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Tuesday, 02 November 2010 00:00

Blessing of the Campanella

Blessing of the Campanella was another of FUNimation's simulcast shows from the past season and, being based on a bishoujo game, it has all the depth and intricacy of story-telling that we've come to expect from such conversions. That is, it's got none of either...

For full episode summaries and screenshots, check the following pages of the review. Welcome to Ert'Aria, an island-based trading city that seems suspiciously Venice-esque. Clan Oasis are a group of adventurers who use Ert'Aria as their base, although today they're not planning on doing much in the way of work - it's the day of a rare meteor shower that will be visible from the city, and plans have been made to mark the occasion. Clan tradesman Leicester and his would-be girlfriend Carina head for the city plaza, where the self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Puppeteer", Agnes Boulange, is putting on a show. Events lead to Agnes taking lodging at Clan Oasis's clan house, whose meteor-night party takes an unexpected turn when one hits the spire of the cathedral they're watching from...

The meteors, as everyone in Ert'Aria knows, aren't really meteors - rather, they're sources of concentrated El, a magical powersource that's used throughout the world, and when this particular meteor lands on humanoid automaton Minette the El it contains is enough to bring her to life. El is something that the series returns to again and again: as well as being a power source, in its wild state it's also responsible for turning cute & cuddly little critters into 'crystite monsters'. The amount of El in the world is also a matter of importance, but we'll return to that later.

The members of Clan Oasis fall into two groups: those that stand around and basically get ignored (the males, who have next to no personality), and those who stand around and look "phwoar" (the girls, who all have a very nice line in character and costume design that means the show really doesn't need them to get their it off to look appealing - although that does happen form time to time, too). They each have a particular defining characteristic - Chelsea's woeful sense of direction, Minette's loyalty to Leicester, Garnet's forgetfulness - but past that there's not an awful lot to say about most of them. In terms of making an impression, it's the next-door twins of Salsa and Ritos, who work for the rival Tortilla Company, that make the best impression, and that's more down to the comedy they bring to proceedings more than anything else.

For all their general lack of personality, most of the series is built around the day-in, day-out adventures of the Clan Oasis gang. Exciting it isn't - the series has more of the laid-back feel of slice-of-life stories like Aria than anything else - but there is a certain amount of entertainment to be drawn from their antics. It's nothing particularly over-the-top, either, but it works well within the laid-back feeling that the series has.

There is a story under there, too, which comes in two prongs: the problems caused when the El balance of the world gets out of kilter and the efforts of the gang to put that right; and the existence of another automaton like Minette, whose own El power source is running low and whose owners decide to take Minette's from her to replace it - by force if necessary. The two angles are connected, and come together to give the series what passes for a climax, but for a lot of the time this underlying plot a) doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense, and b) isn't really dwelt on anyway. It's almost as though it were added as an afterthought and it really does feel tacked-on - and the series, if it had just stuck to the more slice-of-life stuff, wouldn't have been any worse for it.

Ultimately, though, there's simply just not enough happening in Blessing of the Campanella to really keep the interest, and the characters aren't strong enough to carry the series by force of personality alone. It's okay as a little diversion, but there's not enough to it for it to be more than that.

Rating - ***