Final Review: La storia della Arcana Famiglia

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

La storia della Arcana Famiglia (or Arcana Famiglia for short) is based on a PSP otome visual novel released in 2011. The story is about a battle royale among the Arcana Famiglia organization to win Felicita’s hand in marriage as well as becoming the new head of the Arcana Famiglia organization. Felicita, who is against such a proposal and wishes to choose her own path also decides to take part in the Arcana Duello tournament even if it mean fighting those who she considers “family.” Arcana Famiglia premiered during the Summer 2012 anime season and was simulcasted and licensed by Sentai Filmworks.

At first glance, Arcana Famiglia’s premise sounds like your typical shounen battle royale anime except from a girl’s point of view. Binding the characters to Tarot cards is quite interesting and it’s nice that the characters do somewhat reflect the card they contracted. The unfortunate truth, however, is the show never gets anywhere and I mean never. Between episodes 2 and 11 all we see is pure character development. Granted that the source material is a visual novel, which meant a lot of character development anyways, the setup had a lot of flexibility to work with and is one of those “few” exceptions where I personally would be okay with “deviating” from the source a bit. In fact, you could easily tie in a lot of the character development into the “tournament” itself. Yet the series took the snooze fest path of “let’s fool around until the end.” Long story short: what plot?

Art is generally average. Character designs, however, are quite good. I wasn’t fond of it at first but as the series progressed, they actually are quite sharp and well drawn. Animation is pretty solid this show, especially coming from J.C. Staff by Summer 2012. J.C. Staff had been on a massive streak of both series fail and animation fail. When you consider that Bakuman 2 and Tantei Opera Milky Holmes II were their better works to date at the time of airing, they really had set the bar low. Arcana Famiglia definitely shows that J.C. Staff is capable of decent quality work. I’m not talking about SHAFT or KyoAni level quality but this is still respectable for J.C. Staff when you compare that Shakugan no Shana III and Zero no Tsukaima F were still stuck in their 2005-2006 animation quality. And don’t even get me started on Joshiraku or Kill Me Baby.

In terms of music, OP theme is by Hitomi Harada and this shows that she can still sing a fantastic song without the help of TENMON composing. ED is by Jun Fukuyama and Tsubasa Yonaga. It’s an okay song but not something I would listen to long term. Background music and sound effects are forgettable. Seiyuu is above average for this show.

Enjoyment? Absolutely none and there is nothing more to be said.

Overall, if you’re looking for a reverse harem title, Hanasakeru Seishounen and Ouran High School Host Club remain the best in class off the top of my head. No otome visual novel has really been worthwhile and Arcana Famiglia is only another title that joins that group.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Generic battle royale setup. Tarot card concept is unoriginal but interesting.
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Fitting for the series. Felicita is a decent lead.
  • Character Development (1/2): Strong back story on a variety of characters but forgettable as they play little impact on the “story”
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (0.5/2): Too many names. Little to no progress in “story” meant little usefulness
  • Pacing: (0/1): You call 10 episodes of character development and rushing a story into two episodes good pacing? Might as well make OVAs
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1/2): Not really much to comment here.
  • Conclusion (0/1): Rushed as expected.
  • Total: 4/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1/2): Average
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): Above average. The designs grew on me.
  • Fluidity (1/2): A lot of still shots but outside that, quite good. Recycled animation.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Okay but too many abnormal colors.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1.5/2): One of the more “prettier” titles I’ve seen from J.C. Staff lately.
  • Total: 6/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2.5/3): Great OP theme. ED theme is okay
  • Background Music (0/2): Not memorable.
  • Sound Effects (0/2): Not memorable
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Mamiko Noto is still awesome?
  • Total: 5.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (0/2): None.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0/2): You had my attention for about 5 minutes
  • Presentation: (1/2): Episodic. Some continuity toward the end.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Nope.
  • Recommendation (0/2): Hanasakeru Seishounen and Ouran High School Host Club remain the best reverse harems to date.
  • Value (0/1): None. And not to mention that Summer 2012 was full of terrible shows already.
  • Total: 1/10

Preliminary Score: 5/10

Final Score: 4/10

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