*SPOILERS* Not really, it just contains a few drops here and there that some may consider spoilers, you've been warned.
As a note of warning, it's been a really long time since I've given a true shonen or shoujo title any chance at all...true here meaning ridiculously long and contains at least one full 20 episode arc that ends up being just filler. I say this in case it's just this choice of mine to traditionally avoid these anime recently that I'm just not latching on to Arcana Famiglia.
The first episode is actually pretty good. It has loads of absurdity, beautifully animated fight scenes (we're talking fully animated and gorgeous, none of the old pan up or down with movement lines drawn in), and truly likable, if not completely archetypal, characters.
The show then utterly falls on its face, in the most absurd manner ever. Not in a few episodes, or over a period of time, but literally in the second episode. The characters are still good, although the lead female (Felicita) doesn't really do much, or say much of anything in the first few, making it really hard to understand why any of the other characters like her, other than the fact that she's pretty.
Believe me, I was expecting at least 150 episode the second Papa announced a tournament, a massive duello to win both his title and his daughter's (Fel's) hand in marriage (who, by the way, was previously engaged to her blood cousin, fun stuff). The thing I wasn't expecting was the second episode to be 100% filler right off the bat. The two male leads, Nova (dark brooding, ends up being the most caring), and Liberta (bright and happy, ends up having a truly dark and depressing history, like I said truly archetypal) help Felicita go find the owner of a cat. Is the owner of the cat important? Did anything happen between the characters have any relevance to furthering the plot? Did they learn new powers to be used in the duello? Was anything about their history revealed whilst helping this cat? Not even a little bit.
Mind, there isn't much source material yet to go off of for this show. The thing, I believe, is based off of a video game, and the manga is brand new itself...but that's no excuse to go straight to filler on the second episode in. There have been sprinklings of intrigue involving Jolly, Nova and Liberta's past is also fairly interesting and deep, and maybe some day Felicita will have an actual character that isn't just wanting to cook food for Nova, or be pissed at hear parents, but I really don't want to have to wade through hours and hours of filler just to find out about this.
Anime has had this problem for ages, and if I'm honest it's the reason they make money here, but for those of us who are just interested in the story, this is a huge problem. Back in the 80s, Mobile Suit Gundam came out, ran for 50 episodes (the equivalent of almost 17 hours of anime), and was then condensed into three 2 hour movies, which also included updated animation for all of the fight scenes. 12 episodes at a time were shown in the movies as simple narration, and I lost nothing (I've watched both the show and the movies, although I refuse to acknowledge watching the show on this site because the movies were so much easier and I feel like I should only really claim one of the two formats).
Arcana Famiglia is genuinely an archetypal anime, but there's not really a problem with that. Many forms of media are formulaic and still work if the formula is generally a really good one. I want to be able to watch this, the animation is beautiful, and the characters have a reasonable amount of depth, but if something truly important doesn't happen in the next 2-3 episodes I'm probably going to drop it, and that's a bit sad in my opinion, cause it could really be a very solid anime. I guess I've just gotten used to the 13 episode format. When well done you can have a very action packed anime, with no fillers, and no gaps (this format does have its pitfalls and anime does seem to want to always have fillers, and when there are only 13 episodes, and 3 of them are filler, all of a sudden you have a rushed unfocused ending that's just as bad as an anime that ran for 150 episodes).
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