Spring anime season definitely didn’t shape up as well as we originally thought due to the pandemic. Because of this, Arte only recently received an English dub by Funimation which aired its last episode this past weekend. A beautiful period piece anime, Arte captures Renaissance Italy fantastically.
Based on the manga by Kei Ohkubo, Arte follows Arte Spalletti who is loosely based off real life Renaissance artist, Artemesia Gentileschi. Arte is the only daughter of the Spalletti family, who, after the death of her father, is told to give up her dreams of becoming a painter to be married off to a nobleman by her mother. Refusing to give up her dream, Arte runs away from home looking to find work in one of the many workshops across Florence. She runs into renowned painter Leo. Thinking Arte is nothing more than a noblewoman, Leo tasks her with preparing 20 wooden panels in a single night. Upon waking up the next morning and finding the impossible task completed, Leo decides to take her on as an apprentice. Along the way, Arte is faced with many challenges, primarily due to the sexism revolved around her profession, being the only female apprentice in all of Florence. Arte is a wonderful story of finding yourself in your work and overcoming prejudice.
Arte is a layered and relatable protagonist due to her constant struggles throughout the show. As a female apprentice, she must prove her abilities more than any other apprentice in Florence. She is often excluded from painting opportunities and shrugged off by the other masters around town despite her skill. However, as her skill and notoriety grows, more people request her skills, eventually leading to her biggest job yet.
Similarly, Leo was also rejected by his peers at a young age due to his lack of wealth. Just as his master saw the potential in him, he sees potential in Arte, relating to her situation and understanding that anyone with the right amount of dedication can be an artist. Unlike Arte, Leo is reserved, often keeping to himself and irritable when around others. Luckily, Arte and some of the other characters are able to break him out of his shell and force him to open up.
However, the most interesting dynamic in the show is between Arte and Katarina, a girl who Arte has been hired to train in proper etiquette. Katarina is the daughter of a noble family, but was raised by commoners. Because of this, she acts out against her blood family, believing the people that raised her are her real family. Her desire to gain knowledge of non-noble activities, such as cooking allows Arte to relate to her, building their friendship. This teaches not just Katarina, but her mother as well, that they should openly care about the things they love.
The animation and art style by Seven Arcs (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha) and director Takayuki Hamana (The Prince of Tennis) is remarkable. It really should not be a surprise, considering Arte is about making art, but the various paintings shown throughout the anime are beautiful. The detail went into each piece clearly shows each characters’ style, clearly differentiating paintings done by Arte and those done by Leo. I especially love the contrast of Ubertino’s painting-filled waiting room with his barren office, representing how he views art. The design of the backgrounds and busy animation around both Florence and Venice make the locations come alive. The anime manages to capture real life locations like the Arno River perfectly.
Funimation took full advantage of all of the actors with home studios due to the pandemic, utilizing voice talent from all over the country for Arte‘s English dub. Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) director Marissa Lenti (Actors: Songs Connection) and script writer Clayton Browning did a brilliant job aiding the voice cast in bringing these characters to life. Although, I would have liked some of the locations to have their Italian pronunciation, such as pronouncing Venice as Venezia. Felecia Angelle and Gianni Matragrano were phenomenal as Arte and Leo, making their master and apprentice relationship believable. The rest of the main cast, Erica Schroeder as Veronica, Doug Ehroltz as Yuri, Michelle Marie as Katarina, Wayne Grayson as Angelo and Michael Sorich as Ubertino, were fantastic as well.
Arte is a remarkable period piece anime that captures Renaissance Italy better than I imagined before watching. I am excited to see where in Italy the second season takes the characters.