Tuesday, July 31, 2012

[Anime Survivor 2] 10th Place: Arcana Famiglia

Now that our second Anime Survivor is underway (the first having contributed heavily to a desire to eat whitefish and a staggering fear of owls), I can honestly say that I have no idea what show will wear the heavy crown this time around. There are a handful that may make it to the finals, but I can't guess which would make it to the top. Perhaps this is a sign that I randomly chose all the good anime shows (or all the bad ones) for this contest.

In analyzing the other shows at their face value, I'd say that we're in for crazy weather. It seems that the bountiful harvest from spring (Kids on the Slope, Tsuritama, Fujiko Mine, and the close of Fate/Zero) has dried up into a dustbowl of barren choices. Again, I blame the lack of relief on the immense gains usually left for the equinoxes—Summer and Winter just aren't for fans.

That being said, I'm going to try to remain optimistic. There is still a chance we found some roses growing among the thorns. That's not to say that it's impossible to pluck the stinkweed from the bouquet. And La storia della Arcana Famiglia is a story in desperate need of some Prada perfume.

La Forza (Strength): I'm at a loss for words here, folks, but are there any strong points about Arcana Famiglia? I suppose if we were really to nit-pick, we could say that it was the better show between the two that wanted to pretend to be from Italy, but we can't be comparative in our analysis. I suppose you at least have a little bit of talent in the animation studio (J.C Staff) and in the director's chair with Chiaki Kon (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni) helming this series.

Maybe there might be a little potential in the characters, but surprisingly I see it in only two characters. While all of the beta males in Arcana Famiglia are basically there just to fill roles (the stubborn chibi, the brash blonde, the happy glutton, the mysterious smoker, etc.), I do see some potential in the main heroine Felicità and her opportunity to win her way towards independence, but I also don't see her getting too far without help from the "mama" of the organization, Sumire. Of course, considering much of the show (five episodes so far) has focused on the males and the squeaky maids begging the heroine to adopt her role as a dress-wearing bride, I'm losing confidence in that potential.

If only Felicità didn't have an owl. (Make all the bad birdies go away!)

Il Matto (The Fool): Considering it was so hard to justify watching Arcana Famiglia, perhaps we should focus on exactly what has been covered so far. In the first few episodes, our Mafia unit stops a comically-inept bunch of hooligans and searches for lost children, only to show how anti-heroic they are by failing to properly catch a cat. I mean, are we watching defenders from Hiiro no Kakera or pretenders from Sket Dance?

The weak plot is only exposed with softer characters, and I can't say any of the male harem are an enjoyable bunch. The main duo, Libertà and Nova, are basically your Naruto and Sasuke of the crew, one serious, the other is fancy-free but with his own ruptured past. Giving them all swords and firearms are hardly the solution, as none are really that skilled nor visually impressive with them. I mean, what are you going to do when faced with a raging fire, slice the flames out?

La Morte (Death): So where does Arcana Famiglia have to go after spending five out of twelve episodes to provide backgrounds on only two characters? Where is the big tournament between members of the family that will decide who the new "Papa" is and who will be marrying Felicità?

Most importantly, where are the bad guys?

That's what ultimately kills any momentum in Arcana Famiglia. It has basically painted itself into a corner by adopting a shônen-manga tournament between its characters. If there is no antagonist that introduces itself in the end, the plot will feel weak, but if there is a sudden party-crasher, everyone will say that Naruto did it better with their invasion. It's a no-win situation for a show that barely sparks any sense of victory in the first place.

Boring characters with cardboard personas and mimeographed backgrounds, dry situations with flat conclusions, and little excitement towards the future. Arcana Famiglia at least can hold its head high as the better of the two "Italianime" shows, but who wants to watch a race between two horses already bound for the glue factory?

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