Aria The Animation poster

Aria The Animation

Akari Mizunashi, at the age of 15, has left everything behind to travel to a sparkling planet covered in water, Aqua, formerly known as Mars. By the 24th century, humans have found a way to colonize the formerly uninhabitable planet. More than anything, Akari wants to be an "undine" - a female gondolier who navigates the canals of the Aquan city of Neo-Venezia. The city itself is a faithful replication of Manhome's (Earth) city of 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. As she begins her training with the prestigious Aria Company, will she be up to the challenges that await her on the path to achieve her dream? ARIA The ANIMATION’s gentle poetry will take you to the truth: It’s all about savoring each moment of the journey along the way. (Source: Kickstarter)

Ranking 861

User Count13691
Favorites Count202
Start Date6th Oct 2005
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank861
Rating Rank1411
Age RatingG
Age Rating GuideAll Ages


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If I were to describe this anime with a single word, the word would probably be "boring". Surprising perhaps, given that it lies in the "Good" region of my rating scales, but that's what this anime is. In this case, "boring" isn't used so much to label "Aria" as an unwatchably dull anime (though to some it probably is) as to describe what actually happens in it, which is absolutely nothing. For "Aria", in many ways, represents the very essence of a slice-of-life anime.In "Aria", there are no evil villains to fight, no complicated plots to untangle, no philosophical conundrums to contemplate... just about the only interesting detail in "Aria" is that it's set on Mars, a Mars of the future that resembles Venice with its abundance of water and gondolas. But don't let this exotic location fool you into thinking this is a setting for a futuristic sci-fi anime, because you'll be sorely disappointed. That detail is pretty much restricted to being background information - as far as the anime itself is concerned, it may as well be set in Venice, as it doesn't really do much with the Mars bit.Beyond its settings, "Aria" is plain to such an extent that no measurable aspect of this anime stands out in any way: the animation is ok... in a boring way; the music... despite often having unconventional melody progressions that gave it a distinct feel, only manage to leave an impression of being boringly good; as for the content... it's virtually non-existent. Every episode is pretty much just a case of the unremarkable characters going about their mundane daily tasks - they barely even qualify for the adventure-of-the-week description. But then, this is what the slice-of-life genre is all about, right? Yes, "Aria" may not be the most interesting of anime, but it does deliver in the department where this kind of anime is expected to deliver, and that is in the "heart" of the show - the part that gives it that indescribable feel good factor. This is epitomised by the last episode, which is a very typical slice-of-life open ending where there's no grand finale, but there's a vague sense of temporary closure at the end, with the option of extending into a second season wide open. But despite the lack of a climax, it does leave you bursting with a wonderful glowing feeling inside, with a twinge of sadness that comes from reaching the end of the series that you've become fond of. It's this that allows "Aria" to soar above the sum of its very plain parts.Even though I have a soft spot for Aria, I'd hesitate to recommend it to many people. A lot of them would probably fall asleep watching it. Other slice-of-life anime have additional aspects to keep you watching - Genshiken has its comedy and entertainment values; Planetes has its humble (and also not so humble) heroics and intense drama; Paradise Kiss has its eccentricity and interesting relationship dynamics... "Aria" doesn't have any of these things, and instead offers the viewer a simple yet hard to quantify pleasure that comes from watching a slice-of-life that's been distilled down to its purest form. It's something for the connoisseurs of the genre to slowly enjoy. And if you ask them why it's good, their response would probably be the same as mine: it... just is!

**As always, my reviews are spoiler free.** <em>Note: this review will be covering the entire Aria trilogy: Aria the Animation, Aria the Natural, and Aria the Origination. Each is very similar in composition and separate reviews are not warranted. </em> Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine a gentle ride on a gondola, a cool breeze blowing through your hair. You are being guided through one of the most beautiful cities in the world by a kind and beautiful Prima Undine, her gondola gently rocking as you take in all that Neo-Venezia has to offer. Does this sound relaxing? If so, Aria may be the perfect anime for you. Every episode brings the viewer calmness and serenity that cannot be matched. Aria was able to achieve that perfect combination every slice of life strives for; it has fantastic characters, an amazing and beautiful setting, attractive animation, and a story that is not so much driven forward as rowed gently along. So you can see what I mean, allow me to set the stage for you. Aria begins in the early 24<sup>th</sup> century, on the planet Aqua. Formerly known as Mars, this planet was terraformed into a habitable planet which is mostly covered in oceans. Neo-Venezia is a city on Aqua, based on Earth’s city of Venice. Instead of streets, canals snake their way between the charming buildings, and on these canals gondoliers known as Undines guide tourists around the city. Aria follows the story of Akari, a new Undine working for the small Aria Company. She and her friends strive to become full Prima Undines, the highest ranking a gondolier can achieve. During her training, she discovers countless secrets in the city, and shows that everyday life can be a wonder in itself. **Story** - **10/10** Aria is a very special kind of slice of life. While the vast majority of SOL series take place in and around a high school setting, Aria throws that idea to the wind. While the high school setting can work very well when pulled off correctly (see: K-On!, Azumanga Daioh), it’s very refreshing to take a break from the Japanese educational system while I’m trying to enjoy a peaceful anime. Even better, Aria takes place in Neo-Venezia, which I described in the introduction. To put it simply, I believe that Aria has the best setting I have ever seen in the entire anime medium. That is a big claim, with the countless other creative places I’ve been taken during my time enjoying anime, but I stand behind it. Neo-Venezia is such beautiful place, full of so many amazing things that Akari and her friends encounter during their daily lives. There are, of course, a few recurring locations that are used, but every episode takes the viewer to a new place. The anime is largely about discovery, and I felt that I was discovering the mysteries of the city (and there are many!) along with Akari and her friends. This journey takes place over the span of three seasons, during which Akari, Aika, and Alice are all training under the three Prima Undines of the city, with the goal of becoming Primas themselves. With this series being a “true” slice of life, this is not actually the focus of the series; rather it is the theme which connects the elements of the story together. While there are some truly touching and funny moments relating directly to their goals, each episode is generally a single arch featuring an event only vaguely related to their training (if it is even related at all). However, when Aria does choose to focus on the characters growth as Undines, the plot becomes a bit more serious, but still has a distinct focus on the easygoing nature of series as a whole. Of course, the characters’ personalities evolve along the way as well. Overall, it is one of the greatest SOL stories out there, with a simple but unique central theme, taking place in a fantastic setting with great characters. The sense of atmosphere it projects is simply impeccable and unmatched in the ability to relax and soothe a person, taking them away from their harsh life and transporting them to Neo-Venezia. **Animation - 8/10** As this is an overall review of the series, I will take into consideration each of the three seasons. Aria the Animation aired in 2005, the Natural in 2006, and the Origination in 2008. The animation evolves with time, with one distinct difference being the shift from 4x3 to 16x9 in the third season. While the animation does improve as time goes on, the vast majority of the aspects making up Aria’s stylization remain constant. The art style is very soft, using bright pastel colors for the most part. Neo-Venezia is a large and diverse place, and the work that has gone into the design of the city is impressive. Every area looks completely unique, and the (idealized) style of the actual city of Venice is captured well. Recurring areas, such as the Aria Company building, are detailed and, again, unique. Character designs complement the setting, with a simple and bright design that is easy on the eyes. Chibi designs are often used to comedic effect. The animation itself is relatively good for the time, but not the series’ strongest point. Mouth movement can be a little off, and there is nothing to brag about as far as smoothness goes. Character designs are a bit undetailed, and there are no real scenes to demonstrate fluidity of animation. However, the real star is the art of the city itself. It does so well on this front that the faults are easily overlooked. **Sound - 10/10** Simply put, Aria has one of the greatest OSTs of all time. Of course, there are many different genres of music amongst anime OSTs, and Aria’s is as laid back as the anime. Choro Club does most of the work here, and they are absolutely splendid. The music matches the setting perfectly, with laid back OPs, EDs, and fantastic background tracks. Of course, music is subjective; you may not enjoy it if you are looking for fast paced rock tracks. If you are the type who can sit back and relax with a slow, rhythmic beat or a beautiful piano track, this is the OST for you. I say “the” OST; actually there is a huge amount of music relating to the Aria series, from the Anime OSTs to the piano and vocal collections. Give them a listen if you have the time. I think they speak for themselves and are impressive even independent of the anime. It was a joy to listen to some of these tracks again as I write. *One of the OPs. This is captures the overall feel of the soundtrack.* **Characters - 10/10** The cast of Aria is composed of Undines from three companies, all of whom who have some connection to Akari, the protagonist. They all have lovely personalities and backstories, and the relationships between them are cute, entertaining, and occasionally touching. Because of the length of the seasons, it would be tedious to go over each character in detail (their development is quite slow and graduate with no “life changing” events molding them), but I can at least give you a short overview of the leads. *Aika, Alice, and Akari* Akari is a bit airheaded, but hardworking and genuinely kind. It is through her eyes you see Neo-Venezia. She is mentored by Alicia, who is soft-spoken and likes to watch events unfold rather than intervene. However, she adores Akari and works hard, often behind the scenes, to help her in her training. They, with their comic relief cat, “President Aria,” make up the whole of Aria Company. Akari is joined by her friends and fellow trainees from larger rival companies, Aika and Alice. Aika is a bit stubborn and tomboyish, and is often the one to keep the group in check with her down-to-earth attitude. Easily flustered, her famous line is “Embarrassing remarks are prohibited!” Alice is the third in the trio. She is very quiet and tries to hide her emotions, but is probably the hardest working of all. She loves to use the intensifier “dekkai” (literally translating to huge) for a bit of comic relief and added cuteness for the Japanese-speaking audience. Over the series, she opens up more to her friends. Aika and Alice have their own mentors who they occasionally clash with, but they have as strong relationships as that between Akari and Alicia. Alicia, Athena, and Akira are the three “Water Fairies” and the most talented Undines of the cities. They trained together just as Akari and her friends do. Athena is Alice’s mentor. Much to Alice’s dismay, Athena is clumsy and forgetful, but has the most beautiful singing voice. She is more aware than Alice thinks she is, often getting others out of tight situations in her own ways. Alice sometimes feels as if she has to keep Athena out of trouble, but at the same time admires her for her skill. Akira is as hardheaded as her apprentice Aika, leading them to fight often. She is quite strict with Aika because she sees her potential, and Aika recognizes this. Despite their conflicts, their relationship as master and apprentice is strong as well. Aside from these leads, there are several other recurring characters who are used mainly for comic relief or plot devices. They do their jobs well enough, but are not of enough importance to go over individually. I loved each and every one of the leads, and I think you will too. **Enjoyment - 10/10** As I have explained throughout the previous sections, Aria has found the perfect combination of elements to create one of the greatest SOL anime ever made. I enjoyed every episode, every discovery, every day in Neo-Venezia. If I could choose to wake up living anywhere and anytime, it would be there, with Akari and her friends. I was so enthralled with their lives that my troubles just melted away as I watched. I rewatch episodes frequently, still drawing enjoyment and noticing new details, but I will never forget the first time I sat down and was completely engulfed in this exquisite series.

After watching a few hundred shows I was utterly tired of almost anything a show had to present to me. Action,Grim-dark adventures, rom-coms or glorious mahou shoujos; nothing seemed appealing. It is at this time I came by the show called Aria: The Animation. Reading the synopsis, I had no clue what to expect from the show and maybe that was the best part about it. Aria: The Animation is a story set on what used to be Mars, in a place called Neo-Venezia, a replica city of what is Venice on Earth (know as Man Home in the show). The story revolves around our main character, Akari Mizunashi, training to become a prima undine i.e. an expert gondolier. The show plays out as an episodic slice of life, where in each episode we see the adventures of the main trio Akari, Aika, and Alice. Now, when I say adventure, I certainly do not mean a grand quest, such as a Hobbit leaving a grand quest to bring back the cursed gold from the caves of a fire breathing dragon, but rather it is just the adventures of the three girls discovering the various wonders of Neo-Venezia, their daily practice to become prima undines and the exploration of the whole environment itself. The general world building of the whole Aria franchise is excellent. The author and director both have taken great efforts in studying the city by personally visiting the city and experiencing the wonders themselves. Various noteworthy buildings, monumental structures, gardens, scenic points are almost exact replicas of New Venice. Intricate details in the culture of new venice can also be found in the show. The weather changes with natural fluidity and so does the overall climate and they never seem like a bizarre or forced change; even so the working structure of the gravity of Neo Venezia is shown with excellence. In short, the world building in Aria is absolutely fantastic. During these adventures, the trio learn about each other and their relationships get well developed. On the topic of characters the best way to describe them would be humble and down to earth and adorable. I don't think I personally disliked even a single character in the show. This part of the show mainly focuses on the general character introduction, hence the characters don't receive much development throughout the course but that's hardly anything worth counting as a "negative" as the pleasant and heartwarming experience the show presents its viewers is absolutely amazing. Another thing I like about Aria is how it uses its characters to enhance its world for example Salamander controls the weather, the gnomes control the gravity mechanism. It's as if every side character has a definitive job in the world and are not there just for the sake of being there, they all have their reason of existence in Neo Venezia. The animation of the show is pretty spectacular for its time. Sure it may not compare very well with the high-budget-shows of today but it does its job very well. The buildings are well structured and very often highly detailed. The show uses many different camera angles too, my favourite would be the over-arching ones where the show boasts its robust city architecture and overall atmosphere. The show uses pastel colours in its general art style which blends in with the overall simplicity of the show. Sound and Music is one area where Aria excels and boy, does it excel in a masterful way. The show comprises of various vocals and instrumentals which range from the melancholic yet calm notes of the piano to the lively strings of the guitar. The voice actors do a great job with the characters too, their voices perfectly go with their lively, docile and humble personalities. It's also noteworthy at how well the voice actors have done their job to the point where the throw of the characters-catch phrase almost become their primary identity for eg. the way Alicia says "ara ara" and Akari says "a-hii" have almost become their general identity. The positives of Aria all boils down to the enjoyment sector. If you're an action-junkie or you think a great story can't be told unless it has mechas or is overtly dark Aria is certainly not a show for you, though there's no harm in giving it a try(I guess). While not everybody's cup of green tea, Aria was certainly up my alley, as a person who was just tired of the try-hard-grim-dark-pretentious-deep shows. I loved it for its simplicity, its adorable character (and cats; fuck you if you hate cats), its fantastic world building, the representation of the culture of venice; and the overall mood. The whole show can be summed up as a blissful and relaxing experience. Overall, I think Aria: The Animation is a beautiful anime. Its world, its characters and its overall joyous atmosphere should be given a chance by any Slice of Life lover or any open-minded anime fan in general. The non-linear plot structure, which normally destroys a show suits Aria very well as the relaxing experience is so overpowering that one just simply stops caring that there is no real plot which is a rather refreshing experience.Most episodes leave behind a warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart while some also leave a melancholic feeling too. For similar anime you should check out: Mushishi, which is known for its fantastic animation, artwork, atmosphere, concept and for its eccentric main character.

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