M.A.OSayaka OharaKatsuyuki KonishiRie Tanaka
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2020: A
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2020
Director: Takayuki Hamana
Writer: Reiko Yoshida
Original creator: Kei Ohkubo
Actor: Haruka Tomatsu, Junya Enoki, Katsuyuki Konishi, Kiyono Yasuno, Kousuke Toriumi, M.A.O, Mikako Komatsu, Rie Tanaka, Sayaka Ohara, Yousuke Akimoto
Keywords: anime, historical
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=22338
Website category: Anime 2020
Review date: 30 September 2022
ar te
It's a relatively minor anime as far as I can tell from levels of online fandom, but I liked it a good deal. It's a historical about a woman (Arte) who overcomes a ton of sexism and other obstacles to become a professional painter in Renaissance Florence. Things I enjoyed:
(a) the characters. Arte herself is lovable, tough and impressive, her supporting cast do their jobs and the wall of chauvinism is indeed monstrous. I enjoyed spending time with these people.
(b) the historical stuff. Better historians than me have nitpicked bits and pieces, e.g. some modern Japanese body language, or Arte's curtseying and underwear. It feels good to me though. I'm enjoying the story and the characters, but also being reminded about the differences between now and 16th century Florence. The public ovens. The precursor of football, which is called Calcio Fiorentino that probably did indeed start in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. The church's rules about dissection, carnivals and girls. The scary childrearing practices of the nobility and the fact that a daughter was liable to be seen as a walking financial millstone. You'd have to pay for a dowry... although, if your husband died, you were theoretically entitled to get your dowry back. "Unfortunately, it's pretty common for widows to get into disputes about money."
I enjoyed all that. It hits a satisfying level of "the past is another country".
(c) and, of course, the art. These are artists of the Renaissance, an extraordinary period, and there are things here that had never occurred to me. The trade guilds. The sheer physical work of making frescoes. At the same time, though, they're artists. Underneath, the job's still the same as it is today. "You still can't calculate the light properly."
Arte is lucky to get accepted as an apprentice in the first place. Everyone else in Florence had already said "no", but fortunately Leo has the manners of a stone wall and no interest in what anyone else thinks. He sees promise in Arte and doesn't care about her gender. He's no gentleman, mind you. He's capable of working Arte so hard that she vomits... but that's what she wants. She doesn't want to be a china doll, but instead to become someone who can survive in this world. Being an apprentice means lugging around clay sacks, stone and all the other tools of the trade. By the end of the series, Arte could probably arm-wrestle any of the men.
There's a real artist who might have been an inspiration for this series. Her name's Artemisia Gentileschi and she achieved as much as Arte does here and more, becoming the first female member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence and well-known enough to have foreign clients. That said, though, this show isn't a biography and there are big differences between Arte and Artemisia. For starters, no one rapes Arte. A nobleman called Agostino Tassi was convicted of Artemisia's rape in 1612, in addition to having committed other rapes and incest and having planned to murder his wife... but the verdict was annulled the following year and he walked free.
For what it's worth, fans of the original manga have liked this adaptation, but commented that it cut too much material in order to get to the Venice arc. Darcia appears out of nowhere, for instance.
I like this show. I think it's good. (It's also often funny.) It's a feel-good view of a scary world, mind you, and I couldn't help finding Yuri (the Venetian nobleman) more sinister than I think was expected. That said, though, the show's capable of examining how merciless 16th century life could be, e.g. that glimpse in ep.4 of the prostitute who fell in love. The show's not one-dimensional or preachy, so for instance Arte isn't a idealised perfect heroine but instead has her own hobby horses and issues to get over. She does impossible tasks, repeatedly. I think she's great.