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24 of 24 episodes seen
Story and Character:
The first half of the series is a riot of emotions. The story begins with the all-too-familiar scene of love at first sight, secret rendezvous and eventual escape/elopement. Romeo and Juliet are your typical tragic hero and heroine; faced against insurmountable odds, yet remain true to themselves and their beliefs. Makes you wanna root for them. Although this ideal scenario does seem kinda cheesy at times, it makes for good romance. And heck, what's a Romeo and Juliet remake without filling it up with sweet romanticism?
The second half is a slow and torturous climb to the climax. Here, the main characters, and subsequently you, will suffer their repeated separation and reunion, and their final clash of swords and ideals. The second half can get slightly confusing at times, especially when the fantastical elements come into play. It is also much slower paced compared to the earlier half, which might lead to some impatience from the viewers. My suggestion is to treat it as a deliberate attempt to allow us to understand what the main characters felt when they pined for each other.
In short, don't be too cynical of the plot (and plot holes) and try to enjoy this for what it is - a love story.
Not fantastic, but no gripes here, except that it can be quite inconsistent.
If you are a fan of classical or instrumental music, you are in for an aural treat. RxJ soundtrack is unbelievably good. This is not surprising since the composer Sakimoto-san also worked on Final Fantasy's and Dragon Quest's soundtracks. The OP and ED were also really well selected. The OP is a soulful Japanese rendition of "You Raise Me Up", setting up the mood of the show, while the EDs "Cyclone" and "Goodbye, Yesterday" fitted the hectic progression in the first half and the painstaking second half.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a dramatic anime with pure love against stacked odds, look no further.
It seems obligatory that I have to end with a short poetic abstract of RxJ. A tribute to its origins of sorts.
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where laid the scene.
From ancient grudge breaks new mutiny,
Where civil blood made hands unclean.
From forth offspring of two foes,
Cruel fate brought close their souls.
Through the fearless journey of their death-marked love,
Could the people of Verona reclaim earth and hearth.
Thus the star-crossed lovers staked their life,
With their death buried all vengeance and strife.
And so ceased all suffering, hate, and rage,
A close was brought to this bloodied stage.
"In life and in death we shall be
together forever till eternity."
~END OF SPOILER~
1 of 1 episodes seen
Just like how the movie can be summarized in two parts, it will also be reviewed in two parts.
Partially narrated by Yuki, it starts off with a brief story of how the couple met, married, had kids and the loss of the father. Then as the story progresses, the mother endures and overcomes a variety of problems in order for her children to live a life free from the burden of their alternate identity. The children themselves eventually grew older, and they too began to face issues that they had to resolve on their own. The problems they encountered were typical and expected of such a family; things like trying to suppress their animal instincts, hide themselves from the prying eyes of others, and financial woes. So there’s nothing unexpected here. The problem however does not lie with its predictability, but rather the ease of how those problems were resolved. In almost every situation, they were conveniently assisted through the introduction of additional characters rather than getting by through their own effort or changing themselves. In other words, I felt that the story did not adequately convey the hardships of single-parenthood and difficulties of a single parent family to me. Also, I was puzzled by how they managed to prevent their identities from being exposed despite several situations. (IMO, it'd have been more interesting if they were exposed.)
I’m no single mother, but I know enough to understand that raising kids alone is a monumental undertaking that requires both mental and physical fortitude. Thus the simplicity of how she prevailed despite her predicaments seemed almost disrespectful towards those who have experienced it, and misguiding towards those who have not.
Yet, the first part was a heartwarming portrayal of the strength of a mother and the kindness of their neighbors. The gradual buildup of emotions, from the loss of the father, the struggles of the mother, culminating in the successful integration of the family in the countryside really got to me. Simply put, it's just like one of those heartening stories you see on the internet where you can say:" Faith in humanity restored.". For the first part, I give a score of 9/10.
The second part's focus was on the siblings. Interestingly or not, their problems were either of the mythical; resulting in situations which I found hard to identify with (Ame), or of the usual; teenage angst and rebelliousness (Yuki). I am especially confused by the actions taken by Ame; the change in his attitude and behavior in the later part of the story was quite sudden and ill-explained. Identity and reconciliation was evidently the main theme in this part of the story - how Ame and Yuki each found their own answers to how they should be living their lives and how the family accepted each others' decisions.
Although it was at times conventional (Yuki) and awkward (Ame), I admit the part where Yuki was persuaded back to school was kinda cute, while Ame's lone journey in self-discovery was kinda mysterious and cool. I also can't help but think that another message to the conclusion of the story was - to each his/her own. As long as you are happy and not doing something bad, go live your life and don't let anybody (apparently including your mum) stop you. For the second part, I give a score of 7/10.
Just like its predecessors Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo and Summer Wars, the animation was crisp and detailed; nothing less could be expected from Hosoda and Madhouse Studios. Voice-acting was faultless. The music by Takagi was surprisingly well done for someone new to anime music scene. Also, I really liked how certain sequences were well-timed to be completely silent, which contributed to the emphasis of the scene as well as the appreciation of the music that followed after.
To be fair, I knew from the beginning that this movie would not deal heavily on the issues of single-parenthood. After all, it is a story that is accessible and understandable to audiences of all ages, and that in itself is a huge, huge merit. If you love Pixar movies like Toy Story, you will definitely love this.
Outstanding, but lacked the depth to be truly exceptional. Overall a great movie for the family.
13 of 13 episodes seen
First off, let me state that this is a guide to the -entire- ARIA collection, i.e. Aria the Animation, the Natural, the OVA and the Origination. I feel that it is necessary for the entire collection to be presented together since a potential viewer will want to know the whole story rather than watch a single series.
I won’t be describing what ARIA is about; it is well-described in the synopsis and other reviews, and frankly, you should be the one discovering and understanding what ARIA is about to you.
So, why would you want to watch ARIA?
1. You want to take a break from the usual action-packed and angst-filled anime. ARIA is a slow-paced and smooth-sailing anime. Every single episode, except the ending episodes of Origination, is standalone. ARIA will not invoke strong emotions and desires, only a sense of calmness and curiosity.
2. You want the feeling of happiness. ARIA epitomizes happiness. Every single act or occurrence or thing that appears in ARIA will bring happiness to its characters. And happiness is contagious.
3. You wonder about the state of the world today, and think that the future of the world is bleak. ARIA will make you think otherwise. ARIA is filled with so much faith in its people and so much optimism in its future that it can probably bring hope to a terminally-ill person living in a war zone.
How you should watch ARIA in order to enjoy it?
1. Watch it in order. Aria the Animation will introduce to you the setting and its characters. Aria the Natural will take you on a tour of its world and the many mystical happenings that occur within it. Aria the Origination will delve and develop each character to the fullest before concluding.
2. Don’t rush through the story. Savor every moment and every scene, like tasting a glass of well-aged wine. Heck, re-watch an episode if you want to. I sometimes tend to replay a single scene over and over before being satisfied of the feeling it was conveying.
3. Open your mind and your heart. Don't be too quick to dismiss something as impossible, stupid, or lame. ARIA will contain varying degrees of these elements, and you should look deeper into each of them instead of judging them by their face value.
Experience and maturity are essential in order to appreciate this collection to the fullest. Hopefully, ARIA will change your perspective about life. read more