Aria Anime, Volume 1 (English)

November 4th, 2008

Welcome to the world of Aqua. As the Earth (now know as Manhome) becomes overrun with technology, and barran of life, humankind has spread out onto a terraformed Mars, transforming it into a preserve of culture and life from Earth’s past.

Venice is no longer, but Neo-Venezia stands ready, with beautiful girls taking the place of burly male gondoliers. For one journeyman gondoliera, life is a slow, gentle passage through days of wonder, beauty and friends.

This is the plot, such as it is, of Aria.

Nothing happens, as every reviewer ever has noticed, but it doesn’t happen so lightly, so gently and with such lovely scenery that it’s not like we feel the need to rush. A cup of coffee, maybe an almond pastry and a volume of Aria will do for the afternoon.

In Volume 1, we meet our protagonist Akari of Aria Company and watch as she befriends (in a totally non-Nanoha way) her peer and rival, Himeya’s heir Aika, their mentors, two of the most famed undine of Neo-Venezia, Alicia and Akira, and a young, genius apprentice, Alice. Along with this crowd we meet some of the other people in Akari’s neighborhood, the people she meets each day. And while I am being slightly silly likening this cast to the puppets of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood the feeling of gentle fantasy isn’t all that ridiculously different.

As with all their work, this English subtitled edition from Right Stuf is top notch. The video extra follows the crew around Venice as they tour the world they are recreating. I have never been to Venice, so it was nice to see that some of the more whimsical locations are, in fact, completely real. But this volume does not stay still in one place. We follow Akari as she learns about some of the history of the Aqua planet, and we see that although Venice maybe recreated here, it is not without its own stories of love and loss apart from those of the city that we’re familiar with.

Yuri in Volume 1 is largely in the form of Aika’s crush on Alicia, and my own completely-made-up-with-the-help-of-Yuri-goggles relationship between Akira and Alicia. Yes, I know it’s not real. I don’t care. lol I said it before and I’ll say it again, definitely worth watching. No mecha, no rape, no “Story A,” just nice.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 7
Yuri – 3
Service – 1

Overall – 8

My deep, abiding thanks today goes out to Dan P. (We’ll call him “Super Dan” from now on) for sponsoring today’s and so many other day’s reviews. For your support, your kindness, your generosity and your emails that make me laugh, thank you Dan for being an Okazu superhero! To become an Okazu superhero just visit my Yuri Wishlist and purchase anything on it. You’ll gain instant recognition as a hero and the eternal appreciation of the Okazu audience.

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6 Responses

  1. Raymond S. says:

    “No mecha, no rape, no “Story A,” just nice.”

    Lol, KnM?

  2. Katherine says:

    It’s nice to see that Right Stuf did another great job on Aria. ^^ (I still have to order it.) I love this series! It started off a little slow for me, but by the end I was entranced. There are so many excellent episodes, but my favorite is probably the one when Alicia, Akira, and Athena get together to talk about old times and Akari realizes that she, Aika, and Alice will probably drift apart in the future also. But the whole thing is lovely. ^^

  3. Thanks for the review! I’ve been pondering over this one for a while. Everyone seems to give it good ratings but there never seems to be much of a story. Been a bit hesitant basically. But now that you’ve looked at it, it’s the next one in my Right Stuf shopping cart! Thanks!

  4. grace says:

    Aria is definitely a great slice-of-life kind of series and will be a very nice addition to anyone’s collection (especially mine!).

  5. Eric P. says:

    From the very first episode, as I watched Akari’s interactions with li’l Ai-chan, and how their relationship reached to a point where they’re e-mail buddies for the rest of the series, I was entranced and hooked. It’s just those little moments of social interaction between people that has made this series almost magical to me.

    Even though nothing happens, it still feels the characters will be on a journey. Even though this is a fantasy, made even more apparent by a character as consistently and defiantly optimistic as Akari, the characters feel just as real in their own way as the girls do from Maria-Sama. It’s because you wouldn’t be able to find so much of Akari’s optimism in the real world, you can take a break from said world and visit a series like this, and then return to the real world with an uplifting spirit because of Aria, which seemed to have been made for such a purpose.

  6. Shanejayell says:

    Very nice, sweet little series. I liked the first season a lot and am looking forward to the next one. Ai is VERY cute, esp. when she returns and starts quoting Akari’s descriptions of people… *Lol*

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