Apr 3, 2008
Ladholyman (All reviews)
All good things must end, as the saying goes.

All good things must end.

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.

Sit back and enjoy.

A.D. 2301 - The Voyage from Neo-Venezia.