Amagi Brilliant Park, Vol. 2

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

This volume of Amagi Brilliant Park is not as shockingly cynical as the last volume (I suspect the author realized it might become an anime and needed to walk things back… indeed, the anime cut the surprising part of the ending to Book One entirely). That said, I also think that the story settles in a bit better for the long haul here, and while our two leads still feel a bit cliched (indeed, the prose occasionally shows self-awareness that it is a cliched light novel series), they don’t feel like they’re only made of cliches. The premise is much the same as last time – the deadline was kicked down the road, but the “get visitors and make money or get shut down” threat is still there. The money is more important than the visitors right now, as without a staff the park can’t function. And so Seiya thinks hard about how to get a) more money, and b) more staff. He has the help of Isuzu… sometimes, when she’s not under the influence of truth serum.

Princess Latifah (who hopefully will never become Queen, because boy would that be awkward) is on the cover, looking a lot more happy than she is in the book. She’s lost her memories from the first book (another thing the anime changed), and as such is both a) judging her past self harshly for being unable to come up with good solutions, and b) judging her current self harshly for being unable to live up to her past. Seiya tries to help, but I get the feeling that this is a plotline that’s going to be playing out over the course of the series. He’s also still harboring some feelings for her… though he also has some feelings for Isuzu, who he thinks might reciprocate them (the truth serum helped), but isn’t quite willing to actually ask when she could tell him, and afterwards of course she’s back to her normal curt self.

We do meet some new characters. One seems to exist only for the sake of a dumb gag, though she does seem sweet – I’m hoping the gag is not a running one. The other one seems to be a gung-ho high school girl who is determined to work at the park, and is not going to let foolish things like getting stabbed and needing immediate medical attention stop her. This sequence succeeded mainly due to its complete ridiculousness. As for Seiya, he’s still a somewhat morally questionable hero – the magic ability I mentioned he barely used in the first book is used here with a vengeance – but it’s all offscreen, and it’s used in order to help him gain blackmail material so that he can make a financial agreement with this world’s equivalent of Walmart. It’s not as jaw-dropping as the first book, but there’s still the sense that he’ll do anything to win, and Isuzu will simply stand next to him and ask if there’s anyone he needs shot.

The market for this is definitely teenage boys (Isuzu waking from a nightmare by having her gun emerge from between her legs and fire into the ceiling is possibly the most unsubtle joke I’ve seen in any light novel to date), but Amagi Brilliant Park is fun, easy to read, and still has a bit of a cynical, bitter taste to it.

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