Title: ARIA The Animation
Company: Hal Film Maker/Victor Entertainment/Studio Cosmos
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 5 Oct 2005 – 28 Dec 2005
Synopsis: Mizunashi Akari has been living on planet Aqua for almost a year, training to become a professional undine for Aria Company in Neo-Venezia. She lives with her charismatic senior, Alicia Florence, and the company president, the blue-eyed cat, Aria.
Setting: Neo-Venezia is among the most glorious settings in anime.
Characters: Simple, yet cute and likable.
Comedy: Simple, yet cute and likable.
Story: Sometimes requires suspension of disbelief.
Elegant is one of numerous words that describes the heart-warming Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou; its soft and nonchalant style of drifting through its story is as charming as its adorable characters. Many see ARIA as a YKK-lite, which is justified to an extent as ARIA successfully borrows many of the superficial things that make YKK unique from the vast majority of titles, such as its atmosphere, slow pace and even musicians. But at a deeper level, ARIA has a lot that separates it from its predecessor, allowing it be, of itself, a memorably unique and highly enjoyable experience.
In a series that refused to let me wipe the smile off my face I found much that was praiseworthy. But for me, the greatest highlight was the stunning and glorious Neo-Venezia. Few anime relish in their setting the way ARIA does in its futuristic homage to one of Earth’s most amazing cities, and it gives every possible opportunity to let the beautiful backdrop shine at its awe-inspiring best. Fans of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ~Quiet Country Café~ will instantly recognize the melodic guitar work of the aurally pleasant Choro Club, whose music compliments the mood perfectly. Mood is what this series is all about; much of the technical effort is put into establishing a peaceful, yet cheery atmosphere… and they succeed.
ARIA’s characters are cute. A significant amount of the focus is on their various relationships and personalities and how they deal with the minor challenges of their day-to-day life along with the lessons they learn. Though these lessons aren’t as profound as the ones in Honey and Clover, they’re still relevant, and in some cases timely. And, (unlike H&C) the comedy works more often than not. As I became more familiar with the idiosyncrasies of each character, I found them more and more likable… even if they can be accused at times of being a tad childish. However, ARIA is not without its faults. Much like YKK, ARIA has a niche audience, and viewers who need a momentous plot will not find much to enjoy here. Numerous elements in the story also require some severe suspension of disbelief.
As a medium that can be accused of being dominated by giant mecha and mindless harems, anime needs more titles like ARIA. Though this title may be forever destined to live in YKK’s shadow, in many ways it’s just as enchanting as the under-appreciated classic. Forgiving the odd ordinary episode and a few far-fetched situation resolutions, ARIA is a series that will likely warm your heart. With its delightful characters and wonderful setting, ARIA is almost a must for any slice-of-life fan.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun