In this week’s installment of the Stream, I take a look at the first four episodes of La Storia Della Arcana Famigilia (currently streaming on Crunchyroll). Along with having a frustrating name, the newest in a long line of reverse harems presents an unfortunately bland take on the crime family.
La Storia revolves around the Arcana family, a mafia-esque group of characters who gallivant around the (Italian?) island of Regalo, spending their time protecting the trade city they call home (protection that’s apparently entirely legal, not protection rackets). The family’s leader, aptly named “Papa,” announces his ensuing retirement and his intentions to name a successor through a tournament involving the potpourri that is his “family.” To thicken the plot, the winner will also be granted the hand of his daughter, Felicita, a fiery tomboy who finds herself much more comfortable fighting criminals than wearing dresses.
Along with their stylish suits and beautiful looks, the members of the Arcana family each holds a unique power which reflects a specific tarot card. In the first episode, we’re treated to the various powers the members hold, and the personalized aspects of their abilities brought to mind supernatural organization shows like D. Gray Man and Darker than Black. Unfortunately, La Storia doesn’t portray the intellectual prowess reminiscent of the complicated conspiracies involving Hell’s Gate, or any of the supernatural fighting that follows the Akuma-hunting Exorcists. The lack of the latter is the much more disappointing. After the promise of a tournament between magic wielding Mafioso, the next three episodes decide, instead, portray the characters as bumbling idiots, living relatively banal lives with a picturesque backdrop. The story takes no time to move into filler material, and makes no attempts to even pretend that any of the events advance the plot. A part of me wonders if these episodes are being used to introduce each of the many characters by showing them in their everyday lives. This is a fairly common practice, and has been used in everything from Ouran High School Host Club to Pumpkin Scissors.
There’s nothing wrong with the “mission-an-episode” design, so long as the events are interesting. The first episodes of Pumpkin Scissors established the world by having the members of Lieutenant Malvin’s relief unit embark on various missions that portrayed the various states of political climate after a major war. In La Storia, the three protagonists try to find the owner of a stray cat. Sometimes, the typical conventions we come to expect from anime just don’t fit. The concept that members of a mafia family would concern themselves over a stray cat is ridiculous, and despite the show apparently wanting to be taken seriously, it wastes time with petty juvenile conversations. Overall, the story focuses on the burgeoning love triangle between Felicita, Liberto, and Nova, and the argument could be given that the show takes on the personality of the young protagonists. Unfortunately, if such was the idea, the writers should have made more efforts to innovate their characterizations.
La Storia della Arcana Famigilia is a bland show with an interesting concept, which is what’s so disappointing. As uninspired as the “tournament” trope may be, the possibility of interesting powers and a unique (ie, non-Japanese) setting could have led to an entertaining show. Not every special organization show needs to wax philosophy like Stand Alone Complex, and a more comedic take on the crime/action genre could have been intereting. Instead, everything that has so far transpired could very easily have taken place in a Tokyo high school, between average, human classmates. At some point, I’m sure the characters will suddenly remember the life-altering event looming in their futures (the whole succession tournament thing), and the end of the fourth episode finally hinted at possible progression. But for now, I feel I may have to jump ship, until I see an episode synopsis that decides to actually tell a story, rather than just waste my time.
On the Stream Verdict: Rough Waters
See ya, mafia comedy cowboys,
The Active Time Blogger