Felicita is the daughter of Mondo who runs an organisation called the Arcana Famiglia who protects an Italian island. The Famiglia is pretty much made up of people who have made contracts with tarot (Arcana) cards and therefore have special powers. However Mondo has decided it is time for Felicita to marry and decides to hold a tournament with the winner receiving the title of ‘Papa’ and his daughter’s hand in marriage.
For an anime that introduces the idea of a tournament in episode 1, it kind of then spends most of the rest of the series forgetting that it is a significant and upcoming plot point. Felicita, Liberta, and Nova spend most of the series getting themselves in and out of various bits of trouble under the guise of completing their famiglia duties, dealing with past baggage, learning to control their powers, or just sticking their noses into various situations. We do eventually get back to the tournament but it lacks any real punch and to be honest by the time we get around to it any sense that this was what kicked the whole story off has kind of faded. It’s more, ‘oh, that’s right, they were trying to do something about that’.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t some entertainment to be had here. Some of the cast are fantastic and there are some genuinely amusing moments. The show stumbles when it actually tries for drama which is a shame because some of these characters have pretty awful back stories and seeing these dealt with in a serious and dramatic fashion could have been quite compelling.
Nova probably suffers the most from this. He is a very straight and no-nonsense character which puts him at odds with Liberta at almost every step (Liberta being a bundle of impulse and lacking any kind of self-control). Nova also has one of the darker back stories and we do explore this but it just feels kind of tacked on without any real drama or human emotion invested in it. It’s more like reading an encyclopedia about what went wrong for a character, marking it down, and then we close the book and never look at it again.
Of all the members of the family it is probably Jolly I like the most. He’s cold, calculating and manipulative and terrifies almost everyone, but some of the more interesting plot points are brought about because of him and some of the most dramatic moments in the series only exist because of his character. This story without Jolly would be a much duller experience. That said I still wouldn’t want to meet Jolly in real life because that seems like a terrible idea.
Then we have Felicita. For the central character she is pretty dull. At times she comes off like the typical hot-headed red-haired girl as she kicks other characters or whips out one of her knives, but its all pretty much for show. And stripped of sharp over-reactions, she’s just a pretty bland character who for all that she seems to want to rebel against her father handing her over as a prize doesn’t really take an overly active role in progressing that objective. She might claim she’s trying to get stronger or whatever but mostly her actions lack focus.
Overall though, if you are okay with three teenagers who remain pretty much strictly friends despite both the guys having an obvious and poorly hidden affection for the central female, running around an Italian island occasionally getting into fights, occasionally using super powers, and a whole bunch of other guys who do stuff every now and then before you get to watch all the characters take each other on in a tournament, then you’ll get a fun afternoon out of this. If you’re after something with a bit more meat to the characters and the plot, I’d probably give this one a miss.
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