Amagi Brilliant Park, Vol. 1

By Shouji Gatou and Yuka Nakajima. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.

In the beginning there was Full Metal Panic!, a long series of light novels that sadly will probably never be rescued but which spawned a long-running anime franchise. Then there was the spinoff, Fumoffu, which was FMP as a gag comedy and featured Sousuke dressed up as an amusement park mascot. As the author admits in the afterword, the design of the mascot was so perfect that the author just poached it outright (with permission) for his new series Amagi Brilliant Park. Sousuke is not inside the costume this time, but fortunately we have Isuzu, who is sort of a gender-reversed Sousuke with about the same amount of social skills and the tendency to use guns as the first and only option. Fortunately, the male protagonist is not a Kaname expy, but instead Seiya is a young man (and former child star) who is smart, handsome, athletic, and smug about all of this. He’s clearly the perfect person to take hostage and beg to save your magical theme park. Which is what Isuzu does.

For most of this book, I will admit, I was a tad underwhelmed. Isuzu and Seiya were flawed characters, but it sort of felt that the flaw was meant to be a “quirk” rather than lead to actual character development. The same applied to other characters – the other heroine is blind, but this is apparently so irrelevant the anime didn’t bother to adapt the blindness. In addition, as part of his job to save the magical amusement park, Seiya is given a magic power, but it’s hilariously useless and for the rest of the book he simply never bothers. The writing itself is solid – no surprise, given the author’s experience – and it definitely does not have the “I am adapted from a webnovel” feel that so many titles do these days. But I really wanted something more from the series, and as the deadline to save the park crept up I was wondering what weird plan our hero would come up with to save the day.

Then came the revelation of what that plan was, which I will do my darndest not to spoil. At first I was sure it was a fakeout, because there was absolutely no way that they were going to go down that dark, cynical road. But they absolutely do, and I literally said “Holy shit” out loud when I read it. It’s a horrible thing to do, and while Seiya wins the day and the amusement park is (for now) saved, both he and Moffle (one of the “mascots” who is the spitting image of Bonta-kun and also the only one we care about in this volume) feel like it is a bitter, undeserved victory. It absolutely is. And it made the book so much better for me, knowing that in among all the wackiness of Isuzu shooting things and the mascots talking about getting it on with hot moms, the author is ready to pull the rug right out from under his readers with this sort of thing. It made me sort of ill. Bravo.

The next volume is supposed to be more lighthearted, and I’m not sure that’s really what I’ll want. But for now, I recommend Amagi Brilliant Park to fans of FMP or ‘comedy workplace’ series who don’t mind the hero coming off as something of a tortured sociopath. I’ll be reading more.

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  1. Cool to see that you liked. I just bought it for my Kindle as it’s on sale today. Going to read it as soon as possible

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