3 Episode Taste Test: Shukufuku no Campanella

It comes as quite a surprise that Shukufuku no Campanella is in based on a visual novel rather than an RPG; the hints are remarkably strong with quests, line-dancing combat and job-classes, even the opening scenario seems ripped straight from Chrono Trigger or Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. What lies beyond this superficial resemblance however is a cutesy, pastel coloured romp through a fluffy, high-fantasy world that keeps the conflicts light and the humour inoffensive but with a dash of eye-rolling raciness that remains the only hint of its adult game heritage. Without a stronger narrative to support it, the series relies on its cast which for the first three episodes are entertaining enough, but whether the series can last for twelve episodes on twee intentions is another matter.

the whimsical lifestyles of uninteresting characters in a fascinating world
Taking place in the city of Ert' Aria, the Oasis clan is a loose collection of characters lead by Carina, daughter of the grand duke of the city, and consisting of her childhood friend Leicester, maid Nina and resident burly man Nick, as well as recent additions such as the puppeteer Agnes and templar knight Chelsea. On the night of a meteor storm, ethereal energy awakens a highly sophisticated automaton which, for better or worse, latches on to Leicester and joins the Oasis group. Together they take on different quests at the behest of often faceless clients and can include activities ranging from quelling a raging crystal dragon to picking a rare black rainbow flowers. A mysterious power however dwells within the recently awakened mechanical girl, Minette, and her very nature as well as her abilities may attract unwanted attention.

Obvious questions about the littlest automaton are entirely ignored and even the easiest of philosophical quandaries are dispensed with for happy fun times with the gaggle of eligible young ladies who have clustered around the foppish and unassuming male lead. The opening episodes are wholly self-contained which on one hand is refreshing, but without stronger individual stories beyond fetch and defeat quests it is unfulfilling and the desire for richer drama or even a smattering of mild peril becomes acute. The opening - forgettable call-centre muzak accompanying a standard montage of grinning faces - threatens to introduce just that with comically villainous shadows juxtaposing the otherwise seaside azure, but with a quarter of the series with nary a hint of foreshadowing, an antagonist may not be the most crucial thing the series needs.

Personality is the most criminally lacking of credentials: the opening episodes swap stereotypes for familiarity, so while the lead love interest is a competent mage and the daughter of a noble, this doesn't affect her character which embodies an almost sickeningly flawless chastity. Not to begrudge the series its bubbly outlook but attempting to present the whimsical lifestyles of uninteresting characters in a fascinating world is done at the expense of key opportunities to exploit its setting. Chelsea, Agnes and even the chronically peppy Minette have histories that are ripe for exploration but instead the show busies itself with the flat humour of the Team Rocket-style twins or the burgeoning and blatant romance between Leicester and Carina. Augmenting Carina's magical paddle with a voice holds promise but is again wasted by robotic monotone rather than a thick personality - Baldur's Gate's Lilarcor this is not.

Shukufuku no Campanella is not short on ideas only on the talent to utilise them. With any luck the first three episodes are blitzing what is commonly left as padding; standbys such as the beach excursion reduced to a scene bookending the second episode. There is still ample opportunity for the series to grow into its setting, however what's been demonstrated so far makes this unlikely; it remains an enjoyable but lacklustre divergence based off source material which desperately pines for an RPG remake. Its unobjectionable content and incurably positive attitude make it easy to watch but equally easy to forget reducing it to a series only for those suffering a dearth of saccharinity or with a surplus of time on their hands.