Monday, February 28, 2011

Fortune Arterial – review

Director: Munenori Nawa

First Aired: 2010

Contains spoilers

Fortune Arterial was an anime based on a manga. The manga itself was a harem style comic, with a central male character, who himself Is generally ignorant of the effect he is having, who becomes surrounded by a harem of female characters who rival each other for his affections.

As it was, the series actually broke that aspect down a little and whilst you had a predominantly female set of characters who orbited the one male character, Hasekura Kōhei (Ono Daisuke), for the most part it focused on friendship, and whilst there was an episode with romantic misunderstandings, the series concentrated on his relationship with Sendō Erika (Kanda Rei).

Kōhei has always transferred from school to school due to his parents moving. He now has chance to stick to one place as he has chosen to go to the Shuchikan Academy – a mixed-boarding school. He had previously spent time on the island where the school is located and had a friend there, Yūki Haruna (Taguchi Hiroko), the only person he maintained a correspondence with.

As he arrives he is met by the Student Council Vice-President, Erika, who holds out her hand for a handshake but when he reaches out to grasp her hand she recoils. He is bemused by her reaction but she asks a nearby student Heiji (Itō Kentarō) to take him to the dorm. It is a mixed dorm with boys on one floor and girls on the next. The student dorm manager is Yūki Kanade (Nabatame Hitomi) and her sister, Haruna, also stays there.

vampiric feeding
Kōhei has to take an orientation and at that point meets Lori (Suwabe Junichi) – the student president and Erika’s brother. He is a manipulator, often through practical jokes, and has Kōhei go to the steam baths only to switch male and female signs and have him walk in, naked, on the naked Erika (the steam covers their shame). He then ensures that Kōhei sees him vampirically feeding on a student, which causes him to be late meeting Erika to apologise. In the first assembly, Erika publically tells the school about the baths to embarrass him.

Vampire on TV
That embarrassment is soon passed as Lori tells him that it was no joke, he and his sister are vampires. He must join the student council or have his memory wiped. He eventually agrees and is told the first few basic rules of vampires. They are not like you see on TV (though we get a TV image to illustrate), sunlight does not bother them, they never grow sick or old and garlic is fine. Erika admits that she doesn’t know what would happen if they were staked through the heart. Lori is very old but Erika is the same age as Kōhei. The other student council members are from the Togi family and know all about vampires but to the rest of the school vampires are a secret.

blood pack
They do drink blood, mainly from blood packs, and this is the base storyline. Erika has been allowed to go to school to find a servant. Servants are immortal like a vampire but lapse into shutdown mode occasionally and must slavishly obey their master’s commands. They are created by allowing them to drink the vampire’s blood and are a handy snack-box for the vampire. Erika does not want a servant and wants to subsist on blood packs.

fireworks for Kōhei and Erika
Unfortunately, her vampire nature is pushing out – especially now that she has met Kōhei who has a special type of blood that both calls to her and will become addictive once she has tried it. The show really concentrates on their romance and their desire to break with tradition and make their own choices. As it stands that is fine but is really packed into the last few episodes.

Mini arcs around other characters are touched on but are not really that effectively dealt with. We discover that Haruna lost her memories after an accident, though continued correspondence with Kōhei as it might have helped get her memories back. So one arc is the resolution with her sister and the other is about the real reason she lost her memories but neither arc goes anywhere. One suspects that, within the harem original, the mini-arcs would have been pre-curser to a Kōhei obsession; in this they leads nowhere. Again we have a mini-arc about a vampire servant searching for her master and whilst it introduces the servant concept it doesn’t go anywhere of any real import generally.

In the main this becomes a slice of life story that happens to have vampires in it. There is a little fan service but it is minimal, there is some gentle comedy but nothing hilarious, there are no regular battle sequences though we get a single chase mid-season and a bit of a beating in the finale. As such the pacing of this is a little off especially in the early episodes. It ends up as an ok romance but that’s about it – however the art work is lovely in places with some wonderfully atmospheric lighting that illuminates… not that much I'm afraid. 4.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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