What They Say:
Born into an aristocratic family in Florence, Italy, during the 16th century Renaissance era, Arte has dreams of becoming an artist. In an age of social classes, Arte is willing to cast aside her aristocratic lifestyle and stops at nothing to achieve her dreams. She finds apprenticeship in a painting studio owned by Leo, an artist who is strict but prioritizes ability over gender.
Episode #1: “I Want to Be an Apprentice”
Arte is born into a noble family, but she would rather work for a living as an artisan than be married off to another noble.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Kei Ohkubo, Arte fills this season’s quotient of comfy, well-animated drama. Despite running in a seinen magazine, Arte feels like a shoujo story. You have the young (in this case very young, she’s only supposed to be 14) woman who longs to escape the fate of any noble daughter, being married off. Instead, she decides to pursue her passion as an artist and sets out to find an apprenticeship at a master’s studio in Florence.
She even dramatically cuts off her hair to make a point, and almost goes so far to cut off something else to make an even larger point.
Her antics attract the attention of an artist named Leo. He isn’t impressed with Arte’s interview answers. You can feel the hesitation in the first, vapid answer she gives him. He gives her an impossible task to complete, which she does. At which Arte comes clean with her reasons for wanted to be an artist. Finally, he accepts her as an apprentice.
Arte is a strong heroine for the story. She’s talented, eager to work, and ultimately doesn’t give up even after being tossed on her ass by every studio in the city. She brings to mind Shirayuki, Yona, and a good number of other strong, spunky leads trying to achieve their goals. Her mother comes off as extremely harsh in her treatment of her daughter, but in a world where there were only two fates for a daughter (marriage or the convent), she had a good reason for attempting to secure her daughter’s future.
In reality, there were a few female Renaissance artists that gained fame during their lifetime and beyond. Perhaps the most famous being Artemisia Gentileschi. … wait… Artemisia… Arte. Aha! This story isn’t a biography of Gentileschi… which would have gotten dark very fast. (After her rape she created a large number of paintings of biblical women detachedly and summarily murdering men, all of which are badass.) Seriously, she needs all the biographical kudos she can get.
Leo feels very different from the typical men in these stories. He’s haggard, reticent, and comes off very much as a loner. He sees Arte as being a spoiled rich girl and decides to teach her a lesson in having her prepare an impossible number of canvas surfaces in one night. It’s only after Arte explains that she sees life as a woman in their world as being trapped in a cage that he starts to understand.
The animation for this series is surprisingly soft, energetic, and delightful. It would have been terrible if a story about art had terrible animation. I haven’t heard much about Seven Arcs studio, and the director Takayuki Hamana last directed the boring and abysmal Orphen remake. Thankfully, this series already presents in a far better light in nearly every way possible. The series composition is being handled by veteran screenwriter Reiko Yoshida, who has previously worked on Aria, Violet Evergarden, and many more atmospheric stories. So we’re in good hands when it comes to adaptation.
The music hits the appropriate feeling for a modern series about Renaissance Italy. The ending theme, in particular, is especially beautiful.
While the story flow of this first episode of Arte is extremely predictable, the personalities and setting are a novelty in the anime world. While I don’t expect we’ll be getting a hard-hitting look at life as an artist in Renaissance Italy, we do get a bit of an art lesson in this first episode. The characters are interesting, the animation treatment solid, and overall it makes a great first impression. I look forward to seeing how this story will play out and watching Arte earn recognition for her work.
Episode Grade: B +
Streamed by: Funimation