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[In which I review] New anime, Summer 2012


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The Sword Art Online novels are in fact pretty good. The main draw of SAO is that the main protagonist is a far cry from the hapless losers we usually see in anime; He's quietly competent and actually pretty lethal.

Of course, the novel - Like the author's other work, Accel World - suffers from having a setting that is *way* more interesting than the stories in that setting, so to speak. It's not that the stories are bad...It's just that setting has much more of a draw to it.


Unrepentant Froggie
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La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

The super-powered henchmen of a mafia family having a contest to see who gets to be the new head and marry his daughter... you've guessed it : it's a male-harem shoujo action-romance.


Felicita, the daughter, at least seems to have a personality (and combat skills), and obviously doesn't like this "marrying her off to the winner" idea one bit. But hey, she can participate too !

Liberta, the Fool (they all have powers patterned after tarot cards). He's our "sympathetic" male lead, although mostly he's a moron with no impulse control. It takes all of Jun Fukuyama's natural charm to make him not too punchable.

Nova, his natural rival, straight-arrow and humourless. Well, at least he agrees with Liberta and agrees not to marry Felicita if he manages to win.

We get a bit of insight into some of the other guys too : the big bald right-hand man who uses a bazooka as a weapon of choice, the quirky epicurian, the hopeless guy who was in charge of raising Felicita, the smug asshole in sunglasses who's sure to win if he takes the contest seriously...

And of course there's "Papa", a strong contender for the "Father of the Year" award. (Bonus points for being voiced by Fuhimiko Tachiki.) I half-suspect the whole thing is a setup to toughen Felicita up so that she can take over the clan, but I may be giving him too much credit.

Production Values

About okay, with fluid fight scenes (this is JC Staff, after all).

Overall Impression

This is slightly better than I expected. The action prologue suffers a bit by trying to introduce nine major characters in way too small an amount of time, but it flows more naturally later on. Similarly, the exposition about everyone's power starts clunky and gets a bit better as it goes.

But the most interesting point here is that the show seems intent in portraying Felicita as a character of her own, and not just a stand-in for the female viewer. The narrative has her on an equal footing with the dudes, and I really hope this will keep.

... And then the next-episode-preview had to ruin it all by promising pulse-pounding "our three leads searching for a cat" action. WTF ? We don't need a breather episode already, and this doesn't bode well.


a heavy bear to cross
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La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia
Word on the street from people familiar with the otome game is that there's an ending in which Felicitá becomes badass, chooses no one to be her husband, takes over the family and all of the guys become her loyal retainers. Fingers crossed, 'cos Fiery Best Friend versus Cold Stoic Loner is pretty played out no matter how you approach it.


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What other recent shows have featured Italy?
Not many, that's kinda the point :D

I was mostly being facetious. It's just that I found having two shows set in Italy being reviewed back to back interesting.

The most recent example of a show set in Italy that comes to my mind is Gunslinger Girls, and it's certainly not recent.


Unrepentant Froggie
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But you're right, there hasn't been much on that front in the last few years.
La Croisée Dans Un Chemin Etranger ? GOSICK ? And I'm sure the latest Lupin III series had at least a couple episodes set there.

(Nobody cares about contemporary France, though.)
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