It’s not often that the final season of a series is better than the first. In the case of Aria The Origination (Season 3 + Arietta OVA) this is undoubtedly the case.
The animation hits level of sublime, rivaling Venice itself for breathtaking light effects. The colors are deep, vibrant, practically alive in their own right, and the little details are so lovingly depicted that, in some cases, they actually surpass the original.
And while such loving detail is paid to every brick, stone and tree, the story itself moves away from lingering glances at Neo-Venezia’s beauty and looks – for the first and last time – firmly at the Undines who roam it.
Aria has always been a story about people – about their dreams and fears, their motivations and joys. It’s always been a story that revels in the absolutely smallest things it can find to have fun with – the anime equivalent of the taste of chocolate melting on your tongue, the smile of a beautiful woman, the sound of music across a deserted plaza.
In this final season, we get to focus a bit, not where the Undines are looking, but on the Undines themselves and their friendship and love for one another. Each mentor is cast an in entirely new light, as we learn just how *much* they care for their protégés. At the same time, we watch each of the trainees struggling with the transition from student to peer.
This is simply a beautiful series, animated and voiced with the abject love of every single member of the team. If you weren’t absolutely sure that every single person who worked on it is in love with it, after you are done watching the extras, you will have no doubts whatsoever. Aria was a group effort, by the mangaka, the voice actresses, the animators and musicians. And, also by the folks at Right Stuf, who cared enough about Aria to bring all of it to us with the care it deserved. With lithographs and toys and papercraft and every other thing they could throw at us.
There is no Yuri, of course, there never has been. We’ve made it up in our heads since the beginning and nothing anyone is going to say is going to stop us now. :-)
Aria has always been beautiful and relaxing and gentle. With this final volume, it becomes timeless, as well.
Art – 9
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 0
Service – 1
Overall – 9
I do have one criticism, but don’t want to ruin the mood. Let’s just drop it for now. ^_^
Many, many, many thanks go Okazu Superhero Dan P, who sponsored today’s review!