La storia della Arcana Famiglia Review

Story:
The only daughter to a mafia leader, Felicita finds herself in a difficult position as her father suddenly announces his planned retirement and that the new “papa” of the organization would be gifted with the marriage of his daughter. Enraged at her freedom seemingly being taken from her, Felicita vows to win the upcoming contest for leadership herself. But doing so might be difficult as the number of opponents begins to rise and she has not yet gained control of her own powers.

Violence:
This isn’t as bad as many shows containing fighting, but one character has an abusive past and more than one character gets hurt over the show. Nothing quite as bad as Fullmetal Alchemist, but there are a few scenes showing blood.

Language:
More than one occurrence of the “illegitimate son” word and the usual d-mns and such. Nothing too bad and nothing frequent either.

Nudity:
Besides a few remarks made by the nearly all male cast and the main character’s short skirt, there’s not much to say here. Until you get to the near end of the show. At that point a girl’s mind is invaded by others in an attempt to save her and in her mind she isn’t wearing anything. Details are covered by vines, but it’s another one of those “do we really need this” moments.

Theology/Mythology:
Most of the characters in this show have special powers given to them by contracts with tarot cards. The show doesn’t really get into the “how” too much, nor the implications of these cards. They’re more excuses for having special abilities. Even so, if that stuff bothers you then you should probably skip this one all together.

Personal Impression:
This show was fairly entertaining, though the main reason was often the occasional comedy rather that the characters themselves or the plot. Although it’s not quite as obvious, aka shameless (I’m looking at you Amnesia), as other shoujo shows I’ve reviewed, this show isn’t much besides eye candy in the end. The female lead blissfully has a bit more personality this time around, but still suffers from a bit too much timidity in places. Which clashes with her sudden flashes of violence.
In any case, the show does try quite hard to give dark and mysterious reasons and pasts to the male cast. And it nearly works in one or two places. However, with only twelve episodes to work with, the show quickly returns to its shoujo agenda, leaving any interesting character development to be skin deep at best.
If you want a bit of fun comedy, some action and pretty guys, this is a nice, short show to tear through. But, like so many other shows in this genre, don’t expect too much.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Adventure, drama, action
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screen shots:
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Extra: Idol groups in Japan

IdolPop idol groups. Pretty much all industrialized nations have them. But how they work can vary greatly. Here in the US, idol groups are usually boy or girl groups that have a catchy, but overall bland, sound and often get hired by Disney at some point in their careers (they sometimes also do a song for the US release of a new Pokemon movie right before disbanding, but that’s another story). Japan’s idol groups are a bit… different.

In Japan, idol groups are very closely linked to their fanbase, which is often female and ranging in the preteen through the teen years. So linked, in fact, that the members often have to keep to very strict rules of conduct. Scandals are simply not tolerated. Of course, this also has to do with how the Japanese think of their jobs. In Japan, your job is part of your identity. A company is thus not only the place you work at, but also like a secondary family unit. When outside of that unit, you represent it. This means that companies apply great amounts of pressure to their employees to represent them well. If the lead singer in a popular girl group in Japan is seen, say, walking around with a far older man who isn’t family, it’s considered as a slight not just to her image, but to the company that employs her.

Now you might be thinking, “Alright, so some political stuff goes down. Doesn’t sound too different from Disney to me.” Maybe not. But considering that such a system covers pretty much all idols groups in Japan, the influence seems to reach farther. In any case, if you ever notice a lead singer/dancer suddenly change positions with another member and no longer being “center” (the leader) anymore, do a bit of digging. I’ll guarantee that some scandal occurred and, in order to quiet things down, the spotlight was shifted away from the “offending party.”

Which is really quiet sad. While making a spectacle of oneself isn’t classy at all, many of the “scandals” these idols go through aren’t really scandals at all. Sometimes it’s something as simple as having a boyfriend, aka having a life. Meaning that often times becoming an idol in Japan means signing away your right to make mistakes, fall in love and, ultimately, live.
Complaining super stars in the US could take a few rounds in those shoes. They’d find that the scrutiny here can be rather tame in comparison.

Love Live! School Idol Project Review

Story:
Honoka loves her school. When she finds out that it’s closing its doors due to a lack of new students joining, she then decides to save it by playing to what the public seems to like in high schools these days. Idol groups. Cute ones.

Violence:
Nothing really in this section. A little bit of slap stick humor, but even that is quite tame.

Language:
Not much in this case either, thankfully. Perhaps one or two instances of a d-mn. Again, pretty tame.

Nudity:
Not much here aside from the outfits being a bit skimpy and the obligatory creepy character that enjoys grabbing her friends’ chests randomly. Doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen.

Theology/Mythology:
Nothing really here either. One character seemingly works at a shrine, but you only see her in her uniform sweeping. No incantations or theological talks.

Personal Impression:
This story is pretty shallow, so expect everything else to be too. It’s a fun show for what it is, but don’t expect too much. Calling it fluff sums up the show rather well indeed. The art and music fit the show, though, again, the plot is more than a little dull. The characters are pretty flat as well, with a few being downright contradictory (for example, saying idol music has no substance and then writing music for the group that, yep, has no substance). The characters are largely elements of the plot, after all, so don’t expect anything too deep.
If you don’t mind some predictability and can take large dosages of moe being shoved down your throat, this show isn’t too bad. It’s a break from more serious fare. It’s just not winning any awards any day soon.

Personal Rating: 10 and up

Episodes: 13
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Slice of life
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screen shots:
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Extra: How long is too long?

fairy tailThere aren’t many of them, but when you see them you have to wonder. Who funded all of this?

The answer isn’t really clear cut though. Anime is often funded by various companies and continuously funded shows depend a great deal on marketing, viewership and hundreds of other factors that determine if it’s worth keeping around. Which is what makes me wonder about some of these freakishly long shows, many of which brag well over a hundred episodes. Often these shows contain long story arcs connected by a very vague overall goal. For example, Shugo Chara’s overall goal is simply for the main character to find out who she really is. You can’t get much more vague than that. Fairy Tail’s overall goal is bit more specific, Natsu is looking for his mentor. But the how isn’t ever worked out and often that plot point is forgotten amidst the many missions he’s on thanks to his guild, the side stories based on other character’s pasts, etc.

While a few of these longer shows do a pretty good job of remaining entertaining, not all are the level of writing most preferable in a show. Perhaps this is due to the overall plot needing to be a bit vague and rather unattainable for it to continue on so long. Or maybe creators begin to depend on the show’s name pulling in viewers and not the quality of the show itself. It’s hard to tell. In any case, it makes me wonder, at what point should there be a line? Sure the companies funding these shows are the ones who usually decide how long a show can go on for (manga is a different deal entirely). However, when should anime fans draw a line? As a fan who has a rather… um… “high standard,” I wonder if some of these shows get more slack than others due to their length and popularity. After all, would one be willing to watch a show with the same amount of vague plotting in a shorter show? What about the characters? Could they be as stereotypical and lackluster?

There is a saying, “If you try to please everyone, you will end up pleasing no one.” I can’t help but think that some of this holds true for longer running anime shows. Trying to appeal to too many fans at once can really wash a show out.

What do you think? Do you like longer shows? Hate them? Or do you think it doesn’t matter either way?

My Ordinary Life Review

Story:
Aioi and her friends are high schoolers. Nano is a robot created by a child genius and Sakomoto is a talking cat. Ordinary anything is a stretch for this show, but there’s plenty of humor. And pranks. Lots of pranks.

Violence:
This is primarily slap stick. A lot of punches thrown, people flying into the air and even people getting shot or blown up. Always while retaining no damage.

Language:
Aside from the average sh-t and d-mns, not much in this category.

Nudity:
Not much here either except for some suggestive, um, “art.” One character is an aspiring manga artist and some of the things she draws are quite… scandalous. They’re all images of guys and although no details are shown, it’s still a bit… much. Thus the YA rating.

Theology/Mythology:
Nothing serious here (or anywhere else in the show, really). There is one scene where the girls are at a shrine and pray. But the whole scene is played as a gag, as are references to Buddha and such.

Personal Impression:
This show is quite possibly the most hilarious show I’ve ever seen. It has the timing of Azumanga Daioh and the absurdity of Pani Poni Dash. Which makes for one epic show.
The animation is a bit simple, but perfect for the subject matter. Not to mention the expressions for the gags are animated perfectly, which is the important part for comedy shows like this. The music is overly upbeat, another good match for the show and the voices are well chosen.
And although around ninety percent of this show is pure gag central, there are a few short, but very sweet, scenes with a serious point or two. These focus largely on Nano’s acceptance of what she is and Chiyo’s “rejection.” They actually brought tears to my eyes, something few shows have been able to do.
Overall, if you love Japanese comedies, this show is a surefire winner. But be warned. If you struggle with the randomness of comedy anime, this might be a bit strong. Not every anime fan can swallow a scene where an old man wrestles a deer on school grounds. In a bullet proof vest. During school hours.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 26
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Comedy, slice of life, fantasy
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screen shots:
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Extra: Nice… uh… school?

academyHuge gardens. Multiple libraries. Active and organized clubs. Fancy, clean cafeterias with food you can eat without fear of catching some unknown virus. If you think I’m describing a high-in college, think again. I’m describing many high schools seen in anime.

Perhaps it’s simply because the background staff feels left out when they have to draw “ordinary” settings, but most shows, especially today, show off schools that are anywhere from impractical to simply impossible. And it could also just be the idealized vision. Creating worlds we would have rather have had back when we were still in school. Many of the homes in anime are the same way. Huge, spacious and completely impossible for any normal Japanese family to own. But when it comes to the schools, it may be more than just wishful thinking.

Over the last few decades, Japan has seen lower and lower birthrates. Kids are expensive to take care of and with the cost of basic living on the rise, the amount of children many Japanese families are willing to have has decreased significantly. Today, an average Japanese family has only one child. Considering that’s only one child to two parents that will one day die, it certainly doesn’t look good for Japan’s future. And schools are feeling the effects before anyone else. With an decrease in children, schools find they must compete with each other for students. After all, a school can only run if they have students to teach. And the competition in recent years has only become more frantic. While the elaborate setup of Ouran Academy is a bit over-the-top, a few other seemingly extreme school set ups are not. While it seems crazy for a school to have archery ranges and such, it isn’t really a stretch for schools to have that in Japan. And considering that extra curricular activities are sometimes a requirement for some schools, clubs in Japan are often far more organized and lively than the clubs here in the US.

So maybe some of those extreme schools aren’t so extreme after all. Except Ouran. But then again, Tamaki’s father is in charge so that’s not too surprising really.

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