feel that something’s being overdone. It also means that Latifa is actually supposedly technically twenty-four. Woah. I’m still having trouble processing that.
I suppose Latifa’s fantasy tuberculosis does make Amaburi’s trouble more personal for Seiya, even if I feel that the same effect could be achieved with less pixie dust. Basically what we needed was more responsibility to be piled on Seiya, because he doesn’t give the impression that he’s the kind of person who enjoys responsibility (what with him talking about running away in episode 04). No matter how much Seiya trumps himself up, he’s not perfect, but he’s still a perfectionist. Doing your best but still not being good enough is painful for that kind of personality. Leave it to Seiya’s nominal parental figure (remember her?) to drive the point home: in the real world, outside of magical fantasy land, sometimes things that don’t work out no matter how much you try. Some problems only go away when you drink them away.
That’s all pretty heavy for a show like Amaburi, and there were lots of faces of shock and dismay this episode (Seiya and Isuzu mirror each other so well). Even in its darkest moments, though, Amaburi still manages to slip in some gags, and in the end Seiya’s funk doesn’t last more than an episode. I’m glad for it; Seiya just isn’t Seiya unless he’s completely cocksure. His confidence is conveniently backed up by a deus ex machina he’s supposedly been searching for, though. Looks like we’ll have a happy ending after all. I guess it’s the power of believing.
Oracles of the future ~ looking ahead
I don’t think whatever it is Seiya’s managed to acquire is going to totally solve all of his problems, or it’d make Moffle’s meaningful little spiel about fighting to the bitter end a bit deflated. I’m not against magical resolutions per se, but I do think that characters need to work for their happy endings. Since we’ve still got two episodes left (and Amaburi has shown itself capable of doing quite a lot with even a single episode), it’s likely there’s work to be done yet.
I’m not sure if next episode is going to continue being as relatively serious as this one. I did mostly enjoy everyone being very expressive this week, but at the same time I think Amaburi should remain focused on its strength: great character-driven comedy. A strong cast can fuel both comedy and drama, meaning you don’t have to do too much extra to bring out the latter. All the reveals about Latifa this episode makes me think that perhaps Amaburi is trying a tad too hard with a few too many hooks. Good use of personalities and character personalities should be more than enough.
All that said, Amaburi has always been good at tying the magical back into the mundane, so perhaps I don’t really need to worry too much about that department. And, of course, second-guessing Amaburi is a futile exercise. Now that we have latched onto the plot, let’s just see where it takes us next week.