Aria the Animation is a series that sticks out in my mind for several reasons. Aria was my first experience with the slice-of-life genre and it came relatively early on in my anime watching days. Back then (and it’s been years) I was thoroughly impressed by the atmosphere, the animation, the way the characters looked, and, despite the fact that the show didn’t do anything, I loved it. Sadly, I never got the chance to finish it. However I recently picked it back up and have finally completed the first season of this show.
Aria the Animation takes place in an alternate world where the people of Earth colonized Mars by melting the ice on the planet and essentially flooding a large portion of it. They control the weather and atmosphere to keep it just like it would be on Earth (now referred to as Manhome). Mars has been renamed Aqua (for obvious reasons) and life has flourished on this new land. Our main character is Akari who moves to Aqua from Manhome in order to become an Undine. Undine are specially trained hostesses of Aqua who give tours in gondolas. The process to become an Undine starts by becoming a pair (one who wears two gloves on their hands to prevent blisters) then moves on to single and finally, when you are a full-fledged Undine you are known as a Prima. Akari is currently a single who works for Aria Company in the city of Neo-Venezia. Together with her senior, Alicia, and President Aria (a cat), Akari works to become a Prima.
As previously mentioned this show is pure slice-of-life. Akari is our focus and her life is our plot. What she does all day, who she does it with, and the trouble she finds herself in are what this show is about. Each episode focuses on an adventure of sorts but it is just a glimpse into Akari’s life on Aqua. Despite its simple nature, Aria manages to capture your attention and keep it as we walk through the beautiful planet of Aqua and the charming city of Neo-Venezia. This world feels like a dream where everything is happy and you can imagine yourself living a peaceful life there.
One thing I was very interested to see when I initially picked Aria back up was to note how well the art has held up after all these years. When the show first aired I thought it look amazing and while it still looks good it isn’t quite as good as I remember it being. There are animation flaws you will notice, there are times when you think that someone’s hands look a little strange or the background characters are bizarre but most of the time the show looks just like it feels: pleasant. And in certain moments the show reminds you that if it had been made today it would be near perfect in every aspect.
Unlike the art, which did suffer with time, the sound is just as impressive as it was when I first heard it. The opening, Undine, is a song unlike many others. This song is slow moving yet haunting. Every line slows wonderfully and I cannot begin to describe how well it works in the show. It is a little hard to find but I would definitely recommend looking it up. The end theme, Rainbow, is more upbeat than the opening but has a similarly beautiful charm. The background music is timeless. The soundtrack is mostly classical pieces that are perfectly matched to the atmosphere of the show. It’s so lovely that I’d be surprised to hear someone say it was bad. Sure you may not like it on its own but paired with the show you can’t deny it’s fantastic.
And really I think that’s what I want to get across with about Aria the Animation. The art might not always be up to today’s standard, there may not be a life-changing plot, but the show is still fantastic. Want to turn you mind off (and not for dumb comedy) and relax? Pick up Aria the Animation and you won’t be disappointed.