Amagi Brilliant Park, Vol. 3

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

Half of this was fantastic, the other half I hated. Welcome to another review of Amagi Brilliant Park, a series I’m still very ambiguous about. The third book in the series is made of of short stories, two short and two long. The short stories were all right. The first one was based around the gag that if we ever saw the fairy mascots as humans, they’d all be sexy bishonen, which did not, for once, wear out its welcome so was quite funny. The other short story has Seiya, curious about the magical world, trying to go to it with Moffle. He doesn’t make it (train issues), but does learn more about Moffle’s past and bonds with him a bit. It’s also the only part of the book where you don’t want to punch him in the face. Let’s face it, Seiya is a protagonist who’s very hard to like, and the two “large” stories in this book show us why; he’s an arrogant jerk who barely cares how others think of him.

Let’s start with the story I disliked, because I will admit part of it is me. Stories where there’s bodyswapping and a character has to pretend to be another make me feel deeply uncomfortable, and that’s the entire premise. Seiya has too many absences at school because he’s working on the park, but the park can’t afford for him to actually go to school regularly. Fortunately (?), the fairy team has a solution of what is essentially a lifelike Seiya costume that they can wear. Over the course of four days, Isuzu and the three main mascots go to school pretending to be Seiya, and get involved in a tortured plot involving love letter shenanigans. A lot of it was very predictable, and I sadly did not find it as funny as the author did. Still, as I said, if you DO like bodyswap-like comedy, you should have no issue with it. (It also has Seiya at his absolute worst, especially near the resolution.)

That said, the first story in the book is probably my favorite of the entire series to date. It takes place from the POV of Shiina, one of the three new part-time hires we briefly saw in the last book. She’s introverted, bad at being social, flubs her words when she speaks, and really only comes alive when she sings karaoke to herself in the evenings. Naturally, she’s put with Moffle for her part-time job, which has her dreaming of quitting after about half an hour. But it’s actually great, as while Moffle is a drill sergeant of a teacher he’s not unkind, and Shiina gradually acclimates to life at the park – and in school, as she realizes (well, OK, has to be told) that she’s no longer as shy and wallflowerish there, which stuns everyone. What’s more, the three mascots find her at the karaoke booth and learn her terrible secret: she’s a brilliant singer. But can she get over her introversion (still an issue despite everything) to save the Park? This was terrific. Shiin’a POV is great, there’s minimal Seiya, and the character growth all around made me smile.

That said, I wish it had been later in the book. As it is, the book feels very top-heavy. Still, it’s enough to keep me wanting to read more, if only to see if Seiya ever learns humility. (Joking about his being a tsundere is not quite enough, no.)

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