The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

ARIA The OVA ~Arietta~

Title: ARIA The OVA ~Arietta~
Genre: Drama
Company: Hal Film Maker
Format: 1 OVA
Date: 21 September 2007

Synopsis: Akari has a dream one night where she became a Prima after Alicia leaves the company. Waking up feeling extremely melancholy, she questions why Alicia chose her as her disciple. Alicia takes Akari down memory lane, and tells Akari a heartwarming story of teenage angst, friendship and courage.

The Highlights
Animation: Neo-Venezia has never looked so good.
Storytelling: Executed beautifully.
Teen Alicia: More please!
Yuri undertones: Nice.

It’s no secret that I love ARIA. The slow, relaxing pace, beautiful music and beautifully drawn characters mesh together to form a show that’s enjoyable to all the senses. Arietta fits beautifully within the framework of the series; like every other episode of ARIA, it stands alone as a simple, yet elegant story.

What makes Arietta different from all the other episodes of ARIA? Nothing, really. A simple premise, a simple plot, a simple resolution. Minimalist storytelling at its finest. However, we do get one of those rare glimpses into Alicia’s teenage years, which, I, as a huge Alicia fan, deeply appreciate. In the series’ main storyline, it’s all too easy to view the characters of Alicia, Akira and Athena as perfect goddesses. Seeing their past as angsty, fearful teens gives the three Water Fairies a bit more depth of character. We see that behind the smiling façade that is Alicia, lies a deeply fearful and insecure young woman. That isn’t to say that this OVA is dark, rather; it brings hope, in a way.

The main focus of this OVA is the handing down of responsibility from generation to generation. As Akari dreamed that she became a Prima, Alicia naturally retired and left the company. Feeling fear for this day, Akari consults with Alicia, and wonders why Neo-Venezia’s top ace chose her, a clueless, inexperienced rookie from Earth, as her sole apprentice. Alicia relates to Akari her own story of fear and insecurity at the time of her promotion to Prima. Akira and Athena, her two good friends, take her on a short trip to open her eyes to the world and dispel her fears. Likewise, Alicia takes the young Akari on the same trip she embarked upon years earlier.

Of course, all this idealistic ramble is all good, but without the animation to support it, there really is no way the audience can connect with the emotional feelings of the characters. Fortunately for us, this is ARIA, after all. The animation and art is absolutely stunning. Never before has Neo-Venezia looked so soft, so perfect. The once-again gorgeous soundtrack only helps the storytelling cause better, setting up the perfect mood in every little scene. And that’s the beauty of ARIA: detail. Nothing large ever happens, rather, it is up to the viewer to appreciate and understand all the little tiny nuances the animators incorporated within the OVA. All these little details add up to a beautiful blend of harmony and color, and the end result is something stunningly beautiful.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Akira

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