Aria Manga, Volumes 4, 5 & 6

May 17th, 2005

One of my more happy finds in Tokyo was the last three collected volumes of Aria, this quiet, pleasant side-trip into the quiet, pleasant life of an undine (aka gondolier) on Neo Venesia (New Venice). It is a manga of simple pleasures – a lesson I now and again need to relearn. :-)

I reviewed volumes 1,2 and 3 in February and, as you may remember, in English. Since ADV has not yet released the next three volumes, I was glad to find them in K-Books. (K-Books’ used manga store is one of the many reasons I love Ikebukuro so much. lol)

The story is not much different in the final three volumes than in the first three, but there *is* some character development. Alice, the slightly snotty young trainee does loosen up, by the end of Volume 6 quite considerably, in fact. Enough to admit that she wants to be the best undine ever, and that she has a long way to go.

Aika turns out to be a damn fine person and an excellent undine. When she first showed, I was convinced she was to be the “hated rival”, mostly because she was dark-haired, but she has consistently been a funny and enjoyable character. For the record, she *does* say, “Embarrasing words prohibited!” which ADV translates slightly differently, but well enough. ^_^

Akari doesn’t change much over the final three volumes but, as she’s one of those sweet and lovable types, there’s really nowhere for her to go. Her adventures remain whimsical and fun, with pretty much no emotional baggage, ever. For this reason alone, Aria is a welcome respite for all the crap that passes as published works these days. Between the lovely art and the lovely characters, unless you crave angst and hate anyone being happy while you yourself suffer so, there’s really nothing to hate in this manga!

There’s no obvious Yuri, either. However, after reading these three volumes, I am convinced, with an unshakable conviction, that Alicia and Akira (Akari’s and Aika’s sempai, respectively) are lovers. They are just always together. They act like lovers in subtle but distinct ways. The Yuri goggle setting for Akira and Alicia is pretty much the exact same one used for Torako and Asagi in Yostubato.  Seriously. I am 100% convinced that they are “together’ and Akari will one day be somewhat surprised to find them in bed together. Alicia will smile and explain that they develop a bond as undine this way and encourage Akari to do the same with Alice (as her kouhai) and send Akari off with a nod of encouragement.  ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 9
Characters – 7 (pleasant, but a bit shallow)
Story – 8
Yuri – 3

Overall – 8, because I find a few moments of quiet joy, gorgeous art and simple pleasures to be something really worth experiencing.

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6 Responses

  1. Serge says:

    Oh, now I get it. That’s why you were beaming when you showed me these. I couldn’t remember why they were important at the time. . . .
    I’ll blame it on anime and manga overload.

  2. Ladios Sopp says:

    Very nice review (and great Blog ^^).

    Btw isn’t there a Aria anime coming later this year ?

  3. Ladios – thanks so much for the kind words. :-)

    I haven’t heard of an Aria anime and there’s nothing on the Amano Company website, but that doesn’t mean anything. There *are* several Drama CDs, so maybe that’s what you’re thinking of?

  4. Maceart says:

    Aria is great. I bought all six volumes in Taiwan and can’t stop rereading them because of the extreme detail. I really liked the 3rd Great Undine, (whatever her name was in japanese, since i read the manga in chinese). Her songs and her quite demeanor makes her the best of the 3 undines. Alice in a school uniform is the best!

  5. Yuki says:

    I love Aria to death, it such a wonderful series, but I just dont’ see where you get these “Yuri implications” This is a slice of life manga. And there is such a thing as a sisterly bond..Or a bond that doesn’t have any romance in it.
    I’m sorry, but i just don’t agree with you. And I’m unmoving on that point too.

  6. Yuki – That’s okay. Some people do, some people don’t. Luckily the world has room for everyone. :-)

    There are many series that people insist have Yuri in which *I* don’t see anything. One of the most interesting – and annoying – things about Yuri is that it is so very much open to personal interpretation.

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