ANYWAY... It has been a few weeks ago that I finished Aria and I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the whole series. I remember downloading the first episode back when it first came out, but it didn't make an impression on me right away. I thought I'd go back to it again one day... That day never came, even after I bought the DVD collection Nozomi Entertainment. Yes, I've heard a couple of recommendations from some Aria enthusiasts, but it wasn't until I saw the second volume of the second season went on sale that I finally watched it to see if it's worth getting the rest of the series.
It's a beautiful series; full of genuine feelings and heart warming stories. It's not like the warm feeling of a pantsu that a girl just took off, but more like the warmth of two docking oppai, being hugged tightly so that one can go to sleep peacefully kind of feeling.
EEEEH? That was sappy? I thought it was more ecchi than sappy.
The first thing I noticed about Aria is... Why is there a walking marshmallow puff with almonds for eyebrows and why is it the president of the Aria company? Turns out it's some kind of good luck to have a cat with blue eyes as the president... WHAT!? That thing's supposed to be a cat?? But I digress...
The second thing I noticed is that most of the characters have names that starts with an 'A'. Like Akari Mizunashi here. Akari is where the story of Aria is centred upon, so a lot of things revolve around her. Not just characters that she interact with, but also all the supernatural things that happen to her. Yes, I'm very surprised at the amount of supernatural occurrences in Aria, though Akari would've prefer to call it "miracles". She likes to make every little thing fun and she is enjoying her new life in Aqua (formerly known as Mars). She tends to say very sappy lines that are embarrassing, but she does it in a straight face.
The story is a slice of life kind of story, but perhaps not as comedic as say Azumanga Daioh or Ichigo Mashimaro. But if you're looking for something calm and relaxing story, then Aria is for you. My tastes must've changed if I could easily enjoy Aria now even though I didn't really care about watching it back in 2005. I think even the opening theme song was like a lullaby... But I stuck to it and didn't fall asleep once! (Not that I know of anyway...) Oh I think it's also the opening animation that really made me feel like it's a unique anime. It's different every episode! Well actually the beginning of the episode melts into quiet scenes as the opening theme, Undine, plays and then melts back into the story. Gorgeous animation as well, might I add.
Alicia is the second 'A'. She's the only Prima Undine, that is the only one who can take customers on her gondola, of the Aria Company. She's very well known for her beauty and calm demeanor, and customers would ask for her by name. Akari works as an apprentice under her. Her favourite lines are "ara ara" and "ufufu", made famous by Sayaka Ohara, her voice actress.
Ai is the third one to appear in the series, but she's only a visitor to the planet Aqua from Manhome (Earth, I think). Later on she becomes a narrator-like voice that begins and ends the episode as she and Akari exchange emails. Oh and I really like the goofy faces that the characters make like what Akari is doing in the back. Great stuff!
One of the main characters is Aika is also still a trainee as an Undine like Akari. She's more realistic and can be a bit short-tempered. She always tells Akari, when she says sappy things, "hazukashii serifu kinshi!" Which means, "no sappy lines allowed!" I think from the first moment I heard her say that, she became my favourite character in Aria. Not only that, but she's also voiced by Chiwa Saito, who's quickly becoming a favourite for me after hearing her in Bakemonogatari and other series.
This is Akira, and from what you see in this picture, you can guess that she's one mean b***h! Well, it just means that she's strict. Akira is actually kind, but when it comes to gondola and sculling, she becomes the demon-like instructor, especially to Aika. She and Alicia are good friends, along with Athena; they are the known as the Three Great Water Fairies.
Alice, not to be confused with Alicia, is also a trainee who's known as a genius Undine thanks to her rowing technique. She is still in school, but spends most of her time training (at least from what I see in the series). She started as a quiet person, but after meeting Akari, her heart opens up and warms up to others. Alice, Akari and Aika quickly became friends who are still in training. I'd like to think her as the Nagato Yuki of the group.
One of the few male characters in the show is Akatsuki. He works as a Salamander who keeps the whole planet warm and habitable. That doesn't excuse him from calling Akari, "sideburn" all the time though...He's infatuated with Alicia, but always seem to get Akari instead.
Even minor characters, a classmate of Alice, gets a name that starts with an 'A'. Anna only appeared in one episode and encourages Alice to be more friendly.
Ami... I won't spoil who she is, but perhaps that bell around her neck may give you a clue as to what she is.
A sylph is someone who carries someone's feeling and excitement, and also one of the only recurring male characters in Aria. His name is Aoody... I'm kidding... His name is actually Woody. Probably one of the only characters whose name doesn't start with an 'A'. He rides around on an airbike delivering packages that would be too slow if sent by gondola mail (I'm not kidding, the mailman delivers mail using a gondola here).
Dead people whose name starts with an 'A', Allen Honda. No spoiler here really... I mean he's dead already :P
Athena finally makes an appearance. She's known as one of the Three Great Water Fairies because she has a very beautiful singing voice. Though other than her voice she's pretty much a klutz. Yet she's quire helpful in her own subtle way, that is trying to help others without them knowing and not even expecting in return. Because of this trait she easily becomes my second favourite character in Aria (it also helps that she's dark skinned with light coloured hair, some of my favourite things in anime ^^;). I do want to do that as well, helping others without them knowing.
Akiko Hoshino. A school teacher and share similar traits to Akari. Other than that, I won't say much.
Al is a gnome... Not literally (even though he is short), but he works underground adjusting the gravity on the planet. He doesn't make a lot of appearances, but it seems like he and Aika get along well.
And finally a baby named Aqua after the planet.
All of these A's helps to create a very enjoyable and relaxing show that is Aria. It's hard to recommend to others because I have a lot of patience to watch this show, but for someone who's into action and more fast-paced anime might not be into this. Not that I didn't like it, it's just up to everyone's taste. I plan on watching the rest of the series since I have all of them now, but maybe in between exciting shows like Gundam 00 or something XD Perhaps if you're haunted by the nice boat ending of School Days you can go watch a happy-go-lucky show like Aria. Oh I did almost cry in a few episodes, so it can be very touching as well.
In the meanwhile perhaps I can convince you with some more screenshots to watch Aria, lol. They're not planned to convince anybody really, but I took them already so might as well use'em :P
The DVDs come with a boatload (pun intended :P) of extras! Interview with the main voice actresses which are really funny to watch because they seem to match their characters well!
There's also Junichi Sato's (the director) research trip to Venice that made me feel like I want to go to Venice to compare the real thing with the anime.
It can't be a research trip for a gondola anime without riding in one. They met Roberto (who the voice actress and director affectionately refer to as Roberta), a gondolier who showed them everything about gondolas in 3 hours. I thought it was funny when Roberto asked if he can get a copy of the show when it comes out because all of the gondoliers in Aria are all women XD I'm very tempted to send this guy a copy, lol.
A yuri moment?
Athena was laughing?
Aika's goofy face. So cute...
Athena's singing face... Which looks kinda ecchi to me for some reason...
Athena's normal face.
One of my favourite episodes was "Those Orange Days..." which had a flashback of the current Prima Undines. Lots of funny moments and I love origin stories as well. I'm ending this post with one of my favourite scenes from that episode (and maybe from the series).