La notte del compleanno
It’s finally the start of the new season, though this one is looking rather lackluster. The proof of that would be this very anime, as I would never imagine my second most anticipated title in a season to be a reverse harem. As I didn’t know that much besides that simple fact, I was a bit wary about this series, but I ended up pleased with its premiere.
It was a rather colorful and lively first episode, starting with the very first scene – full of over-the-top action, actually bordering on the ridiculous – which serves to showcase the characters’ fighting style, names and personalities. I won’t complain about the flashiness, because it worked, and it worked well.
The story takes place in Regalo Island, an island that seemingly lives out of commerce, and our protagonists belong to an organization which looks over and protects said island. Such organization – the Arcana Famiglia – is a Mafioso style society, which according to its leader, respectfully called “Papa” (which translated as “Father” to English), has protected Regalo Island through many hardships. Some of their members seem to have formed a contract with an orange, I mean, a Tarot card, having a special power related to the Arcanum they’ve contracted with.
Moving on quickly, they don’t waste time on presenting the plot, going right from that opening action scene to Papa’s birthday party. The current leader of the Arcana Famiglia then announces his intent on retiring, and the method he thought of to select his successor: holding a tourney between all of those who have Arcana powers, giving the title to the winner, as well as conceding him a wish and, the most controversial statement, the hand of his daughter in marriage. His daughter is Felicita, a teenage girl with an independent personality, who obviously doesn’t want her fate decided against her will, yet has no other choice but to abide by her father’s decision, not only as his daughter, but also as a member of the Famiglia, which apparently she decided to join of her own free will, being the only sightable female in that huge salon.
That means she’ll be participating in the duel as well, in order to earn her own freedom of choice, as will the other users of Arcana powers. The interesting part is seeing how their personalities and intentions differ, ranging from the hotheaded Liberta, who easily declares he’s definitely winning the duel and allowing Felicita not to get married, to the ruthless and arrogant Jolly, seemingly looking down on everyone, who may be shaping up to fit the antagonist role in this series.
The Arcana powers are themselves a potentially interesting point, and we are introduced to some of them. For instance, Felicita can “see” people’s hearts; Debrito has the power of invisibility; something I think everyone has always wished for at least once, Pace has got absolute strength. That said, the most interesting characters in this regard seem to be Nova and Liberta, whose powers have yet to be explained (in the former’s case, we didn’t even see them). Liberta seems to have a strange power, and from Pace’s reaction, I’d make it to be the negation of other powers. If my assumption is correct, it’s a really “niche” power, for it only works on a very limited range of people, but it may actually be the most useful one for the current situation. As for Nova, it was his reaction towards Liberta’s remark that he’d never seen him using his powers that itched my curiosity. It was a rather subtle reaction, since he seemed to already be thoroughly annoyed by Liberta’s words anyway, but when you join that to the knowledge that his Arcanum is The Death… It may not be that he can’t use it, but more like it is an ugly power to use. I also wonder if there are any more users of Arcana powers, as there are 22 Major Arcana and we’ve only been introduced to 9 characters so far.
While Nova is definitely the character that interests me the most right now, not only due to my curiosity regarding his power, but also due to his serious personality, which is always a charming character trait in my eyes, I’d also like to mention how I sympathized with the protagonist. This is a reverse harem and she’s supposedly the “princess that needs to be rescued”, yet she is joining the tournament and it does seem like she can kick some ass too. (Moreover, I actually like her fighting style.) On the other hand, she still fits her role as the one that needs to be saved and also seems to have a likeable personality (as long as they don’t go exaggerating on tsundere traits from now on, that is). This is something rather refreshing in such a premise, and I’m enjoying it so far.
Nothing more than a simple duel at its core, the plot is simple, yet harbors potential when one thinks of the huge cast of distinctive characters. The one-cour length is perfect for maintaining the pleasant pacing this first episode established, as two cours would drag it out unnecessarily. My concern is the character development. It seems like this will be a character-driven show, for I don’t see room for many twists or variations from a rather formulaic setup. On the other hand, we have a large cast of characters, and not that much time. They’re all looking great now, as the cast showcases a large variety, but most of them are also stereotypical characters. The success of this series will depend on their ability to break from the archetypes they fit in. So far it is looking pretty good though, a shounen-ish shoujo is something I can enjoy. I just hope it doesn’t rely too much on the bishounen aspect and ends up being a worthless series (like Brave 10 did). I can already see the fangirls all over Jolly, though… *sigh*
(I really enjoyed the OP, by the way.)