First Impression: Arte

Set in Florence, Italy, early in the sixteenth century, this is the tale of a young noblewoman named Arte trying to become a proper artist and make a living. Her supportive father died recently, and now her mother is calling the shots: we meet her as she sets ablaze a pile of her daughter’s drawings. Fourteen-year-old Arte needs to get married quickly, and men don’t want artistic women — so claims the mother. Arte resists, challenging the prevailing patronizing chauvinism that says art is work for men, not women. After many trials, she convinces a fellow named…Leo…to accept her as his apprentice. (I have no idea why an artist in the early 1500s in Florence would be named after a ninja turtle. Nope, not a clue. I’m sure you can’t possibly guess either.)

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Was anyone out there hoping for an art-focused feminist historical fiction anime? Well, I have good news! On the whole, I enjoyed this episode. By way of critique, I would note that the theme of female empowerment, while not wrong in itself, comes across so emphatically that anachronism of it all is distracting at times. It’s also weird to see Italians bowing like they’re Japanese. And the overdone heroic-determination-does-the-impossible cliche pops up. These are relatively small quibbles, reasons to temper one’s expectations, but far from justification to skip or drop the series. Personally, I’m curious to see how the story will play with its historical inspiration. The visuals are quite lovely, too, as befits a story set in Renaissance-era Florence. I plan to tune in again, and I’d encourage you to check out Arte as well.

Arte is available for streaming through Funimation.


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