First Impression – Arcana Famiglia

Reverse harem meets the mafia

Ah, this was late on my part due to my internet acting absolutely retarded all week, but I somehow managed to actually get this finished. Yay! So if you didn’t already pick up from my incessant ranting, this is the summer show I’ve been looking forward to the most. I can’t say that I absolutely love J.C. Staff’s take on this, but at least they didn’t ruin it completely.

Why do people hate the leads of reverse harems so much? It’s because they NEVER DO ANYTHING. Not that you can tell from this episode, but Felicita (game) actually does things. Felicita (anime) doesn’t seem to. Why? Her harem seems to do everything for her. Yes, it was probably because they wanted to introduce the harem first, but there is absolutely no harm in letting her actually win a battle once while the harem gets the fuck out of the way. I understand that she needs to appear weak now, to make the ending more satisfying (I figure they’re going the best route) but still. I liked the game BECAUSE Felicita wasn’t just some blank slate female figure for silly fangirls to project their image onto. She actually had a personality and a storyline to her. Most otome games focus on the male leads, but Arcana didn’t. J.C. is being counter productive here by making Felicita like every other female reverse harem lead ever. Hopefully this improves later on in the series. Again, I believe that they may be purposefully making her look weak now in order to have Felicita look like she’s growing stronger as the series progresses, but there’s always the off chance that they’re trying to conform with the standard that other otome games turned anime have set before.

…This episode involved a lot of exposition of the characters. Sure, it was necessary to those who are new to the whole franchise, but I imagine it was still confusing. The number of main characters alone is daunting, but having this episode entirely dedicated to dumping info on the viewer will (probably) be helpful later. There was really no need for them to introduce everyone’s Tarocco at once though since if this is following the main game plot, it will gradually be covered again anyways. I imagine they could have just left it off until they progressed further into the story. It also felt like they were pushing certain aspects of the characters too hard as well. An example being Liberta’s position as the Fool and rushing into absolutely everything head on. They also even randomly added the fact that despite being part of the family for years, J.C. suddenly had Liberta clueless as to what the other member’s powers were. Sure, they needed to get the explanation of Felicita’s ability out there, but that could have easily been done by a narrator or something. Having Liberta completely clueless just seemed silly since he’s been around there for about 10 years. As for the humour, I guess it’s up to taste. The game is extremely over the top and the anime looks like it will be living up to that. On the other hand though, since they’re putting so much emphasis on the characters and their personalities, I can see some of this growing old fast. Pairing-wise? I actually can’t see Felicita ending up with anyone really, but I’m okay with that for reasons you’ll find out later if the anime follows through with the best ending. Though it’s blatantly obvious from the OP that the anime will probably be focusing on the Liberta-Felicita-Nova events more. …I could ruin SO MUCH here, but I will restrain myself.

Anime (left)                                 Game (right)

This was probably just the staff being too lazy to come up with a new way of animating things (or they were catering to the fans), but having the art look extremely similar to the game was fun. They even included side characters who have in game sprites in the background like that woman who was explaining who the family was at the beginning of the episode and when Mondo was walking in front of the family, the generic members were posing like they do in the game during the same events. The anime might not have copied the game’s art style completely, but the awareness of how the game presented itself is there at least.

So while I can’t comment much on J.C.’s take on the storyline yet since this episode was all about introduction, but I did notice that they added a fair bit of yaoi fangirl fodder between the males. …I don’t know what to think about this yet, but I’m kind of sick of animation studios doing this in general (I’ll probably rant on this if J.C. decides to pull this often). On the plus side though, it doesn’t look like this will be a complete sausagefest since all of the guys accepted Felicita as marriage material right from the start (minus Nova and Liberta, but Nova has his reasons and Liberta doesn’t want to force her like that). Also, they threw in a bit of fan service for the guys via Felicita’s power of looking into hearts. I’m sure the action helped make this interesting for the male viewers as well. Actually, that point is interesting to me since it looks like J.C. is making a conscious effort to cater to both genders out there. Male viewers out there, is this watchable for you? Why or why not?

Even though it’s out, I wanted my first impressions to be separate, so episode 2 should be out soon provided that things don’t go to hell again.


University student and the one at Metanorn who's known for wearing glasses. Likes blood, insanity and plot twists, but also plays otome games and adores cute romance anime. It balances out... somehow.
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28 Responses to “First Impression – Arcana Famiglia”

  1. Highway says:

    I thought the first episode suffered a bit from over-exposition and character introductions. It was very confusing that they’re introducing people with not just names, but serie *and* special power.

    The set piece action sequence to start off was pretty fun and cool, but after that the show really just got tangled in a tar pit of talking. And a little bit overmuch “ojou-sama” deference. Setting up the big tournament was something I guess they had to do, but it just felt like information overload.

    I thought the show was fine for a (well, at least this) guy to watch. There were some characters I liked (Pace and Dante), and some I didn’t like (Debito and Jolly) and I didn’t think Felicita suffered too much from shrinking violet syndrome.

    • Karakuri says:

      Yeah, I thought throwing so much at the viewer with the character introduction threw off the pacing a lot. They just finished a battle and suddenly it’s 10 minutes of introducing the characters one by one.

      Hmm, they just threw all of that tournament stuff at you in the first couple of minutes of the game too, so I guess they were following that example, but taking the time to explain all of the character’s tarot and such just made it worse.

      All of the characters have their pros and cons~ though it might be interesting to track which characters each gender likes and dislikes… Hmmm…. Ahaha she suffered a bit compared to the game, but now that I think about it, the guys do a lot for her in the game as well… the only difference is that Felicita fights her own battles besides that, so it’s not like her harem does absolutely everything for her.

  2. Miyu says:

    I like this already. ( ´ ▽ ` ) Probably my inner fangirl instincts coming out but I’ve always enjoyed reverse harem and mafia, so having both of them together is ~fabulous max~.

    I, too, felt that there was too much exposition. The scene when they were explaining their tarot card powers was so out of the blue and kind of IN-YOUR-FACE bland. xD But since it’s only the first episode and we’re still getting to know the characters, I guess it’s forgivable.

    Felicita’s character was disappointing this episode, but I BELIEVE YOU KARA I shall wait for game Felicita to appear. She’s still Not Bad though as compared to a lot of other reverse harem female leads (LIKE THAT GIRL IN HAKUOUKI /strangles) but the stereotypical I-shall-let-the-guys-do-everything-for-me attitude is still kinda there.

    I hereby declare my favorite character as Luca!! I have always had a weakness for butlers (hehe yknow Soushi :3) so (´ ▽`).。o♡ Who’s your favorite, Kara?

    • Karakuri says:

      Heheh, good to hear, Miyu. xD

      Yeah, exposition was a problem this episode, since it threw things off a bit. I guess it’s easier for people to understand that way though. Instead of learning the characters by name or whatever, you can learn by their power/tarot since that’s what we’ll be seeing a lot.

      …Felicita’s character suffered a bit here, but she’ll be SO FREAKING AWESOME when she gets her act together and becomes a badass. …If she gets her act together. AHAHAHA oh, don’t even remind me of Hakuouki. Chizuru was useless from the start in that one.

      Hehe Luca is voiced by Nakamura Yuuichi too, just like Soushi!!! Luca is one of my favourites as well! Though, uh, I don’t know why since he’s an ossan and I’m not a big fan of Yusa Koji, but I’m quite fond of Jolly. The anime is making him look like a huge sleaze bag though xD.

      • Highway says:

        Yeah, that’s why I didn’t care for Jolly (or Debito), because they looked like giant sleazebags. Debito redeemed himself slightly (in a 2 steps forward, 1.5 steps back way) in episode 2, but Jolly didn’t.

        • Karakuri says:

          PFFT you hit the nail right on the head. I haven’t started Debito’s route yet, so I can’t tell you much about his character other than what I’ve heard. Jolly on the other hand kind of (not really) has his reasons too but like I said with Liberta above, they’re really putting emphasis on Jolly’s connection with his Tarot. Unless they add in Bel whatever (the other smaller and antagonistic mafia group on the island), Jolly is probably going to look like bad guy #1 here most of the time.

  3. Reaper says:

    Persona, meet the mafia! I’m sorry, I can’t help it, since it feels like someone pulled out the Tarots from Persona, threw in a dash of Italian mafioso and, giving Hamuko twintails, voila! La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia! Also…
    Hey there blue-haired boy! Your Arcana is Death and you wield a one-handed sword? Where have I seen you…oh…MINATO, IS THAT YOU!?!?!?!?!?! 😀

    Having said this though, pretty keen to see how this show goes down with the Arcana Duel (Papa doesn’t waste time now, does he?).

    Been a while since I heard Jun Fukuyama in a protagonist role (no matter what is said of Code Geass spectacular artwork of train wrecks(?), his acting for Lelouch was awesome), and with the other seiyus present for the battle Persona 4 Arena!, I hope this doesn’t flop into the ‘I’ll let the guys do everything for me’ section. Kinda moots the point of the female lead trying to choose her own path if someone else grants her dream…but, I have hope!

    • Karakuri says:

      ….OH MY GOD. I never saw that connection between Nova and Minato before. REAPER, WHAT HAVE YOU UNCOVERED?!?!?!?!?!

      All of the fights in the Duello were absolutely awesome, so I’m looking forward to seeing them actually animated! Heh Mondo has his reasons, which Felicita will be discovering eventually xD. I’m so excited!

      …I’m worried for the sake of Felicita’s badassery, but I’ll be able to judge better on that once more episodes come out. There were plenty of points in the game where she did things solo without her harem, so hopefully they don’t throw a member in there during those just because.

  4. anaaga says:

    I was expecting so much, but it didn’t meet my expectation. One thing that disappoint me the most in here is the voice acting. Felicita’s VA feels so blah, and Sugitan is trying too much not to be like his usual voice(though it makes sense since Pace is young).

    B-but, Jolly x Dante! ;_;

    • Karakuri says:

      …I’m sorry if I rose your expectations too high. OTL Personally, I’m overjoyed that Felicita’s VA sounds a lot like the one they had for her in the game. …The voice didn’t say her lines, but did make noises depending on her emotions. …I’m trying SO HARD not to make that sound dirty. Oh? That’s the voice Sugita was using for the game, so I guess I’m used to it. Just wait until Pace starts doing impressions. It’s hilarious.

      …No, no, anaaga. The game makes it quite clear that Jolly has EXTREME FEELS for Mondo. They’re closer in age too, I think.

  5. D-LaN says:

    Hmmm overall this seems to be better than Hiiro….

    Arcana priorities level rank up! Hiiro remains the same.
    So, does the arcana equal to their personality/situation lk Persona does?

    • Karakuri says:

      Hell yeah, it’s better than Hiiro!

      Yep, the arcana of the character links with the characters somehow. Though it’s not quite the accuracy and depth that Persona applied to it’s arcana. I’ll probably be throwing an analyses in these posts when more is revealed about the characters.

  6. BlackBriar says:

    First episode in and I’ve already taken a liking to it. Tarot elements (Persona), reverse harem (I love to see strong female leads), mafia atmosphere and a medieval style tournament to win the girl. Sounds like a good thing to spend Summer with. Does anyone else think that Luca looks and sounds like Houtarou from Hyouka?

    One of the things I think was a mistake was telling everyone’s Tarot element in one go one after the next on the first episode. It could’ve been better done across the series like Yu Yu Hakusho instead of spoiling the fun of wanting to know.

    From what I understand based on other comments, Felicita’s character has been somewhat reduced compared to the game so I hope that changes later on for the sake of the show.

    • Karakuri says:

      Yay! Glad you like it. I was worried the whole reverse harem thing would turn people off, but it seems that J.C. is putting in fan service countermeasures to keep the male audience. Ahaha Houtarou? I was thinking that more people would be comparing him to Soushi since they’re both lolicons voiced by Nakamura and both butler-types.

      On the plus side though, I don’t think they went into depth about Luca and Jolly…? I don’t remember, but at least they didn’t tell you what the powers were. Overall, too much info at once.

      Yeah, hopefully Felicita gets her act together by mid-series if not sooner. …I miss my ass kicking heroine. OTL

  7. Samantha Zan says:

    Well I’m a person that loves playing visual novels especially Otome games (if I can get the chance to find one DX), so I think none the less this is going to be a must watch from me this season.

    But I think this whole concept of the Arcana cards is pretty cool (though I still thought it kind of looked like Persona lol), and the characters I think are pretty likable in this anime. Though I also think they could have done a better job with explaining about who has what power, cause I really thought it was just kind of a wierd way to execute it.

    But anyway I still think this looks very good, and I’ll probably continue watching it every week. (If not for the plot, but for Hiroyuki Yoshino’s GOD DAMN Sexy voice 0-0. Ahh Bambina~~ XD)

    • Karakuri says:

      I can see people comparing this to Persona a lot thanks to the whole Arcana thing xD. The whole explanation didn’t really come naturally though, that’s for sure… Hopefully they work that out better in the actual storyline rather then stopping the flow every time someone uses their power to say :this is -fill in name here-, they have -fill in name here- from the tarot and -fill in name here- power.

      Ahaha yay! Good to hear~.

  8. JPNIgor says:

    Firstly, overall, Arcana Famiglia is watchable. But it has it’s flaws, unfortunately.

    Firstly, there is the style of the animation, that is very different from the game. I particularly prefer the effects, the colors and the effects of light and shadow of the game.

    Now the characters, they have awesome, AWESOME character design. Guess it’s the best of this season (not that it is too hard). But their personalities are too stuck on the tarot card that represent them.

    I could easily compare Arcana Famiglia with Persona 4. I think that Persona 4 was much more faithful to the game, than Arcana Famiglia. And the characters in Persona 4 have tarot cards that represent them, but when they showed it in their personalities, it was more natural… WAAAY more natural.

    Anyway, it’s interesting. I have never watched any otome anime, except some episodes of that anime related to signs.

    Oh, and I think that Felicitá looks very fragile… and is naive too… But actually, at least she has attitude and she knows how to fight.

    • Karakuri says:

      With the game, I liked how they did the shading an a stylized way with mainly black. I can see them doing it a bit with the anime (notably with the hair), but yeah, they diverged a bit. …I like the game art better as well to be honest.

      Arcana has always had over the top personalities though. Sure, they’re emphasizing the Fool part a lot by having everyone point out that he likes to rush into things and that he’s naive, but I’d say that Liberta is still pretty faithful to his game counterpart. The other characters are the same way.

      It should remain watchable when they trail more off into the romance aspect since there’s usually tons of action in between. …Hopefully.

  9. Moni Chan says:

    This show reminds me of Reborn and Soul Eater.

  10. Namika says:

    I liked this. Nothing special, but not horrible either. I’m not that fond of J.C Staff, even Kimi to Boku isn’t enough to restore the studio’s reputation in my eyes. But I’m still watching this. For the bishies :3 heheee ^^;

  11. Sushi GoKart says:

    Felicita’s seems to have no personality though and I don’t think she can really carry the show without being dynamic. The interactions she has with Nova and Liberte seem one sided. Dare I say it, Nova has more charisma and charm then her. Her little reverse harem around is filled with a laundry list of anime tropes. A show like this lives and dies on its characters and I don’t think the cast has what it takes.

    • Karakuri says:

      Oh, good point. Part of the problem here is definitely the fact that the writers are trying to make the other characters move the story forward where Felicita needs to be the one to take the lead since this whole thing revolves around her. …I think the problem there too is that 100% of Felicita’s dialogue in the game was based on player choices. This part of the anime was where there weren’t many choices in the game, so that might be reflected here.

      Overall though, Felicita was more of a ‘no nonsense and beat them if they fall out of line’ character, so maybe that will come into play during individual interaction. …Though the second episode isn’t really hinting towards that part of her character…

  12. akagami says:

    I was pretty interested in this… until I found out the MC is useless. Sorry, everyone calls her princess and her dad and mom are called Papa and Mama? Excuse me while I bang my head against my desk. The former I can live with. The latter? Ugh.

    Then they introduced the plotpoint where she is going to get married to the victor of some mafia family duel. Then add a “no-personality” MC (Muv-Luv, I’m looking at you) and every guy wants to marry her (or play with her) to the mix.

    Excuse me while i repeat said banging repeatedly.

    I’m so not the target audience. I love a good shoujo anime, but this isn’t one of them (for me).

    • Karakuri says:

      …Sorry for over-hyping this. I thought MC would be a BIT more assertive and that they’d present the plot in a less… lame way. OTL

      • Highway says:

        Don’t get too beaten down yet, Karakuri! They have time to fix it (if they try). And it’s certainly not your fault if they mess up a property you really like. That’s happened to tons of shows.

        And I certainly wouldn’t say you overhyped it. Nothing to be sorry about at all.

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