Arcana Famiglia – 01

The European island of Regalo is protected by the Arcana Famiglia, an organization made up of members who take on the powers of various tarot cards. Their “Papa”, or leader, Mondo, wants to retire, and cals for a “Arcana Duello” to pick his replacement. The winner will not only have one wish granted, but also marry his daughter, Felicita, who isn’t happy with the arrangement.

The first full episode of the summer 2012 season we’ve watched, and we weren’t exactly inspired. Arcana Famiglia’s opener left us feeling a little indifferent. It wasn’t awful, but nothing really stood out as exceptional or even novel, either. With such a flowery name and the use of the word “Arcana”, we were expecting a darker, more whimsical setting and presentation. Something like Soul Eater, or Blue Exorcist: grand architecture in a gorgeous setting. We didn’t get that. Instead we got an introduction to about dozen characters, most of whom had pretty dull designs and personalities to match.

They spend most of the episode explaining their powers to one another. Each character is tied to a certain tarot card that defines their power. We know these explanations are for our benefit, but it didn’t make sense why they were talking to each other about it, considering they’re virtually family. The love triangle between the yin guy, the yang guy, and the girl who doesn’t like dresses and loves kicking people isn’t all that encouraging either. What little action there was was plodding and unoriginal. We’re going to have to pass on this one.

Rating: 4 (Fair) (dropped)

Nazo no Kanojo X – 13 (Fin)

Urabe bumps into Tsubaki’s sister Youko and has coffee with her, learning that their mother died. Tsubaki, his sister and his father visit and tend to her grave. When Tsubaki tells her more about his mom, she wants to go with him to her grave. That day, she arrives in her Sunday best, with flowers and an offering of food she made herself. Tsubaki insists he doesn’t really remember his mom, and thus doesn’t miss her that much, but when he and Urabe exchange saliva while he’s touching her gravestone, tears well up in both. Urabe wanted to “meet” his mother and seek her approval, and wants to continue being part of Tsubaki’s life.

While it’s certainly not an absolute necessity, most people seek the approval of their significant others’ family. As unconventional and mysterious a girlfriend as Urabe Mikoto is, she’s no different in this regard. Learning about Tsubaki’s family draws her closer towards eventually becoming part of that family. So Urabe surprises Tsubaki by not only meeting and chatting with his sister, but expressing a desire to visit his mother’s grave. He sees it as an unexpected but touching gesture on her part, but it’s more than that. In her mind, knowing where Tsubaki came and who shaped his life up to this point, is another step in their relationship. This is a pretty good way to end the series, if it has to end with thirteen episodes (we’ve heard nothing about a sequel, though we’d welcome one).

No major drama; no second girl or second guy; no Oka or Ueno side-story; no panty scissors or nudity. Just Urabe, Tsubaki, and his family. It’s a calm, mature finale. It was an interesting choice for Urabe to not admit to Youko that she’s dating her brother, but we suppose Youko will figure that out eventually, and in any case, it’s something Urabe would need to discus with Tsubaki first, so they could coordinate such an announcement. Instead, Urabe is content that his sister likes her and she got to “meet” his mother. As the cherry trees start to blossom and spring arrives, Tsubaki and Urabe keep steadily, believably moving forward in their romance, one we’re sad to see go. Romance series this good don’t come around every season.

Rating: 8 (Great)