In the 24th century on the planet Aqua, three girls—Akari Mizunashi, Alice Carroll, and Aika S. Granzchesta—continue to work hard toward achieving their goal of becoming Prima Undines: professional tour guide gondoliers. Luckily, the girls have the guidance of the three best Prima Undines in Neo-Venezia—Alicia Florence, Athena Glory, and Akira E. Ferrari—who are known as the "Water Fairies" in honor of their skill. With their help, the young apprentices train hard and work to overcome any situations that they find themselves in.
Aria The Origination follows the hardships and daily lives of these three young girls, who are doing their best to improve as tour gondoliers in Neo-Venezia, a terraformed replica of Venice.
The conclusion to the Aria series is an ever so subtle departure from the previous two, however there is a very good reason why this is the case. As many people have already stated, in order to fully appreciate Origination, one should really watch The Animation and The Natural first (and preferably in that order as well). What people don't really go into is why this should be the case with what is purely an episodic, slice-of-life series (I'll get to this in a bit though).
The story continues in much the same fashion as the first two series, dealing as it does with the daily
lives of Akari, Aika and Alice and their efforts to become Prima Undines, however the biggest difference is that the characters are not only developed more in Origination, but developed well.
One of the main strengths of the Aria series as a whole is the effortless manner in which it tells its various stories, and Origination is the pinnacle of this. The plot in each episode is far more fluid than in the previous two series, and as the show progresses the story moves into a barely unnoticeable higher gear as the bittersweet climax approaches.
There are two things which make the story in Origination noticeably different from the first two series. The first, and most obvious difference, is the fact that Origination has a goal in mind, and unlike the previous two offerings, doesn't simply peter out towards the end but actually gains momentum. The second difference is surprisingly (and somewhat unfortunately), unrealised by many, however it is key to appreciating the franchise in its entirety.
As I stated in my review of the second series, The Animation was simply an introduction to the characters and Neo Venezia, whilst The Natural was an introduction to the world of Aqua. This is important to know as many people misjudge the first two series and believe they have no real focus. In fact they do, and without that focus Origination would never have been as good as it is. If one keeps in mind that the whole point of The Animation is not to develop the characters, but simply to introduce them, then it makes things a little clearer as to why it was structured in such a way. The same goes for The Natural, as the focus there was to familiarise the viewer with the world of Aqua, and its wonders and oddities. The characters receive some measure of development in the second series, however this is not the main focus of the show, as it is essential for the viewer, when watching the final series, to have more than a passing familiarity with the characters and their environs.
This is where Origination steps in. From the outset the assumption is that one is familiar with the characters, Neo Venezia, and the world of Aqua, and because of this Origination can proceed with the story proper without the need for introductions, supernatural events, exploration, etc. Everything up until that point was simply preparation, which at first may seem wasteful, but watching the first and second season is a pleasant experience so one could fairly state that the effort was justified to a degree.
The art and animation in Origination is much the same as the first two outings. There isn't any real change to the design of the characters, or to Neo Venezia and Aqua, although it should be pointed out that Origination has more in common with the first season in terms of art and backgrounds as it is mainly centred in Neo Venezia as well. The quality of animation remains superb, with no real noticeable flaws, whilst the level of detail in both the animation and the artwork is once again excellent.
One of the strongest areas for the series as a whole is in the quality of its sound and music, and whilst the first two series were excellent in this department, Origination represents a step up. The subtlety and detail of some of the effects are truly phenomenal, and although the thematic music may be the same as the previous two series, the score actually feels fresh in Origination (more on this in a bit). The voice actors are, once more, excellent, however there is a very subtle difference with their portrayals in Origination in that the characters seem more self-assured than in either of the previous two series.
Characters are as adorable as ever, but once again there is a difference to them. The feeling of self assurance one receives from the voice actors is carried through with the actions of the characters themselves, and this is one of the ways in which they receive some of their phenomenal development. This doesn't simply apply to Akari, Aika and Alice either, but is also extended to Alicia, Akira, Athena, Akatsuki, Al, and even Grandma Akino.
The surprising thing about Origination's characters is that, in comparison to The Natural, they possess and air that is fresh and new. This feeling is also inherent in the score (as I mentioned earlier), in the settings, and in the voices too. There is a very simple reason for this though. Whilst it may (or may not), be true that the viewers are already familiar with the series before watching Origination, it is a certainty that everyone who has worked on it will know the characters, Neo Venezia and Aqua, pretty much inside out. This, together with the fact that Origination actually has a focus and a definite end, means that everything was already defined before the series even began. It is because of this that Origination is able to achieve its remarkable feat of plot and character development, something it could never have done had everything been told over the course of one season.
In terms of enjoyment, Origination is something I would recommend to everyone, however it should be remembered that the first two series should be watched prior to this. The show is as relaxing as The Animation, whilst retaining the same adventurous quality of The Natural. The characters actually become more endearing as the show progresses, especially if one has watched seasons 1 and 2, and whilst the format may still be episodic, it doesn't suffer from the same ambiguity that affected the previous two series.
Origination is an excellent show that successfully retains the essence of the series whilst at the same time developing the characters and advancing the plot. Because of the definite focus of the show, things that may have seemed stale in The Natural have been given a new lease of life and, whilst this may not seem like a difficult thing to achieve, it is actually one of the hardest things to do in any medium.
Man, I hate that saying. I hate it for how true it is. Kozue Amano, why couldn't you keep it going? Did you run out of ideas? Was five and a half years enough? Did you already plan this out? Wait, what am I saying? Of course you planned it out. Month after month, you crafted chapter after chapter of this masterpiece.
Jyunichi Sato, thank you for taking this work and running with it. For three separate seasons, each one improving on the last, you dealt the manga justice. You even added a new
character that Kozue retconned into the story. And she was fabulous.
I should probably stop the ranting and the gratitude-giving and get to the review. Although this is under Aria the Origination, this will be a review of all three seasons plus the OAV.
Aria is a bloody masterpiece.
Yes, you heard me right. "All 10's will make you untrustworthy and prejudiced, and people won't pay attention to your reviews anymore!" Blah blah blah, whatever. I don't care if no one ever reads my reviews again. ARIA is that good. I savored each and every episode of the anime, along with each and every chapter of the manga. Whenever I watch ARIA, I have this stupid grin on my face. I can't help it.
So why is Aria that good?
One, the magic of the characters. You start off with Akari, the cheery protagonist, arriving on Aqua (used to be Mars) to fulfill her dream of becoming a master gondolier, an Undine. There, she meets her mentor, the perfect Alicia, who teachs Akari the ins and outs of the trade. Along the way, Akari befriends Aika, the heir to one of the biggest gondolier companies on the planet, Himeya. She also befriends Alice, the genius gondolier from Orange Planet. Aika also has a mentor, the ever-so-awesome Akira. Alice's mentor is the ever-so-clumsy Athena. Akari also meets Akatsuki, the apprentice Salamander who controls Aqua's climate, Albert, the Gnome who controls Aqua's gravity, and Woody, the Sylph who makes deliveries by aircraft. Akari also meets Akino, the mentor of Alicia, and Ai, a girl from Manhome (Earth). Yes, all of the characters have names that start with A with the exception of Woody, but there is never a time when you are confused between who's who. Character introductions and development are handled impeccably well.
Two, the complete lack of an overarching plot. Yep. Every episode is basically a one-shot, providing a glimpse at the utopian society of Neo-Venezia. Some episodes are character driven, while others are setting-driven. There are no antagonists, no final boss fight, and no conflicts. Therein lies the terms "healing anime" and "slice-of-life," which both describe this show perfectly. Now, that does not mean that ARIA fails to invoke emotion. Some episodes will make you cry manly tears. Some episodes will make you laugh out loud. ARIA is a show that you can sit back and watch every night before you go to bed. It improves the quality of your sleep. I guarantee it.
Three, the progression of the animation throughout seasons improves leaps and bounds. I'll admit that some scenes were full of QUALITY, but by Origination, there is none of that. Origination is even in widescreen, giving everything a more epic sense. I loved the water animation, the chibi faces, the epic gondolier rowing, everything.
ARIA has something for everyone. Lesbian tendencies? Oh yes. Epic boat rowing? Even more yes. Heartwarming just to the point of sappiness? Triple yes. And there are much, much more: a soothing soundtrack, amazing vocal insert songs, fabulous opening and endings. The sound production is just perfect. The openings are different for each episode too, allowing you to immerse yourself into each episode seamlessly.
I cannot pinpoint a favorite episode, but I loved the 11th episode of the first season, when Akari waves to Aika and Alice from the bridge. I also loved the snowball episode, the four-leaf clover episode, and the well episode. My favorite character is Akira, by far. Her spunkiness and her awesome chibi-face won me over.
But alas, all good things do come to an end. As I sit and watch the final episode of Origination again, I cannot help but close my eyes and feel them tearing up. I'll miss each and every character immensely.
Good work, Kozue Amano. Good job, Jyunichi Sato. I salute you for making me sleep better at night these last five and a half years.
This is my first review; and what better series to review than the glorious Aria the Origination.
Intro: This is what I've been looking for all along. This is the reason why I have been spending countless hours experiencing many different stories, encompassing so many different themes while simultaneously being sucked into an abundance of worlds. There is a saying that goes as such: "A good life is a collection of happy moments". This is exactly what this anime was to me. It taught me, along with many others, to appreciate life, and how incredible it truly is.
Story: The third and final season of Aria
didn't try to impress its audience from the get-go. Instead it allowed the viewers to try and envision what the outcome might be, however obvious it was from early on in the franchise. I even found myself in the first couple of episodes of this season scratching my head, wondering why people were giving the show as much praise as it frequently gets; as the opening episodes were not as flashy as I expected them to be. I almost got the impression that I was re-watching the first season: Aria the Animation. I felt as if this season was a bit of a back-step; lowering itself in terms of storytelling from the brilliant Aria the Natural. Don't be afraid, however, if you find yourself feeling the same way after watching the first couple episodes. It is certainly not like that the whole through. I can assure you. Don't get me wrong, the first two or three episodes were still pretty good, just not as 'special' as I thought they would be.
Origination focuses much more purely in being a undine in Aqua. Unlike Natural, which focuses more in the city of Neo Venezia, and all the supernatural beings which inhabit it, the final season shines its spotlight on the act of being a gondolier. We see more prospect in how our three young undines go by their day-to-day life, rowing their gondola, and their struggles and efforts to finally becoming a prima. Earlier on I mentioned that it is quite evident what will happen by the end of the series, and by that I meant that it will end with Akari, Alice, and Aika being prima undines. If this was to end otherwise, it would be unsatisfactory, and almost a dreadful 'read the manga' ending, that would ultimately be a massive spit in the face to the viewer. Heck there are even pictures of the show, which illustrate our three undines, without their signature gloves: this obviously meaning that they have become primas. Regardless, I assure you that the show ends almost perfectly, as it left a wide, almost creepy smile across my face, for the entirety of the final several episodes. Aria the origination was brilliantly directed, as we dive into the fantastical world that is Aqua, in all its glory.
The pacing of the show is as well truly extraordinary. There is a very correct balance between comical moments, and more heart-tugging moments, with each individual episode ending with Ai-chan's unbearably cute voice. Of course the setting is still on-point, as Neo Venezia is almost as if its an exact replica of Venice. Each building feels real, the sea and the chilling breeze when a character stares into the ocean, reaches the viewer, as I often felt chills down my spine.Thus the city is given life, just like how Akari explains almost every episode.
Animation/Art: I have not once been left disappointed by the fluidity, background depth and detail, character designs and color palette, but instead I am left in awe by how brilliantly done they all are. The final season of Aria, as expected, does not disappoint. In matter of fact, it is even more spectacular. There were times that I felt as if I as watching a movie by the sheer magnificence of the show visually. One aspect of the art that really surprised my how by the use of 3D in this season. You can tell just how much effort was put into this anime! Another example of how much the animation/art quality improved in this season, was the detail of each character's faces, or more specifically their eyes. Any scene which took place on the Hope Hill (the green hill with all the wind turbines), looked almost godly. The only minor irritation I had with this aspect was that there were a few too many (albeit hilarious) chibi scenes. Although these helped tone down the show, I feel as if it would have been better without as many as there were. The reason why I included that comment in this section, is since such scenes tended to be more lackluster in animation (as one would expect). Overall, however, I am utterly pleased with this aspect of the show.
Sound: If you go ask anyone who has watched the entirety of Aria, what their favorite aspect of the show was, 9/10 times it would be the soundtrack.Why, do you ask? Well it was through this show that I found out that one could orgasm through longitudinal waves! (nerdy joke) But on a more serious note; the mixture between orchestra, piano, and violin was masterful, and each track was played at the perfect moment! If this aspect was not how it was, the ending result would be no where near as impactful as it is. This might be an obvious statement, but Aria the Origination heavily relied on its soundtrack to guide the tone of the show. And without guidance, you have a badly paced series. Something I should truly praise the show for is its seiyuu performances. Each and every seiyuu was perfect: especially Akari's voice actress: she reflected Akari's character flawlessly, as being a constantly happy and optimistic girl; a role which I believe to be exceedingly difficult to master. The ending song was one of the greatest things I have ever experienced: both visually, and sound-wise. It fat the tone of the show quintessentially! The opening was as well great, although not as memorable.There's not much I can say to bash this section, as the show did almost everything right, in my opinion.
Characters: A problem that I tend to have with shows that have a very limited cast, is that there is not enough variety through their emotions, in order to truly satisfy my needs as a viewer. However, Aria is a show that turns this speculation upside down. Each and every character is fully developed, three-dimensional, and human. They are realistic, and although they are happy most of the times, there is more behind that smile than one would think. Akari Mizunashi is a great example of this. She is described as a quote on quote "Eternal optimist" or "Miss expect of happiness" and there is a valid reason for this. It is rare to see this character feeling down or depressed. At first I found this trope pretty unrealistic, but especially with Origination I was proven very wrong. She expresses so much emotion just by her intelligent analogies and 'speeches' about how important life is to those who respect their lives. She is very important to the story, as her character makes the entire city feel happy and content. She helps her friends when they feel down, and she even tries her utmost when she herself feels as if she cannot mirror her title. Alicia Florence is another fantastic character: she does not go about explaining her reasoning like any other human. Instead, she will go about her explanation in a very peculiar way. She might start rolling a snowball out of nowhere just to prove a point! I realise that this sounds silly, but I was utterly amused by how accurate those actions were to help explain her points. She, like Akari, is more often than not, always wearing a smile. This helps Akari keep her own smile, so that she could be able to illustrate her talent as an undine.
Alice Carroll is my personal favorite character ( plus my new waifu but that's besides the point). The reason why this is so, is since she is probably the most logical, intelligent, and talented undine out of all the cast, at such a young age. She is almost inspiring as a character: not only to those in the anime, but to the viewer him/herself. I particularly love how she has an O.C.D, as she has to, for example, kick a stone all the way home one day, or another she will have to walk backwards, or walk only in shadows. This makes her character more realistic, as it demonstrates her more childish side, since shes only 14. *Small Spoiler* She also has an impeccable singing voice which came to my surprise.
The rest if the cast, which I could talk about for eternities, is all fully fledged out, and as i mentioned before, realistic. The only issue I had is that I wanted a bit more backstory for other characters, but that's only a small problem, which wouldn't really affect the show too much. An honorable mention is Grandma, who had a brilliant backstory, and was a fantastic addition to the cast, even though it was seldom that she appeared in the show. But I digress, since the characters were all pretty much perfect; even the secondary characters such as the Patissiere and Akatsuki.
Enjoyment: I don't think there is any other slice of life series that could provide as much enjoyment as this one did. Almost every single episode left me teary-eyed. Episode 9 was one of the greatest episodes I have seen in a LONG time. It was surprising, beautiful and incredibly well animated. That is not to say that it was miles ahead of any other episode, as they were all important to the story, which ultimately lead to the magnificent and conclusive ending, which could not have satisfied me more than it did. All I can say is Bravo! What an accomplishment this show truly was.
[Score: 10/10] PERFECT
Conclusion: If only this series gained more mainstream recognition. It truly, truly deserves a wider audience, even though it is not, of course, perfect. But then again, no show ever is. Sayonara Akari, Alice, Alicia, Aika, Athena, Akira, and Aria. It was a fantastic run. Cheers!
[Final Score: 9.4/10 =94%]
Final Comment: A legendary slice of life series, that should be enjoyed by many, if not all anime fans.
All things eventually have to come to an end, especially with series that have left a mark on many people. One series that has cemented itself as the king of accomplishing this for many is the Aria series. What many consider to be the series’s magnum opus, Aria the Origination, is the last chapter in the anime adaptation of the beloved manga. As you might figure out, it is just about as glamoured with gorgeous music, cheerful characters, and melodramatic optimism as one can handle. Despite all of the beautiful aspects of this show, and the series as a whole, there’s still that one
question that has always bugged me with each season: Why am I not smiling?
Before I start voicing my criticism on these issues, I’d like to explain the positive aspects of Origination that leave it off from being just a "decent" show and try to describe it without trying to compare it to previous seasons. To put it into perspective, Origination is supposed to be the accumulation of everything that the series was building up to. As we see the characters grow from their past experiences, it is inevitable that they want to make it into a big emotional climax to end it all. To which I can concur is a satisfying conclusion to the series.
Since Origination is focused on the character development, this is where Origination truly shines that tries to develop them little by little. Because of the fact that we have followed three of these girls and their elder undines for so long, their complex relationships have been built up for the inevitable climax that shows them growing into leaving their profession as full-time undines. Its slow pacing is why it works as nice character development because there is no awkward transitions between episodes that feel problematic to the characters growth.
Of course, you can’t talk about a season of Aria without ever mentioning its musical composition. It is no secret that the series is known for its beautiful and memorable score and Origination does not fail on this aspect. Although I would consider this to be the weakest of the series, there is no reason to suggest that the instrumentation of the songs in Origination still keep the spirit of the series going. The music involve a lot Celtic guitar instrumentation that feels fitting with the setting and atmosphere. Vocals are exceptionally graceful and give a nice introduction to the show as the opening guides us into a new kind of adventure with each episode.
As the series progressed, the animation and art got better and better as their budget had increased by the time they started with Animation. Origination’s great blend of colors and misty backdrops gives the show a dreamy atmosphere with transparent white overtones of the environments and characters. Character designs are neatly colored with nice clean looks to their facial features and their expressions, especially when they are in chibi form whenever a comedic moment happens. It creates a decent flow of showing a new dimension to the show by not just being a somber slice of life, but also a comedy with zany edges to it. They are not what you would call hilarious or hysterical by any means, but they are funny tidbits that have a nice spark of humor to Origination.
Now, what many might conceive as one of the best facets of Aria is the atmosphere. It is often praised for being very relaxing and brings feelings happy emotions to the audience from the artistic aspects to the character interactions that follow it. It cannot be denied that the features that inhabit it do not exist in some form, but for all intents and purpose, for me, that sort of ethereal atmosphere only does very little to make the series impacting. To put my criticisms into perspective, an atmosphere that wants to make the audience feel any kind of emotion needs to have some semblance of a structure that makes it feel natural and effective. With the case of Aria, it feels as though it just wants to be a relaxing atmospheric show just for the sake of being one and nothing else.
Another troubling aspect to the atmosphere that doesn’t make for a worthwhile experience is the fact that it is always the same impending tone. It is true that there are some moments where we are given a slightly different shift in tone to a more somber, depressing one, but those are very few and far in-between. Because of this, the whole atmosphere feels extremely fake and alienating for someone like me who does not feel the need to take the atmosphere for granted. The atmosphere is completely stagnant and makes Origination a rather dense slice of life show that seems to think that life is always this happy-go-lucky experience with halfhearted expectations of things getting better.
In conjunction with the atmosphere, the characters that inhabit Aria are not necessarily the most magnificent cast of characters that you might’ve been told so. Now like I’ve said before, all of their developments are great and make them standout. You can’t really make bland characters any better by just making them developed to excuse all the yawning. Besides their development, what other characteristics do they have that make them anymore significant? Is it the fact that they constantly throw in monotonous catchphrases to try to make them not dull? The fact that they all have similar optimistic outlooks that hardly make them any more distinct from any other character? Or that they constantly throw in pointless poetic dialogue to somehow make them seem more insightful than what they really are?
I can appreciate some of the quirkiness that is thrown out here and there from the characters, but that is simply not enough to think of any of them as inspired characters. Once in a while I can chuckle at the catchphrases, but it is quickly forgotten due to the uninspired way they implement it into the show. There are even some character side stories that don’t really go anywhere that can be construed as the show cutting some things off of the manga, like the awkwardly written romance between Aika and Albert. What it all comes down to is that none of the characters have anything to offer in terms of creativity or intrigue other than their development, which are two completely different things in character writing.
Despite all of the negatives I pointed out in this point of the series, Origination is not something that I would consider terrible or bad for that matter. It is decent for what it is, which I would say is a definite overall evaluation for the series as a whole. Origination is not the remarkable life-changing show that many like to make it up to be in my opinion, but it is not the polar opposite to that effect. There are plenty of qualities that can be looked upon with fresh eyes. All that is left to do is to pin-point what stands out for them as an experience worth going through.
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