*Major Spoilers Warning
The final painting is complete and with it the story of Arte is over! Over the course of the Spring season, this light-hearted slice of life has continued to entertain audiences despite the setbacks caused by Co-vid. So with that in mind, let’s get on with the review!
Based on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, Arte tells the story of well, Arte (CV: Mikako Komatsu). Arte Spaletti is a 16-year old noblewoman who has a passion and talent for art. After her father dies, her mother burns all of her drawings and insist that she gets married to avert financial ruin. Undetterred, Arte declares that she will become an artist and prove to her mother that women can earn a living under their own power. Arte then sets about joining a workshop. After many rejections, Arte meets Leo (CV: Katsuyuki Konishi) who allows her to become his apprentice. Thus begins Arte’s journey into the world of renaissance artisan life.
The Renaissance period was one of the greatest eras for artists. We saw the rise of Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Masaccio and vast achievements were made in the fields of science, art and religion. One of the aspects that Arte does well is how it instructs viewers on what life is like in late 15th to 16th century. The creator and the anime staff make sure that there is an explanation for the little aspects of civilian life. Such as how they explained why people had to make the bread dough before going to the baker because ovens were expensive.
But the most interesting aspect that Arte excels at is the depiction of women during this period. As we can see throughout this series, most of the women in Arte including Catalina (CV: M.A.O) and Ruthanna (CV: Ayumi Tsunematsu) have very little rights in this male-dominated world. As Arte’s mother puts it, most females were either expected to get married and sire heirs or become nuns. Even if their married partner’s family were given a dowry in case of an emergency, there was often a likely chance that the groom’s family would keep it for themselves like with what happened to Ruthanna. This also made it difficult for women to find a job beyond the standard female work stereotypes such as being a maid, courtesan or seamstress.
However, Arte continually proves that genderisation does not define a person. Over the course of the season, Arte continually helps and empowers many of the other females around her with her strong determination and ‘never give up’ attitude. Her show of inner strength comes through her actions in the face of joining the competitive art scene. She even goes so far as to cut off her long hair in Episode 1 to prove her point.
Gradually, her actions earn the respect of the other males such as Master Danilo, Ubertino (CV: Yousuke Akimoto), Angelo (CV: Junya Enoki) and Yuri (CV: Kohsuke Toriumi) through her hard work ethics. At the end of the anime, Arte also grows to accept herself and comes to accept that while she is a noblewoman, she has many advantages which she can use to improve her art and make herself stand out as a painter. This acceptance of herself as well as her flaws shows just how much she has grown into a strong independent woman and how much she still has to learn as an artist which I find fascinating.
Another strong female in the series is Veronica (CV: Sayaka Ohara). Veronica is a courtesan and a client of Leo’s who helps Arte by mentoring her about the life of a working female and how to probably negotiate business deals. Though Arte admits that Veronica’s methods are often cruel and vindictive, she admires Veronica’s strong drive to make a place for herself in this world and her desire to help support her family. Veronica also helps Arte understand her romantic feelings for Leo. Though Arte is slightly hurt when Veronica cautions her against falling in love.
Produced by studio Seven Arts, Arte’s animation is consistently well-done. There aren’t any episodes with noticeable mistakes in it and the pacing is overall good. The character designs were inspiring and the attention to detail on 16th century fashion shows that the staff really studied up on their craft. I enjoyed Catalina’s design and how they brought the landscape and architectur of 16th century Italy to life.
Of course, we have to talk about characters. So let’s talk about the other main character, Leo. Leo is a former street beggar who worked his way up to becoming an professional artisan. He is gruff around the edges and had a rough upbringing. But he does care about others especially Arte and sees his younger self in her. He is rather strict in his teachings, but they do provide results and seeing him become a lot more kinder has been a treat.
Darcia (CV:Kiyono Yasuno) is another woman who is taken under Arte’s wing and starts learning how to read and do math under her. For those who haven’t read the manga, Darcia is a seamstress who Arte meets one day by accident. One thing that irks me is that Darcia’s arc was cut out in favour of reaching the Catalina arc. So if you want to read it, please check out the manga.
Then there’s Catalina and Yuri. Catalina is a daughter of a noblewoman who was raised in the countryside by her nursemaid. After being brought back to Florence, Catalina has a hardtime adjusting to her status as a noblewoman and getting along with her real family. Which is hard as her father isn’t exactly thrilled with having a daughter. The only joy she gets is cooking with her uncle, Yuri who hires Arte to help Catalina. Yuri is a lot more devious than he appears, however most of what he does is for Catalina’s happiness. So he is more of a anti-hero if anything.
And finally, we have Angelo. Angelo is one of the more kinder individuals in the show. He is one of Arte’s best friends and helps her get into his master’s workshop to study. Living in a mostly female household with his sisters, Angelo like everyone else believes women should be treated with care and looked after. But, through his interactions with Arte, Arte teaches him that he shouldn’t spoil his sisters and that it is okay to be strict with them, otherwise, they will never get far in life.
Most of the music in Arte is symbolic of the light-hearted nature of the show. There isn’t a lot of background music. However, when they do use it, it is done tastefully and is often used to emphasize the more comedic aspects of the show.
Additionally, the opening theme song also helps bring a cheery pop vibe to the show. The opening theme song, “Clover” is sung by Maaya Sakamoto. The melody the song uses is light and airy and makes the viewer feel like everything is going to be okay.
While the ending theme song, “Hare Moyō,” is a nice and sweet song. The day to day vibe the song has makes the listener feel at ease as if they are following Arte on her journey into the art world. The ending theme song is also sung by Kiyono Yasuno who voices Darcia.
Despite the last arc being an original ending, the ending was still enjoyable. I loved how Arte has grown over the course of the series and seeing everyone band together to help complete Leo’s painting was endearing. The way she incorporated everyone into the mural was touching and I was relieved to see Arte reconcile with her mother.
Overall, Arte is a wonderful show. It is easily one of the best anime of the season. It is adventurous and funny, yet very instructive. I wish this anime will get a sequel, but if it doesn’t then I’m satisfied with the ending. I would definitely recommend this anime to anyone!
If anyone is interested in finding out more about this anime, I suggest checking out the manga.