Aria the Animation: Season 1 will be released on October 25th, and we're delighted at the reaction it's caused throughout fandom. But why is the series so beloved? Let's drift on over to Neo Venizia and take the tour.
Originally a manga entitled Aqua (the name of the planet), it was created by Kozue Amano and published in 2001 in Enix's Stencil magazine. It was renamed Aria (after the series' Aria Company) and ported to Mag Gare's Comic Blade where it continued to 2008. At the height of the series' popularity in Japan, it was adapted into an anime by studio Hal Film Maker and directed by animation veteran Junichi Sato (Sailor Moon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sgt. Frog). It proved successful enough to gain 3 series in total, with two OAV's as well.
By the 24th century, humans have learned to travel the stars and terraform planets to their liking, and in the case of Aria, that liking is an idyllic Venizian influenced city brimming with rustic architecture, wide waterways and beautiful boats. The Aria Company is a tourist bureau where our heroine, Akari Mizunashi, works as an Undine (tour guide). A free-spirited teenager, her adventures have a relaxing quality (much like Laid Back Camp) that really struck a chord with the audience. Between the absolutely stunning retro-future visual style, cute outfits and loveable characters, it's escapist fantasy at its best.
The perfect protagonist?
Akari's novice journey is the perfect entry point to the world of Aqua, as she arrives to take her place as a "Pair" (apprentice). We see the world through her eyes and learn about the environment alongside her, all framed by narration that takes the form of letters she's sending to her pen-pal, Ai (who she meets in the first episode). She's far from perfect, having accidentally learned to row backwards on her simulator back on Earth (or "Manhome" as it has been retitled), but she's full of youthful optimism and wonder for what other might find mundane. It helps that she seems to attract strange phenomena, and throughout the series she's greeted by the natural wonders surrounding her.
Along the way, Akari makes many friends and learns from her peers, competing with rivals but all in a good-natured and pleasant manner.
The care and attention to make a classic
The author's own intent (stated in the after-word from Aqua vol.2) was to create a series that allowed readers to find happiness in small things and not focus on failure. According to the commentary track, it's also notable that the production crew for the anime took a trip to Venice to research the architecture and "feel" of the city to better represent it on the screen. When they reviewed the film taken of actual gondoliers sculling, they redrew the animation to make it more realistic. They also included a scene not in the manga, inspired by watching a gondolier using their paddle to remove a bottle from the water - Alicia does this with a ball in episode 11.
This care and attention to detail helped to make the word of Aria one that viewers could completely immerse themselves in, enjoying not only a faithful recreation of one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, but the feelgood vibes the series generates with seeming ease (though at the cost of many diligent hours of work by the production team!).
We hope you'll enjoy Aria when it arrives in October, and you'll likely get it even earlier if you order direct with us through Anime-On-Line!