La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia – First Impressions
July 3, 2012 7 Comments
La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia is this seasons reverse harem anime, following the exploits of Felicità and the handsome men that surround her. The story is set on the island of Regalo in the Meditteranea Sea, and as you would expect all the major characters have Italian names. What is so fascinating about the setting is the time period, with the clothes and vehicles used appearing to be from the late 19th century. It is a time period that fascinates the Japanese, with numerous films (specifically by Miyazaki), along with several anime set during this period at the height of the British Empire. The clothes and general style of the series gives you the impression that despite the fantasy elements it is more of a historical anime than anything else.
The characters all appear to be unique with individual and distinctive characteristics and personalities, something that is always immensely important in these series. A reverse harem always needs distinctive male characters, and when they are not distinctive a lot of the dialogue and interactions between the cast can appear bland and pointless. This first episode demonstrated that the central characters do not entirely get along with each other, and that they all have their own distinctive reasons for being on the island. Furthermore, Felicità is a strong-willed and capable character, someone who clearly has her own opinions and ideas about how she wishes to live. It is always a great sign when any series, and particularly reverse harem have strong female characters that get involved in the action rather than standing to one side. Her fighting abilities and personality suggest that no one can really boss her around, except perhaps her father who clearly has other plans for her.
The series appears to be based around the idea of Tarot cards and psychics, with the central characters who all have the power of an ‘arcana’. Each arcane is distinctive, following the characteristics of tarot cards, this giving us some indications as to their powers and their personalities. La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia is essentially about this group of handsome men who are lead by Felicità as they protect Regalo with their powers. This is unfortunately where the problems begin, or more specifically one large problem, a lack of plot and direction. At the moment while the characters are potentially fascinating, along with a good historical setting, there is no real direction or plot in the series. We know that the Arcana Famiglia is a vigilante group who protect the island of Regalo, and yet their reason for being there is not clear. Felicità has become a part of Arcana Famiglia who her father ‘Mondo’ runs, and is apparently the head of the ‘Serie of Sword’, and yet none of this makes any sense.
Clearly this ‘Serie of Sword’ along with the position that Felicità holds is of immense significance, but the series has not done anything to really explain it. We also have the curious case where Mondo has suddenly announced a big tournament where all those who have the power of arcana will fight in order to be the next leader of Arcana Famiglia, while also marrying Felicità. We also have very little explanation about the significance of the arcana powers and if there is any deeper meaning or connection between them and the outside world. In a way this series suffers from similar issues to the first season of Horizon, with a lot of information bombarded at you, while offering no real explanation.
There is clearly a lot going on in this series, with Mono and Sumire setting up this battle-royale of sorts in order to push Felicità into questioining and thinking about herself and her future. We also have the potential for significantly deeper meanings attributed to each characters arcana and how they interact with each other. For now however, it is far too muddled to work out which direction this series will take. While some series add too much explanation (Fate/Zero being a clear example of this), La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia has done the opposite and barely explained anything while throwing loads of facts and terms at the audience. Some of it can be picked up, assuming you know anything about Tarot cards and the meanings behind each one, but if you don’t it will be simply another form of confusion.
On the plus side, Felicità is an excellent female lead, someone who is clearly a fighter and will not calmly sit to one side and let the ‘big strong men’ take over. We also have the brilliant Mafioso style outfits that everyone in Arcana Famiglia is wearing, which fits the idea of an Italian vigilante group. Felicità looks especially cool in what has to be one of the best yet understated outfits I’ve seen a female lead character wear in a long time. I am not yet convinced by this series, but will continue to watch it since there is enough there to keep me interested, and also make a fascinating anime series if they manage to progress the story and explain things in a little more detail. In particular I would like to see more of an explanation when it came to the arcana and more important why the Arcana Famiglia even exists, something that may unfortunately never happen, but its nice to hope.