「PVがつまらない!」 (PV ga Tsumaranai!)
“The PV Is Boring!”
Enjoyed your Christmas, everybody? We’re back with another episode of Amagi Brilliant Park, even though the plot more or less concluded last week. As expected, this week has no relevance to the overarching narrative that just got wrapped up, instead being more of a bonus story that you might expect to find as a DVD extra. Think of it as Amaburi‘s Christmas present to all the good little anime watchers of the world.
While all the resolutions were done in episode 12, episode 13 still made for a neat final episode, in its own way. If 12 was the dénouement, then 13 is the curtain call, celebrating all the understated talents that made the happy ending possible. In particular, the management takes a step back this week to let the grunts shine. In a way, the making of the promotional video is a metaphor for how Amaburi has come together, which makes this episode one of the more clever recap episodes I’ve seen. I may be reading too much into it, but after all the entertainment director Takemoto Yasuhiro has given me I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
If the original, generic PV is a display of Tricen’s boring personality, then the new and improved one, full of action, blood and emotion, is a showcase of all of Amaburi’s colourful ones. Those watching the PV as advertising material would likely think Amaburi a madhouse, which it totally is. That may not be a good look for attracting customers, but it’s made for great entertainment for the rest of us. The zany cast all pitching in their own slice of individuality was amusing simply because we got to see all their quirks played to the absurd, and we got to see it metastasise as one of those unintentionally surreal pastiches that the internet enjoys. Amaburi has always been fairly loose with exactly what genre it is for any specific episode, and it’s appropriate that the last one just lets them all fly. Don’t be so surprised, Seiya; Isuzu gets it. A PV for a theme park should be made of hopes and dreams, not mundane things like good sense and common decency.
Still, for all of this episode’s ridiculousness, it still manages to remain down to earth in its own way. Amaburi does like to play its magical fluff allegorically, and this week’s message is that everybody has their own private, quirky self. Sure, we already know about Koboli’s enthusiasm about, er, men, but how about Dornell’s enthusiasm about dams? We’ve always known A-san as a shameless AV star, but who knew B-san actually had a personal preference for gore? So the next time you check into the office, or the classroom, or the queue at the bank, just remember: that plain looking accountant could be a dedicated practitioner of extreme ironing in her free time. Or at least, imagine her to be. Life is more interesting if we dream a little bigger.
A lot of the time adaptations are praised for being faithful to the source, but I personally do not always consider that to be the prime directive. From what I’ve heard, Amagi Brilliant Park the anime deviates from the original novel to a fairly significant degree. I haven’t read the original source so I can’t do a comparative analysis, but I’ve been more than satisfied with what I’ve seen from the anime. It felt planned, and it felt complete. There was a sense that the staff went into the adaptation aiming to make an adaptation, not just a promotional piece to boost light novel sales. As long as the adaptation understands the strengths of the original and uses that to remain true to the spirit of its source, then that’s good enough for me.
What came out of Amagi Brilliant Park the anime is, in my opinion, one of the strongest comedies of the year. Credit needs to be given to director Takemoto Yasuhiro and his team for having a keen sense of what exactly makes Amaburi funny and running the full distance with it. Props also for their skill at juggling a cast as large as Amaburi‘s, giving a wide variety of characters a chance to shine without overshadowing the central narrative. They managed to do all that, plus some romantic tension, plus occasional stints of drama, all within 13 episodes. I usually end an episode of Amaburi fairly impressed with how much they managed to get done in 23 minutes without things feeling rushed. Such is the advantage of having a good budget for your anime: you get to squeeze in all sorts of detail into the visuals and pack every minute with more substance.
The problem with Kyoto Animation’s business model, though, is that while they always make high-budget anime, they don’t make a lot of them. Indeed, while some studios are pushing out as many as four series for Winter 2015, KyoAni has not even one. I would like more from them, but especially more from Takemoto (and from Takemoto’s partner-in-crime, Ishihara). More Amaburi would be nice, but not immediately necessary, since Amaburi felt like a complete package as is. There are plenty of hooks for a sequel, but at the same time I feel that they planned to make do without one. That’s smart betting; give sufficient closure, without burning all your bridges.
My point is, I don’t care what Takemoto directs, I just want him to make something. More Amaburi would be very welcome, though. I’ve greatly enjoyed blogging it this season, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed the ride too. Maybe we’ll see be here again when Takemoto and Gatoh Shouji join forces once more, which would be grand. As I noted for the autumn preview: when those two get together, only good things happen. With Amaburi, the evidence has remained consistent.