OP: “Magenta Another Sky” by Hitomi Harada
I would say that I liked this premiere a bit more than the other Italian-themed opener this weekend, Campione!, though it’s a near thing and neither one of them knocked my socks off. There are a couple of pet peeves with Famiglia for me right off the bat. The first of them is characters bringing the action to a screeching halt by stepping back to explain what’s happening – effectively, to the audience. Seriously – you don’t think the characters would know the deal themselves without having to be told? I really wish series would find a more elegant way to do their exposition, but at least this problem is usually limited to the first episode. In a way, Famiglia and Campione! took diametrically opposed paths when it comes to this – this show explains everything up front in narrative-halting asides, and Campione! just throws everything at the audience in terms of action and lets them figure it out.
I’m also not that crazy about a premise in which the ending seems very obvious right from the beginning. Obviously Felicita (Noto Mamiko) is going to participate in the “Arcana Duella” herself and it seems inevitable that she’ll win – though of course I could be wrong about the latter point. But Famiglia seems to be going for clear-cut and straightforward, and there’s a place for well-produced anime that don’t make you think too hard to interpret what’s going on. The target audience for this reverse harem seems to be fujoshi (having the bishounen sing the ED is a good tipoff) and I’m not sure how much crossover appeal it’ll have – perhaps Felicita will appeal to otaku as Inu X Boku’s Ririchiyo did – but I like what JC Staff is doing here with the visuals – while it’s somewhat generic, as their work often is, the art and animation has a brightness and fluidity that’s appealing.
The premise is pretty transparent – we have what appears to be something like an organized crime family with Tarot-based arcane powers acting as protectors of the small Mediterranean isle of Regalo. The family revolves around the Godfather “Papa” and the daughter Felicta, around whom orbit a solar system of bishies who fill all the designated Otome Road niches admirably. Foremost among them seem to be Liberta (Fukuyama Jun) and Nova (Yonaga Tsubasa) who are closest to “Bambina” in age. When Papa declares the Arcana Duella, a magical battle to determine his successor and her husband, they both pledge to grant her freedom from arranged marriage if they win – though as they haven’t mastered their arcana powers that seems unlikely. There’s a big “Brave” factor in the plot, too, as Felicita doesn’t want to be the blushing Princessa in dresses, but fight her own fights and lead the family herself.
My overall complaint with the Summer schedule is that it appears exceedingly heavy on formula, and these Italian-themed premières have certainly been no exception. Like Campione!, Famiglia seems very generic, exactly what it is and no more – though I did enjoy it the more of the two, and it’s well-done. There’s a huge cast of big names here including Nakamura Yuuichi and Sugita Tomokazu among others, though for me Noto-san and Yonaga-san – both of whom I like – are miscast. Noto’s breathy femininity seems too demure for a tomboy like Felicita, and Nova could use someone with a harder edge than Yonaga.
With so many Spring shows carrying over into the Summer and my desire not to have such a crushing workload this season, my threshold for the new series making the rotation is going to be higher than normal. That’s especially true on the weekends, which have most of the good series both old and new. Both Campione! and Famiglia are definitely interesting enough to keep under consideration, but both will have to show me more in the next episode or two if they’re going to make the cut.
ED: “Pieces of Treasure” by Jun Fukuyama & Tsubasa Yonaga