First Impressions Digest 10/8/14 – Nanatsu no Taizai, Amagi Brilliant Park

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Nanatsu no Taizai- 01
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Oh, man – another one?  You guessed it – another decent premiere that’s neither good enough to be a sure thing or bad enough to be a painless drop.  This season sure is full of those..

Nanatsu no Taizai is quite a popular manga, though at only a couple of years old it’s pretty young to be getting an anime adaptation.  I’ve skimmed the manga a little, not enough to make any kind of informed decision but enough to give me an impression of a relatively fluffy but witty series with a certain amount of cleverness.  And I think that comes across in A-1 Pictures’ (who have some experience partnering with Weekly Shounen) adaptation.  Initially the art and animation seem quite primitive, but I think that’s more a faithful representation of mangaka Suzuki Nakaba’s art style than a matter of budget (not that A-1 doesn’t have that issue with WS adaptations, but not usually in the first episode).

Kaji Yuuki is a better fit here as Meliodas than he is in Donten ni Warau, being as how the overall tone of The Seven Deadly Sins is more boisterous and less emo, though he certainly wouldn’t have been my first choice.  The premise here is classic shounen fantasy – an elite cadre of knights that’s been declared enemies of the state and scattered to the winds, and the deposed Princess Elizabeth (Amamiya Sora) who seeks out their help to restore the kingdom.  He’s undercover as an innkeeper (which is indeed a perfect job for anyone looking to hear as much as they can) and joined by talking pig Hawk (Kuno Misaki) when Elizabeth arrives, seeking help from the notorious Seven Deadly Sins, with the evil Holy Knights close behind.
This is solid shounen, at least so far – no surprises, but quite representative of the genre and the source publication.  This was one of the series where going in, I felt fairly confident of what we’d get – and the first episode bore that out.  Again, it’s another show that may or may not be a blogging candidate – add it to the pile of those where it’s just too early to know.

Amagi Brilliant Park – 01
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Nope, not sure about this one either.

I visited Kyoto Animation a couple of days ago (look for a few pics shortly) and I was struck by how humble their digs are, considering how this studio is surely one of the powerhouses of TV animation by any standard you’d care to judge by.  I admire their production standards even if I’m usually indifferent to their creative impulse (or lack of it), and of late they’ve increasingly become a kind of ouroboros – keeping everything in-house, right back to the source material.  I’m pretty sure that’s usually not a good idea, but at least Amagi Brilliant Park has the distinction of being written by Full Metal Panic’s Gatoh Shouji, and sees him reunited with that series’ director Takemoto Yasuhiro.

There are certain things that seem to be de rigueur in every KyoAni series these days – a certain manner of speech by both the male lead and female cast, a certain style of humour, among other things – and even if ABP is a throwback to an earlier creative era in terms of staff, it feels very much like a contemporary KyoAni show.  That’s not to say there’s not some good stuff here – some of the jokes in the premiere are pretty funny – but there’s an excessively mannered and self-aware quality that seems to imbue every KyoAni show these days (except Hyouka, which is looking more and more like an outlier) that I find myself increasingly unable to stomach for long.

There’s certainly no preamble here – Gatoh and Takemoto launch directly into the story with no semblance of ceremony.  Female lead Sento Isuzu (Kakuma Ai) points a rifle at Kanie Seiya (Uchiyama Kouki) and insists he accompany her to Amagi Brilliant Park the following weekend.  The extremely egotistical Kanie (it turns out he used to be a famous child actor) assumes this is a date, but it turns into a pleasantly surreal trip through some of the worst theme park attractions this side of a horror novel.  In the end she introduces him to the “manager” Latifa Fleuranza (Yukiyo Fujii), who calmly informs him that the magical “Maple Land” at the park is in fact actually populated by refugees from a magical land, and if the park doesn’t receive 250,000 visitors in the next three months it’ll be shut down and all the faeries left homeless.  Naturally Kanie-kun (just because) is the only one who can become the manager and save the park, and to prove the magic is real she kisses him and imbues him with mind-reading powers.

OK, well – that might just be random enough to have some appeal.  But we do have a lot of KyoAni standards here, right down to an older sister guardian and the heroine moving into the protagonist’s house and getting naked.  I laughed three or four times during the premiere and once the instinctual aggravation at the KyoAni “postage rate” settled down there really wasn’t anything I actively disliked.  But if it weren’t for the FMP connection the truth is I’d see very little reason to think Amagi Brilliant Park was going to distinguish itself from KyoAni’s increasingly bland recent run of series.  Toss another one on the follow and hope pile, which is getting alarmingly tall already.
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5 comments

  1. S

    It's "de rigueUr", mon cher Enzo.

    Maybe this season hasn't offered anything special yet but I'm enjoying it a lot so far. Also, you might like Gugure!

  2. D

    Seconded on "Gugure! Kokkuri-san." Probably my favorite premiere of the season so far (well, and "Akatsuki no Yona," but I have a big squishy soft spot for shoujo fantasies). We tend to like a lot of the same comedies, so I think the humor will be up your alley. Plus it has its roots in Japanese folklore/mythology, and I know that's kinda *your* big squishy soft spot. :)

  3. s

    I thought this premiere was decent; as usual im always impressed by what kyoani does on a technical level. As ive stated many times before, they are a very detail orientated animation studio and are only one of the few animation studios i know that actual animate what's going on in the backgrounds. Still though, i would like to see a sequel to Hyouka already; the series was a solid 8/10 for me and id like to see what Okube Shuhei's animation directing can bring to a second season with a bigger budget. Another haruhi movie continuing where disappearance left of would also make me a very happy man. Honestly that's what id like to see the most…well that and an original series that is not an in-house project from Kyo ani; perhaps even an adaptation of a novel or manga.

  4. z

    I wish anime had more variety in voice acting! Sorry, little rant here. I find it distracting when I recognize an actor from the first word they speak, especially when they use the same voice for another airing show.

    Seems every show has the same male leads until they burn out. Kaji Yuki stands out like an annoying sore thumb. And Kimura Ryouhei and Uchiyama Kouki are so similar. Of course there's Miyano Mamoru, who is thankfully in less shows these days. Sakurai Takahiro is quickly becoming overused too. For female roles, Sawashiro Miyuki is the most overused in an obvious fashion.

    Okay, end rant. Sorry again!

  5. Preaching to the choir. I happen to think both Uchiyama and Kimura have real range and I like Sakurai a lot in the right role – but he's so overused that he's rarely in the right role. I do think especially male seiyuu (well, and KanaHana) are recycled way too much and I'm always happy when we get new voices.

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