Despite the Italian name, La storia della Arcana Famiglia (2012) is a 12-episode, reverse-harem anime that is based on an otome game of the same name.
What’s it about?
The Arcana Family are the vigilante group (read: mafia) who protect (read: rule) the island of Regalo. Select members of the mafia have made contracts with Arcana (Taro) cards, which grant them powers. Felicità is the daughter of the leader of the Arcana Family, Mondo, and one of the Arcana power users. The other users are Libertà, Novo, Luca, Debito, Pace, Jolly, Dante, and of course, Mondo and Sumire, Felicità’s parents.
On the night of his birthday, Mondo announces that a tournament will be held amongst the Arcana power users to determine who will succeed him as the “Papa” of the family. The successor will also get any wish granted and Felicità’s hand in marriage, much to her disgust. However, as is pointed out to her, Felicità also has a chance to win the tournament, and Libertà and Novo both assure her that if they win, they will wish for her not to be forced into marrying them.
I honestly liked the characters in this anime, despite the fact that they were very stereotypical, as expected in a reverse harem. You have the narcissistic and proud Novo, the foolish but courageous Libertà, the mysterious and possibly-evil Jolly, the all-rounder-nice-guy Pace, the womanising and sometimes creepy Debito (my personal favourite), the overprotective Luca, and the uncle-like figure Dante. The interactions between these characters are normally good enough to produce a laugh, and their more serious moments allows the viewer to see how tightly-knit the family is.
I also liked the developing friendship between Felicità, Novo and Libertà. I didn’t mind watching their (predictable) personal growth as the series continued, because the characters were likeable and funny.
Finally, while it’s not my thing, if you’re into shipping, you have plenty of options with Felicità and the males in this anime as there is enough “naww, so sweet” moments between her and them to make the shipping plausible. However, considering that this is based on an otome game, this is a given.
This anime has a fantastic set up. I was looking forward to an exciting tournament with intense fighting between characters that I liked who had (admittedly standard) powers. While I am all for further character development to allow you to connect to the characters, I was not expecting 11 episodes of jumbled plot that felt like filler, and a ridiculous, quick wrap up in the final episode. This anime’s plot is a massive let down. It should really be clear cut… the characters spend a couple of episodes training/getting to know each other/becoming strong enough to handle their power, and then the tournament should span a couple of episodes, to give each character enough screen time. But, the writers decided to throw in ridiculous ideas… a homunculus child, memory loss, Felicità’s second power that randomly appears out of no where… what were they thinking?! The great potential of this anime is wasted within a few episodes.
Anything else I should consider?
Don’t let the promising set up in the first episode fool you…
Art: 7/10: The art is average, but the (rare) action scenes are done well.
Story: 2/10: The set-up is good, the execution is horrible and the series as a whole is disappointing.
Characters: 6/10: While most of the characters are your stereotypical reverse-harem males, they are likeable.
Arcana Famiglia is one of the most disappointing series that I’ve watched. I only watched it to the end hoping that I’d get to see the tournament that is promised in the first episode. Admittedly I do have a few episodes that I enjoyed enough to rewatch every now and then, mainly because of the comedy and/or specific interactions between the characters, but I can’t give this anime any more than a (very generous) 4/10.