by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 8 of
I can't help but feel that the anime adaptation of Arte kneecapped itself by not giving Darcia at least one episode. Although it was sweet to see how much Veronica, Angelo, and even dour Leo are going to miss Arte during her six month sojourn in Venice, Darcia's inclusion in the farewells instead highlights how random her sudden appearance as Arte's literacy student is. (And that's not even getting into what we missed out on by cutting the seamstress storyline.) We just have no stake in Arte taking her leave of Darcia, and that, alongside having no idea how Darcia knows Veronica well enough to be comfortable going to her house and asking to borrow books – and being allowed to, which is indicative of a reciprocal relationship – just serves to highlight how out of place the character feels, thereby undermining the emotional content of Arte leaving Florence.
Fortunately getting Arte out of one city and en route to another does refresh the show a bit otherwise. Lord Yuri isn't just Blonde Leo, which is nice, and he basically has zero interest in Arte beyond what she can bring to his niece as a tutor and artist – he basically treats her like a younger relative he doesn't know very well. He clearly finds her amusing, but it's almost the same as if she was a six-month-old puppy, all floppy ears and legs they can't quite figure out what to do with. When she can't stand on the deck of the ship or in the gondola, he's indulgently entertained; when he doesn't need to think about her, he doesn't. Yes, that leads to her taking a nose dive off the ship, but like the owner of that six-month-old pup who leaves the dog alone with a pair of socks, he didn't expect letting her sit on the deck to sketch to turn out badly. And speaking from experience, it's easy to forget that not everyone can walk on a moving boat if you've been doing it most of your life.
The Venice chapter of the story is setting up to be interesting in several ways. Not the least of those is the fact that as a city, Venice is fascinating, and as a seaport, it's in a position to be a much more international place than Florence, whose closest seaport is Livorno, about fifty-six miles to the west of the city. Arte quickly notices all of the foreigners, whom she can identify by their dress, this still being a time when national costume was much more place-specific. In fact, you may have notices that Lord Yuri provides Arte with Venetian clothes before she starts her job – it's a very distinct look when compared with what the women of Florence were wearing, looking more like what we associate with the Medieval period than the Renaissance. (Or at least what the Pre-Raphaelites told us they wore during the Medieval period, which seems an appropriate reference to make when talking about this show.) Arte's new look is definitely a bit more mature, but when you get done wondering how that top stays up – even if this was one of those time periods when women rouged their nipples for fashion “accidents” I doubt Arte would have gone there – it's a really nice style for her. It's also just good to see her in a different gown.
The other major difference between the Florence and Venice arcs is that Arte is now no longer the pupil, but the teacher. It's a position she's able to slip into because, as Leo told Lord Yuri, she is a noblewoman, and therefore more trusted to enter the sheltered households of members of the nobility; that she's a woman in this case doubles that trust. This is an opportunity for Arte to test out a different way of making her living as a painter; rather than having a studio like Leo, she could be a private tutor for the upper classes. It clearly isn't something that had previously occurred to her, and Katarina may be giving her serious second thoughts about it, because that child is a brat. But Arte isn't someone who backs down easily, if at all, and I suspect that next week little signorina Katarina is going to find that she's met her match.
Arte is currently streaming on Funimation.
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