Once again – not overtly Yuri. But for the Spring 2006 Yuri Anime Season, this second season of Aria, entitled Aria The Natural has the same Yuri triggers that were in place for the first season, which I reviewed back in November 2005. Aika still has a raging case of akogare for Alicia, Akira and Alicia still reek of “let’s get the kids out of here so we can have some fun…” and the general fan sentiment of “it’s a bunch of beautiful, sweet women all together so there must be Yuri in there” is the same as always.
But this series is not without problems. But these are much more indicative of *my* idiosyncracies than any actual failing with the series itself. Primarily, I loathe cats and do not find them to be charming, mysterious, cute or special. I just find them irritating. Entire episodes crafted around cats are pretty much always going to leave me cold. Unfortunately, Aria is crawling with cats. And the animators have a strange, unhealthy obsession with Aria-shachou’s butt. I’m really thinking I don’t need to see it any more than I already have. Really. And that IS a problem with the series itself, not me.
I also found Akari and Ai’s behavior questionable in the first episode. The pagan in me kept saying, “this is a BAD idea” when they happily wandered off behind a group of guisers. “Nonononono” was the other thing I kept telling the unheeding aforementioned girls. Have they never heard of fairies? Have they never heard tales of stupid children who wander off after disguised who-knows-whats and are never seen again. Lucky for them the cats like them, or that would have been the end of the series right there…but I suppose that we’re back in the “my idiosyncracies” section of criticism here. I’ve been in the mask, kids – you *don’t* want to follow the masked dude. Okay?
My third point is sort of a lop-sided compliment, rather than a complaint. Because I find Aria so pleasant and charming, I found myself unable to stop comparing pictures of the real Venice with the images of Aria in my mind, as I looked at my sister-not-in-law’s vacation pictures. (A problem compunded by the fact that the other pictures were from Versailles and I kept seeing Rose of Versailles in my head.) But it is in no way the series animators’ fault that I am a hopeless otaku. ^_^;
I think the animation for this season is a bit tighter than the first season. They seem to have skipped over most of the early chapters of the manga, but I hope they’ll consider doing a kitsune wedding episode, as that was really quite nice. And I keep hoping we’ll get more of the three fairies, Athena, Alicia and Akira, because I like them. ^_^
Art – 8
Characters – 8
Story – 5-8 depending.
Music – 7
Yuri – 1
Service – 1 (unless you’re a cat anus fetishist. Then – 9)
Overall – 7
It’s always worth spending a quiet moment with Aria and Akari, Aika, Alicia, Alice, Athena and Akira.