Succeeding on your own merits.
What They Say:
Episode #12: “Apprentice”
Arte finishes the Falier portraits and returns to Florence, reuniting with her friends and family there.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Arte has a choice to make. Does she stay in Venice and become employed permanently by the Faliers or does she return to her atelier back in Florence? It’s obvious that Arte will be returning home, but she has to have a compelling reason to.
Before she can give her answer to Yuri, Arte is approached by the local workshop artisan who Katarina yelled at. He apologizes to Arte, who apologizes in return. He points out that he hadn’t considered her point-of-view and Arte denies that his comments bothered her. Instead, he does recognize what her unique perspective brings to her art, an eye for feminine styles and sensibilities. Her attention to fashion detail and designs allows her works to connect more deeply to her female clients.
And we have found Arte’s true strength as a painter. Until now she was either seen as gaining her position through her noble privilege, or not staying in her lane as a woman. She was never considered on her own merits. Now, for the first time, she has been. She yells Yuri she can do better, and she must do better.
While Arte journeys back to Florence the others back home wonder if she will ever return. Leo has been even more stoic since she left. I was worried that once Arte returned her crush on Leo would return full-force. Yet the surprise when she returns is the discovery that Leo is ill and his current project, a ceiling fresco, remains incomplete. Easter is just a week away.
That’s when this series goes full shoujo and Arte leaps to her feet determined to finish Leo’s work. She is a member of his workshop and if the project isn’t finished it would reflect poorly on her. Leo had laid out the entire design, she just needs to finish painting it. I was shocked that Arte didn’t demand to see Leo after learning he was ill. I was also somewhat surprised that Leo showed no reaction other than critique once he saw the finished piece. No ‘welcome back’ no surprise, nothing.
After the harsh lessons that Arte had to learn previously this episode does a complete 180. Arte turns her back on the opportunity that she had, albeit after giving Yuri a pretty good reason that comes off as a major insult. She once again does something rash and doesn’t ask for assistance. She overworks herself and ultimately manages to salvage a project with sheer tenacity. It’s a very tidy wrap to the story thus far and comes across as more of a wish-fulfillment. Especially the part where all of the figures in the artwork are friends and relatives. (Although it was not unusual for artists to do self-inserts or mock enemies in their art.) None of the problems that might have occurred are even pondered or addressed. What if Leo had died from his illness? What if Arte hadn’t finished the ceiling? This is the one moment in this series where the typical manga route ends up being taken.
Throughout the entirety of Arte’s apprenticeship, we haven’t heard a word from her mother. For a woman so concerned with her daughter’s future I found that really odd. Her mother does finally return to see her daughter’s work in this final episode and gives her what amounts to a blessing. Why now? Who knows… the latter half of this episode feels like it was anime original, but I haven’t read the manga so I can’t be sure. It certainly gives the anime a place to stop and still feel complete, even if the manga is still running.
Some of the decisions in this final episode of Arte feel like concessions made for the purpose of giving the anime closure. Those choices also seem to fly in the face of several points made in the series thus far. This story was always a character-driven one, and while I wish it had gone deeper into the history and science of art it was nice to see more anime set someplace grounded in history. (Although the anachronistic gestures and behaviors from the cast really should have been given more thought.) It is a sugar-coated historical anime, one that leaves out the uglier sides or significantly simplifies how that society actually functioned. In a season wrought with delays, cancelations, and overall real-life trauma though… this series was a pleasant if unremarkable diversion.
Episode Grade: B
Streamed by: Funimation