Aria the Animation
Terraforming of Mars began long ago. While the planet became inhabitable by humans, the polar ice caps melted more than anticipated and caused 90% of the surface to be covered by water. Mars is now known as Aqua. One of the most popular destinations on Aqua is Neo Venezia: a city modeled after Venice Italy. Gliding across the waters of the city are the ever popular gondolas. Aria Company is one of the premier tour services, but until recently only had one guide. Akari recently joined as an apprentice. It doesn't take her long to make friends with two other girls in rival tour groups.
They say a year on Aqua takes twice as long as a year on earth, so time seems to pass twice as slowly. It takes a special kind of person to blend into the relaxed atmosphere of Aqua, and it suits Akari just fine.
The road to a destination can have many paths. Aria the Animation is the embodiment of "the scenic route". It pushes no boundaries, has no profound plot, nor is there any action. Aria is the anime equivalent of sunning yourself on a tropical island beach. It may not get the adrenaline up, but it does leave a warm fuzzy feeling.
For an anime that is so laid back, it's strange to say this; but Aria is actually rather gutsy. Any show attempting this pacing will know how dangerously close to boring it can become. They can fall back on romance, or comedy or something like that. Aria on the other hand, has no plan B. It places all its bets on winning you over with its slow moving charm, and it does just that. There is a stipulation (which should be obvious by now) that you need to be able to appreciate the leisurely pace and tame stories. Even the character personalities, while charming, are muted. If you're an anxious person who loves anime for the action, suspense, thrill, then Aria will not be the title for you. That's not to say that if you don't like Aria that you're a heartless bastard with no soul, but well... you are and you should pray to the alter of Aria for redemption. Sorry to be the one that breaks the bad news to you. Seriously though, if Aria doesn't seem to suit your personality, avoid it. It's not for everyone.
Aria works not only because of the great source material, but because the studio producing it understands what this anime has to be. Everyone from the voice actors to the producers admit that they really like the series, and I think this is one of those rare titles where that love shows through in the final product. The manga is attractive and charming, but the anime has to be more than adding color and making things move. The anime truly brings Aria to life and creates a atmosphere that captures the soul of the series. The music in particular is where the magic happens. From the gentle intro song that carries you into each episode, to the light music throughout, the music gives this anime a special air that feels nostalgic.
In summary I wish Aria were a stuffed animal so I could squish and hug it because I really adore it that much. It misses perfection only in the visuals. Don't get me wrong, Aria is an attractive show with great character designs but the backdrops are only "nice" not "great". I couldn't escape the feeling that Aria could have pushed for more stunning visuals than it did. The animation is only adequate, but this isn't an action title so that's a non issue.
Aria is a title unique with it's calm, heart warming approach. Even if there are lots of sappy lines, it's hard not to feel touched by them with such a sincere feeling given by the show. A treat to watch any time, but a great remedy if you're having a bad day.
Akari: If I could become the wind, I could spread this scent all around Neo-Venezia.
Aika: No sappy lines allowed!
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