Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer 2010: Blessing of the Campanella

(Pictures are taken from Funimation's Blessing of the Campanella site and videos.)

I don't do role-playing games anymore.

It's not that I don't like the characters or the art behind the games. Personally, it would require an impeccably-written story to really draw me into the world of RPGs again. While Final Fantasy did not disappoint early on, I've found that in later games it is difficult to jump into some new world if the laws of nature are a little too complex to grasp. Magic points and materia are one thing, but how they all factor in on the operations of the game are another.

While it may have started as a visual novel, The Blessing of the Campanella (Shukufuku no Kan'panera) provides that sort of RPG feel in its first few episodes. The original game was developed by Windmill Oasis, the adult visual-novel development company that gave us the love-comedy Happiness!, so one could expect a little more of the harem touch in this show. Naturally, the male-to-female ratio is closer to zero than one in this show.

True to RPG form, the show introduces us to the Oasis clan, a gathering of adventurers in the country of Ert'Aria that act as sort of an investigational unit when suspicious activity is brought into question in their medieval town. The main character, Leicester Maycraft, is the engineer of the group and the heavenly body that the female characters gravitate around, especially Carina, the magic-user of the group who has a blatant crush on Leicester. One particular day brings the party together--a celestial knight, a chipper puppeteer, and twin golem-users from a rival clan--only to witness a meteor shower of energy strike a nearby tower.

While "El" energy provides magic for the users in Ert'Aria, it is a unique form of energy that can power "automaton" puppetry. Leicester manages to locate the particular target of the strike, only to find it to be a humanoid automaton. Minette wakes up to instantly call Leicester "Papa", causing a lot of anxiety and comic grief from Carina. It is from this meteor shower that other investigations are required, as El appears to be useful to many other beings in different worlds.

Due to the slow opening to Blessing of the Campanella, focus seems to be at a premium. There appears to be a whole lot more that hasn't been said and that needs to be said. During the first two episodic scenes that really go nowhere, the idea that Minette is an important figure to the story is set in motion. The major problem, however, is that Minette is barely the central figure amongst all of the characters. All of the attention is put squarely on Leicester, who is hardly reflexive in that attention towards the others. Minette doesn't have much of a reason to be the locus of the story, aside from being an automaton and being cute.

Animation-wise, the anime has promise in its designs (aside from the earring competition the characters may be embroiled in), but the story's bumpy take-off doesn't give much hope in its artistic recognition as a redeeming value. There's no real direction for the group, and the highlights appear to be mostly displays of mirth without any real emergencies. Apart from Minette's awakening, the first two episodes could have likely been passed over completely. If I wanted to enjoy a meteor shower or a trip to the beach, I'd enjoy the experience first-hand.

Blessing of the Campanella could have promise, but the lack of initial direction, something that hurt the animated version of Windmill's Happiness! game in its first few episodes, is unfortunately infectious. Unless something critical happens to our plucky band of explorers, there doesn't seem to be much to this quest except to gather as many females in the party as possible. If that was the key to this show, it might be better to play the game instead.

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