“The Art of Life” – Gallery Fake (anime) – 9/10 Pumpkin Pies


Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Genre: Mystery/Seinen

Review Status: Complete (37 Episodes/37 Episodes)
Licensed: No, this anime is not licensed in the US

Art/Animation:
Quite good. The color palette made me think that it was a little older than it is, but the animation is excellent, and the art can be breathtaking at times, especially when special attention is paid to the paintings that are featured.

Dub Vs. Sub: There is no dub.

Summary: Reiji Fujita is the proprietor of Gallery Fake, a gallery that specializes in fakes and fraudulent art. However, he’s no ordinary dealer and scalawag- he genuinely loves art, and will do what he can to get his art to those who will enjoy it. As a former worker at the Met, he knows his stuff, and shows it off. With a girl that’s in love with him and a rival curator that would like to shut him down, life is always exciting for him!

Review: Art class is dreaded by many- and I’m not talking about the ones where you actually get to paint and draw. How exciting can a class covering the history and importance of certain works be? This is the anime world’s response to this- very exciting. This manages to weave human drama with the artwork, giving them importance that would otherwise be overlooked and ignored, and mixes it with a touch of adventure and drama. It helps that this has one of the catchiest, classiest openings I’ve heard in a while- an immediate hook for me!

At first, Reiji comes off as a smooth operator. He has little compunction in holding a gun and shooting if necessary, and knows a dozen tips and tricks in order to get what he wants. When he’s going for a piece of art, he is at his finest, knowing exactly what he’s looking for and able to tell the best from the rest. The rest of the time… maaaybe not so much! He’s thrown off-guard and kept on his toes by his young assistant Sara, who also happens to be in love with him.

The further into the anime you get, the more of their relationship is revealed, and the more you root for them to get together. The recurring characters that show up are also interesting in their own right. There’s the jewel thief with a passion for unusual art, and the curator that both respects Fujita’s knowledge and skill but is frustrated by his dabble in illegal activities. Her respect and fondness for him grows over time into a good friendship.

These characters get into all sorts of trouble and events. There’s action, from having to restore a painting during a plane hijacking, a kidnapping of the descendent of a famous subject of a portrait, a race to prevent an art theft, and even the discovery of a lost city in the Amazon. There’s the human drama, from a painting that reveals the love of a father for his estranged and grieving daughter, to the restoration painter that desperately needs to save an inheritance, and even touches on Fujita’s family’s past. There are even episodes that are just fun, like the one about a mechanical crab.

All the while, little bits of information about paintings and painters are sprinkled in. It gives it a feeling of authenticity, and never feels truly boring. I think my own appreciation of art was deepened because it’s given in such a way that it’s hard not to find merit in the paintings and painters they present.

Overall, except for some blatant and terrible emotional manipulation in one episode, this is a fabulous anime.

Recommended: 15+. There only one f-bomb dropped during an episode that features Vietnam and the Vietnam war (due to how this is depicted, it might be wise to watch this away from any relatives with sensitivities to the war) with barely any minor swears during the rest of it. There is some violence- one man gets shot in the arm, a girl is kidnapped, and in the war episode, there are people depicted being attacked and some bodies are shown. Discretion is used in these shots, so no one is actually seen killed, but there are shots of people that are close to photographs taken during that period. Someone gets stabbed in the back, and you see his back covered in blood.

There is one shot of a woman in a bathtub- I didn’t realize what was happening until later in the episode, but apparently she is masturbating, Everything is covered, though, and it’s not obvious. In another episode, the same woman has sex with a boarder, and this is depicted briefly though not pornographically or blatantly. It also seems that she has some sort of S&M relationship with her butler, who’s in love with her. There is one scene of fanservice where Fujita looks at a woman’s bikini-clad behind, and the camera does zoom in on it. Two scenes depict couples in bed together, completely covered by the sheets.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Bartender (anime and manga)
Master Keaton (anime)
Detective Conan (anime and manga)

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