As I’ve mentioned in my various reviews, Aria as a manga is not about anything in particular, it’s just about being in the moment. The storyline is always that, around an given corner an adventure, or a moment of breathtaking beauty can be waiting for you to discover it.
Aria the anime is more about the people and less about the place. In the manga the canals of Neo-Venezia are narrow, echoing the real Venice, while in the anime, the girls ply their gondolas on broad seas and wide rivers, rather than claustrophobic canals. The advantage is, of course, that wide stretches of blue are way easier to animate than crowded populated areas. :-) It’s pleasant enough to see, and easy on the eyes, but sort of makes the point of gondolas seems silly – who needs tours of nothing?
The focus on the characters in the anime is different from the manga – but its a nice difference. We’re introduced to a new character, a young girl named Ai, to explian the letters that Akari is always writing. And we’re introduced to Alice very early on in the series. Alice’s personality is “niced” a bit. In the manga she remained grumpy way longer – but I suppose a short anime wouldn’t have time for two grumpy characters, and Akira is overwhelming. She totally wins on grumpy.
They’ve simplified the characters a bit – Akari is always simple, Aika survives as the most complex, but Akira and Alicia are rendered a bit, to be one-line machines. Here’s hoping we get to see them fluffed up a bit. Alicia *does* get moments of uber-cool which are lovely and serve to notch up the yuri a tad. But the voice acting is good and Minogawa Junko is perfect as Akira.
The number one thing about this anime that makes it worth watching is the art. Clean, favoring pastels and a hand-done water colour looks, it’s not *quite* as sublime as Yokohama Shopping Log, but it’s in the same general region of your brain. The “ahhhh” region. And the music fits the art perfectly.
In terms of Yuri, well, it’s mostly Yuri goggles, but really, you just cannot see Akira and Alicia together without seeing the vibe between them. And Aika’s open admiration and desire to snuggle with Alicia, (which Akari and Aika both call “rabu-rabu”, lovey-dovey) isn’t played down at all. In fact, it’s quite open. Aika’s all bummed because she wanted to sleep with Alicia, but had to settle for Akari. So it’s not like we see Alicia leaving Akira naked in bed or anything….but you know she did and got back to Aria Company before the girls woke up, which is why Akira asks, “When did you get here?” when she arrives. ^_^
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 7
Music – 7
Yuri – 4
Overall – 8
As I say, definitely worth watching. No mecha, no rape, just nice.