Drift peacefully into Neo Venezia, a city on the planet Aqua (formerly known as Mars). By the 24th century, humans have found a way to colonize the previously uninhabitable planet. As futuristic as that sounds, Neo Venezia is still teeming with rustic beauty; gondolas on wide canals and waterways are the main mode of transportation. The city itself is a faithful replication of Manhome's (the planet formerly known as Earth) Venice.
To make sure that residents and tourists alike get the most from Neo Venezia's many wonders, companies offering guided tours via gondola were formed, one of which is named Aria Company.
This is the workplace of Akari Mizunashi, a free spirited teenager from Manhome who is now a novice Undine (the title given to tour guides). Join Akari as she becomes intimately acquainted with other Undine, tourists, Neo Venezia's residents, and even the city itself, learning many valuable life lessons along the way, such as the wonderful truth that there are such things as manmade miracles.
I'm quite surprised that no one's actually written a review for this yet.
I have to admit that I wasn't sure what to expect from this show. The synopsis didn't really give any clues as to what I should expect, and that is probably the best thing about it - it isn't quite what you expect.
The story takes place on what used to be Mars (the first thing I didn't expect), in a place called Neo-Venzia (New Venice), and is about a girl training to be an Undine (the story uses the term to refer to a female gondolier rather than a water spirit). The
story itself isn't linear in any way, as each episode is a story in it's own right. Normally this is a recipe for disaster in the anime world, but it works in this show - I'll explain why in a bit.
The art and animation are of a very high standard, and the city and it's surroundings are beautifully rendered - and you will see a lot of the city in this show. The characters are very well depicted, even when they show their chibi side, and the best bit is there's not a panty shot in sight - hooray!
The sound is one area where this show excels. Everything is there if you listen, from the sound of the waves to the hubbub of of a crowd. The music is ideally suited to the show and, unlike many anime, actually heightens the viewing experience.
The characters are extremely well realised. I can't think of one character I actually disliked in the entire show. One of the things I liked about the show was how each character actually fits into the story, and the world in which they exist - even the cats have a purpose. One of the other things I liked was the use of fairytale and mythological creatures in the show. The females gondoliers are referred to as Undines, with the top three being called the Great Fairies. The weather is controlled by salamanders, the gravity is controlled by gnomes, etc. One thing that puzzled me was why the female characters names begin with A (except Grandma, however her real name is Akino), but that's by-the-by.
So the important question is: Will you enjoy the show?
If you're an action junkie, or into horror or angst, then this is not the show for you (although it never hurts to give it a try). This show is funny and quirky in many ways, without going over the top, but the one word I would use to describe the show is RELAX. It took me two weeks to finish this show and it's sequel (which is a long time for me by the way), and this is because this show is so relaxing that I was falling asleep whilst watching it. Normally it takes a lot for me to fall asleep, and even boredom doesn't work, but somehow this show just relaxes you to the point where you just drift off to dreamland without a second thought, and never once was I bored with this show.
Overall this is a show that deserves to be watched, as it has a unique appeal that the like's of Sketchbook ~full colour'S~ and Kokoro Toshokan just can't quite match up to. The reason why the non-linear story works well in this show is because it's so relaxing that you honestly just don't care about the fact there's no real plot - which is a rather refreshing perspective to have.
The best way to watch the show? Have a shower, have a good meal, get comfortable, and relax...
I stumbled upon Aria years ago when reading a review about the manga and made a mental note to check it out later. Positively drawn in by Kozue Amano's original work, I soon picked up the anime as well. For a reason I still can't recall I dropped the show nearly three years ago, and it wasn't until just recently that I finished what I started back then. And though not much had changed for either better or worse from what I remembered, I'm glad I did so.
Aria the Animation is not for you, who prefers a clear cut and classically constructed storyline that moves
from point A to point B with some key events in between. Aria the Animation is not for you, who requires relentless action and constant fast-paced happenings from their anime. And most certainly Aria the Animation is not for you, who finds little to no enjoyment in just sitting back and watching as a close-knit group of girls, not in their bra and panties with guns ablaze, but with their gondolas and oars go through ordinary day-to-day activities instead of epic adventures and intense situations.
But on the good chance you are the type to approach your anime with an open mind and the patience to watch and see the magic in the moment, you are likely to find the company of Akari, Aika, Alice, and the rest of the undines and undines-in-training much to your liking. Because that's what Aria the Animation is ultimately about: a journey to uncover the joy of the obvious, the excitement behind the mundane, and the possibilities underneath the sorrows.
These scenarios are played out to us by a cast of characters who depict a variety of different personalities. Akari is the naive amateur who treats all she experiences with childlike wonder; through her most of the show's message is brought across to the viewer. . Aika is her best friend and almost her exact opposite: no-nonsense and feet firmly on the ground-kind of girl who constantly berates Akari for her dreamy ways. And Alicia is their mentor and the big sister-type of character, who's there to provide insight and help the juniors along the way. They're surrounded by a pack of friends who similarly have their quirks and qualities defining them and making their role contributing to what the creator is trying to tell us.
You're right if you argue that the story is boring and seemingly pointless at times. Saying the characters being archetypes of their respective personalities (and almost exclusively female as well!) is cliche and overused is valid. Complaining that having cats as business company presidents is just plain stupid and ridiculous is justified.
But as one who no doubt has already seen quite a bit of anime in their life, you have for sure come across these common failings before. And in case you've reached the point of having made peace with them, or feel like challenging yourself to do so, Aria the Animation may prove to be an eye-opening experience for you that anime can be good even if no heavens are pierced.
Slice of life anime are difficult to represent to audiences in an entertaining manner without being a boring spectacle; that's why most of these have dramatic or romantic elements, or a lot of fanservice in them in order to be appealing to the viewer. But then there is Aria: The Animation, a slice of life in its purest form, that proves that such type of anime doesn't need any of the above to be succesful. Having dived in without any expectations whatsoever, I was pleasantly surprised: it was proven how wonderful and relaxing such a simple anime can be.
The premise of Aria: The Animation is
of simple nature: Akari Mizunashi, a teenager who moved from Manhome to the planet Aqua (formerly known as Mars), joins the Aria Company to become a professional Undine - or a professional tour guide - in Neo Venezia, a flawless presentation of Venezia itself. This may seem as something totally uninteresting, learning how to become a undine, yet while it certainly is an aspect of importance, its main focus lies in the interactions with the people in the city, in addition to world building of the location.
Another interesting aspect is the fact that it is a planet covered in water and while it gives the impression at first of being a simplistic and somewhat regressed humanity technologically wise, it is for the matter not: it is mixed with futuristic vehicles and devices such as gigantic airships, or flying machinery, whereas everyday tools are simple, which gives the viewer a feeling of attachment to the setting itself, as this may be something that would happen in the near future. Now it must be said that not much of the world and how it came to be is revealed, which will maybe be done in the sequels.
As mentioned earlier, the story focuses on the different interactions with the people of Neo Venezia, and naturally fellow apprentice undines, as well as professional ones. It doesn't stop there: world building is done through the different, but intricate people of the city necessary to maintain a working society. Audiences may think that this anime has the approach of "cute girls doing cute things", yet with Aria it doesn't give this impression at all: they're just humans living their everyday life. These interactions are truly fascinating and heartwarming to watch, as it is in addition very relaxing as it also represents the ups and down life has.
The cast of characters in Aria: The Animation is not big, and is by no means necessary; in fact, it fits well with the story to have a better and more realistic fleshing out of a handful of characters, than to have an excess of those. It must be mentioned that the fleshing out is limited and nothing outstanding, as well as character development itself. The characters are simple and have distinct personalities, that fits well with the setting and different relationships between the characters.
What however stands out in Aria are the character interactions: these are very well presented, in a realistic and soothing manner. These are heartwarming and varied, nothing overly dramatic, which relay simple messages as enjoyment of the simple things of life, or realization of your own flaws through your environment and relationships with the characters. Which leads to other great aspect of the anime: the females are in no way sexualized, which is a huge plus to the anime.
Other aspect that was really soothing and amusing to watch were said interactions: these were often witty and funny that managed to make me smile, and sometimes even blurt out quite often, which was something unexpected. These can be in addition quite emotional as well, as viewers observe how some of the characters are affected by their environment. What also struck me was the fact that the anime didn't seem to focus on Akari, rather her friends and companions as well.
~Animation and sound~
The animation of Aria: The Animation (ha, animation) was well done, character movements being fluid, at times even being surprisingly well done. The art style itself is average, but fulfills its purpose well, having distinct character design and well drawn backgrounds that represented well the world and atmosphere the anime was trying to convey to the viewer. Another bonus is the smooth transition between the introduction and opening of the show, as well as the ending: it never felt an abrupt change.
What however really stands out is the soundtrack used: besides the wonderful opening and ending songs that matched well with the story, were the individual OST's used. These were particularly of high quality to what the show was trying to convey, in addition to not being overused throughout the show. The voice actors performed their role well, matching well with the personalities of the characters and was relaxing to listen at.
What I initially thought to be a boring show about Venezia and how to become a undine, proved to be so much more interesting and relaxing than ever expected. The narrative and interactions with the characters, the humor and wonderful OST did a fantastic job to have a wonderful experience. The fact that it was no "cute girls doing cute things" type of show, in addition to females not being sexualized in any manner, was a huge bonus to the show. It certainly lacked in character development and having any type of story which I usually am no fan of, however the story set out what it meant to do.
Some may wonder why I only gave it a score of only 8 despite all the positive things I mentioned in the review: this is mainly because nothing really happens, it is purely oriented on slice of life with no goal apparent. World building was a bit lackluster as well. I could recommend to anyone with an interest in the slice of life genre, just don't expect anything groundbreaking.
We all live in a very fast paced world. To us humans, time is everything, and every second used is a second that can be used to be more "productive" or "better". Because of this, we become creatures of habit, living cogs that let life fly by us without a moment's thought. We don't really take time to enjoy the smaller things in life, to just sit down, relax, and take in the finer things that can go unnoticed. It is here where we have Aria the Animation, a gem from 2005, and the beginning of the whole Aria series.
Author's note: If I write down any sappy lines, I'm sorry. It's just hard not to do that for this series.
Story (8.00/10): Aria the Animation takes place in the world known as Aqua, an alien planet settled and created by humans as a sort of "second planet" in order to satisfy the human population. It is here on this newly created blue planet where we have Akari, our protagonist in this series, settle down on the new planet in a city named Neo-Venezia, a city built based on the city of Venice in Italy. Here, she learns how to be a Prima Undine, a gondola driver, as she begins her life on this new and peaceful world.
The story of Aria is a very simplistic story, focusing more on the day to day lives of the characters here on the planet of Aqua, mainly the lives of three specific girls, as they train themselves to be Prima Undine. For any given episode, the characters in the series essentially live their lives on this planet, not really doing much else aside from dealing with the trials and tribulations that lives throw at us.
From the storyline of the series, it's quite clear that Aria is not really a series that deals with conflicts as heavily as many series these days do. The tone of the show is calming, serene, and overall, less dramatic than your average anime. With the whole of its runtime, the show never tries to deviate from its relaxing tone. As a result, the overall feel of the show is very unique because as you're watching it, you never really get the sense that anything dramatic will happen. Now, with zero conflicts, does that mean that this show is bad? Quite the opposite in fact.
The show tackles the smaller things in life. Throughout the whole show, we are presented with scenes of the characters doing what people generally do in life. Spend time with friends, doing chores, eating a meal, and even going on an outing; stuff that you would normally see in any given slice of life show. However, Aria takes this idea one sep further. Aside from just seeing that characters experience these moments in life, it also takes them into account, putting them in retrospect to one's own life, affirming how we as people can miss the finer details, the smaller experiences that we sometimes fail to see.
In addition to that, the show does a decent job at world building. Rather than just letting the setting of a different world be just a stated fact, Aria the Animation adds in to that by spending a good chunk of its runtime explaining the world's history, tying that into its life affirming story, making the two work in conjunction to make the story a lot more cohesive and adds to the experience.
With all these good points, what is there to be said badly about this series? Well, more or less, it's the calming atmosphere that the story has. Because this show is quite slow and doesn't possess any lingering conflicts, Aria can at times be rather boring. (I found this to be the case at times.) It's not that the show itself is bad, it's just that watching something so slow can leave someone to be desiring a little bit more. Of course, that's not true for everyone, but personally, I couldn't watch more than a couple episodes at a time simply because of how I sort of lost interest sometimes.
Regardless of that side effect of Aria's wonderfully calming atmosphere, the story of Aria is still very exceptional. It puts the things in life that we sometimes forget, forward, giving the audience a feeling of appreciation of things that we may often forget.
+ Some World building
+ Very calming show
+ Fantastic themes
- Calming factor can leave some people bored (To combat this, I suggest watching 2-3 episodes at one time rather than marathoning.)
Characters (7.99/10): Similar to its story, Aria the Animation doesn't have very complicated characters, each of which really following their own certain characteristics and never really deviating from the traits that they were given at time.
First we have Akari Muzunashi, the "main protagonist" of this series. As the only apprentice in the Aria Company, Akari plays off as a very simple girl, wanting only to enjoy the time that she has on Aqua, frequently throwing out "sappy lines" in order to express her gratitude or overall enjoyment of the time that she spends with the people that she's grown to know in her time in Aqua. Akari also plays a very crucial role in this series by writing these letters at the end of every episode, essentially writing down any given episode's important takeaway, bolstering the things that the episode is talking about. It is because of this specifically that I think Aria excels at what it does, because the things that it talks about can really be an eye opener at times.
Then we have Aika Granzchesta, a Single from the Hime Company, a different gondola company that rivals the Aria Company. Being the girl that is somewhat more outgoing than the other two, being very proud of her own abilities, Aika is the second girl in the series you meet with her classic line of "No sappy lines" (or any other variation of that phrase.) In addition, to round out the trio of girls in this series, is Alice, a Pair from the Orange Planet company, (And no, she does not belong to a pest-control agency.) acting as the youngest of the trio, working to hone her abilities as well as spending time with her senpais from the other companies.
Apart from these main three girls in this series, we also have their instructors Alicia, Akira, and Athena, who serve similar roles to their apprentice counterparts, as well as the three feline company presidents. In addition, there are side characters that appear every once in a while, filling in the gaps to make the series feel more populated and overall more enjoyable as you see the personalities of all the characters come together and just live life.
Overall, the characters themselves aren't really that complicated. Like general slice of life, the traits that they are given at the start of their appearances persist with them throughout the whole of the series, with slight growth every now and then to show progression. Above all, what I think is most interesting is that these characters are very memorable. They're not very complicated, but even if they don't show up for a while, the characters that you meet aren't really that easily forgettable, which I find to be a plus for the series.
+ Very simple characters that are easily memorable
+ Good character dynamics
+ Good side characters
- Mostly one note characters in a sense
Art and Sound (8.08/10 and 8.78/10): The art for Aria the Animation itself is honestly a surprise to me. Because of its age (being that it's a 2005 anime), I had originally thought that the artstyle wouldn't stack up and would be less graphically well done as the anime that we see as of now. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was rather well animated. T
The artstyle reflects the feeling you get from the anime of serenity and calmness. There are no horrendously bright colors, there isn't any dark brooding colors, and there is certainly no ecchi. Aria's artsyle itself is very classic, being an individual looking style of animation that is bother memorable and very well made for its time. (Like seriously. I saw things in 2014 that looked worse than Aria.) It's a very simple style of animation with enough detail to make the city of Neo-Venezia look beautiful, and it just simply...works.
In addition, for comedic feel, every one of the main characters has a "second face", where they all have a specific expression that they make whenever they want their audience to bust a funny. (Just a detail that I found to be quite amusing.)
As for the soundtrack, Aria boasts a very well made OST that reflects the feel of the series. In addition to having "Undine" and "Rainbow" as the OP and ED respectively, the series has a very calming and beautifully crafted soundtrack that adds to the calm feeling of this series. As for the OP and ED, Undine, its opening, is a very calm and serene peace that I bet can calm any spirit, sounding like flowing spring water as it wafts through your ears, cleansing you of any hardships that you may be experiencing. As for Rainbow, its ED, it showcases a very cheerful and bouncy feel that is very upbeat and enjoyable to listen to. Overall, this soundtrack is beautiful, a masterpiece that is timeless.
+ Very good animation for its time period
+ Very classic looking artstyle
+ Exceptional soundtrack
Personal Enjoyment (9.00/10): When I first heard about Aria the animation, I was always puzzled why it was so popular, and why it was so revered as a classic. After some time, I decided to watch it, and boy, am I happy I did. The themes of the series were very well delivered, and I couldn't stop wearing a smile on my face when I was watching it. (Above all, I listened to the OP and ED every time. That doesn't happen very often.)
Did I like this anime?
Yes. A very big yes. Aria showcased something that anime for me has been lacking for a while; a simple story that is at the same time, very powerful. Coupled with the beautiful soundtrack, the great animation, and some pretty memorable characters, there was hardly anything about this series that I didn't enjoy.
What didn't I like about this anime?
The only thing I didn't like was how at times, I admit, I felt kind of bored watching this series. With its lack of conflict, Aria's peaceful tone can sometimes be overwhelming. As a result, marathoning this show can be difficult for some. Apart from that, I have no complaints.
Would I recommend this anime?
After finally watching the legendary Aria the Animation, yes, I would recommend people to watch this series. Contrary to anime today, there is no fanservice, it's deep without needing any drama/melodrama, it's a simple story that doesn't poke itself into any other genre aside from Slice-of-life, and above all, it is considered to be a classic. This show is an instant cheer-up, and to this day, is still a very revered series. So, if you haven't watched this series, I highly recommend you do. It's an experience that you won't want to forget.
Overall Score: 8.35/10 (I'm sorry if there were any sappy lines. I can't help it! :S )
No matter how awesome an anime's opening and ending songs are, you probably start skipping them after the 2nd episode. But don't skip ahead just yet - these 11 anime openings and endings change over time. Watch closely, now!