Arcana Famiglia Review
Warning: The following review may contain spoilers. If you wish not to know some events in the story, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please leave the page, since I don't want to damage a watching experience for you.
With that said, thank you, and onto the review:
The only show I have watched before this was Kamigami no Asobi. And to be honest, I personally enjoyed that show. With its fun characters, good enough story, and a protagonist who FINALLY wasn't generic, I had some hope in future shows that were like this down to road.
I watched this show along Bladedance of the Elementalers, and what happened? Was it as great as my friend said it was?
While this show had some promise in its story and character interaction, the show through the middle tends to skim past story boundaries and go through some uninteresting filler. Also, it has a habit of constantly giving majority two love interests the more benefit of the doubt over the others, leaving them scattered into the dust. Also, one character is a douchebag. And despite other actions, this is how the show will convince you otherwise.
So in other words, the show was more this:
That aside, this show was slightly more enjoyable than Cuticle Detective Inaba, Ikki Tousen Great Guardians, and the disaster that was Date A Live 2. But then again, that doesn't make it great either. Episode 8 is where I realized I would just brace it and keep on going, whereas some other people will flush it down their toilet.
Let's go on to the "story."
As for why I put quotes around story in that last paragraph, I'll explain later. But now, let's get onto the deets.
There is a organization called the Arcana Famiglia who protects the people and justice of the fictional Italian island of Regalo. The members of this family are made up of people who have made contracts with Arcana cards, and as such, have gained powers. Powers include incredible strength (No, not bodybuilder worthy) and turning invisible. (TADAH, HE'S INVISIBLE!)
One night, Mondo decides to retire at his birthday celebration. There's of course a reason behind it, but for now f**k it. In order to decide the new leader in the family, he decides to host an Arcana Duello. To the person who wins, he will be able to take control of the family, and will also be the one to marry his daughter, Felicita.
BUT HOLD ON! Felicita doesn't want any part in this. She wants to be able to choose her own destiny. No please, continue with these encouraging words, it makes me feel so hopeful in our future. So instead, she decides to find her own path, with her main two love interests right beside her.
Then what happens in between the main two events in our story? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Sadly, no. Besides learning about some of our character's pasts, and finding out that the real reason behind Mondo's decision was that he's starting to become ill, nothing happens in this show. There isn't any plot development of the Arcana Duello, and it's mainly just uninteresting filler.
What's this? A cat has gone missing from its owner? There's a ghost? We're going on a secret outing? Pirates have come in? WHO CARES! It's interesting to have filler, but at least have something exciting about it. Here, it just seems that the script writers put every single scenario they could think of into a hat, and drew out which ones they were going to use.
That is until the end of Episode 11, when they announce that the Arcana Duello will be held tomorrow. So, that is what the story is like:
Episode 1: Let's introduce our main characters and our set-up.
Episodes 2-majority of 11: FILLER TIME! F**k the story, but let's just add in development for good measure.
End of Episode 11: Oops! We're trying to tell a story here. Let's bring that back up.
Episode 12: LET'S BRAWL BITCHES!
This is the formula. No really, it is. Yes, these scenarios bring out some interest in the characters, but there's more interesting ways in which you could do them. These are so boring.
The finale was without a doubt rushed. Let's kick out all of our background characters, and not show the winner until after it is mentioned to the viewers. Yeah and have the same style scene from the beginning. YEAH!
Ugh, I need asprin.
It's as if nothing major was resolved in the end. Despite "MONDO'S CURED. LET'S GET DRUNK!" and Felicita proving that she can at least kick some ass, what about the other characters besides Libertia and Nova?
Also, there's two main plot points that I just have to bring that this show doesn't give a damn toward. First, to start off with, Felicita is opposed to the Arcana Duello, and seems to just really hate her father. When she finds out that her father is ill, she now wants to win the Duello to cure her father?
They simply add this event out of nowhere in the anime. I understand it's in the game, but the anime's inclusion is just bad. Also, Felicita, where are your priorities? Why were you so against the idea, yet now you want to save your father, the one you despise?
Secondly, after Felicita tries to use her Arcana power of The Wheel Of Fortune to heal him, but with the cost of losing her memories, Jolly and Mondo go into her mind, and try to untangle her body from memory vines or whatever. Mondo is pushing himself a bit too hard, which causes him to cough up blood and s**t, until our two love interests SAVE THE DAY!
After this, it's confirmed that Felcita's powers had no effect on Mondo, but the show never cares to explain the reason.
I can give a reason. MONDO PUSHED HIMSELF OUT OF HIS LIMITS! IF YOU CLEARLY DIDN'T SEE IN THE DREAM WORLD, MONDO WAS GOING TO DIE ANYWAYS. IS THAT WHY HIS CONDITION NEVER CHANGED. HUH? ARE YOU TOO LAZY TO ADDRESS THAT?
These are the plot points that fell flat on their faces after they weren't even addressed. Plus, they don't dig into other of the character's back stories enough, minus Liberta and Nova. Because of course.
At least the OVA was nice, though random. It had a bit of funny moments, though Jolly is still portrayed as a douchebag.
I think I'm starting to run out of details for this story. Now time for the characters:
I find the characters in this series once again to be worse than Kamigami No Asobi. While in that show, all of the characters (at least the main ones) all get development in some form. This show, yeah, who are Debito, Pace, and Luca again?
These three were the least developed minus one thing about their past. Yeah sure, like that will keep my interest.
Let's start off with Felicita:
First things first, since the creators want to keep the female SOOOOOOOOOOO special, they give her a quirk above the others. Felicita actually has control over two Arcana cards. Yes, everyone has one, and she has two.
Were the creators that desperate? Really?
Anyways, Felicita is the main character of this whole story, and her powers come from the cards The Lovers and The Wheels of Fortune. The Lovers gives her the power to read people's hearts, which can actually be pretty useful. While The Wheels of Fortune can make her change a relationship between a card and it's host, at the cost of something.
Her personal servant Luca, and her maids, normally call her Milady, since it says online that everyone calls her this. No, just these four. She is often very free-willed, and can be courageous when she has knives. Though, she can also be a bit innocent and pure in some ways.
Her Arcana marks are located on her upper chest and her back. I'm glad a fanservice studio didn't get to animate this, because they would have easily put the arcana symbols on chests, boobs, and asses, because HULLO, MONEY!!!!!!!!! but I digress,
One quality that sets Felicita apart from all other otome game protagonists is that she can at least kick butt. Though still, with her personality, she isn't quite as unique as Yui, who has set the bar for a great lead that isn't some clueless idiot like in every single reverse harem show.
I'm not going to talk about all of the love interests because the show doesn't give a damn to some of them. I'll take more about theme later, but let's start this off with Liberta:
Yay, our first out of the main two love interests, and clearly the better one out of them. I personally like Liberta, as I felt he had a great personality. Oh, and he's voiced by one of my favorite seiyuus.
Liberta bears a contract with the Arcana card The Fool, and the mark is on his forehead, covered by his bangs, which is pretty interesting. Because at least the creators did something unique with at least one guy's placement of the Arcana marks.
Liberta used to live in a orphanage when he was young, until a masked hero (Dante) saved him, and took him out to the sea. During a storm, Liberta's powers went out of control, so afterwards, Dante sealed his powers. This example of backstory is probably the best out of all of the filler episodes, because they actually manage to tie it in very well.
And Liberta does have some cute personality quirks. Not only is he bubbly and seems to be in a good mood all the time, he does have some serious moments as well. He does have a reason for backing up Felicita, but then again, Nova does too. But overall, I just think I like him more.
Nova has the Arcana card called The Death, and has a mark on his neck. He is Felicita's cousin and Mondo's nephew. He was engaged to Felicita until he discovered that his parents were planning to overthrow Mondo and Sumire. Hearing this, he lost control of his powers, and put both of his parents into comas. Thus, he dropped the plan, yet he still has the engagement ring.
He is also the leader of the military unit despite his young age. And like Toshiro, the show never reveals this. Hmm, time to play the guessing game perhaps?
Now onto possibly my favorite guy out of the show, Debito:
Debito is perhaps the most interesting character in this show, and really, the only one I kind of care about. He bears a contract with the Arcana card The Hermit, which the mark is located on his foot. It can make him, you guessed it:
And yet the maids announced in the Duello even after he did it. Nice, very nice, girls. Stating the obvious.
He is very flirtatious, giving Felicita the nickname Bambina, which means little girl in Italian. And yay, they keep this in the English dub. He often flirts with other woman too, but mainly to Felicita. He covers his right eye so that he can control his power, due to Jolly implanting a amethyst into it. There's an event in which Debito, Pace, and Luca are all connected to, but you won't bat two eyelashes towards it.
Pace, Luca, and Dante don't really contribute anything to the story that's remotely interesting. They can be summed up in a few words: Human Garfield who loves lasagna, and has super strength for his power (Fangirls will be asking for proof), Felicita's personal attendant who does have some funny moments through the show, and the director of the Famiglia who wishes he had hair again. That's pretty much it.
Let's talk about Jolly next:
Describing Jolly is pretty much like this. DOUCHEBAG, but he might have some good in him. Yeah, don't think so, so DOUCHEBAG! :D
*sighs* Does anyone have any asprin? Because I think I need some again.
Jolly is Mondo's right-hand man, and bears the Arcana card of The Moon, the mark being in his right eye. And just when I thought Liberta's was unique, but resting my case.
He is also the family's adviser, but do to his cold actions, pretty much everyone on the island avoids him. Because you know, he's "evil" and s**t.
But hey, he created an artificial child. He might have some good intentions. Hell, MAYBE HE ISN'T AS BAD AS EVERYONE THINKS HE IS! You know what, never mind.
The main problem I have with Jolly is that this show constantly tries to pass him off as a generic bad guy that it isn't even really funny anymore. They keep on convincing you to not even come near him, because he just has a cold heart and nothing else, even though signs show otherwise.
And it doesn't help that Jolly has a route in the game. Umm, okay then.
Other characters include the artificial child, Felicita's mother and father, and random characters that you won't really care for.
The animation for this series was done by J.C.Staff, who are also known for animating Azumanga Daioh, Toradora, and Shakugan no Shana.
For a series that is clearly nowhere near my favorites, the animation for this series is actually pretty good. The scenery of Regalo is very nice, and I really liked the character designs. The quality of the characters was unique, and I don't normally see it in anime.
Besides this though, there are some moments in the series that dropped a bit in quality that I hoped they fixed on the DVD. Mainly in Episode 12, in which Liberta and Nova wake up after getting knocked out in there battle in the Arcana Duello. But there isn't too many of them, so I shouldn't nit-pick it too much.
The score for this series was composed by Yasuhiro Misawa, who has also composed scores for Kokoro Connect, Kotura-san, and Minami-ke.
Unlike Kamigami no Asobi, where some moments of the score were very memorable and very angelic, this score is absolutely boring. I honestly don't remember really anything about it, minus some dramatic tracks. But this score didn't really feel like it had any impact whatsoever. More or less on me, this is.
Which is a shame, since the opening and ending are both kick ass. Do you feel that every single song that Hitomi Harada sings, she slays every single time?
The Japanese is also very fun to listen to. As with all otome games, the seiyuus who voice the love interests are back. And all of them actually do a great job as their characters. Koji Yusa's voice goes all deep and raspy as Jolly, and just when some fangirls thought Gin and Lau's voices couldn't get pleasing enough. The English dub so far is okay, but I'm a bit too scared to watch it. Mainly because I'm just so used to the Japanese, or that Kara Greenburg voices Nova, a casting decision that just seems so odd.
Highlights in the original Japanese include Mamiko Noto, Jun Fukuyama, Tsubasa Yonaga, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Yuichi Nakamura, Koji Yusa, Misato Fuken, and Kikuko Inoue.
Highlights so far in the English dub include Luci Christian (who always manages to own every single role she gets), Jay Hickman, and Chuck Huber.
Compared to Kamigami No Asobi, this show was a disappointment. While there were some high points of this show, and I at least hoped for some improvement as the shot went on, it never really took off, leaving me a bit gutted. There were so many chances for this show to be better, and it just never took them.
I would still recommend this show to people who are obsessed with reverse harem, and are on a roll with those types of shows. And to people who like filler. And hot guys. Besides that, I'm not sure what other people will think.
A interesting set-up.
Some great characters.
Perfect Japanese dub.
Story relies too much on filler.
Most characters aren't as developed as others.
Boring musical score.